How to make Grandma proud of your wedding invitations

Whether you've gotten married in the past or are currently planning your nuptials, chances are you've had a run in with.... wedding etiquette. And not just any wedding etiquette. If you're southern gal like myself, then there are aaaaall these little nooks and crannies where that silly proper nonsense is supposed to go. You know the part I mean, the part your grandmother will be looking for.

How to make Grandma proud of your wedding invitations with traditional etiquette from Hands of Hollis in Dallas, Texas

Basically what g-ma is looking for is - you guessed it - tradition. And what does that look like exactly? Well, depending on your region, your culture, and your own personal taste, it will absolutely be different from bride to bride. 

All wedding invitations follow the some similar guidelines though, right? Bride and groom names, the date, the location, the time, probably the host names, and don't forget that line about, oh yeah, inviting them to your wedding. These things are kinda a given, but today - for tradition's (aka Grandma's) sake - we'll go over some elements your more traditional guests might admire if you chose to include them.

 

WORDING

 Photography by Grey Door Photography

Basic elements aside, Grandma is looking for something else. She's looking for traditional wording that goes something like:

"Mr. and Mrs. John Smith cordially invite you to celebrate the marriage of their daughter..."
Probably also "At five o'clock in the evening"

Don't get me wrong - I love a good, modern wedding invite. Something like "Laurel and Matt are gettin' hitched! Here's the deets! Free food and booze! HIGH FIVE!" I can just hear the pearl clutching, can't you?!

But if you're looking to add some proper charm to your invitations, go with grandma and stick with the wordy version. Who knows, someday, when you look back on your invite, you might appreciate the tradition over some flash-in-the-pan, trendy wording. Just sayin. (Or is that my mom talkin?!)

 

INNER ENVELOPES

This might surprise you, but I'm a big cheerleader for some inner envelopes. A lot of brides think they are out of their budget, when most of the time, it only raises your stationery budget by about 3-5%. In my opinion, it's just not a huge increase. When you're talking about the difference between pretty litter and an actual keepsake, the inner envelope goes a long way.

It protects the actual invitation from the dreaded abusive postal service whose machines I swear to God eat mail for breakfast. The tradition also stems from back in the day when your house servant used to deliver the mail to the snobs upstairs. (Think Downton Abbey, y'all!) The invitation was delivered to your residence safely housed inside its double envelope home, removed from said outer envelope by said house servant, and safely handed off to whomever's name was lovingly adorned the front of the inner envelope. That way the envelope was free from the postman's manhandling and the invitation (and other enclosure cards) have somewhere to be stored that is neat and tidy. These are also supposed to be ungummed and not meant to be sealed.

Bottom line, yes, the inner envelope is an extra expense (albeit probably not as much as you think) and it's a bit archaic but in my opinion, this is one area of tradition that grandma knows what she's talking about. I mean, think about how many haggard invitations she's received over her lifetime. Just get the damn envelopes.

 

RESPONSE ENVELOPE

Whenever brides ask me, "Do people really send these back?" My answer is always the same, "As long as you make it as easy as possible for them, YES!" That means tradition is also right on this one too. Make sure you aren't sending incomplete suites! ACK! By that, I mean, do not send out your suites without properly addressing and adding postage to your rsvps envelopes. That is, if you wanna get those cards back! (And trust you need those cards back!)

Besides, Grandma is sure to snub her nose if she has to make a special trip down to the post office to retrieve her next book of stamps all because her non-traditional granddaughter decided not to add postage like tradition dictated in the first place. Don't even get me started if she has to make a phone call to find out the return address. Or worse. A text message.

 Photography by Peaches with Honey

PUNCTUATION

Most people don't realize that there's actually supposed to be very little punctuation on a wedding invitation. Really the only place a period should exist is after a title like "Mr." or "Dr."

This isn't a newsletter. Even though the verbiage is written like sentences, adding periods and colons is often unnecessary. Though there is typically a comma between the day and month if you're writing out the date. Also the city, state. But the jury is still out on whether it's "Two thousand eighteen" or "Two thousand and eighteen". For me, I tend to drop the "and" but that's me. Maybe ask Grandma what she thinks. She's sure to have an opinion.

 

 Photography by Moni Lynn Images

ABOUT THOSE KIDS

We all love the precious children in our lives. They are the future! But if on this night, their presence is not requested, make sure you handle that with grace. (Grandma honestly might not care about this one y'all lol)

I'm not a huge fan of lines like "Adult Reception" or especially a line that specifically says "NO KIDS YO!" Instead, I always recommend the inner envelope be your saving grace on this one. (There it is again, bein' all awesome and underappreciated!)

