Category: Bar Mitzvah Invitations

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 hire someone to create a custom invitation for you so you can have exactly what you envision.

However, if you’re having a small party with a limited guest list, printing your invitations from home is a great idea. You can pick up some colorful papers from a local arts and crafts store and download a template online.


Professional invitation companies and invitation designers create invitations all day long. It’s what they do. To that end, you can expect nothing but the best quality. Layers will be cut straight, borders will be even, and the printing will be even and consistent. Not all home printers are capable of such high quality, and not all home printers can handle premium papers such as metallics, shimmers and other specialty papers. Also, if you are creating a muli-layered invitation at home, you’ll need a good paper cutter and keen eye in order to make sure your cuts are straight and your borders are even when you affix one layer to another. And printing on envelopes is a whole ‘nother skill. Many home printers won’t feed envelopes, so printing directly on the envelope is not an option. That leaves you with having to print your return and/or mailing address on a label, which gives a much less formal look to the invitation.


There is a lot of work involved in assembling a full invitation suite, more than most people realize when they make the decision to create their own invitations. Not only do you have to purchase all the raw materials, such as paper and envelopes, but you have to also purchase whatever additional embellishments you want to add to the design. Do you know where to shop for the supplies? Do you know how much to purchase to create all the pieces in your invitation suite? Many people don’t realize they will likely make mistakes and misprints along the way. Do you have extra materials just in case?

Also, as I noted earlier, you have to have a good paper cutter, one that cuts accurately and that cuts straight. Can your desktop printer handle the papers you want to use? What about envelopes? And do you have the right kind of adhesive tape to affix the layers to each other?

By ordering your invitations from a company, many of these details are handled for you. And if you work with a custom invitation designer, you can get that personal and unique invitation without all the struggle of making them yourself.


How much time do you have to put everything together? Even a small invitation job will take hours of time because you’re likely not just printing the main invitation, but are printing multiple pieces as well as envelopes. Multiply how long it takes to assemble a single invitation by 200 and you can see you may need more time to finish the job than you originally thought. Also, if you’re printing on specialty papers, you’ll need to leave enough time for the ink to dry. And if you’ve never done this kind of thing before, count on making mistakes. Everyone does when they’re learning a new skill. Can you afford the time to remake invitations if you make mistakes?

Ordering invitations from a professional eliminates this issue because most invitation companies publish their production times. If you need your invitations in a hurry, say within four to six weeks, it’s probably best to let a professional help you.


Making your own invitations won’t always save you money. That’s because large invitation companies and professional custom invitation designers can order supplies at wholesale prices. They’re able to take advantage of better pricing because they typically order in larger quantities than you can as an individual buyer. You also have to factor in your time. Even if you plan to make your own invitations, there is a cost associated with your time. There’s also a time factor involved with searching and procuring all of the supplies and tools you’ll need, not to mention shipping costs which many people forget to factor in.

For assistance in designing a one-of-a-kind custom invitation suite that fits your budget, contact Invitation Maven at




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.


Making Sure Your Invitation is Functional, Not Just “Pretty”

Why Invitation Design is Important

This beginning post isn’t really about invitations, per se. It is about how what may become the most infamous design flaw in the print world ruined such an important and special moment for many people anticipating a crowning achievement in their careers. This story highlights the importance of a good, functional design and demonstrates why function and clarity are more important that looks.

Here’s what happened:

It’s Oscar Sunday, 2017, Hollywood’s most important night of the year. They save the biggest and most anticipated Oscar for the end of the show: BEST PICTURE. Anticipation builds throughout the evening, and the moment everyone is waiting for arrives.

To add to the drama of the moment, two iconic stars, Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway, open the envelope and announce the winner for Best Picture. Actors, producers and others involved with the winning film come up on stage. Acceptance speeches are given. Then, in what is perhaps the oddest and most surreal moment in Academy Awards history, utter confusion ensues and the REAL winner is unceremoniously revealed.

