Simple or sleek? Bold or brash? Whatever your style, invitations make a strong first impression


ENVELOPE PLEASE | Mark Bennett of Papyrus is especially happy to serve same-sex couples looking to add some flair to their wedding preparations. (Rich Lopez/Dallas Voice)


When same-sex couples decide to wed, tradition can go out the window. But even the funkiest of weddings still need to get the word out, and so the invitation remains a fixture.

From creative wording to fabulous design, the invitation has evolved into a fashionable element of the matrimonial process, adding punch to any ceremony. But Mark Bennett of Papyrus reminds that it also serves a major purpose to keep in mind when designing your own.

“What people forget is that it is the very first impression of the entire event,” Bennett says. “Guests get excited based on what they get in the mail. Some people may say the bride coming down the aisle is the biggest impression, but none of that matters if people aren’t there.”

Bennett is Texas area manager for the stationery chain, which provides a lot more than birthday cards and thank-you notes. And he’s been seeing more same-sex couples come in to select invitations prior to the big day. As a gay man himself, Bennett finds it particularly exciting to help LGBT couples take that step. And while the ordering process is the same, an invitation for gay couples does have unique aspects.

“With guys, they obvious want something more masculine and usually more geometric,” he says.

“But I would say they tend to be more traditional regarding design.”
Wait — gay men?

“OK, traditional with flair,” Bennett laughs. “Female couples can be a little more argumentative, depending on the type of couple they are. But overall, some get emotionally attached to the look.”

And “the look” can be anything. Papyrus offers almost infinite possibilities for that perfect invite, from color combinations to calligraphy or even special touches.

Bennett says “pocket” invites are popular and that colors tend to follow fashion. But really, it’s in the eye of the brides and grooms. Papyrus has met with success with same-sex couples for their vast design options and for having the wherewithal to create out-of-the-box invitations alongside the classic. Even when a couple may not know what they want, a stationery consultant can lead them to their design. Once they offer their design ideas, they then work with the couple to finalize.

“First, we want this to be an enjoyable, comfortable experience,” Bennett says. “Then this becomes really about putting together theirs and our ideas and creating whatever they want it to be.  And then we put it all together by hand so they really do get a unique invitation.”

In short, Bennett’s mission is to give customers exactly what they want.

“We really do focus on always being able to say ‘yes,’” he says. “This is comforting for us and the customer and we want them to feel great about what they got. At Papyrus, we really can make whatever they want no matter how out of the box. If they want fabric, we’ll do it. If they want the invites in a box or mailing tube, we do that. If they even want Swarovski crystals, we can do it.”

Just give them enough time. While Papyrus doesn’t turn away “emergency” events (read: couples who procrastinate), he encourages planning enough time ahead to order and receive the invites well before the mail-out date.

“Our average turnaround is three to four weeks from the date of ordering,” he says. “And an invite should go out six to eight weeks prior to the event. I tell people to start about five months before [the ceremony] to make these decisions.”
Couples also need to leave time to inspect proofs with a detailed eye.

“When they get the proof, it’s common for people to say ‘It looks great, put in the order.’ They really need to look at the date, the spelling. That’s the No. 1 mistake is not going over their proofs in detail,” he says.

Nothing gets a marriage off to a rockier beginning that misspelling your future mother-in-law’s name.

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This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition May 4, 2012.