You can have your inner envelopes addressed to ONLY those invited to the wedding. Don't want kids? Don't put their names or the word "family" anywhere on there. Those parents will know! And if they don't come because their kids aren't welcome or they can't get a sitter, then that's just something you'll have to deal with. (It's not the end of the world!) Chances are no one will lose sleep over it in the end. Except maybe that one cousin with 500 rowdy kiddos who attends all events with kazoos, their new puppy, and enough snacks to feed an army. On second thought, invite that cousin and fire your caterer! Goldfish and veggie straws will be had by ALL!

Bottom line, proper wedding etiquette does exist. Do I recommend it to all brides for all weddings? No way! Some of my brides are the most proper little southern belles you could imagine. Her guests are on the lookout for the above mentioned traditional elements. That bride wants to make her g-ma proud, and I love that! For her, I always recommend the most traditional route. For others though, that might not be the case, and that's ok too. Brides are like snowflakes - no two are the same.

Every bride has to decide for themselves what level of "properness" they are going for. Maybe each detail needs to be decked out in the most flowery fashion or they wanna make up words like "properness". As the bride, you totally call the shots, and I am here to create what YOU have in mind. I love that more and more brides are bucking trends and going outside the norm for wedding invitations, but there will always be a place for Grandma's version of what your wedding suite should look like. Luckily, there's room for both.

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Tips for styling stationery flat shots without going broke

We see them all the time, right? We drool over the effortlessly placed cards and ribbons and ring boxes and think to ourselves, HOW? For me, when I first started out in this business, I had a million questions about how these gorgeous photos were composed. They seemed so easy, and yet, when the time came to create them, I was second guessing myself and overthinking every single piece I placed on the board. And you know what made me get better at it? Good old fashioned practice! (And not overthinking it!)

Hands of Hollis | Fine Art Stationery | Tips for Styling Stationery Flat Shots

This isn't just for stationery designers either, wedding photographers, this is for you too! More and more brides are looking to be reminded of the little details they might have overlooked on their big day. Remind your brides to bring their wedding suite to the venue, and when she's not looking, style a few shots with her veil, her shoes, the rings, her flowers, literally any pretty detail will do the trick! So here they are, my best tips for styling stationery for gorgeous Pinterest worthy flat shots.

 Diy stying board, hand-dyed cheesecloth, and clearance bin spool and scissors make for one gorgeous and affordable styled shot. Photo by Lexie Faucher Photography

Diy stying board, hand-dyed cheesecloth, and clearance bin spool and scissors make for one gorgeous and affordable styled shot.
Photo by Lexie Faucher Photography

The first thing I knew I wanted to find were styling boards, but then I saw the price tags! Yikes! Don't get me wrong, there are AMAZING makers out there creating stunning styling boards that really will set your flat shots up for perfection. (And someday I will own them!) If you've got it in your budget for these, go for it. You will not regret it. But if you're like me and trying really hard not to bankrupt your family with your business then by all means take my advice and make them yourself.

 Faux shiplap lovliness right here!

Faux shiplap lovliness right here!

Now, it's N.E.V.E.R been above me to pick up doors, windows, chairs, even full size desks off the side of the road, give it some DIY love, and find the perfect corner for it in my house. (Fun fact: most of the furniture in my house was free then refurbed!) It only made sense to apply that to my styling boards. 

Overall, I made 5 boards that you'll see pop up in my flat lays from materials like: a cabinet door from an old dresser, (slight digression real quick: I'm 99% sure it was my neighbor's ex-wife's furniture he was sawing down into "firewood". So, in a way, I've preserved that for her - nice, right? Maybe? Ok, maybe not, moving on.) Then, I had 4 inch wide white wood boards cut down to create a faux shiplap styling board. This one is definitely my fave and most versatile board. It's also the most trendy, so if you gain ONE thing from this blog post, go make a faux shiplap styling board. Just FYI, it. is. HEAVY! Added to this list is a gray stained board, a sand-textured board, and a foam board with linen fabric stretch over it and literally just hot glued on. For these 5 boards, I spent less than $100 in materials, and it took me a couple days to make them - that's it!

Next up were the styling pieces. I scoured clearance racks for wooden spoons, raided my mom's jewelry box for antique ring boxes and costume jewelry, scoped out garage sales, estate sales and especially antique malls looking for the perfect styling pieces that wouldn't break the bank. Because, I mean, come on, I was starting a brand-spankin new business, not cruising along in a fully fleshed out, profit-wielding power house.

To my repertoire, I added hand-dyed cheesecloths, (more on that here in a sec) silk snippets and notions, floral scissors, (thanks, Prime!) wooden spools, wax seals and really any other little lovely I could dig out of the clearance bin at Hobby Lobby. I also highly recommend finding various colors and sizes of things like pretty trays, small plates, chargers, wood slices, metallic jewelry dishes or servingware, heck I use a big silver plate-shaped trophy my dad won in a golf tournament in 1979! Even the stamps I use are scrapbooking pieces that I got for my birthday in middle school. Yes, I kept them all these years. The point is, you never know what you might already have around that can be used in styling flat shots. Also, be sure to find stuff that flows with your branding for overall style cohesion.