It’s a chaotic and embarrassing scene as it becomes apparent that the presenters were handed the wrong envelope. The protocols that surround this process are well known and strictly adhered to, so how could this happen?

Well, it seems the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences took the design process in house this year. And while they may have created an envelope that looked beautiful, it seems their graphic designers did not take into account the whole purpose of design: to be functional. And part of being functional, especially when billions of people are watching and Hollywood careers are on the line, is to be clear and to have what is known in the engineering field as redundancy. Clarity imparts the necessary information. Redundancy ensures that if your system fails, you have a reliable backup.

The protocols protecting the secrecy of the winners of the Academy Awards are well documented. Here’s a short video that explains some of the detailed protocols employed: Academy Awards Ballot Process. However, it seems the designers of this year’s Academy Award envelopes failed to build redundancy and clarity into the envelope design itself, measures that could have minimized the possibility of handing the presenter the wrong envelope.

This year’s Oscar envelope was red with small gold writing on the outside. There are two issues with this. First, in the hustle and bustle that occurs backstage at the Oscars, it is easy to misread small print. Second, gold on red does not offer much contrast, and with unknown and changing lighting conditions, it is important that the print be legible and easy to read. Metallic gold foil can be difficult to read in low light situations because of the reflection of the light on the text.

Compare this year’s design (below) to last year’s envelope (above). Several design elements intended to ensure clarity are immediately apparent. On last year’s envelope, the text is written in large black print on a light background. This makes it far easier to read in both low and bright lighting. Further, the category is printed on both the front AND the back of the envelope. This makes it much easier for everyone involved in handling that envelope to make sure the correct envelope is handed to the presenters. So if the person doesn’t read the front of the envelope correctly, the same information is printed on the back.


In the words of Marc Friedland of Couture Communications of Los Angeles, the man who designed the Oscar envelopes from 2011 – 2016, the primary goal of the envelope is to make it “dummy proof.” By building redundancy and clarity into the design, mistakes are minimized.

So while the visual appeal is important, if the wrong envelope is handed to the presenter, it won’t matter how beautiful the envelope is. It has to function properly, and that includes making sure the correct envelope is easily identifiable in the first place.

For more information about what went wrong at the 2017 Academy Awards, here’s an article about the snafu: 2017 Oscars Envelope Mistake

The concepts of clarity and redundancy are just as important in invitation design. You want to make sure your invitation is clear to the reader. Read it from your guest’s perspective, not your own. Does it say who it’s from, does it have the correct date, is the time correct (a.m. vs. p.m.), is the venue accurate so your guests know where to go? All of these details matter. It’s about being clear.

And there are ways to build in redundancy, too. Numbering each RSVP card ensures that you know who the response is from even if your guests forget to write their names.

For assistance in designing the envelopes and invitations for your next event, contact Invitation Maven at




No Right Way or Wrong Way…Only YOUR Way

I am often asked “what’s the right way to…” followed by a question about how to handle a situation one might encounter when planning a party. My answer usually is “there is no RIGHT way or WRONG way…there’s only YOUR way.” I say this because every bride and groom, every bar mitzvah and bat mitzvah child, and every honoree is unique and their special event should reflect who they are. So while there are social conventions that can help guide you, there’s no reason why you can’t get creative and have fun planning your big event.

This is even true as it pertains to your invitations.

For example, in years past, wedding invitations were very formal. They had inner and outer envelopes, the bride’s parents were listed as the hosts, and the envelopes were addressed with formal honorifics (e.g., Mr. and Mrs. John Smith). These days, however, not all weddings are such formal affairs. And even if they are, many young brides and grooms are not comfortable with the formalities associated with weddings of the past.

It’s now perfectly acceptable to mail wedding invitations in a single envelope. In fact, in the more than 20 years since I started designing custom invitations, I have never designed a wedding invitation with a double envelope.

Brides and grooms often address their invitations using guests’ first and last names without honorifics (e.g., Mary and John Smith). This reduced formality sits better with many millennials.

