Category: Bar Mitzvah Invitations

Use Custom Postage to Complete the Bat Mitzvah Invitation Design

One of my favorite aspects of invitation design is bringing the design “full circle.” What I mean by this is making sure that each element of the suite complements every other element in of the suite. As a designer, my favorite designs are the ones where the pieces aren’t all “matchy-matchy,” meaning where every piece is exactly the same design except for the details. Those are always nice, too, but what’s the most fun is when some of the pieces are a little different, and when put together into the full suite, all complement each other.

Not only is it important for the inside pieces to have cohesiveness, but it’s also important for the OUTSIDE of the invitation to reflect what’s inside the envelope. The best way to do that is with a custom postage stamp. I prefer Zazzle stamps over some of the other companies. Zazzle offers the widest variety of sizes, and their product is superior to others I’ve seen. They print their custom postage on glossy adhesive paper, which emphasizes any design and makes the printing *POP*.

Below is a photo of my latest custom postage design. It’s the same logo we used on the envelope liner. This logo isn’t anywhere else on the actual invitation or on any of the printed pieces in the invitation suite, but it complements the design beautifully and brings in another design element without clashing with the rest of the design.

The best part of a custom postage stamp is that it hints as to what’s inside. It tells the recipient that this isn’t a regular bill, rather there’s something special inside. It starts to set the tone for your event even before your guest opens the invitation. And as I always say, “The party starts when the invitation arrives.”

Custom postage adds a perfect complement to the invitation suite.

Glossary of Invitation Terms

Words you should know when designing your party invitations and event stationery

When I meet with clients to design their custom invitations, I use a variety of terms to describe the different elements of an invitation suite and other pieces of event stationery. There are also terms relating to different printing techniques and different types of paper. Some terms are self explanatory and most people understand what they mean. Sometimes, however, there are terms that are common in my industry that some clients don’t know. To help make sure you’re an informed consumer, I created this glossary of terms that you can use when designing or ordering your party invitations and event stationery. The terms are divided into the following categories:

  • Printing Techniques and Treatments
  • Invitation Design
  • Invitation Suite, Stationery and Event Signage
  • Typeface and Fonts
  • Paper
  • Presentation, Binding and Packaging

Use this glossary to help you understand what it is you’re getting before you place your invitation order. It’s also useful to help explain what the different elements of an invitation suite are, and whether or not you should add something to your invitation ensemble.

If you have any questions about any of the terms in this glossary, or if you want help designing and ordering custom invitations, event stationery and signage for your event, I invite you to contact me at




Aqueous Coating: A clear, quick drying, water-based coating applied to a printed piece to protect and enhance the printing underneath; provides a high gloss or matte surface that helps block dirt and fingerprints.

Blind Embossing: Embossing without ink, so that the image is raised but not colored. See “embossing” below. Blind embossing is normally used for borders, monograms and other design elements.

Blind Image: Image debossed, embossed or stamped without ink or foil.

C: Abbreviation for cyan in four-color process printing. Hence the ‘C’ in CMYK.

C1S/C2S: Acronyms for Coated One Side and Coated Two Sides paper stock.

CMYK: A color model (also called process color or four color) used in color printing; also used to describe the printing process itself. CMYK refers to the four ink colors used: cyan, magenta, yellow, and key (black).

Commercial Printer: A printer who can produce a wide range of products such as invitations, announcements, brochures, posters, booklets, stationery, business cards, booklets, magazines and more; also called job printer because each job is different.

Converter: Business that makes elements for an invitation suite such as pockets, pocket folders, folding pochettes, envelope liners, etc., by “converting” large parent sheets of paper into these other products.

Cover: Thick paper that protects a publication and advertises its title; in invitation design, cover typically refers to any kind of thick paper used in the invitation assembly; see also “cover paper” under Paper Terms.

Coverage: Extent to which ink or toner covers the surface of a substrate.

Cutting Die: Usually a custom ordered item to cut specific and unusual sized or shaped printing projects; see also “die.”

Cyan: One of the four process colors. Also known as process blue.

Digital Proof: Page proofs produced and sent through electronic means; often used as a way for the designer to communicate with a client regarding the design of a project. Digital proofs are more cost and time effective for indicating edits and approvals than printed proofs.

Dots-per-inch: Measure of output resolution in relationship to printers, imagesetters and monitors; abbreviated DPI.

DPI: Considered as “dots per square inch,” a measure of output resolution in relationship to printers, imagesetters and monitors.

Dull Finish: Flat (not glossy) finish on coated paper.

Debossing: The process of stamping a design into the surface of an object with a die so that it is indented.

Die: Device for cutting, scoring, stamping, embossing and debossing.

Die Cutting: The process of cutting various paper shapes from a metal die; typically the die is made from steel rules that are bent and curved into the desired shape and embedded into a piece of wood; this process is often used to create custom and uniquely shaped envelopes, invitations and pockets.

Digital Printing: Method of printing from a digital-based image directly to a variety of media. This is a common printing method for small run jobs because there are little to no set-up fees or press charges.

Embossing: A printing technique that creates a raised area of print through the use of a die.

Engraving: A method of creating raised areas of print or images on paper. The method involves making an impression on a metal plate, filling the plate with opaque ink, and pressing the paper into the plate, creating raised and colored areas.

Foil stamping: A technique in which a metal plate is used to transfer colored inking material onto the paper or other substrate to make an impression; the image is transferred by using pressure and heat; foiling ink comes in a variety of colors and finishes, including metallic, matte, gloss, prism, and other finishes; also called heat stamping.

Four-Color Printing: Printing technique that uses cyan, magenta, yellow and black to simulate full-color images. Also called color process printing, full color printing, process printing and CMYK printing.

Gang: To reproduce two or more different printed products simultaneously on one sheet of paper during one press run.

Gilding: Gold leafing the edges of a book or invitation.

Gray Scale: Strip of gray values ranging from white to black.

Impression: Referring to an ink color, one impression equals one press sheet passing once through a printing unit.

Imprint: To impress or stamp an image or text onto a surface.

Ink Jet Printing: Printing method whereby droplets of ink are sprayed through computer-controlled nozzles.

K: Abbreviation for black in four-color process printing. Hence the ‘K’ in CMYK.

Kiss Die Cut: To die cut the top layer, but not the backing layer, of self-adhesive paper.

Kiss Impression: Lightest possible impression that will transfer ink to a substrate.

Laser Cutting: A process that uses a laser to cut out words and designs on paper and other materials such as wood, metal and plastic.

Letterpress: A printing technique in which a plate made out of metal or other material is used to transfer ink to paper. The images, text and wording are raised on the plate. After the plate is inked, the design is transferred by placing the paper against the plate and manually applying pressure. Letterpressed invitations often have a distinctive indented look from the plate being pressed into the paper.

Lithography: Method of printing using plates whose image areas attract ink and whose nonimage areas repel ink. Nonimage areas may be coated with water to repel the oily ink or may have a surface, such as silicon, that repels ink.

M: Abbreviation for magenta in four-color process printing. Hence the ‘M’ in CMYK.

Magenta: One of the four process colors.

Matte Finish: Flat (not glossy) finish or coating on paper.

Metallic Ink: Ink containing powdered metal or pigments that simulate metal.

Multicolor Printing: Printing in more than one ink color (but not four-color process).

Novelty Printing: Printing on products such as napkins, ribbons, coasters, pencils, clothing, tote bags, balloons, glassware, and other novelty items.

Offset Printing: Printing technique in which the inked image is transferred (or “offset”) from a plate to a blanket to paper instead of directly from plate to paper.

Overprint: To print one image over a previously printed image, such as printing type over a screen tint.

Overrun: Quantities of sheets printed over the requested number of copies.

Opacity: Characteristic of paper or other substrate that prevents printing on one side from showing through the other side; characteristic of ink that prevents the substrate from showing through. The higher the opacity, the less transparent it is.

Opaque: Not transparent.

Paper Plate: A printing plate made of strong and durable paper; paper plates are more cost effective for small print runs, but may not be suitable for highly detailed designs.