 This is my linen board. It cost me a total of $3 to make since I already had a hot glue gun and loads of glue sticks thanks to a past stint into wreath making. 

This is my linen board. It cost me a total of $3 to make since I already had a hot glue gun and loads of glue sticks thanks to a past stint into wreath making. 

 On this one, i thought it'd be neat to show you three different ways we styled this incredible handmade suite. In this first flat lay, we wanted to let the paper do all the talking so very few styling pieces were added. When doing this type of layout, keep your lines super duper straight! one crooked line will throw it all off! Photo by: Peaches with honey photography

On this one, i thought it'd be neat to show you three different ways we styled this incredible handmade suite. In this first flat lay, we wanted to let the paper do all the talking so very few styling pieces were added. When doing this type of layout, keep your lines super duper straight! one crooked line will throw it all off!
Photo by: Peaches with honey photography

 Here we used both the table and the floor to create depth. We Added in a pretty pop of color with a ring box, some greenery, a "vintage" stamp, a wax seal and voila! you've got yourself a gorgeous flat shot.

Here we used both the table and the floor to create depth. We Added in a pretty pop of color with a ring box, some greenery, a "vintage" stamp, a wax seal and voila! you've got yourself a gorgeous flat shot.

 I love this last style with everything all piled on top of each other on this beautiful mirrored tray. It was so fun seeing how differently everyone styled my suite. Everyone made it their own and that's what I love about styled PHOTO SHOOTS! everyone will come up with something totally unique! Photo by: Peaches with honey photography

I love this last style with everything all piled on top of each other on this beautiful mirrored tray. It was so fun seeing how differently everyone styled my suite. Everyone made it their own and that's what I love about styled PHOTO SHOOTS! everyone will come up with something totally unique!
Photo by: Peaches with honey photography

 No styling board? No problem! Use. the. floor. if you have to. toss some earrings, some ribbon, deconstruct some florals and have fun with it! when everything is pretty, you can't go wrong! Photo by: Grey door photography

No styling board? No problem! Use. the. floor. if you have to. toss some earrings, some ribbon, deconstruct some florals and have fun with it! when everything is pretty, you can't go wrong!
Photo by: Grey door photography

But maybe you're not shooting wedding stationery? Or you're going for a different style? Then great! Use pieces that coordinate with the stationery design. Make it as quirky or silly as you want it!

 When photographing an invitation I made for my son, we used his cars and colored pencils! Photo by Lexie Faucher Photography

When photographing an invitation I made for my son, we used his cars and colored pencils!
Photo by Lexie Faucher Photography

Less really is more when it comes to styling stationery flat lays. I know it's so hard to edit yourself and not include everything but the kitchen sink, but trust me on this. Some of my favorite shots of my work are just that. Shots of my work with juuust a touch of detail here and there. Remind yourself to show restraint.

 Less is always more! Protip: Gotta garden outside? Go grab some flowers! Our yellow and orange zinnias did the trick for this simple bee themed birthday invitation. Photo by: Lexie faucher photography

Less is always more! Protip: Gotta garden outside? Go grab some flowers! Our yellow and orange zinnias did the trick for this simple bee themed birthday invitation.
Photo by: Lexie faucher photography

 Play with textures and don't be afraid to mix it up! Photo by: Lexie Faucher Photography

Play with textures and don't be afraid to mix it up!
Photo by: Lexie Faucher Photography

Couple more pointers for you, remember those old school pink erasers we had when we were kids? Get you a couple of those to use to prop up your stationery. This creates depth and can be used to level out cards laying on weird surfaces - like the shot above! You can't see it, but there's an eraser under there keeping that pretty little invite perfectly level. You can also use watch batteries, your husband's wedding band, even a stack of coins to create some height on your cards, so it's not just flat on your styling surface. 

And I've said this once, but it's worth saying again, keep. your. lines. straight! Unless you're going for that "just tossed it down and it fell beautifully" look, get your right angles RIGHT, homegirl!

"But, Hollis, I wanna hear more about the hand-dyed cheesecloth!" Ok, ready to blow your mind? I bought $2 cheesecloths from Walmart and used household items like Kool Aid, coffee, calligraphy ink, (ok you might not have that one laying around) soy sauce, and even blackberry jam to create the dyes. I made these bad boys on a whim, and they turned out so stunning! Just make sure you use enough vinegar in your dye, so it really holds onto the cheesecloth or else the color could be spotty. Also, I tossed mine in the dryer for no more than 5 minutes then hung them to dry. Otherwise when dried too long, the fabric got really fluffy and was not the texture I was going for. I did 5 clothes all together and 4 came out perfectly the first time. One was WAY too pink (thanks Kool Aid!) and had to be dulled out with my best friend, coffee. She's always saving the day, amiright?

 Here are the cheesecloths I dyed. On a Whim. at midnight. I may have gone to walmart twice that night too.  Dad's trophy sure is making them look gorgeous though!

