Why investing in bespoke luxury wedding stationery will always be worth the investment. By designer and artist Emma Louise Castle.
Interview by Jade Beer.
In September 2022 Emma painted an original bespoke watercolour of the Tythe estate – and we have been firm fans of her work ever since! Her map plotted all of Tythe’s buildings as well as the luxury details we are known for – including the Shepherd’s hut; the tennis court, hot tub and blooming Wisteria aisle. Emma’s illustration was used for an important invitation to luxury wedding planners and is now also available to buy through her website Emma Louise Castle.
Here she explains why bespoke is the very best option for your wedding.
It gets your wedding off to a creative start.
This year Emma won the wedding stationery category at the South West Wedding Awards for the second year running – a honour that is voted for by the very couples she has worked with. She originally trained as a textile designer, studied embroidery and print design for women’s wear which eventually led her into illustration. ‘It was very fast paced,’ she says. ‘We did a lot of trend forecasting, picking colour palettes and styling. So now when someone comes to me and says this is where I’m marrying, these are the flowers I’m having, I can almost instantly see a moodboard of how the stationery will look.’
You get something different.
‘It’s always a bonus if I can go to the venue and see it for myself. Tythe has such a wonderful peaceful and homely feel to it that you understand as soon as you arrive. They also have such great photography from previous weddings which makes my job a lot easier when it comes to understanding how all the different elements of the farm work together. Failing that, google maps is very good at allowing you to access anywhere you can’t physically get to. My very first wedding invitation was a favour for a friend. We did a small A6 card that concertinaed out to reveal all the different information about the wedding. It allowed me to paint something really special that was very personal to her wedding. It’s now my most popular style of invitation. Each page is different. There is something really charming about it looking so small when it comes through the post box and then it keeps opening out. Considering it’s one piece of paper, it works very hard. It also ensures no one can lose all the individual bits of paper, it cuts down on printing and you’ve got everything really compact and organised.
It’s designed uniquely for you.
‘Everything I do is bespoke. Typically, when a couple come to me, they know the venue and at least some of the details of the wedding day, like where the pop-up bar might be on the Friday night or where Sunday brunch will be served. That means I can really personalise the artwork I create for them. Anyone marrying at Tythe can buy the map I painted but I can personalise that too, adding some elements in and taking others out so it better reflects their wedding day. I think it’s really important to make sure that what you receive at the end feels special to you, perfectly suited not just to your wedding day but to you as a couple.’
You’re in charge of the timeline . . .
‘If I am working on an original bespoke artwork then it’s great to have between four to eight weeks to complete it. A lot of it depends on how much information you have at the time we start – you may not have confirmed your menus for example. That’s why I offer as many revisions as you need. I don’t put any limits on that. The amount of input you have is completely up to you but the more the merrier in my opinion.’
. . . And how many of your own ideas you share.
‘I use a very soft palette of colours, so everything has a very heritage feeling, it’s subtle. But I can work with stronger colours too. I recently did an invitation in a bolder colour with a more graphic font, but still with some line illustration on it. I’m happy to take commissions for almost any style of invitation. It’s always interesting when someone comes to you with something unexpected. The challenge is part of the fun. I still get nervous when I’ve created anything new. Creativity is so personal, and you put a lot into it. Whenever I’m showing someone the first ideas, the nerves are there.’
You have direct access to the designer.
‘Instagram is great for giving you a good feel for what a business offers, what the work is like and if it’s going to suit you. But I also always offer a telephone conversation before starting any projects. You want to feel like you can have a good working relationship with each other. That way, I can hear lots about the wedding. I tend to discover more than I would over email which is important because couples are trusting me with something really quite important.’
The cost is flexible.
‘I like to accommodate someone’s budget as much as I can. The price really depends on how much or how little you want illustrated. My quotes will always separate out the different elements. I’ll cost for the invitation, the order of the day, the menu individually so they can build their stationery order around how much each element is going to cost. It’s worth remembering that the more you need to print, the more you’ll spend, so consider having a hard copy invitation for some people and a digital version with all the same design elements for others.’
You’ll make a sustainable choice.
‘Sustainability is important to me in my personal life as well as my business. There is an amazing selection of recycled papers now and I only ever work so that the invitations are recyclable afterwards. Some process mean that the invitations have a plastic coating – some foiling for example – which then means it’s not easily recycled at home. You want the stationery to feel luxurious, but you also want to know that people can easily recycle it themselves. Consider digital invitations for any guests who are overseas and digital rsvps for everyone. Also, think about how elements can work harder – for example a menu and place card can be combined to work together. You simply personalise the menu with the guest name at the top. If you’ve got a wedding of 120, then you’ve just easily cut 120 pieces of paper off the print run. I work with digital proofs, not paper ones which cuts down on printing as well. I will do paper ones if absolutely needed but often for speed, it’s not always necessary. I also use every last scrap of paper that I can. There is very minimal waste in my studio. A lot of these smaller measures can really add up to being effective.’
It will last for a lifetime, not just the wedding day.
‘A lot of what I offer has a lifetime beyond the wedding day itself. I can paint your bridal bouquet, your venue, the cake or any favourite element from your wedding. Couples come back to me when they have other events and I can repurpose illustrations from their wedding day for future stationery orders. I have a large archive now of previous work, both physical and digital.’