I’ve been fascinated with the creativity behind stationery for weddings and other events. The printing process is so much more than invitations and save-the-dates, so I set out to learn more.
I was introduced to Ryan Basile of Double Trip Press in Chicago. We discussed the printing process, working with event planners, and the little things that planners and clients should know to get the most out of their paper goods.
Meet Ryan Basile and Double Trip Press
I asked Ryan to tell me his story.
“I have always had a love and passion for making and creating. Since I was a child, I’ve had my hands in various art forms; drawing, painting, sculpting, but it wasn’t until I was older that my love of typography and printing came into play. I received a BS in Studio Art focusing in Communication Design from Skidmore College 2008, and my MFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in Visual Communication Design in 2011.”
“It wasn’t until 2009 at SAIC when I discovered the perfect medium for my creative outlet in letterpress. Two years after finishing my MFA, I bought my first press and rented a small 200 square foot space and started my own custom design and printing business that is Double Trip Press. I established Double Trip Press with the mission of not only creating beautiful and the highest quality letterpress printed goods, but to deliver a customer experience on par with that quality of the final product.”
Ryan elaborated a little more about Double Trip Press.
“Double Trip Press is a premium letterpress printing and design studio located in the heart of the East Lakeview neighborhood in Chicago, specializing in a concierge approach to wedding stationery. Since 2013, we have dedicated ourselves not only to the highest quality letterpress printing, but our truly custom design and typography.”
“Our small team of skilled artisans print one color at a time, one print at a time, on vintage printing presses that yield the luxury look and feel fitting for life’s most important events. Since our humble beginnings in that tiny rented space in 2013, our studio has grown and created wedding stationery for hundreds of brides and grooms around the world, all still lovingly referred to by name.”
What’s With The Name, Double Trip Press?
Ryan explained, “On the presses we use, there’s a function called trip. And what trip does is every time you roll the cylinder of the press, it applies ink. So it’s called a trip. A double trip adds a secondary coating of ink and leaves a more saturated impression.”
“So I liked this idea of leaving something behind that was bigger, grander, better, more intense, more saturated than it was initially. Double trip is just a function that leaves a more saturated impression. So we like the idea of the bold impression in the physical sense and the more metaphorical sense.”
The Printing Process For Wedding Stationery
I asked Ryan to explain the process for me in more detail.
“Many of our clients,” he said, “find us through WeddingWire or The Knot.” But Double Trip Press often get referrals through guests seeing their work at weddings and wanting that quality for themselves.
From there, especially if the client is local to Chicagoland, they come into the studio. Ryan explained further.
“Clients come into the studio we’ll talk about how they met, what their vision is for their wedding. I like to learn about their personalities. We talk specifics as far as the overall aesthetic of the event and how they want their guests to feel. So we really talk about bigger things than paper and colors.”
“That initial meeting is my opportunity to learn about their personalities, their event, how they want their guests to feel, and any critical details. We take that into account as well.”
The Next Step In the Printing Process
“From that meeting, I send them what’s called a flat mockup, which is just the different pieces and the technical aspects like what the invitation will look like open or closed.”
The mockup displays the invitation, the RSVP, the envelopes, and additional details. Whatever the components are, Ryan sends the client a breakdown of everything – what they’re getting, how many colors, as well as the pricing.
“If they’re happy with the pricing, we take a 50% deposit, and then we start doing the actual design.”
The Design Phase of Wedding Stationery
“So once we’re in the stationery design phase,” Ryan says, “we just email back and forth the PDF. And once they’re happy with that, I take the design and split it out into different color layers, so each color becomes its own plate.”
“The plates are really thin pieces of hard plastic. The areas that print are raised, and the areas that nothing prints are lower like a deboss or a relief process. We mount that into the press, put ink on, and run the machine one piece of paper at a time. So we’re manually clipping a piece of paper into the press. There’s a crank. We crank it through, and it rolls over, giving an impression and picking up the ink.”
“So from there, once they’re all printed, we let them dry overnight, trim them down, do any assembly, and the process is complete. From the time the couple approves a design, we say a two- to three-week turnaround depending on the time of year.”
When Should Wedding Invitations Go Out?
I asked Ryan what the shoulds are. When should the invitations go out? What should be on the invitations?
“We recommend sending invitations out three months before the event. Etiquette says if you send a save-the-date, you can send it as late as six to eight weeks before the event.”
Ryan made the point that the three-month mark allows for venue adjustments, delays to the ceremony start time, or other client changes. “We start with an earlier deadline, so worst-case scenario they’re done, and people hold onto them for a couple of weeks and then send them out later.”
What Needs To Be Done Before The Stationery Work Can Begin
“As far as the order of events goes, the couple have to have a ceremony location booked with a time that’s committed to. They have to have a reception location and time that’s committed to. There must be meal options, transportation, accommodations, parking if they need it.”
“Those are all things that we put into an invitation, so guests know what’s going to happen, what they’ll need, and what’s provided. So they have to have all those boxes checked before we can start printing.”
However, Ryan mentions that work can begin without all of that information. The design can progress as long as space is left for the details that are yet to be decided.
Tips When Working With A Stationer
I asked Ryan what event planners or clients should know to get the best work from their stationery vendor.
Ryan recommends bringing a mood board, vision board, or even a Pinterest board. Ryan says, “I find that the designs that I do for clients that have an existing Pinterest board end up ten times faster than without.”
“A lot of times, people are not comfortable describing visual things in the depth and level that I want and need. If I have a visual, a swatch of a bridesmaid dress or pictures of a venue or whatever, that’s much more helpful for me.”
But what if you don’t know what you want at all? In that instance, Ryan guides the process by starting simply with shapes. “We start elemental.”
And if that doesn’t spark a preference in the client, Ryan guides further. ” The rectangle is a more traditional form. It’s going to read and appear a bit more classic. The square’s going to be contemporary, modern, minimal.” Since most clients can describe their overall wedding vibe, that, at least, allows Ryan to discover a direction. “We’re talking about shapes of an invitation, so that’s already setting a tone for me. Having that little bit of input is helpful.”
“The same thing goes with the color too. There’s a rationale behind every choice, even shades of white. And I will walk them through each one at a time.”
What Else Can A Printer Do For Your Clients?
There’s a lot more to a printer than an invitation. And yes, more than the save-the-date too.
Ryan explains, “We usually do a ceremony program, place cards, menus, and table numbers. We also do bindery, like a classic guest book, but we’ve started doing these table number guestbooks. So, instead of one big guest book that sits kind of awkwardly off to the side, there’s a small book standing up with a bookmark at each table.”
What a cute idea for event stationery!
Creativity Is Shared With Your Vendors
And that’s the lesson here. Each vendor is a clearinghouse for creative ideas. While you, as an event planner, have your finger on the pulse of the event industry, your vendors do too. And each vendor sees their events through a unique lens. And take from us here a ThymeBase. As we build useful event planning software, we see the singular genius in each event professional.
So talk to amazing artists like Ryan and learn what they’re doing this year. You’ll discover gems to make every event you plan that much more special.
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