Here are the cheesecloths I dyed. On a Whim. at midnight. I may have gone to walmart twice that night too.  Dad's trophy sure is making them look gorgeous though!

So to reiterate for you, finding pretty styling pieces does not have to cost you an arm and a leg. If your budget is slim, you can make a lot of it yourself and find fantastic deals both online and in some of your fave craft stores. Chances are, you have a pretty ring holder or plate or even something from your desk that you can use to style your flat shots. Make sure you have a pretty surface, a ton of light, and do NOT forget to keep your lines straight!

Most of all, be creative and have ALL the fun with it! Make it your own by using pieces you already have to show off that beautiful stationery. Remember it's the paper you're photographing and not the stuff around it though. Your styling pieces should complement and never overpower your stationery. After all, she's the star of the show here! Let her have her spotlight.

Custom wedding invitations from Hands of Hollis in Dallas, Texas
 

8 things I've learned as a work at home mom

So I know it seems crazy to start a business while your primary role is caretaker to two kiddos and a house that is never clean enough. But hear me out! When I started planning for my business at the beginning of last year, my babies were still just that - babies!

My son wasn't even walking yet, and my daughter still resembled something of a toddler. Juggling my new desires to branch out into entrepreneurship was daunting at first but with careful planning, dedication, lots and LOTS of coffee, and let's be honest, a little help from the TV and a wonderful community of creatives, I've been able to grow my business in ways I never thought possible. Here's a sampling of some of the things I've learned over the last 18 months that have helped me stay sane and stay productive.

8 Things I've Learned as a Work At Home Mom Hands of Hollis Fine Art Stationery

1. KEEP REGULAR BUSINESS HOURS

I'll start with this one because it's probably the most important thing I've learned, and it was NOT easy at first. As my daughter has gotten older, I've even recruited her to help me keep an eye on the clock. This way the kids know exactly when mommy is working and when mommy is ready to play. Ideally it also keeps me from getting distracted because I know at a certain time, work stuff will be shut down and playtime will begin. Since my kiddos are little and I'm not at all a morning person who wakes up with patience and joy, (until I've had my coffee) I spend my mornings responding to emails and getting the boring business-y stuff done first. Also, I always always always work during nap or rest time. That's like when moms get stuff done! If you look closely at my social media, you will notice a trend of posts between 1-3 pm because that's when my kiddos are asleep and out of my hair. For me, I've learned that a regular schedule makes it way easier to get things done.

 

2. LEAVE YOUR HOUSE SOMETIMES

Ideally we'd do something everyday, but that's not always the case. I worked really hard this summer to make sure my kiddos had playdates, activities, and structured events like they do during the school year. A bored child will NOT let you work! Their minds need stimulation and play and the TV will not do the job. A quick trip to the library or treating your kids to ice cream will liven the mood and keep everybody from feeling the cabin fever. I've learned outings big and small are 100% crucial to everyone staying calm. I mean, who doesn't love a change of scenery once in awhile?

 

3. MAKE YOURSELF UP A BIT

 this lularoe irma is one of my fave things in the closet!

this lularoe irma is one of my fave things in the closet!

Sure, I work at home and me and the kids spend most of our time here, but the basis of this journey has always been to put myself first sometimes. That goes for my appearance as well! No, I'm not talking about a full face and high heels at home - unless that's what you're in to! But for me, I feel like I've reached a happy medium somewhere in the mom-chic world.

Thanks to leggings, tunics, cardigans, (if it's ever cold in Texas again) tons of easy dresses and comfy, cute shoes that match everything in my closet, I've got an easy style that's comfy and looks great all day. My hair might be in a top knot or braid, but I've learned to be ok with that! I almost never have time to blow dry my hair, and when I do, inevitably that's the day I get all hot and sweaty in my garden. Ok, that's everyday... 

I've also figured out how to get my makeup routine down to about five minutes thanks to a BB cream, eyeliner, and mascara. And most importantly, I learned to give myself a break for those days that even easy outfits and hair are too much. 

 

4. LISTS AND PLANNERS ARE YOUR BFF

For real, I don't know what I'd do without my Passion Planner. I have so many plates spinning in the air at once that it'd be impossible to do it all without it. What's great is with my planner, I can separate both personal and work goals for the week. I can even list them by priority, so I know what really needs to be done and what can maybe wait.

I'm also going to piggyback on this planning section to tell you that you NEED to be automating as many things as you can. While still pretty new to automating my business, it's been a total gamechanger! There are plenty of platforms, both free and paid, that allow you to schedule your social media posts and keep them organized. I have friends who sing their praises for Hootsuite, and I myself am a yuuuge fan of Planoly for Instagram. The tools are out there to keep you organized and once you start using them, you'll learn how crazy you are for waiting so long to find them.