Plate: Piece of metal, paper, plastic, rubber or silicon that carries an image to be reproduced using a printing press.

PMS: Obsolete reference to Pantone Matching System. The correct trade name of the colors in the Pantone Matching System is Pantone colors, not PMS Colors.

Printing: Any process that transfers an image to paper or another substrate.

Printing Plate: Surface carrying an image to be printed. Plates can be made out of a variety of materials including metal, paper, plastic, rubber, and silicon.

Process Color: The colors used for four-color process printing: cyan, magenta, yellow, and black, and represented by the letters CMYK.

Resolution: Sharpness of an image on film, paper, computer screen or other medium.

RGB: A color model in which red, green and blue light are added together in various ways to reproduce a broad array of colors. The name of the model comes from the initials of the three additive primary colors, red, green, and blue.

Screen Printing: A method of creating an image on paper, fabric or some other object by pressing ink through a screen with areas blocked off by a stencil.

Serigraphic Printing: Printing method by which images are transferred through woven fabric, plastic or metal that allow ink to pass through some portions and block ink from passing through other portions. Serigraphic printing includes screen printing.

Soy-based Inks: Inks made with soy oils instead of petroleum as the base.

Specially Printer: Printer whose equipment, supplies, work flow and marketing is targeted to a particular category of products.

Spoilage: Paper that, due to mistakes or accidents, must be thrown away instead of delivered printed to the customer, as compared to waste.

Tint: Screening or adding white to a solid color which results in the lightening of that specific color.

Thermography: A technique that imitates an embossed appearance. The printed area is dusted with a fine powder that adheres only to the wet ink. The powder and ink are then fused to the paper with heat. The subtle difference between thermography and engraving is that with thermography, the text is slightly shiny and the back of the invitation remains smooth whereas engraving leaves an impression. Thermography is also less expensive than engraving and is often used as a substitute.

UV Coating: A very glossy liquid coating applied to a printed paper surface and cured on a printing press or special machine using ultraviolet light.

Varnish: A clear ink applied to the surface of a printed page that adds depth and protection; varnish can be applied in a gloss, satin or matte finish.

Vellum Finish: A somewhat rough, toothy finish.

Y: Abbreviation for yellow in four-color process printing. Hence the ‘Y’ in CMYK.



A-Style Envelope: Most commonly used for announcements, invitations, cards, brochures or promotional pieces, A-style envelopes typically have square or Euro (rounded pointed) flaps and come in a variety of sizes. See also Envelope Size.

Artwork: The original physical materials, including photos, graphic images, text and other components needed to produce a printed piece; also refers to the electronic or digital components needed for preparing a printed piece for production on a press.

Baronial Envelope: More formal and traditional than the A-style envelopes, baronial envelopes are deeper and have a large pointed flap. They are popular for invitations, greeting cards, and announcements. Abbreviated as #-Bar, where the # refers to the size and dimensions (e.g., 4-Bar, 6-Bar). See also Envelope Size.

Bleed: The portion of a document that extends past the borders of your page; designing with bleeds ensures that the background color and images print to the edges of the paper without leaving unprinted slivers along the edges when cut to size; an image printed in this manner is said to “bleed off the edge.”

Backer: A piece of paper that your invitation is displayed on top of that often matches or complements the color scheme of your invitation; often referred to as an additional layer. It’s a way to add a design element to a simpler invitation.

Clipart: graphic images, designs, artwork, and symbols that can be used in a digital document; sometimes referred to as graphics.

Composition: The arrangement of type, graphics and other elements on the page.

Crop: To reduce the size of an image.

Crop Marks: Lines near the edges of an image indicating where an image is to be trimmed, or cropped.

Drop Shadow: A shadow image positioned behind and offset from another image; this technique creates the effect of the image lifting off the page.

Dummy: Simulation of the final product. Also called mockup.

Edge Painting: Painting or inking the edge of thicker card stock; most often done on an invite with a beveled edge.

Envelope Size: The dimensions of an envelope; the most common envelope sizes used for invitations in the United States are:

A1 or 4-Bar                   3 5/8 in. x 5 1/8 in.
A2 or 5½-Bar               4 3/8 in. x 5 3/4 in.
A6 or 6-Bar                  4 3/4 in. x 6 1/2 in.
A7 or Lee                      5 1/4 in. x 7 1/4 in.
A8                                  5 1/2 in. x 8 1/8 in.
A9                                  5 3/4 in. x 8 3/4 in.
A10                                6 in. x 9 1/2 in.
Monarch                       7 1/2 in. x 3 7/8 in.
No. 10 or Business      9 1/2 in. x 4 1/8 in.

Euro Flap: Refers to an envelope where the edge of the flap is pointed.

Finish: Surface characteristics of paper; also the general term for trimming, folding, binding and all other operations that take place after items are printed.

Finished Size: Size of product after production is completed, as compared to flat size. Also called trimmed size.

Format: Size, style, shape, layout or organization of a layout or printed product.

For Position Only: Refers to inexpensive copies of photos or art used during the design phase to indicate placement and scaling, but not intended for reproduction. Abbreviated FPO.

GIF/.gif: a lossless format for image files that supports both animated and static images; also: an image stored in this format.

Graphic Arts: The crafts, industries and professions related to designing and printing on paper and other substrates.

Graphic Design: Arrangement of type and visual elements along with specifications for paper, ink colors and printing processes that, when combined, convey a visual message.

Graphics: Visual elements that supplement type to make printed messages more clear or interesting; sometimes referred to as clipart.

Image Area: The portion of a printing plate that carries ink and prints on paper.

JPEG/.jpeg: a computer file format for the compression and storage of usually high-quality photographic digital images; also: an image stored in this format.

Landscape: Artistic style in which the width is greater than the height; when a design is laid out on a surface where the horizontal dimension is greater than the vertical dimension; opposite of Portrait.

Layout: A rendition that shows the placement of all the elements, images, thumbnails etc., of a final printed piece.

Leading: Amount of space between lines of type.

Logo (Logotype): A recognizable and distinctive graphic design, stylized name, unique symbol, or other device for identifying an organization; also a specific and unique combination of letters and art work to create a symbol of an event. Often created and used throughout the pieces of an invitation suite, event stationery and event signage to present a consistent theme or appearance.

Margin: Imprinted space around the edge of the printed material.

Mark-Up: Instructions written usually on a “dummy.”

Mock Up: A reproduction of the original printed matter and possibly containing instructions or direction.

Monogram: A combination of names, initials, and graphic elements to represent a person or couple’s names. A monogram can be used as a graphic element on invitations and other event stationery; similar to a logo.

Motif: A reoccurring theme, image or design used throughout your invitation details, including on your invitations, event stationery and signage. A motif can be comprised of text, graphic images, and specific colors.

Natural Color: Very light brown color of paper. Also called antique, cream, ivory, or off-white.

Orphan: Abandoned text at the beginning of a paragraph. From a design standpoint, orphans are not visually appealing and should be avoided; see also Widow.

Perforations: Small holes in the paper used to create a design or effect.

Pixel: Short for picture element; a dot made by a computer, scanner or other digital device.

PNG: PNG refers to Portable Network Graphics; a PNG is a raster graphics file format that supports lossless data compression. PNG was created as an improved, non-patented replacement for Graphics Interchange Format (GIF), and is the most widely used lossless image compression format on the Internet; also: an image stored in this format.

Point: The thickness of paper or size of type. Regarding paper, a unit of thickness equating 1/1000 inch; regarding type, a unit of measure equaling 1/12 pica and .013875 inch (.351mm).

Policy Flap Envelope: Policy flap envelopes have the opening along the short end of the envelope.

Portrait: Artistic style in which the height is greater than the width; when a design is laid out on a surface where the vertical dimension is greater than the horizontal dimension; opposite of Landscape.

Prepress: Camera work, color separations, stripping, plate making and other functions performed by the printer, separator or a service bureau prior to printing.

