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  • Writer's picturePeter Roehrich

A Stationer's Perspective

Images of wedding stationery and headshot of Nicole.
Nicole's work is dedicated to gorgeous stationery for weddings and other special occasions. (Photos: Nicole Fingers)

I recently had the pleasure to talk with my friend Nicole of Fingers In Ink stationery in Arlington, Virginia about her business and art. What is a stationer and how do they help you prepare for your big day? Read on!

So, What Does Stationer Mean

A stationer is a person, an artisan, really, who designs and sells stationery. The word has an interesting etymology, tied to the idea of being in a fixed position, these sellers of papers would be associated with universities and other institutions

Formal engraved cards, letterpress cards full of whimsy, and everything in between all come from stationers. And beyond selling stationery, stationers can assist you in designing the perfect stationery for you and your event.

Meet Nicole

The most important thing to know about Nicole is that she loves paper—and all things communicating with it! This really runs in her family. Nicole told me that her grandmother used to write notes to the important people in her life for any number of reasons, whether thank you notes or birthday cards. She loves Hello Kitty, is a foodie, and a graduate of The Ohio State University.

Nicole founded Fingers In Ink nearly 20 years ago to bring “showstopping” stationery to her clients, whether they are looking for corporate (think: business cards) or personal (such as invitations) stationery. Her stationery is designed with love and points out that “love is in the details”.

The Art of the Note

A paper note is more than merely words on a page, it’s a gift to your recipient that shows how much you care. Indeed, writing a note is an investment of time; selecting a card, writing the message, placing a stamp on it, and taking it to the letter box are all conscious actions required to send a note. Moreover, it’s almost a form of time travel—your words are jotted on the card, time stops while the card is in transit, and it begins again as your recipient looks over it. Truly something special!

Nicole explains that stationery—especially invitations—are an important detail of an event like a wedding, and when done with care and attention, add an indescribable depth to events. It never occurred to me, but makes a whole lot of sense, that when selecting wedding stationery, you really should consider the level of formality of the celebration and tie that to the stationery. A buttoned up, engraved invitation may be elegant, but it leads to a disjointed experience when the event is relaxed. She gave the example of a couple who selected formal invitations for a ceremony deep in the woods—taking cues from the style of the invite, guests arrived in formal wear for a trek into the forest.

The cultural context of the occasion also plays a role in designing the invitation suite. Americans are dead set on getting reply cards returned before finalizing guest lists and seating charts, but other cultures consider them redundant, with both hosts and guests taking for granted that a wedding invitation will be accepted. She also told me that a lot of interfaith couples use their invitations as an opportunity to hint that their ceremonies will balance both of their traditions.

The Mechanics of Ordering

Nicole has a few tips for couples when working with a stationer to design an invitation suite. First is to know your style; what speaks to you? Whether elegant or relaxed and playful, knowing what you like will go a long way in narrowing down the visual layout of your invitations, the type of paper, and means of printing. Along those lines, bring your inspiration. A picture speaks a thousand words, and your inspo can help your stationer see your vision from your eyes. Next, Nicole has noticed that a lot of couples over-order their invitations. Elaborating on this point, she explains that invitations are per household, and that you likely will not need an individual invite for each person on your guest list.

And last, but certainly not any lower in importance, Nicole suggests that couples buy their thank you notes at the same time as their invitations. This gives them the opportunity to write notes of gratitude as gifts arrive, rather than accruing a backlog that they will have to tackle at once.

Wrap Up

One more fun fact—Nicole and I bonded over our love of matching stamps to the letters. Every year the Postal Service issues new stamps to commemorate various aspects of American life, including some beautiful love and wedding stamps. Consider these a tiny, one inch work of art, ready to adorn your letter.

What did you do in designing your wedding stationery? Did you work with a stationer? What tips do you have for newly engaged couples?

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