 

Things I've Learned as a Work At Home Mom Hands of Hollis

5. FIND YOUR TRIBE

If you've followed me for long then you know I'm a BIG fan of collaboration in my field. Working with others has taught me more than I ever thought possible about this crazy creative industry of mine. My advice is find a network of people that makes you feel like you have coworkers. I have found it to not only be invaluable to my business, but I've made a ton of friends! They are my soundboard. They listen when I need to vent. They lift up great ideas and gently hold me back on ones that might not be so hot.

Whether it's a small local circle of like-minded business people or you're part of a large national group, like The Rising Tide Society, finding your tribe can make all the difference for those who work at home. Especially because a lot of us are one-man shows, and the kids don't have many ideas beyond fart jokes. Then again, I'm sure there's a market for that!

 

6. FIND THE POSITIVE

 In this moment, I had so much work to do, but then it hit me. I realized... that this is all of us. Messy hair, a cold cup of coffee kept company by endless to do lists, sitting backwards in my chair with a sleeping toddler on my back while designing and trying my best to stay on task. See what i mean? Definitely not my prettiest moment, and yet the good is there. I got my work done, and my son got his nap! Word is still out on that hair though. Yikes!

In this moment, I had so much work to do, but then it hit me. I realized... that this is all of us. Messy hair, a cold cup of coffee kept company by endless to do lists, sitting backwards in my chair with a sleeping toddler on my back while designing and trying my best to stay on task. See what i mean? Definitely not my prettiest moment, and yet the good is there. I got my work done, and my son got his nap! Word is still out on that hair though. Yikes!

One thing you might hear me talking about from time to time is meditation and mindfulness. These things will help you to not dwell on what you didn't get done, and instead consider the things you did accomplish, both professionally and with your kiddos. It will help you find your peace and find the joy in your day through mindful reflection. At the end of the day (or beginning like me) reflect on what's happened or what's to come.

Maybe you didn't get to everything on your list and didn't check all the boxes in your planner, but did you guys go outside and paint for an hour? Or play in the sprinkler? Did you get that blog post written or those social media posts scheduled? Or did you fold that mountain of laundry that's been waiting for 3 days? Did you actually make it to the post office before it closed for once? Or maybe instead you and your brood plopped on the couch for a rainy day movie. Or maybe you went to the gym. Oh yeah, have you drank enough water today? Texted your mom back? See what I mean? It's a lot and the point is, you might be able to get it all done, you might not. The thing to remember is to give yourself some grace when you fail and not just praise when you succeed. Remember y'all, we can have it all, just not all in one day.

 

7. BUSY DOES NOT EQUAL PRODUCTIVE

I will preface this section with THIS IS WHERE I NEED TO TAKE MY OWN DAMN ADVICE! Close down your social media, I repeat, close those tabs (well maybe not this one yet!) and FOCUS on what it is you've got to get done today. Refer back to those lists and your planner to stay on track. Believe me, I have two kids, three cats, a husband and probably 200 plants out back that need me every single day. Distraction is the name of the game around here. It's easy to lose focus then all of a sudden you realize you've been surfing reddit for the last 20 minutes. I've learned to try and save that busy work for when clients and little people are no longer counting on me. It's still a work in progress though!

 

8. YOU DON'T NEED TO BE A MARTYR BY WORKING ALL THE TIME

Reality check! Are you working to live or living to work? I would rather have less money and more time to do what I love with the people I love rather than spend all my time working and worshipping the almighty dollar. Obviously we want to be comfortable, no one wants to struggle to pay their bills, and the purpose of operating a business is to make money. Ok. I get that. Sometimes to make ends meet you just gotta take a second job or work some freelance on the side. I get that too. But the end goal should always be to get out of that rat race as soon as you can. Scaling back on your lifestyle and maybe sacrificing eating out is the key - it was for us! Because before you know it, your babies will be grown, your youth will have passed, and what will you have to show for it? A thriving business is a HUGE goal of mine, and I'm getting there. But I'm never going to put it before my family, because they are the reason I've begun this journey in the first place.

 Photo by Melissa Claire Photography

Photo by Melissa Claire Photography

 Photo by Melissa Claire Photography

Photo by Melissa Claire Photography


BONUS: THE KIDS ARE LEARNING SOMETHING TOO -- INDEPENDENCE!

In a world with the perfect pinterest moms, helicopter moms, homeschooling moms, it's easy to think you should be spending every moment teaching or entertaining your kiddos with something. But it hasn't always been that way. When my kids see me work, not only do they see me doing something I love and working hard to achieve that dream, they are learning to keep themselves entertained. Whether it's a book, coloring, painting, toys, sometimes a little TV, it's not my sole purpose to entertain my children. Learning how to be independent is one of the most important gifts I could teach them at a young age. In fact, the sooner the better!

SO there you have it. Working at home with kids, whether it's for yourself, for an employer, full time or part time, is freaking tough! But if working towards your goals really lights your fire every single day you sit down at your desk, then you're in the right place. You're doing the right thing. So don't give up and don't stop!