Prepress Proof: A sample of printing before the print job is started. When the final work is bring printed via offset or other printing technique that has high set-up costs, a prepress proof is typically made using an ink jet or digital press in order to provide an inexpensive printed proof. This provides a pretty close representation of what the finished product will look like without incurring expensive set up charges.

Preprint: To print portions of sheets that will be used for later imprinting.

Press Check: When a client visits a printing company to view actual printed sheets of their project before a full production press run is started.

Press Proof: Proof made on press using the plates, ink and paper specified for the job. Also called strike off and trial proof.

Press Time: (1) Amount of time that one printing job spends on press, including time required for makeready. (2) Time of day at which a printing job goes on press.

Price Break: Quantity at which unit cost of paper, printing or invitations drops.

Production Run: Press run intended to manufacture products as specified, as compared to makeready.

Proof: Test sheet made to reveal errors or flaws, predict results on press and record how a printing job is intended to appear when finished; also refers to the process of making sure all elements of a design are correct before it is printed. The client is ultimately responsible for ensuring the accuracy of the design before a job is printed.

Proofreader Marks: Standard symbols and abbreviations used to mark up manuscripts and proofs. Also called correction marks.

Quality: Subjective term relating to expectations by the customer, printer and other professionals associated with a printing job and whether the job meets those expectations.

Quotation: Price offered by a printer to produce a specific job.

Raster Image: A raster image, also called a bitmap image, is made of millions of tiny squares, called pixels. Raster graphics typically have larger file sizes than their vector counterparts. Higher DPI (dots per inch) and PPI (pixels per inch) settings also contribute to larger files because software must keep track of and be able to render each pixel.

Register: To place printing properly with regard to the edges of paper and other printing on the same sheet. Such printing is said to be in register.

Register Marks: Cross-hair lines on mechanicals and film that help keep flats, plates, and printing in register. Also called crossmarks and position marks.

Satin Finish: Alternate term for dull finish on coated paper.

Score: To compress paper along a straight line so it folds more easily and accurately. Also called crease; the resulting line is called a score line.

Shade: Hue made darker by the addition of black, as compared to tint.

Solid: Any area of the sheet receiving 100 percent ink coverage, as compared to a screen tint.

Specifications: Complete and precise written description of features of a printing job such as type size and leading, paper grade and quantity, printing or binding method. Abbreviated specs.

Spine: Back or binding edge of a publication

Spread: Two pages that face each other and are designed as one visual or production unit.

Square Flap: Refers to an envelope where the edge of the flap has a straight edge.

Step and Repeat: In design, where a graphic and/or text is repeated in a pattern on a surface; often used to create a banner or backdrop for event photography and printed with a repeating pattern such that brand logos or emblems are visible in photographs of the individuals standing in front of it.

Stock Images: Professional photographs of common places, landmarks, nature, events or people that are bought and sold on a royalty-free basis and can be used and reused for commercial design purposes.

Tagged Image File Format: Computer file format used to store images from scanners and video devices. Abbreviated TIFF; also: an image stored in this format.

Template: A standard layout.

Trim Size: The size of the printed material in its finished stage.

Typo: A spelling mistake in printed material resulting from an error in typing or setting type. The client is ultimately responsible for checking that the designer has not made any errors before the designs are printed. Typos and other errors should be corrected during the proofing process.

Up: Term to indicate multiple copies of one image printed in one impression on a single sheet. “Two-up” or “three-up” means printing the identical piece twice or three times on each sheet.

Universal Copyright Convention (UCC): A system to protect unique work from being reproduced without knowledge of the originator. To qualify, one must register their work and publish a (c) indicating registration.

Vector Image/Vector Graphic: Vector images are made of thin lines and curves known as paths. Vector images can be easily scaled (enlarged or reduced). High-resolution, high-quality clip art is often developed and sold as vector images. Vector images are generally more flexible compared to other high-DPI formats. Type and fonts are also created as vector images, allowing you to change the size while maintaining quality.

Watermark: Translucent logo in paper created during manufacturing by slight embossing from a dandy roll while paper is still approximately 90 percent water. Designs can also be printed in the background of an image to resemble a watermark.

Wax Seal: A very traditional form of sealing your envelopes; a wax seal is created by melting special wax and creating an imprint in the soft wax with a metal seal; the wax dries and hardens and forms a seal on the envelope; any graphic design can be made into a custom seal for any occasion.

Widow: A single word or two words left at the end of a paragraph, or a part of a sentence ending a paragraph, which loops over to the next page and stands alone. Also, the last sentence of a paragraph, which contains only one or two short words. From a design standpoint, widows are not visually appealing and should be avoided; see also Orphan.



Accommodations Insert: A printed card included in the invitation suite that contains information about local hotels and room blocks. If you create a block of rooms at a local hotel, be sure to indicate the release date; see also Release Date and Room Block.

Activities Insert: A printed card included in the invitation suite that contains information about other events happening in conjunction with the main event, e.g., Rehearsal Dinner or Sunday Brunch.

Bar/Bat Mitzvah Project Insert: A printed card that explains a bar/bat mitzvah child’s bar/bat mitzvah project. Often, in conjunction with his or her studies, a bar or bat mitzvah child may undertake a special project that helps the community. The Bar/Bat Mitzvah Project card can be used to share the details of the project with guests and to solicit donations for the charity or help with the project.

Belly Band: A piece of material that wraps around your invitation suite to hold it all together; this can be as simple as a ribbon or as fancy as laser-cut paper or a piece of lace.

Directional: A sign indicating where people should go or where an event is taking place.

Directions Insert: A card printed with a map and/or directions where the event(s) will take place; see also Map Card.

Donation Insert: A card that indicates where directed donations can be made; often included so the host can indicate where guests can make donations in lieu of gifts.

Drink Sign: A sign placed at the bar or on the guest tables that indicate the name, ingredients and meaning behind a signature drink.

Envelopes: The most traditional way of packaging invitations. Envelopes can be classic (white or off-white), or in a color that complements your event colors. They are usually made out of paper, but can also be made of burlap, vellum or silk.

Escort Card: Escort cards tend to be used primarily at semi-formal weddings; they typically assign guests to a table but not to a specific seat. They are often set up in an area near the entrance to the venue so the guests see them immediately upon entering. Escort card is often used interchangeably with place card or seating card.

Event Stationery: The complete ensemble of printed work for an event; typically includes the Invitation, Response Card, Reception Card, and other inserts, as well as Thank You Notes, Seating/Escort/Place cards, and other printed work for the event; see also Wedding Stationery.

Inner Envelope: An envelope inside the outer envelope that holds the entire invitation ensemble. On the cover of the inner envelope, you will put the title and last names of each individual guest you are inviting. These envelopes are not printed with the mailing addresses of your guests and are not printed with your return address.

Insert: Any printed card included in an invitation suite that is not the main invitation; inserts are typically used to impart information you would like your guests to know; common inserts include Reception Cards, Response Cards, Accommodations Cards, Transportation Cards, Donation Cards, Bar/Bat Mitzvah Project Cards, etc.

Liner: A decorative piece of paper used to line the inside of an envelope.

Map Insert: A card printed with a map and/or directions where the event (s) will take place; see also Directions Card.

Main Invitation: A printed card that provides the details of the event. Included on the main invitation should be the type of event, the name(s) of the honoree(s), the name and location of the venue, the date, including the month, day and year, the start time of the event, the name(s) of the host(s), and the expected attire.

Menu Card: A card with the details of the meal, which can be provided on the table or at each seat. A menu will let your guests know what is coming up next as well as the ingredients. If your guests are selecting from various entrees on the menu at the event rather than indicating their preferences ahead of time on the RSVP cards, menu cards at each place setting are helpful so they know what their choices are. Menu cards also add a beautiful touch to each guest’s place setting.

Outer Mailing Envelope: This envelope is used for mailing and includes the names and addresses of your guests as well as your return address. This is the envelope where you place your postage.

Place Card: Technically, a place card is set up at the table and indicates which seat a guest should sit at. Also referred to generally as a seating card, but is often used interchangeably with escort card.

