DD - emilie photo 2015

We are so inspired by the organized & talented Emilie Dulles of Dulles Designs. Attention to detail and her passion for the craft makes Emilie one of the top stationers in the Southeast and we were thrilled to feature her on the blog today! With Summer wedding season in high gear, we were thrilled to catch a Q&A session with this leading stationery designer.


How did you get into the stationery business?

I grew up in the stationery and formal event industry through the family business since early childhood, living and working in Switzerland, England, and New York. I’ve had the rare opportunity of visiting and working with engraving and letterpress print factories and peering over the shoulder of calligraphers and plate-making artisans. 

What is the current trend you have seen in wedding invitations? 

Deliberately custom. One-of-a-kind. Something very rarely seen. Distinctive paper thickness, excellent engraving and letterpress quality, custom envelope linings, hand-painted edges, double-mounted patterns, and calligraphy work.

What advice can you give to the bride and groom when considering an invitation vendor?

Guest list management, mailing logistics, and privacy are key. Design aesthetic, your color palette, and the expert wording throughout the stationery suite are what set the tone and cohesion for the entire event. It is best to work with a professional stationer and wedding planner who understand not only what is beautiful, but what various printing processes and their parameters will mean to your overall event design.

Some brides make the mistake of hiring a friend who dabbles in graphic design to create their invitations, only to find that the guest list management, proofing detail, and mailing logistics require serious levels of experience and brain power. You have to take all aspects of the design, materials, production, proofing, and mailing requirements into account for a beautiful and effective save-the-date, welcome party, rehearsal dinner, invitation, program, and day-of seating suite.

Do you have a favorite style of invitation?

The invitation is what sets the tone for the wedding and reflects the couple’s personality. My favorite is a custom engraved or letterpress printed invitation with subtle touches such as hand lettering, custom calligraphy and artwork, hand-painted edges or metallic beveling, and custom pattern-lined, double envelope sets. Although we do so many one-of-a-kind invitation suites, I love a classic look with a twist, perhaps a pop of color or two, and one that speaks to the timelessness of a wedding and the tradition of family.

What wedding invitation services do you offer?

Wedding planners, brides, and their families come to us as soon as the venues have been secured, to set the tone via the color palette and the all important paper choice. However, we actually do as many elegant rehearsal dinner and welcome party invitation suites now – for mothers of the groom – as we do weddings. We offer full-service calligraphy and advanced graphic design, including expert wording and etiquette direction, custom lettering and kerning, and especially white glove production management and mailing services.

 Our proofing of entire guest lists is considerable to ensure that any necessary protocol is followed and any guests or children are properly addressed as applicable. 

What do you think is the most important aspect of the invitation?

 It is a combination of many complex parts and key decisions. We cannot give away our proprietary methodology, yet paper thickness is very critical. You don’t want to send cheap flimsy stock to your guests and have them all think everything in your wedding will be cheap and flimsy as well, especially if they are traveling from far away or to an elegant destination wedding.

Will you explain the different styles of printing?

Letterpress is the oldest form of printing, whereby custom metal plates push the ink deeply into the paper. Engraving is the most traditional, whereby male and female plates press together on both sides of the paper, leaving a bruise on the reverse side and the inked impression on the front. Embossing is akin to engraving but without ink, whereby the metal die or plate creates a raised impression into the paper, which is typically for a family or estate or club crest.

Beveled edging and hand-painted edges – which are my very favorite touches – are two ways for adding metallic or matte coloring to the edges of the paper on the vertical plane or at an angle. Each of these complex hand-finished processes are not inexpensive. Brides, their mothers, and groom’s mothers are to consider if engraving or letterpress is most appropriate for their venue and reception location, overall wedding style, and tone. 

Thermography is raised, puffy, inexpensive lettering that sits on top of the paper and lacks full color saturation. Dulles Designs only offers the old-world tradition and stunning color of engraving and letterpress printing for rehearsal dinner and wedding invitations.

What is your favorite part of the invitation process?

At the onset of the process, I enjoy getting to know the families, their taste, and learning about their vision for their wedding, so I may best serve them and make our process smooth, thorough, and fun from start to finish.

As our process comes closer to completion, I’m most grateful to witness the smile on a bride’s face when she sees her invitations. Joyful tears well up often.  I also love the emails and calls we get from family members as the compliments pour in from guests who will say “these wedding or rehearsal dinner invitations are perhaps the most beautiful they have ever, ever seen.”

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Photo Credit: Charlotte Elizabeth Photo