Meet This Black Stationery Designer Who’s Saving Brides On Their Wedding Day
Made Designs

So I quickly realized how much paper I’d need on my wedding day — and no, I’m not talking about money.

Months before I’m even set to walk down the aisle, I’m thinking about all of the paper goods I’ll need for my affair. From save the dates, to invitations, to programs for the ceremony, to place cards for the reception tables, to seating charts, to table numbers, to menus to thank you cards. The list of items that need to be designed or purchased is quite long.

That’s why there’s women (and men, for that matter) who can design custom items to ensure your wedding has continuity.

Meet Crystal Thomas of Made Divine. Since 2012, she’s been designing custom event stationary for brides or anyone throwing a fabulous soirée. Thomas, who obtained her degree in graphic design from the Art Institute, got into the wedding business after she created her own custom wedding invitations for her 2011 nutpials.

Based out of Seattle, this mother of one is not only perfect for the bride who wants it all, but also for the budget-conscious bride. Whether that’s you, or you’re somewhere in between, I caught up with Thomas to break down what brides need to think about ahead of their big day.

An example of Thomas' amazing work // Courtesy of Made Divine

So if I’m on a budget, what’s the bare minimum I’d need for my big day?

“A lot of couples that come to me are usually looking for the invitation design and then the day-of stationary – menu, seating cards, and seating chart. Those are the most important things. Another option for budget-conscious couples are my semi-custom stationery designs. These are pre-designed sets for couples, who want personalized stationery without the extensive, costly custom design experience. These designs are…already created and ready-to-order. Couples enjoy a little-to-no-effort shopping experience by simply selecting a design from my collection and customizing their wording, paper, and printing finishes.”

I love paper, sure, but I also love the environment. Are there ways to cut back on my carbon footprint?

“Yes, it’s OK to break traditions. If a bride is tech savvy maybe she doesn’t need traditional reply cards [in invitations]. Instead, have a website where guests can RSVP online. These are cost-saving methods as well.”

When should I start working with a stationer?

“Come at least 8 to 12 months before the wedding. I know a lot of things aren’t set in stone at that time, but it’s just really good to get a feel of the couple, and what they’re thinking about in terms of the theme. Custom designs take quite some time to put together since it’s a collaborative effort between myself and the couple.”

An example of the 'save the date,' Thomas created for McKenzie // Courtesy of Made Design

(Editor’s note: It’s true. My fiancé and I came to Thomas with an idea to create a book or library theme for our wedding stationary. We gave her direction and within weeks she was able to sketch, conceptualize and produce custom save the dates that mimic a library card. About two months later, we were able to mail them off to guests.)

If I can’t secure every paper item for my big day, what’s one thing I shouldn’t skimp on?

“It’s always nice to have place cards. Guests have always expressed their love for something personalized, and I just love that extra touch. Plus, there’s so many fun things to do with the place cards. They could be favors. They could be edible. It can be a cupcake with a tag on it featuring the guest’s name. Guests love that. Also, thank you cards are a must.

OK. But if I really need to cut back, what’s one thing I can skip over?

Ceremony programs are a toss up. They tend to always end up on the floor. People don’t really care about them. So instead print a small amount; this way you don’t feel bad…when they’re on the ground.

Joi-Marie McKenzie is ESSENCE’s senior entertainment editor. She’s also the author of her debut memoir, The Engagement Game: Why I Said ‘I Don’t’ To Marriage and ‘I Do’ To Me, out in paperback on March 5.

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