Reception Card: A printed card with information about where the reception is taking place; typically only required when the ceremony and reception are taking place at separate venues or when there is a large gap of time in between the ceremony and reception. You can also use a separate reception card when a smaller subset of the guest list is invited to the reception, although this is not recommended if the reception takes place immediately after the ceremony.

Release Date: The date the hotel will release blocked rooms if they are not reserved under the block.

Response Card: A printed card used to indicate a guest’s response to an invitation. This card should provide a place where the guest can indicate his/her name and whether or not they plan to attend the event. A response card can also allow a guest to indicate a meal preference. For more formal events, a reception card includes a pre-addressed and pre-stamped response envelope, but can also be designed as a postcard.

Response Envelope: An envelope included in the invitation suite that is addressed back to the hosts. Guests place their completed response cards into the response envelopes to mail back to the hosts. Response envelopes should always include return postage.

Room Block: a group of hotel rooms that a hotel puts on hold at a specially negotiated rate for a group of people. If you’re creating an Accommodations Card for your invitation suite, be sure to note the name the room block is reserved under as well as the release date; see also Accommodations Card and Release Date.

RSVP: RSVP refers to a process for a response from the invited person or people. It is derived from the first letters of the French phrase Répondez s’il vous plaît meaning “Please respond.”

Seating Card: Technically, a seating card is set up at the table and indicates which seat a guest should sit at. Also referred to generally as a place card, but is often used interchangeably with escort card.

Seating Chart: A chart that indicates where guests should sit; may be used in lieu of individual escort cards, place cards or seating cards.

Signature Drink: A one-of-a-kind drink created especially for a specific event; a signature drink can contain special ingredients or just have a special name in honor of the guest(s) of honor.

Sign In Book or Sign In Board: A way for guests to indicate they are in attendance at your event.

Table Name or Table Number: Each table should be identified with a unique table name or table number, to indicate where guests will sit at an event.

Transportation Insert: A printed card included in the invitation suite that contains information about transportation that the host may be providing for guests. Often, for a bar or bat mitzvah, hosts charter private busses to transport friends of the bar or bat mitzvah child from the ceremony site to the celebration venue. For a wedding, a host may provide a shuttle from the guest’s hotel(s) to the venue.

Wedding Stationery: The complete ensemble of printed work for a wedding; typically includes the Invitation, Response Card, Reception Card, and other inserts, as well as Thank You Notes, Seating/Escort/Place cards, and other printed work for the event; see also Event Stationery.



Alignment: Used to describe the position of your invitation text in relation to the margins. Text can be centered, aligned left, aligned right, or text can contain a combination of alignments. More traditional invitations have the text centered on the card. Modern invitation designs often play with the positioning of the text.

Boldface: a typeface with thick strokes; a boldface type appears heavier and darker; also referred to as bold.

Calligraphy: Artistic, stylized handwriting. Traditionally, a calligrapher uses ink and a quill or steel nib pen and hand writes the text of an invitation or addresses on an envelope. Calligraphy can be used on other pieces of the invitation suite as well. Many fonts are designed to resemble calligraphy and are more cost effective than hand calligraphy services.

Flourishes: Ornate calligraphic details and scrollwork.

Font: The style and appearance of a letter or character; font usually refers to the name of the typeface, e.g., Arial, Helvetica and Times New Roman; see “Typeface.”

Hands: The various script and lettering styles a hand calligrapher can create.

Initial Cap: A term for the exaggerated, oversize first letter of a word sometimes used in lavish calligraphy or as a decorative typeface. Also known as a “drop cap.”

Italic: Text that is emphasized by slanting the type body forward.

Ligature: A ligature is a character made by connecting or combining two or more characters. They may be combined into one continuous letterform, or just designed to “nest” together. An example is the character æ as used in English, in which the letters a and e are joined.

Point Size: Unit of measure indicating the size of an individual letter or character.

Serif Font: In typography, a serif is a small line attached to the end of a stroke in a letter or symbol. This line is sometimes referred to as a foot. A typeface with serifs is called a serif font or serif typeface.

Sans Serif Font: In typography, a serif is a small line attached to the end of a stroke in a letter or symbol. This line is sometimes referred to as a foot. A typeface without serifs is called sans-serif or sans serif, from the French word sans, meaning “without.”

Script Font: Script typefaces are based upon the varied and often fluid strokes created by handwriting. They are generally used for display or decorative printing such as the names of the honorees, rather than for the body of an invitation.

Stroke: Bold outlines that can be added to a font or graphic to give it a heavier appearance.

Typeface: The style and appearance of a letter or character; often referred to as the “font.”

Type Classifications: Most typefaces can be classified into one of four basic groups: those with serifs, those without serifs, scripts and decorative styles.

Typography: Refers to the art of arranging typefaces, point size and line length into a cohesive and readable language.

Underline: A line under a word or phrase to give emphasis or indicate special type.



#: Symbol for pound, a reference to the basis weight of the paper, e.g, 80#, 100#, etc. See also Basis Weight.

A4 Paper: ISO standard paper size 210mm x 297mm or 8.3 inches by 11.7 inches; this is the common paper size used outside of the United States in place of 8.5 inches by 11 inches. See also Letter Paper.

Acid-Free Paper: Paper made from pulp containing little or no acid so it resists deterioration from age. Also called alkaline paper, archival paper, neutral pH paper, permanent paper and thesis paper.

Bamboo Paper: An eco-friendly paper made from bamboo. It’s very soft and thick, and is ideal for letterpress printing.

Basis Weight: The weight, in pounds, of a ream (500 sheets) of paper cut to a given standard size for that particular paper grade. See also #.

Beveled Edge: The slanted edge of heavier stocks that shows the thickness and dimension of the invitation; oftentimes, its edges are painted (see Edge Painting under Design Treatment Terms).

Board Paper: General term for paper over 110# index, 80# cover or 200 gsm that is commonly used for products such as file folders, displays and post cards. Also called paperboard.

Corrugated: Thick wrinkles, ridges and grooves that give paper a cardboard look.

Cotton Fiber: A type of paper most often made from 100 percent cotton; perhaps the most traditional choice for wedding invitations.

Cover Paper: Category of thick paper used for products such as posters, menus, folders and covers of paperback books; also called cover stock.

Deckle Edge: Irregular, torn-looking edge of paper left ragged as it comes from the papermaking machine instead of being cleanly cut.

Duplex Paper: Thick paper made by pasting together two thinner sheets, usually of different colors. Also called double-faced paper and two-tone paper.

Equivalent Paper: Paper that is not the brand specified, but looks, prints and may cost the same. Also called comparable stock.

Felt Finish: Soft woven pattern in text paper.

Fine Papers: Papers made specifically for writing or commercial printing, as compared to coarse papers and industrial papers.

Glassine: A very thin, waxy paper similar to vellum (see below), with a slick, shiny surface. Glassine paper is best suited for envelopes or liners rather than actual invitations because of its delicate nature.

Handmade Papers: Paper made from natural materials including cotton, rag, hemp and plant fibers. Handmade papers generally have an uneven or rough texture so are generally not suitable for digital printing.

Industrial Papers: Often made from recycled fibers, industrial papers have a rugged, hip look. Corrugated cardboard and brown kraft paper are examples.

Jacquard: Screen-printed (see Printing Techniques and Terms) paper that creates an illusion of layering.

Kraft Paper: Strong paper used for wrapping and to make grocery bags and large envelopes.

Laid Finish: Finish on bond or text paper on which grids of parallel lines simulate the surface of handmade paper.

Laminate: A thin, transparent plastic sheet (coating) applied to usually a thick stock (covers, post cards, etc.) providing protection against liquid and heavy use, and usually accents existing color, providing a glossy effect.

Laser Bond: Bond paper made especially smooth and dry to run well through laser printers.

Letter Paper: In North America, standard paper size is 8.5 inches by 11 inch sheets. In Europe, the standard size is an A4 sheet, which is 8.3 inches by 11.7 inches. See also A4 Paper.

