Ask the Experts: The Stationer

Photo: Brad Paris

Rebecca Schmidt-Ruebensaal

You design some of the best-looking custom-made invitations.
Everything we do is handcrafted, letter-pressed on cotton papers.

What, besides convenience, is a good reason to buy non-custom invitations at places like Kate’s Paperie?
Usually, everything will be in stock. When you make something totally from scratch, you can run into operational glitches. For a client with a guest list of 850, we chose a gold paper that I had sourced from a little Nepalese town. Well, at invitation 200, we ran out. We had to wait an entire month for someone in this town to create more gold paper and to ship it to us from India.

How have your clients personalized their invitations?
I had a groom who wanted to incorporate his Scottish heritage in the invitation, but his bride was terrified that it would make her Laguna Beach clan feel left out. So for the reply-card envelope, we created a liner using the groom’s family tartan, and on the back of the reply card, we had a surfer in a tartan plaid bikini. Another bride used elements from her late mother’s wedding: For the envelope liners, we used pages from the mother’s wedding guest book. The invitation was yellow, the color her bridesmaids wore.

How do you work the venue into the design?
For New York City weddings, we use vintage subway maps, including a great one from the twenties that we found at the New York Public Library, and a font inspired by an old Metro North poster. For a wedding in Nantucket, we replicated the ferry ticket, rubber-stamped and all, and the liner was the classic basket weave pattern. For a St. Kitts wedding, we created a typeface inspired by the lettering used on sugarcane crates that were once produced on the island’s plantations.

Can you custom-design fonts for couples?
Yes—we recently created one which was inspired by a trip to Tulum. There, they paint bright-colored signs onto the façades of white buildings. So we brought this style into the studio and often use it on thicker-than-cardboard white paper.

What’s a popular font?
Lately, people are gravitating towards rounded-edged fonts from the thirties and forties, and the bright graphics of forties travel ads. The Henry is our most in-demand font—it’s a manipulated script font that looks ink-blotted, ideal for a country-wedding invitation.

Has the black-tie invitation become more fun?
Yes. We did a set of wedding correspondence for a couple who created a forest inside a formal ballroom. They brought in moss, ferns, and hung all sorts of lanterns and candles from trees. They wanted their invitation to be similarly romantic and moody, so we did the liners in gold paper and had birds, ferns, and owls nesting inside the font, so to speak.

Destination weddings are logistical dramas. How can a couple get all the info to their guests in a stylish way?
Replicate a map of the island or location, and do little call-outs on the map. Use the call-outs for events like, “Beach Bonfire, 7 p.m., Friday,” and for interesting facts about the locale. It provides a mini-tutorial on the destination. We also do booklets, and the weekend activities are presented like a story.

What is your stance on the reply card?
It should be blank. None of this, “Check here for the clams casino or here for the prime ribs.” Unfortunately, half my clients still want the check box.

Some couples customize everything, down to the last detail. In the paper world, that means doing a customized stamp. Schmidt-Ruebensaal has created some with illustrated monograms, mini-pet portraits, and maps. “You can put anything on the stamp,” she says—as long as it is not copyrighted material or a photo of the two of you making love on your fire escape. Check out (from $17.95 for twenty), and ask about size and weight specifications at your local post office.


Ask the Experts: The Stationer