Brides and grooms often host their own weddings and send their invitations from them, not from their parents. And even when they aren’t paying for their own wedding, sometimes certain family dynamics call for brides and grooms to send the invitations in order to avoid hurt feelings. I have a current wedding invitation client who is doing just that. The groom’s father recently passed away and in deference to his mother’s feelings, they chose to word the invitation as though they were inviting everyone. Their invitation reads:

Together with our families
Jenna Marie
Daughter of Cynthia and Robert Morgan
James Edward
Son of Jennifer and the late Richard Jackson
invite you to join us as we exchange wedding vows

Instead of using a formal RSVP card with an envelope, many of my clients opt to use a postcard RSVP. We design the front with all of the requisite RSVP information (names of guests, accepts or declines the invitation, meal choices, and whatever other information they need to collect) and the back is printed with the return address. This not only saves the cost of the envelope, but the postage is less expensive and it doesn’t weigh as much.

One thing is clear, however, regardless of the formality of the event: a wedding needs a real invitation and a real response card. Weddings are special and while you may be planning an informal affair at an eclectic or non-traditional venue, sending a printed invitation is one tradition that still endures. But have fun with that tradition and make the invitation reflect YOU.

For assistance creating your perfect wedding invitation, bar mitzvah invitation or bat mitzvah invitation, contact Invitation Maven at or visit our website at

Your Event and Invitation Should Reflect Who YOU Are

Every bride and groom, every bar mitzvah and bat mitzvah child, and every honoree is unique. Your special event should reflect who you are. There is no reason why you can’t get creative and have fun planning your big event. The party starts when the invitation arrives, so why not start with an invitation that tells your guests exactly who you are?

Let me give you a few examples.

Perfectly Purple Wedding

I had a bride a few years back who wanted to do some fun things at her wedding. One thing we did was incorporate a hidden image in her wedding invitation (can you see it?). The image represents an interest she and her groom shared. She also wore a purple wedding gown…and not just any purple, but a deep, rich, royal purple, kind of like the purple on her wedding invitation. At first you might think “a PURPLE gown?” But it was the PERFECT dress for my client because it reflected her and her husband’s personalities, and their sense of fun and adventure. And why not? This was THEIR wedding after all! And like her dress, their wedding invitation reflected exactly who they both are.

The pattern on this wedding invitation contains a hidden image. Can you spot it?

High Tech Designs

Last year, I had two clients whose sons both took personal interests in designing their own bar mitzvah invitations. Boys don’t usually get involved in the details of their bar mitzvahs, but I welcomed their input. Both bar mitzvah boys are techies and each has an online presence. One has his own You Tube channel you can subscribe to where he uploads fun videos as well as his own Instagram account ( The other boy has his own tech blog ( and contributes to it regularly, writing his own articles and product reviews.

Both moms wondered if using their sons’ designs in their bar mitzvah invitations were appropriate. To each I responded “YES! Absolutely! The bar mitzvah is about your son so let’s use THEIR designs in THEIR bar mitzvah invitations!” For Brendon, his invitation was designed with the look and feel of his You Tube channel (at the time). We used the same colors and the same fonts. For Drew, his invitation incorporated a logo, Star of David and background design that he designed himself using a program he learned about because of his interest in the digital realm.

You Tube Bar Mitzvah Invitation
Brendon’s bar mitzvah invitation mimicked the look of his You Tube channel.


Drew’s designed his own Star of David graphic and custom pattern for his bar mitzvah invitation.

The invitation sets the tone for the event and should reflect the personalities of who the event is for. And you can’t get that personal touch from an invitation you pick out of a book. Invitation Maven can help you create your perfect wedding invitation, bar mitzvah invitation or corporate event invitation and make sure it reflects YOU.

Where do I start? The 3 most important things to know before you start planning your child’s bar mitzvah

You’re planning your son’s bar mitzvah. It’s your first time planning a party that’s this significant. Even if you’ve done this before, a million questions are swirling through your head (I know…I’ve been there. I’ve planned three!). But the most pressing one probably is: WHERE DO I START?