Lightweight Paper: Book paper with basis weight less than 40# (60 gsm).

Lignin: Substance in trees that holds cellulose fibers together.

Linen Finish: Embossed finish on text paper that simulates the pattern of linen cloth.

Marbled Paper: Decorative paper marked with swirling patterns, similar to the surface of marble.

Matte: Paper with a flat, non-reflective finish.

Metallic Paper: Paper coated with a thin film of plastic or pigment whose color and gloss simulate metal; often refers to paper that has a shimmer.

Monarch: Paper size of 7 inches by 10 inches and envelope shape often used for personal stationery.

Mylar: Foil-like paper with a shiny, reflective finish.

News Print: Paper used in printing newspapers. Considered lower quality.

Onion Skin: A specific lightweight paper usually used in the past for air mail.

Parchment: a stiff, flat, thin material made from the prepared skin of an animal and used as a durable writing surface in ancient and medieval times; a type of stiff translucent paper treated to resemble parchment and used for invitations. Resembles wax paper, but without the wax coating.

Parent Sheet: A sheet that is larger than the cut stock of the same paper; typically. any sheet larger than 11 inches by 17 inches or A3 size.

Ream: 500 sheets of paper.

Recycled Paper: New paper made entirely or in part from old paper.

Rice Paper: A thin, soft paper that isn’t actually made from rice but from other fibers, including mulberry and hemp.

Stock: Used to describe the thickness and heaviness of paper.

Stock Order: Order for paper that a mill or merchant sends to a printer from inventory at a warehouse, as compared to a mill order.

Stocking Paper: Popular sizes, weights and colors of papers available for prompt delivery from a merchant’s warehouse.

Substrate: Any surface or material on which printing is done.

Text Paper: Designation for printing papers with textured surfaces such as laid or linen. Some mills also use “text” to refer to any paper they consider top-of-the-line, whether or not its surface has a texture.

Tooth: Refers to the paper’s feel—the more tooth a paper has, the rougher and more textured it is; some papers with a heavy tooth are not suitable for digital printing because the toner doesn’t lay down on the paper well.

Variegated: A term that describes the look of certain paper that has discreet hints of different colors.

Vellum: Paper made from a cotton blend, with a translucent, frosted appearance and a smooth finish. Some vellum papers are sturdy enough to be printed on and can be used for the actual invitation. When using vellum papers in digital printing, be sure the paper is made to withstand the high heat of digital presses.

Virgin Paper: Paper made exclusively of pulp from trees or cotton, as compared to recycled paper.

Uncoated Paper: Paper that has not been coated with clay. Also called offset paper.



Accordion Fold: Folding paper by bending each fold in the opposite direction of the previous fold creating a pleated or accordion effect.

Bifold: An invitation that’s folded in half so it resembles a greeting card. It’s sometimes referred to as a “folder” because you can add a pocket on the left panel for response cards and other enclosures.

Collate: To gather sheets together in their correct order.

French Fold: A printed sheet, printed one side only, folded with two right angle folds to form a four page uncut section.

Gatefold: An invitation with two panels that meet in the center and open up like doors to reveal the wording. It may include folders on one or both panels as well.

Letter Fold: Two folds creating three panels that allow a sheet of letterhead to fit a business envelope; also called barrel fold and wrap around fold.

Looseleaf: Binding method allowing insertion and removal of pages in a publication (e.g., trim-4-drill-3).

Parallel Fold: Method of folding; two parallel folds to a sheet will produce 6 panels.

Perfect Bind: To bind sheets that have been ground at the spine and are held to the cover by glue. Also called adhesive bind, cut-back bind, glue bind, paper bind, patent bind, perfecting bind, soft bind and soft cover.

Perforating: Creating a line of small dotted wholes for the purpose of tearing-off a part of a printed matter.

Saddle Stitch: To bind by stapling sheets together where they fold at the spine, as compared to side stitch; also called pamphlet stitch, saddle wire and stitch bind.

Side Stitch: To bind by stapling through sheets along, one edge, as compared to saddle stitch; also called cleat stitch and side wire.

Spiral Bind: To bind using a spiral of continuous wire or plastic looped through holes; also called coil bind.

Trifold: Card stock that is folded into three panels, accordion style; this is a common type of fold for programs.


Thinking of planning a mitzvah on your own? The top 5 reasons why you should hire a professional event planner instead

Many people don’t think a bar or bat mitzvah is as big a deal to plan as a wedding. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Often, bar and bat mitzvahs, even small ones, can have just as many (sometimes more) details to keep track of as weddings. And if you truly want to enjoy yourself at your party, hiring a good professional event planner is key.

Here are the top five reasons why hiring a professional event planner is a good idea:


Good event planners are able to help their clients create a vision for their event. Whether a client has something specific in mind or not, event planners know what it takes to take an idea from a basic concept to implementation. They have a comprehensive list of professionals who they work with, from the invitations to the décor, from the venue to the food, from the photography and videography to the lighting and sound, and more. Professional event planners are able to add special details such as custom signage and stationery to unique giveaways and other details that personalize an event, making it even more special to the family. And they’re able to keep track of and coordinate every aspect of the event.


A professional event planner is a neutral party who you can turn to for direction and advice. He or she is hired to protect your interests. For example, we all know that some people have their own opinions about things, and not everyone will be happy with the details you choose or the choices you make. An event planner can be the person who provides shelter to make sure you have the things you want. Sometimes it’s easier to defer to the advice of your planner than to have to explain a particular choice to a difficult relative. Another example where vendors protect your interests is when a vendor doesn’t do what they were contracted to do. Good event planners usually only refer vendors with good reputations and business practices, but on the rare occasion when a vendor makes a mistake (usually on the day of your event), your planner will handle the issue so you don’t have to.


Not everything is a priority to every client, and a professional event planner can help you decide what’s important to you and what you can get for your budget. They know what things should cost and can help you steer your way through the often confusing maze of event planning contracts and costs. Many vendors try to up-sell their services. A professional event planner can help protect you from purchasing unnecessary services and items, and can make sure you get what you pay for.


The first thing I tell each of my invitation clients is “enjoy the process.” Planning an important event, especially a lifecycle event like a bar or bat mitzvah, can be very stressful. It takes months of planning that are over in the blink of an eye. If you don’t enjoy the process, even the minutiae, and are only focused on the end result, you can miss out on making wonderful memories along the way. Hiring a professional event planner can help you relax so that you can enjoy the details of planning your event. Rather than being thankful it’s over, or being angry about how difficult it was, you’ll be able to look back on the journey with fondness and joy.


The best part of any event is participating fully. If you’re too busy worrying that the florist didn’t deliver the correct number of centerpieces or that grandma’s food is cold, you won’t enjoy your simcha. A professional event planner will act as the official point person to deal with any issues that may arise so that you can enjoy the ceremony and reception.

Even though the services of a professional event planner are not free, the cost can be well worth it because it will allow you to focus on what’s important to you: your family, friends and the joy of your simcha. For a list of professional event planners I work with and highly recommend, contact me at


What to Do When Beloved Friends and Family Can’t (or Won’t) Attend Your Special Event

Relatives won’t come to your party? Friends say they’re not interested? You’re not alone.

I just got off the phone with a client who confessed she is experiencing some unexpected drama as the responses for her twin’s b’nai mitzvah are coming in. A beloved aunt and cousin, who live out of state and who my client anticipated with great joy would come to her event, unfortunately declined her invitation. The reason why they aren’t coming isn’t because they are ill or can’t afford the trip, but because they just don’t want to. My client attended all four of the bar mitzvahs and bat mitzvahs for her cousins’ children, her aunt’s grandchildren, at great expense and effort by the way (they live on the other side of the country) so she is understandably feeling greatly hurt and disappointed that her aunt and cousin aren’t making a similar effort, even this once.

This same client has a so-called friend who also declined because, according to the friend, “I’ve been to too many bar mitzvahs already so I’m not going to come to yours.” Coming on the heels of hearing from her cousin and aunt only made this so-called friend’s callous response even more painful.

