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How to Design A Gorgeous Wedding Invitation, II



from our book, TopTenZen: Principles of Page Layout

Another trick of the design trade is the use of C.R.A.P., an acronym coined by Robin Williams* (the designer, not the comedian). It stands for four of the main design principles: contrast, repetition, alignment, and proximity. After you lay out your invitation, give it this quick test to see if your invitation is craptastic!

Contrast is the drama queen of design. Think about a black and white photograph that is low contrast and mostly one or two shades of gray. It falls flat and is unmemorable. Now imagine an ANSEL ADAMS photograph that contains sharp black and white and every shade of gray in between—absolutely stunning. Use opposing elements (contrast of size, shape, type style, color, texture, etc.) to produce this powerful impact.

Remember, opposites attract! Contrast cannot be slight or timid. It must be startling like the juxtaposition of the two typefaces in the above invitation, JOOS PRO, a serif font and ADIOS SCRIPT PRO.

There is more to most fonts than upper and lowercase regular. Finesse the type by using additional TYPOGRAPHIC CONTRASTS within each typeface such as small caps, italics, swash capitals, etc. to your advantage. You will see such a difference! Open Type fonts often contain lots of alternative characters or glyphs, you just need to know how to access them. PUGLY PIXEL has a great tutorial on how to access these additional glyphs.

Mother Nature is the master (sunflowers, the nautilus, the rhythm of the tides, etc.). Repetition is most exciting when it is varied according to a pattern (point, counterpoint or AB, AB, AB, etc.) It can actually provide both unity AND variety. Repeating elements such as typeface and color create a unity and a rhythm that are visually pleasing. For Amanda’s wedding, we used the same fonts, colors, images, and materials over and over again in a variety of different ways.

Though alignment is logical, it is all but invisible (like the GRID in Part I of this series). When an invitation is beautifully laid out, we do not notice things like alignment. When it is poorly done, it blinds you like a neon sign. Once you have all of your elements on the page, you must create order out of chaos. First, decide on the wording of your invitation. Next, organize the text into meaningful groups: name, date, place, etc. Will your type be left aligned, right aligned, or justified? In addition, make sure that your lines of type break in a harmonious way and that the blocks of type form lovely shapes.

One of the principles of GESTALT psychology is “that which is closest together, unites.” Group related elements in close proximity such as venue and address. Be consistent when styling the elements in a group. For example, if there are two locations (ceremony and reception), treat these similarly.

Using old MONOGRAM and type specimen books for inspiration, we created a signature logo for the couple and branded all of the wedding collateral with it. The wedding palette of orange and green began with an idea—a shared Irish heritage. My Irish mother, who has passed on, always had a horseshoe hanging over the back door for luck. We made sure that this symbol was incorporated into all of our printed pieces. Since it is a tradition for Irish brides to carry a lucky horseshoe, I purchased a gorgeous horseshoe necklace (the one Carrie Bradshaw wore) for Amanda to wrap around her bouquet. She wears it all the time now! We gifted the bridal party with Tiffany’s horseshoe necklaces and cufflinks. It is in these small ways, our beloved relatives can be there with us.


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