It’s common to feel confused and perhaps overwhelmed. You need to decide the venue, the food, the theme, the decorations, the invitations, the entertainment, and on and on. I assure my clients that the first decisions they make regarding their big event are the hardest, and the farther we get in the process, the easier the decisions become. But to make it easier, I’ve narrowed the millions of choices down to the three most important things you need to know first. The rest will fall into place.

The first and MOST important decision you make, the one that will really guide every decision that comes next, is WHO. WHO do you want to invite to share this incredible simcha with you? Do you want a small, intimate family gathering with only your immediate relatives and closest family friends, or do you want ALL of “your people” there, which might mean a few hundred guests? Either way, you’re making the WHO…the PEOPLE…the most important thing.

Once you decide WHO you want to invite, it’s nice to know how many to expect will actually attend. In general, these are my rules of thumb regarding attendance:

Under 50 invited: 10% decline
75–100 invited: 10% – 25% decline
100+ invited: 20% – 30% decline
150+ invited: 25% – 35% decline

As you can see, the more people you invite, the larger the percentage of people who can’t or won’t make it. If you think about it, this makes sense. With a smaller, more intimate affair, you’re likely limiting the guest list to the people you’re closest with. Those people tend to make more of an effort to attend special occasions such as this. As you expand the guest list to include more casual friendships or business relationships, those people tend not to make your event their priority. It’s not personal; it’s just life. But understanding these general rules can help you with your next decision: HOW MUCH.

The next thing you need to know is how much you can afford to spend. Put another way: What’s your budget for your event? The most effective way to do this is to prioritize. Start with the three most important things you want at your event. These can be things such as a specific venue, live music, a particular DJ or photographer, a special menu, etc. Creating this short list of priorities will help you focus your budget on the things that are most important to you.

One thing you should keep in mind as you’re preparing your budget is: will this work? My suggestion to you is to be realistic as you’re trying to figure out how much to spend as costs can easily get out of hand.

The best way to be realistic is to do some research. The internet is full of resources to help you get an idea of what things cost in your area. Create a spreadsheet for each of your priorities then add in other things you would love to have. Pretty soon, you’ll start to have an idea of what you can and cannot afford and can prioritize what’s most important to you.

Now that you’ve decided WHO to invite and HOW MUCH you’re willing to spend, you can start to think about WHERE to have your party.

One reason why the first two steps are so important is because you don’t want to book a venue with a maximum capacity of 75 if you’ve got over 150 people on your guest list. Conversely, venues with high minimums may not be worth the cost if you’re only inviting 75 people. But once you “pencil in” your guest list and you know how much you’re willing to spend, you can start looking for venues that will fit your budget.

The venue you choose will eventually dictate the rest of the details of your bar mitzvah. For example, a large hotel ballroom with lush carpeting and decorative drapes and wall treatments will require different décor than venue at a local summer camp. Similarly, a venue on the beach with large windows overlooking the ocean will provide a very different feel than a venue at a local bowling alley or other kid-friendly locale.

There are two ways to narrow down your search for an appropriate venue: by LOCATION and by TYPE OF VENUE.

If, for example, your bar mitzvah service is at the synagogue near your home, you may want to consider a venue that’s a short distance away so your guests don’t have to travel too far between locations. However, if you’re having the ceremony and party at the same venue, you could venture a little farther away.

Regarding the type of venue, are you having a banquet with a meal and dancing or a kids’ party where the location can be more informal?

The easiest way to find potential locations is through an internet search and by asking your friends for recommendations. Blogs of local event professionals are also a great place to search for ideas because many of them write about local venues and post pictures. That way you can get a feel for the venue as it is being used. Finally, schedule a site visit. But before you go, find out as much as you can before you go so you don’t waste your time looking at a place that won’t fit your needs.

Once you nail down these three elements, the rest of the details of your party will quickly fall into place. To help you get started, get my FREE “BIG PARTY GUEST LIST SURVIVAL GUIDE: How to stay sane when 100 or more people are celebrating with you!” by clicking here: FREE SURVIVAL GUIDE.