I can empathize with my client. Back in 2014, a very close friend of mine, one of my closest girlfriends in fact, chose not to attend my youngest son’s bar mitzvah. Even though it was almost three years ago, I can still feel the sting I felt then as I recall reading her response. The reason she gave didn’t give me any comfort because it was something she could do any time. She also knew about our bar mitzvah because I sent Save The Dates six months in advance. My son’s bar mitzvah was a one-time event so I took it very personally because it demonstrated the true priority I was in my friend’s life. It was a very painful experience, just as my client’s experience is for her.

Even though this happens to a lot of people, it’s still painful

Special lifecycle events such as bar mitzvahs, bat mitzvahs and weddings are moments you want to share with the people who mean the most to you. You spend hours putting together your guest list, and fill it with the people you most love and admire and who you look forward to seeing and sharing your joy. So when some of those people don’t make your celebration a priority, it can be a painful realization. I’m not referring to situations when health issues, financial circumstances or unexpected emergencies prevent someone from attending your event. While still disappointing, those reasons are understandable. In the case of my client’s cousin, aunt and friend, and in the case of my friend, this was not the case. Rather, the reasons these people expressed clearly imparted the message that “you’re not important enough to me.” That’s what’s so hurtful.

Having been through the exact same thing that my client is experiencing, I gave her some advice to help her get through these next few weeks. This advice can help you when you find yourself in a situation like my client’s, too.

Advice #1: You Have Permission to Grieve

The first thing I did for my client was give her permission to grieve. To some reading this post, it may be difficult to fully understand the feelings of loss and disappointment my client and I both felt. But when someone disappoints you in this manner, when you realize you’re not as important to someone as either they are to you or as you believed you were to them, it’s like the losing a loved one. And it’s OK to grieve the loss of that relationship. This is not to say you have to cut ties with the person. But the nature of the relationship is different than what you thought, and it’s that loss that you are grieving, especially when the person is a favorite relative or one of your closest friends.

Advice #2: You Have Permission to Get Angry

I then told my client that after she grieves, she will be angry (she’s already getting to this stage), and that she’s allowed to feel this way. She should’t act on her anger, but by acknowledging it, she will be able to move past it quickly. She will then soon feel empowered, even liberated, because she will realize her relatives’ and friend’s absence is not really her loss. Rather, their absence will be THEIR loss because her friends and relatives will be missing a great event. In the case of her so-called friend, my client can see that feeling on the horizon. But her pain about her cousin and aunt is far more difficult to shake, and she’s afraid she won’t enjoy her event for fear of hanging on to the anger she’s feeling at this moment.

Advice #3: Put It Aside So You Can Enjoy Your Event

The last piece of advice I gave my client was for the sake of herself and her family: she HAS to put this aside so that she can enjoy this wonderful milestone. If not now since the pain is still so fresh, then she has to at least by the time of the event. I have every confidence that she will be able to do that. On the day of her mitzvah, she will be in awe and amazement because she will look out and see all the friends and family who DID come and who DID make her and her family their priority. And in THAT moment she will know she is blessed. The pain and disappointment she’s feeling today will be set aside and will be but a blip on the radar.

Everything Will Be OK

The last thing I said to my client before getting off the phone was “don’t worry, everything will be OK.” And it will, because this too, shall pass. I promise.

For custom invitations and free therapy for your next event, contact The Invitation Maven at


Do It Yourself (DIY) versus Professional Invitations: Pros and Cons to Help You Decide What’s Best for You

Last month, I wrote about how to add unique and personal touches to your wedding or party décor with projects you do yourself (known as Do It Yourself, or DIY). The article was actually about how you can hire a professional to help you if you don’t think you can or don’t want to do the work yourself, but still want that personal touch at your party. This month, I thought I’d delve a little deeper into the Do It Yourself decision as it pertains to invitations, and present some pros and cons to help you decide whether or not you should make your own or hire a professional. This article will help you figure that out so you can set the right tone for your event.


The invitation you choose for your event is largely based on how formal your event is and what tone and expectations you want to set for your guests. If you are throwing an elegant affair, you’ll probably want to have an invitation that imparts the formality of the event. Fancier invitations such as letterpress, foil stamping, laser cut designs, and printing on things other than paper (like plastic or wood), are not easily done from home. Ordering invitations from a professional company expands the range of papers and printing styles you can choose from. Also, if you have a specific design in mind, the best option is to Read more

Five Common Invitation Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

When designing your custom event invitation, whether it’s for a wedding, bar mitzvah, fundraising event or milestone birthday, there are a lot of things to keep in mind. There’s more to it than simply creating the invitation and placing it in the envelope. Here are the top 5 mistakes most people make when creating their invitations and some tips about how to avoid them.

Mistake #1: Not including all the necessary information on the invitation

I find that some clients worry that their invitation includes too much information. However, I counter that it’s best to include all of the information your guests will need to know rather than leave something out for the sake of cutting out a few words. Of course, your invitation should include the basic details of the event such as the day and date of the event, the time the event starts, and the location of the venue, but don’t be afraid to include inserts with additional details. For example, one of the most common inserts is a Map and Directions card. Even though most cars and phones have navigation software to help guide guests to the location of your event, including a pre-printed map or printed directions in the invitation, especially if the venue is difficult to find, is a courtesy many guests will appreciate.

Other common inserts include a separate reception card, which is critical if your reception is at a different location than your ceremony, a “Weekend Events” insert with information about events taking place before and after the main event, and an “Accommodations” card, which can include information about local hotels, nearby airports, local attractions, rental car agencies, and room blocks you have reserved on behalf of your guests. Finally, don’t forget to include information about the dress code somewhere in your invitation suite, either on the invitation itself or on a separate card. People want to know how to dress for the occasion, so be sure to let them know.

Mistake #2: Not sending invitations out on time and not giving people enough time to RSVP

The number one question I get from clients is “when should I send out my invitations?” The answer is six to eight weeks before your event. If you are having a destination wedding, be sure to send them out on the eight-week end of that mailing window so that guests have enough time to make travel arrangements.

Tied in with this mistake is not giving people enough time to respond. You want to give them three to four weeks from when they receive your invitation to when you want the RSVP back to figure out if they can attend. Set the RSVP return date no later than two weeks before your event. If you mail your invitations on time, this will give guests plenty of time to let you know and it will give you enough time to follow up with guests you don’t hear from so you can give your caterer an accurate number.

Mistake #3: Not clearly identifying who is invited

The best way to let your guests know who is invited to your event is to tell them on the front of the envelope. Don’t include references to other people who live at an address on the front of the envelope, either directly or implied, unless you intend to include them in your festivities. For example, if you are inviting a couple but not their kids, address the envelope as “Mr. and Mrs. Steven Jones” rather than “The Jones Family.” If you are including the girlfriend or boyfriend of a guest, it’s best to find out the name of that person and address the invitation to both people by name. If you decide a friend may bring a guest (or a “plus one” in wedding parlance), be sure to include “and Guest” on his or her envelope.

Mistake #4: Printing your registry information on the invitation

I have had several clients who want to put their wedding registry information on their actual invitations. I strongly discourage them from doing this as it’s an etiquette no-no. Instead, as I’ve done with several clients, include an insert with a link to your wedding website (NOTE: Do NOT print the direct link to your registry on either your invitation or inserts. Rather, embed the ink somewhere on your website and make it easy for guests to find once they’re there). From your website, guests can search for more information about your event, including your registry.

Mistake #5: Forgetting the stamp on the RSVP envelope

To encourage your guests to send back their RSVP cards, make it as easy as possible for them to do so. You can do that by including a pre addressed and stamped envelope. That way, all your guest has to do is fill out the RSVP card, put it in the envelope, seal it, and drop it in a mailbox. Don’t try to save money by not including pre-paid return stamp. It’s considered a party faux pas.

