[groom’s view] Creating one-of-a-kind wedding invitations

Hooray! It’s the first groom’s view post by my husband Sean! Check it out and consider leaving him some blog comment love. Note: It was I, not Sean, who linked words like “sartorial” and “audiophile” to their definitions. He has a bigger vocabulary than I…

Planning a wedding can be a very stressful process for a couple. There were times during the planning phase of our wedding when I wondered if surviving the planning process was the first test of our potential as a married couple. While every couple will have its own internal dynamics that are usually not apparent to friends and family, those reliable guidelines can go out the window when previously undisclosed wedding traditions and expectations come to the surface.

Fortunately, I’m a sartorial traditionalist, an audiophile and have an interest in design and art so I took the lead in designing invitations, hiring a DJ, arranging music, and selecting tuxedos (and a dress) for the groom’s party. Of course this planning process did not happen in a vacuum and Stephanie was my chief collaborator and the inspiration for everything that is commendable in the abovementioned areas of responsibility.

Selecting an initial design for our invitations was actually very easy as I had given Stephanie a painting of us by Matte Stephens as an engagement gift. We were certain that we wanted to use it on the invitations; however, I also had my heart set on a letterpress element and avoiding anything too elaborate. One challenge was that most letterpress shops do not also do giclee printing (high-end, high-resolution inkjet). The other challenge was that letterpress paper is not engineered for giclees. After consulting with Detroit letterpress shops I was aware of at the time, I could not find one that was interested in the job. [Salt & Cedar is the relatively new letter press shop in Eastern Market that did not exist when we were planning our invitations.]




After weeks of internet searches, I reached out to the Elevated Press in Ann Arbor. The owner, Michelle, was willing to discuss the project and help us develop a layout that simplified the project. I borrowed a giclee printer and printed the image per Michelle’s layout and then delivered them to her for her to press. I made sure to reach out to Matte for permission before sending Michelle the image and he was honored that we were including his artwork in our wedding invitations.

After a great deal of trial and error and reading some technical documents on using Photoshop and printing on a printer with eight separate color cartridges, I was able to reproduce the image with the level of accuracy and nuance I had hoped for — no simple task when using ivory paper. Michelle then printed the letterpressed portion and RSVP cards. We ended up with an opportunity to visit the White House in April 2011 and actually present President Barack Obama with an invitation to our wedding.



His response was that ours was “the coolest wedding invitation he’d ever seen.” President Obama also said that he would try to make it if he was in town. It turned out that he was in Detroit on our wedding day to meet with then-President of South Korea, Lee Myung-Bak. Good thing he didn’t show up as tapping one’s glass to elicit a kiss between the newlyweds could have been grounds for a cavity search.

Michelle ordered beautiful navy envelopes from Paper Source to coordinate with the ink on our invitations. I ordered a custom return address stamp from 2impress on Etsy. Stephanie hand addressed the invitations in silver ink due to her talent for writing legibly.


13 thoughts on “[groom’s view] Creating one-of-a-kind wedding invitations

  1. Sean – you should give workshops on how to be a sensitive, involved groom (and Stephanie could gather the brides for the low-down on how they can LET their man be sensitive and involved!). Thanks for the lovely insights!

    • Thank you Becca,

      You’ve seen through my curmudgeonly veneer. The delicate balance of managing the work that goes into a wedding and not losing sight of the symbolic/stylistic elements is challenging and certainly required the diligence and focus Stephanie brings to every pursuit. I’m probably not likely to be the subject of a case study on sensitivity any time soon but involvement is key for every wedding co-pilot. Stephanie was wise enough to set a timeline with specific time windows for certain work. Many newly engaged people I’ve known have a sense of urgency about wedding planning and it is up to their partners to perceive that stress and respond accordingly. Sensitivity and perceptiveness aside, it certainly helps to have a clear timeline and assignments.

    • Thanks Lynn,

      We really enjoy the painting too! I hid it at my office for months until I found the 80-100 year old walnut and gilt frame. I was hoping to have it installed at our favorite museum as a means of surprising her and popping the question but apparently museums have very complex rules about what can be displayed and what can’t (for good reason of course).

  2. Not only did you have the coolest wedding invitations a President has ever seen, you also have the coolest wedding invitation story I’ve ever heard! What a lovely thing to be able to tell people. And how awesome is it to have artist friends! Way to go, Sean and Stephanie for working together to create something beautiful.

    • Thanks Julia,

      The wedding was significantly shaped by the creativity and wisdom of family, friends, and professionals. I can say that I really enjoyed the creative aspects of planning the wedding and that is primarily due to having a super talented planner-in-chief.

  3. Well I didn’t know about the part about Mr. President! How cool. I was honored to also have received one of these beautiful invitations and to witness the marriage made in d-heaven!!

    • Thanks for the compliment Hlee. That is high praise given the numerous beautiful and cherished wedding, childbirth, and string-tying announcements you’ve sent us over the last couple years.

  4. Go Sean!

    I admire your sense of involvement and creativity. I loved the invitation and remember showing it off to friends and family. I even told my sister, “you know, I think Sean had something to do with the invitation, because it has his style stamped all over it.” 😀

    Thanks for sharing your story!

    • Thanks Becky!

      I hope that you know how much we’ve appreciated your skill in the application of cosmetics :) I’m excited to see your contribution to the photo shoot online soon.

      Thanks for your support!

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