 

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The ultimate guide to creating your wedding invitation suite

When planning your wedding invitations, it's easy to see why so many can be overwhelmed by all the different options for enclosure cards, extras, embellishments, and add ons. At first you might be thinking "Hollis, I want it ALL!" but that's not always feasible. With my Ultimate Guide to Creating Your Wedding Invitation Suite, I will help clear the air for what's necessary, what little extras make the biggest impact, and what's just fun to add on if you've got room in your budget for some fine art stationery.

Ultimate Guide to Wedding Invitation Suite from Hands of Hollis in Dallas, Texas
 Photography by Lexie Faucher Photography

Photography by Lexie Faucher Photography

THE BARE BONE ESSENTIALS

Obviously the most important piece of your wedding suite would be the invitation card itself. This will include the betrothed-to-be's names as well as the parents' names if you're looking to go the more traditional route. This is the card that will also house the big date and time as well as venue name and address. That's usually all I'll recommend go on the invite because after that the card can start looking cluttered. It's an invitation, not a newsletter, after all!

Any other pertinent information can go on the Reception or Details Card. This would be an additional enclosure card that compliments the invitation but ideally doesn't mirror the invitation design exactly. Here you can put what kind of attire you recommend your guests wear, whether or not you've decided to include children on your special day, or maybe you've even created a wedding website to explain even more. Whatever the case, the necessity for an additional card like this is crucial to keeping your main invite clear of all the details, and plus your wording choices are endless!

 Photography by Lexie Faucher Photography

Photography by Lexie Faucher Photography

Last but of course not least is the card your guests will fill out to respond with their attendance. This card can sometimes include meal selections if a seated dinner will be served or you can simply put a line for guests to write in their names and check a box stating whether or not they'll be attending.

It's also recommended that you address and stamp the return envelopes for your guests to make it easy to send back. Let's face it, if your guests have to track down your address and run to the post office for stamps, it's less likely you'll hear from them. Take that extra step and I promise you'll have a more accurate headcount for your wedding vendors.

 

BIG IMPRESSIONS WITH LITTLE DETAILS

Now that you know what your wedding invitation suite needs, allow me to indulge in what it wants. Before you're like "Hold up, Hollis, my paper budget is slim!" Let me tell you, you don't have to break the bank and add all the bells and whistles to your suite. In this section, I'll break down my personal fave choices for adding little details for big results.

 Photography by Lexie Faucher Photography

Photography by Lexie Faucher Photography

The first and probably most important detail would be the envelope liner. It seems so simple, right? But it's a detail that is often overlooked. When planning your wedding suite, remember that any detail from your invitation card can be added to your envelope liner. Have a monogram? Put it on the liner! And if your suite calls for it, think outside just plain old white for your outer envelope. A colorful envelope with a coordinating liner lets your guests know right away that you've thought of every detail when planning this special day.

Another detail to consider would be to have your envelopes professionally addressed by a calligrapher. While digital address printing is more economical, calligraphy adds a special touch your invitation suite that can't be beat. And with so many different styles of calligraphy to choose from, it's easy to find the right one to compliment your invitation design.

While I don't offer calligraphy myself, I've worked with several extremely talented calligraphers, such as Carousel Atelier Calligraphy, that I'd be happy to introduce you to. Below is just a sampling of her gorgeous calligraphy on my Bohemian Gemstone suite, available in my shop.

 Photography by Capture Life Moments Calligraphy by Carousel Atelier Calligraphy

Photography by Capture Life Moments
Calligraphy by Carousel Atelier Calligraphy

The last little detail I'll clue you in on is the belly band! This seemingly insignificant addition makes ALL the difference, I tell you what. Not only can it show off a monogram or be made from specialty or even handmade paper, but it also holds all the pieces of your suite together, ensuring your wedding invitations arrive in the same state that they left in. The band can be paper, twine, ribbon, or even thin acrylic or metal. Heck, I've even used the metal twine you use to hang picture frames on your wall! There's no end to the choices of materials that can be used and when it's both stylish and functional? Well, then it's a great bang for your buck, and the perfect way to spruce up a basic wedding suite.

 

THE REALLY FUN SPLURGY STUFF

I'm talking about extra enclosure cards, invitations mats, glitter paper stock, specialty papers, wax seals, folders, folios, and all the fun things you see on Pinterest! Maybe picking all of them doesn't quite fit into your budget, so maybe just go with one or two. Here are my fave picks for the extravagant wedding suites that your guests will remember forever.

When you have a lot of out of town guests or your wedding is a destination wedding, it's nice to give your guests an idea of where they can stay while vacationing to attend your wedding. Often, brides will acquire a special rate for groups for weddings. If that's the case, an additional Accommodations card might be best to fill your guests in on the best place to stay. Maybe the hotel offers a shuttle to your venue? Maybe they have other amenities you'd like to alert your attendees to? Let them know here! And if you've reserved a block of rooms, be sure to indicate what name your guests will find that rate under.