When designing your invitation suite, be sure to include all the details your guests will need to know. If you’re not sure, or don’t want the information on the main invitation itself, include the information on a separate insert. When I design an invitation suite for my clients, I use a check list to make sure I haven’t left off any important details. For your FREE CHECKLIST of details to include when designing your invitation suite, click here: INVITATION DETAILS TO INCLUDE ON EVERY INVITATION. For assistance in designing a one-of-a-kind custom invitation suite, complete with all the information your guests need to know, contact Invitation Maven at



Finding a Designer for your Custom Wedding Invitations

So you’ve decided to create a custom wedding invitation? GREAT! You will love the finished product! At least you should. Why do I say that? Because it’s YOUR special day, and you should absolutely LOVE the final design of your invitations. But many couples I speak with confess that they don’t love the invitations they ended up with. I get a variety of answers as to why, but the most common sentiment they share is that their designer simply didn’t listen to them. I’ve had countless couples tell me that their invitation designer didn’t take their needs and design sensibilities into account, and instead produced an invitation the designer liked.

I think that’s a real shame. I tell each and every one of my clients, “my job is to create YOUR perfect invitation,” and I live by that sentiment. It doesn’t matter if what they choose isn’t my favorite color or paper or font. Don’t get me wrong: I really do love all of my designs, and I would never produce something that is unattractive or made with inferior products, but let’s be honest: no two people have the same taste, not even a designer and her clients. But my job as an invitation designer is to create the most beautiful invitation I can based on my clients’ tastes and desires, not mine.

So what should you look for in a designer of custom wedding invitations?

Knowledge About Invitations

There are many places to look for a designer of custom invitations. Any graphic designer can probably handle the job. But you want to find someone who knows about different papers, different printing techniques and all the different elements that belong in an invitation suite. After all, there isn’t just the invitation. There’s the reception card, envelope, and a variety of inserts that clients may need. And each client may need something different based on their event details such as location and duration, buffet or sit down meal, afternoon or evening event, and other event particulars. There are also general guidelines about how to word invitations so that guests know where to go, what time to be there and how to dress. If the designer doesn’t create many invitation suites, they may forget to include key details.

Pays Attention to Detail

Make sure your designer pays attention to detail. There’s nothing more frustrating than getting your invitations back from the printer and finding an error on them. Designers are human and sometimes make mistakes, but often, many do not stand by their work or offer to correct errors if they’re at fault. This is especially true of online invitation vendors such as Zazzle.

One way to tell if a designer pays attention to detail is to look at her website, samples and marketing materials. Do they have spelling errors? Are her designs missing key pieces of information? How is her ad typeset? Does it follow proper rules of capitalization and grammar? Invitations don’t necessarily have to follow every conventional grammar rule since they are art pieces, not term papers, but a designer’s marketing is a reflection of her talent and should convey the designer’s expertise, accuracy and clarity.

Will Work With Your Budget

Some designers are very inexpensive, and others charge more for their services. There is no hard and fast rule about what custom invitations should cost, but if you have a budget in mind, your designer should be able to work within that budget to design an invitation that doesn’t break the bank. Your designer should also be able to suggest ways to change some of the details without affecting the overall integrity of the design. The most important thing your designer should be able to do is help you prioritize the elements you want in your invitation so that you get exactly what you want at a price you can afford.

Finding a Designer Who’s Right for You

There are many places to find a designer who is right for you. The BEST way is from a personal referral. Ask friends and family where they got their invitations. Another way is by looking on the Internet and on social media sites such as Pinterest and Instagram where designers post samples of the work. That’s the quickest way to find people who design things you like. There are other places to look such as wedding blogs, bridal sites and even Craigslist, but I caution you about sites like those because you never know what you’re going to get. If you can’t see designs or if you don’t know the person, you risk wasting time and money on an invitation you may end up not liking.

Weed Out Bad Designers

Speaking of Craigslist, I’d like to demonstrate one way to weed out designers who may not have the best design skills. Take a look at the Craigslist ad for custom invitations below:

Craigslist ad for custom invitations . . . would you hire this designer based on this ad? (click on image for larger view)

Do you notice anything odd about this ad?

I sure do. First of all, none of the sentences in the ad itself are capitalized. This can be a cute font treatment in an invitation, especially when it’s deliberate, but it should never be used in an ad by someone advertising his or her custom design services. It looks like a mistake, and if a designer makes mistakes in his ad or marketing materials, they will likely make mistakes on your invitation.

Second, this company describes itself as “cheap.” Not “affordable” or “reasonably priced,” but “cheap.” Who wants CHEAP invitations? Invitations can be budget friendly, and a good invitation designer can recommend creative ways to keep costs down, but “cheap”? Using the word “cheap” in an ad about a product or service you’re selling implies the product or service is merely mediocre. That doesn’t inspire much trust that the invitations will be high quality or unique.

Third, this company doesn’t just design invitations. They also do website design, install Microsoft Windows on computers, do data recovery, make slideshows and even do “photography shoots for such a cheap price.” It sounds like they don’t do much invitation designing at all. How can they with all the other things they do? If I were looking for a custom invitation designer, I would want to know that’s all they do and that it’s what they specialize in.

So when looking for a custom invitation designer for your next event, be sure they come highly recommended and have positive reviews, that they pay attention to detail and understand what’s required for the job you’re hiring them for, and that they know how to prioritize and balance your needs and desires with your budget.

If you have any questions about how to start the invitation design process, Invitation Maven would be happy to answer your questions.


Putting the Mitzvah Back in Your Bar or Bat Mitzvah: Creating Meaningful Mitzvah Projects (Part 2 of 2)

As I noted in my previous post, one of the pillars of Judaism is the notion of Repairing the World, or Tikkun Olam in Hebrew. In the Jewish tradition, it is customary for children preparing for their bar or bat mitzvahs to participate in a project in which they give back to the community. Some communities refer to this as the child’s “Mitzvah Project.” By doing a Mitzvah Project, children learn to take responsibility for the welfare of the community in which they live, and they often are reminded of their many blessings in the process.

I have the unique fortune to hear about many wonderful ways in which my clients’ children give back to their community. They range from helping animals to helping humans, from helping people in communities close to home to helping people on the other side of the world. Here is the second of two entries that describe a few of my favorite Mitzvah Projects that some of my clients have created to benefit others:


Gianna, from Woodland Hills, California, decided to help a group of people on the other side of the world: The Abayudaya Jews of Uganda. The Abayudaya are a tribe of people whose leader converted the whole community to Judaism over one hundred years ago. They strive to live in peace alongside their Christian and Muslim neighbors and are helping to increase the quality of life for all Ugandans. Under Rabbi Gershom Sizomu’s leadership, they now have a Medical Center open to everyone and around the time of Gianna’s bat mitzvah, were raising money to build a Community Center and Childcare Center.

Gianna had a special connection to the Abayudaya Jews of Uganda. Their spiritual leader, Rabbi Gershom Sizomu, did his rabbinic internship at Shomrei Torah Synagogue in West Hills, California. Shomrei Torah is located up the street from Temple Aliyah, Gianna’s synagogue, and Temple Aliyah’s cantor, Hazzan Mike Stein, with whom Gianna and her family are very close, formed a close relationship with Rabbi Sizomu during his internship at the neighboring synagogue.

While the Abayudaya raised enough money for a physical building to hold their new childcare center, Gianna knew a building was not enough. As she wrote on an insert included with her invitation, “Children need a lot of activities to keep them busy and learning. My mitzvah project is to raise money to furnish toys, books, and playground equipment for the new Childcare Center in Mbale, Uganda.”

The childcare center serves Jewish, Christian and Muslim children so their mothers can work and contribute to the growing economy. Gianna was inspired to do this as her mitzvah project because both of her grandmothers were preschool teachers, and have always worked to promote peace. She wanted to honor them as she became a bat mitzvah by providing the Abayudaya with everything they need in order to provide quality childcare to Jewish, Christian and Muslim families in their community.