 Map Design by Cordial Punch Press

Map Design by Cordial Punch Press

Another special treat for you guests might be a map of the area in which you're getting married. It can be as simple as mapping out wedding destinations or you can even include fave restaurants or hotspots that you think your guests might enjoy when not at the wedding festivities. Check out this beautiful map from Lyndsay Bullock of Cordial Punch Press. It's both functional and beautifully coordinated with its matching wedding suite. People might have maps on their phones, but this is a very special artistic touch to accompany your wedding suite.

Lastly and probably my absolute favorite new trend in wedding suites is the Top Ten! Getting married in your fave city and want to clue your guests in on all the best eating, drinking, and tourist-y type spots in town? Then have your stationer create a Top Ten enclosure card! It can include restaurants, coffee shops, museums, sports venues, hiking trails, or really any attraction local to your wedding destination that might pique your guests' interests.

So now you see how easy it is to get carried away with all the different options available for your wedding invitations. However your invitations don't have to be one of the biggest expenses for your wedding - rarely is that the case. My advice is stick with the essentials mentioned above, and if your budget allows, use this guide to pick a couple stand-out pieces to really make your wedding invitation suite shine. Your big day deserves the best first impression to your guests, and all that is made possible with the right wedding suite.

Hands of Hollis Fine Art Stationery + Design Wedding Invitation Suite
 

What exactly is fine art stationery?

So to really kick off my blog, I thought a good jumping off point would be to explain my side of what it means to create Fine Art Stationery for the wedding world. Much like a Fine Art Photographer, my aim is to create thoughtful and modern design that pushes the envelope for wedding stationery. (So sorry for the obvious paper pun, there!)

What exactly is fine art stationery and custom wedding invitations from Hands of Hollis in Dallas, Texas

First and foremost, this is not just an invite and a response card rattling around inside a thin white envelope. Fine art stationery comes chock full of handmade touches that wow at every turn. It's time to think of all the bells and whistles you can imagine. It could be coordinating envelope liners, handmade paper, wax seals, folios, unique belly bands, the list is endless! When you stop thinking about your wedding invitations in the traditional role of your wedding and start thinking of ways to really give your guests an idea of what's to come on your wedding day, you enter the realm of Fine Art Stationery.

 Photography by Peaches with Honey

Photography by Peaches with Honey

 Photography by Peaches with Honey

Photography by Peaches with Honey

Wanna know the best part? It's SO much fun coming up with new and innovative ways to invite your closest circle to your big day. I've said this before, but I wanna get to know you and your paper love (and let yours get to know mine!) Wedding invitations can be a big undertaking, especially when the options seem endless. With infinite kinds of papers, mats, styles, and production options, it can be overwhelming. But because your wedding invitation is the first thing your guests will see, it needs to be perfect! And that's where I come in!

You see, I've spent a lot of time (and I mean, a LOT of time!) scouting and petting some of the prettiest papers. I've had so much fun doing it that now I want to share that excitement with those who'd plan the most spectacular weddings. Your invitation suites don't have to be one size fits all, so there's nothing I love more than a bride (or groom, let's be real here) that's willing to stir up some crazy new idea for their wedding stationery.

Which brings me to another point, Fine Art Stationery does NOT have to mean handpainted flowers and calligraphy. Now, I'm 100% not knocking stationers who provide those services! I adore the work of calligraphers and painters; it's just not something I'm prepared to bring to the table. My designs can sometimes have a bit of masculine flair to them with bold typography and a darker color palette. I like to make atypical wedding invitations and sometimes that means going down a path of androgyny.

Not everyone is looking for girly paper goods for their wedding and that's okay! I find that more and more men want a say in their wedding invitations. Most of the time when we talk about wedding planning it's "bride this, bride that" which I'll give you, is true most of the time. But for those grooms looking for something that resonates with them, I invite you to the world of custom fine art stationery. I think you will find exactly what you're looking for.

Hands of Hollis Fine Art Stationery + Design Wedding Invitation Suite
 Photography by  Anna + Mateo

Photography by  Anna + Mateo

I want you to think of your wedding stationery like your wedding day's brand, if you will. All of the pieces are equally necessary to creating the atmosphere of your big day. And when every piece is custom and coordinated with thoughtful and cohesive design, including matching save the dates, thank you cards, and even day-of pieces like menus, place cards, table numbers, seating charts, welcome bags, or literally any other piece of paper your wedding guests see are thoughtfully planned out, it all contributes to an unforgettable day. A day where every little detail makes the biggest difference.