For more information about the Abayudaya Jews of Uganda, click here: Abayudaya Jews of Uganda

For more information about the Abayudaya’s Synagogue and Community Center, click here: Abayudaya’s Synagogue and Community Center


Yael and Akiva’s b’nai mitzvah project was inspired by their sister Rosa, who was born in Ethiopia. Being twins themselves, they twinned with an Ethiopian boy and girl in Israel to help sponsor their B’nai Mitzvah preparations. They worked with a charity called The North American Conference On Ethiopian Jewry (NACOEJ). In addition, they raised funds to help NACOEJ serve the larger Ethiopian community in Israel who have fulfilled their dream of reaching Zion, which is how they refer to Israel.

Many people in this vibrant community are thriving. However, many are still struggling. It is especially the children of these pioneers who need the help of NACOEJ and their programs. Often their parents speak little or no Hebrew and cannot help their children with school work. Even today, only half of Ethiopian-Israeli elementary school children reach grade level. To change this, the NACOEJ Limudiah Program provides intensive after-school education to about 750 children a year. NACOEJ also has sponsorship programs for Ethiopian-Israeli high school and college students.

Click here for more information about the NACOEJ, click here: North American Conference on Ethiopian Jewry (NACOEJ)


Weston and Lindsay are 17 months apart so they decided to share their b’nai mitzvah. As their special Tikkun Olam project, they chose to support a wonderful organization called Chai Lifeline, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to helping children and families who are affected by serious pediatric illness. This organization is particularly near and dear to Weston and Lindsay’s hearts because Chai Lifeline has significantly helped a family that is very close to them. Chai Lifeline offers free programs and services that allow seriously ill children and their families to receive much-needed social and emotional support, therapeutic recreational activities, educational support, crisis intervention, and special camp experiences that give the children a vacation from illness and pain.

Weston and Lindsay chose to raise money to give the children of Chai Lifeline a special experience at Camp Simcha, where they can go to forget about illness and experience the joy of childhood.  Since Weston and Lindsay love music and theater arts, their goal was to raise $5,000 to fund a program called “The Show Must Go On” for the kids at camp. They asked guests to make donations in honor of their b’nai mitzvah. They also collected toys for the children of Chai Lifeline.

For more information about Chai Lifeline, click here: Chai Lifeline

For more information about Camp Simcha, click here: Camp Simcha


Putting the Mitzvah Back in Your Bar or Bat Mitzvah: Creating Meaningful Mitzvah Projects (Part 1 of 2)


One of the pillars of Judaism is the notion of Repairing the World, or Tikkun Olam in Hebrew. In the Jewish tradition, it is customary for children preparing for their bar or bat mitzvahs to participate in a project in which they give back to the community. Some communities refer to this as the child’s “Mitzvah Project.” By doing a Mitzvah Project, children learn to take responsibility for the welfare of the community in which they live, and they often are reminded of their many blessings in the process.

I have the unique fortune to hear about many wonderful ways in which my clients’ children give back to their community. They range from helping animals to helping humans, from helping people in communities close to home to helping people on the other side of the world. Here is the first of two entries that describe a few of my favorite Mitzvah Projects that some of my clients have created to benefit others:


For many years, ever since she was a little girl, Talia loved working with kids with special needs. Her mom found the Los Angeles Chapter of The Friendship Circle, a national charity that provides Jewish special needs children with a variety of experiences, from social and educational to recreational and Judaic. The Friendship Circle also offers a break for and support to parents of these kids as well as provides Jewish teens with opportunities to share themselves with the special needs community.

As her way to give back and demonstrate her gratitude for her own blessings, Talia planned two Crazy Sock Parties. One was the party for her own bat mitzvah. She asked her guests to wear crazy socks to the party and to bring extra pairs of crazy and funny socks to donate to the kids of The Friendship Circle. Then, a few weeks later, Talia planned a Crazy Sock Party for her Friendship Circle friends. She used part of the gift money she collected from her bat mitzvah to help pay for the second Crazy Sock Party and she gave each child a pair of their own crazy socks to wear. Talia was able to give these deserving special needs kids a similar experience to what she had a few weeks earlier.

For more information about The Friendship Circle and to find a local chapter near you, click here: The Friendship Circle.


Hannah decided at the age of 11 ½ that she wanted to donate her hair to Locks of Love as her bat mitzvah project. This was shortly after Hannah’s grandmother passed away from cancer. As part of her treatment, she lost her hair, and that’s what motivated Hannah to support Locks of Love, a nonprofit charity that makes hairpieces out of real hair for disadvantaged children under age 21 who lose their hair due to a variety of illnesses. Hannah’s grandmother inspired her decision because many of the children who benefit from Locks of Love are children who suffer from cancer.

For the next 18 months, Hannah did not cut her hair. But rather than simply cut her hair and send it to Locks of Love, which many people do, Hannah organized an entire event at a hair salon. She included information about her event in her bat mitzvah invitation so that people could participate if they chose to. Several friends and family members, including Hannah’s mom, donated their hair and several people made generous donations in Hannah’s honor. One family member generously donated a ponytail she’d saved for more than 40 years. It was Hannah’s willingness to donate her own hair to people less fortunate than her that motivated Hannah’s relative to finally part with the ponytail she’d saved for so many years.

The event was a huge success. Hannah collected a total of 7 ponytails and close to $1,000 for Locks of Love.

For more information about Locks of Love and to create your own fundraiser to support their efforts, click here: Locks of Love.

Read my next post for examples of more Mitzvah Projects.


DIY Not Your Thing? Hire a Professional to Help Create Personal Details for Your Wedding or Mitzvah

As a professional designer of custom wedding invitations, I see all manner of design incorporated into a bride and groom’s special day. My absolute favorite events are those where the bride (and sometimes even the groom) create their own beautiful handmade details. I love these weddings because the details make the event personal and bring guests closer to the bride and groom. And with sites like Instagram and Pinterest, Do-It-Yourself, or DIY, is more popular than ever.

These websites provide a plethora of ideas brides and grooms can search for inspiration. Many of the ideas even include How To instructions and links for finding necessary supplies and materials. But what I hear most often from my clients who LOVE what they see is that they just aren’t able to do it themselves. Either they don’t feel like they’ve got the creative bug or they don’t have the time or inclination.

That’s where I come in.

Pinterest is a wonderful resource

In addition to designing custom wedding invitations, I also can help design and create any design a client sees online. A party planner I work with once sent me an image from Pinterest of a 5-foot tall jumbo tissue paper flower and asked if I could make some for her client. “Of course!” I said. And I made it so. I made 16 flowers in varying heights. And the best part? The flower heads are removable from the stems so I can change them to match any color scheme. I initially made them with peach colored flowers, then made purple flowers for another party, as you can see in the images below. And I’m currently creating the flower tops in blues to match the decor of an upcoming event.

Jumbo tissue paper flowers make a stunning display at the entrance to any party.
The flower tops can be swapped out to match any decor.

Custom artwork designed by the guest of honor adds a special touch

For another client, I incorporated a painting the client’s daughter made into not only the reception card in the invitation suite, but also into the seating cards and cover of a bencher, a book containing Jewish prayers recited after meals.

Reception card featuring original artwork painted by one of the bat mitzvah girls.
Seating cards for a beach-themed bat mitzvah
Custom benchers for reciting grace after meals.

Seating cards (above) and custom benchers (below) featuring the same artwork as the Reception Card.

Other hand-painted images were used in other parts of the invitation suite and repeated at the party as well.

Doing double duty

And for my own son’s bar mitzvah in December 2014, I hand painted a chair that we used for two separate parts of the event: first, the chair was our sign in “book.” Our guests signed in to the party by writing their name on the chair. Then, we used that same chair for a traditional Jewish chair lifting dance called the horah at the beginning of the festivities. This chair is now a keepsake that my son keeps in his room.

Hand painted sign-in chair that can also be used for the horah

Don’t skip DIY because you don’t think you can do it yourself

DIY is very popular and is a great way to incorporate personal details into your party. But you don’t have to do it all yourself. Contact Invitation Maven at info@InvitationMaven for help in giving your party some DIY touches.