Custom wedding invitations from Hands of Hollis in Dallas, Texas
 

Let me tell you a bit about starting a small business

Before I get into that, let me tell you a bit about the big WHY I started this crazy adventure and the events leading up to it. I've always worked. Since I was 15, I've always had a job and seemingly endless personal projects. Design is in my blood. Whether it's DIY stuff off Pinterest or refurbing furniture off the side of the road or overhauling my closet, my diet, or myself. Anything really. I'm constantly moving forward towards a different and better version of what's next.

Starting Creative Small Business Hands of Hollis - Custom Wedding Invitations in Dallas, Texas
 Back in 2015 while 37 weeks preggo with #2!

Back in 2015 while 37 weeks preggo with #2!

Then pregnancy happened!

I'm sure some of you can relate to the unplanned progress of your life towards parenthood. It doesn't make it any less sweet, but it does absolutely alter the path you take. And given my equally unexpected and sudden unemployment during my first pregnancy, we decided that me staying home with our baby was the best option for everyone.

Let me tell you, those first few years at home with my baby girl brought me unimaginable joy. It was the ultimate new "project" and one of the most fulfilling phases of my life. We then added a little boy to the mix in 2015, and it was like he'd been there all along.

As my babies started getting more independent (ok, Kal was 1 when I started my business ha!) I felt like it was ok to be a little more selfish than I'd been in the previous 4 years. Plus after all that time of selfless mothering and dedication, I started to feel like I was losing an original piece of my puzzle - one that included my version of creativity. I realized I hadn't made any time for that in a long time and it was on me to find it again.

 

Enter: My crazy idea to start this business!

Equipped with my education from The University of North Texas and a desire to carve out a new artistic life for myself, I began planning my business in early 2016 with my official launch on June 1 of that year. I tried to track down a photo of me from that time where (picture this) I'm sitting at my desk, chair turned about backwards, with a sleeping baby on my back. It was thrilling, and I was ready to conquer the world!

Initially, I wanted this business to be about my stationery sets, but what I didn't realize was my skills as a graphic designer were emerging as a far bigger opportunity for business growth. And like a lot of new entrepreneurs, I was also afraid of failure, which kept me in my comfort zone of baby showers and kids' birthday parties. Weddings seemed so scary and like so. much. pressure. But they also seemed like a challenge. And with those challenges came goals!  I never thought I'd see myself as a wedding stationery designer, yet here I am, fully in love with my work and the daily challenges it creates.

Starting a business felt overwhelming and lonely at times. There were times when I thought, what did I get myself into and WHY? That was until I was introduced to a group called The Rising Tide Society. Suddenly I was thrust into this world of like-minded creatives who were seriously kicking some ass. All on their own. With no boss and collaboration with other creatives in the field and (oh yeah, most importantly!)  loads of admirable, fearless determination. Together they were raising each other up and finding purpose in their creativity and sharing it with the world. A rising tide lifts all boats, as they brilliantly quote JFK.

Suddenly I shared their determination! There was this fire to turn my craft into something more. I had studied entrepreneurship, business, advertising, and marketing in college. And even though my degree was in journalism, I had carved out my own teeny creative world within my uni’s newspaper. I realized I had everything I needed to make this dream a reality. It was with RTS that I realized I have what it takes. If these fearless women could do it, so could I!

Starting Creative Small Business Hands of Hollis

So if you've made it this far...

Now you know why I decided to make the crazy decision to start a business with two kids under 6. Allow me to let me enlighten you on how it’s going so far… It. Is. Tough. Like hilariously tough! The WAHM struggle is 100% real. So real, in fact, that I can tell you while writing this initial blog post, my daughter tried to argue with me about taking her afternoon nap. It was 10:15. I had to change two unspeakably awful diapers and break up three fights over not sharing the same damn toy when we literally have 50 million toys. I also received four phone calls, none of which could have been ignored. And twice someone knocked on my front door, both of which were absolutely ignored. Ain't nobody got time for that!

Where were these distractions when I felt compelled to clean the playroom for the third time this morning? While making breakfast like a zombie? Or while folding my third load of laundry?! Nope! They come right when I somehow manage to get both kids to play quietly in their rooms, so I can settle into work-mode. That's the work-at-home mom life in a nutshell!

 Work life + mom life = real life

Work life + mom life = real life

It's comically difficult, but somehow you just work through it. It means late nights and maybe never sitting down. It means cold coffee and maybe lunch was at 2pm. And maybe it was hot dogs. Sometimes it means tossing the kids in the backyard with a big cup of iced water and saying GO PLAY! 

But really I wouldn’t have it any other way. Being busy (like this) has kept me more motivated and creatively charged than I’ve felt in years. I have so many ideas that my journals are exploding with thoughts. My hands can’t keep up or rather my free time. Honestly it’s both!

As I sit here typing this, all I can feel is how grateful I am for this chance. How grateful am I to have been given the clarity to truly find something for myself again? This business is hard work, but I’m not afraid of that. I get to show my kids how to follow their passions and how to work hard for them. I get to show them that, yes, it's really hard, but it's still completely worth it. Never ever stop chasing those dreams.