Meetings & Conventions: Broadcast News - August
By Invitation Only
It's not just what you say, but how you say it...
By Lisa GrimaldiA
slip of paper, an envelope, a stamp, and -
voilà - the invitations are ready. Why all the fuss over a mere bit
of stationery? Consider this: You can plan a picture-perfect
company picnic, a glittering gala or a first-rate association
fund-raiser. But if the recipients aren't sufficiently enticed to
open the invite, read it, respond to it and hold onto it - at least
until the day of the fête - the invitation didn't fulfill its
Barbara Biondo, director of American Art Studio, a New York
City-based invitation design firm specializing in corporate events,
offers the following tips for creating flawless invitations for any
Style: Whether you want your invitations to be
Wall Street conservative or Miami flamboyant, you have two basic
decisions: paper and printing.
Paper, called "stock" in printers' lingo, varies according to
weight, color, texture and finish; there are hundreds of variables
to choose from. "Cover stock [a very heavy stock] is the most
typical type used for invites and reply cards," says Biondo. She
adds that selecting readily available stock and envelopes instead
of elaborate or original creations can trim your invite tab.
Today, invitation printing can be done by flat print or
thermography. "While thermography [raised lettering created by
melted powder] is less expensive, the finish can be gritty, and
people don't like to touch it," says Biondo. Like paper stock,
there's a huge range in typeset options; the lettering you choose
will depend upon the formality of the event and your (or your
boss') personal taste.
Engraving, once very popular, is rarely used today because it
can be prohibitively expensive.
Message: Don't be too wordy, but be sure all
the critical information is included on the invitation (with no
typos!). The essentials, according to Biondo, are the "Five Ws" -
Who's throwing it? What is the event? Why is it being held? Where
will it take place? When is it (date and time)? Also important:
phone number (and perhaps a fax number for responses) and final
R.S.V.P. date. In some instances, you may wish to include a
suggested dress code on the lower right corner of the invite.
Type: Basic black may be de rigueur in the
fashion world, but it's a different story for ink. "It comes across
extremely formal or funereal," Biondo says. More interesting and
pleasing to the eye are dark blue, burgundy, deep green and brown.
"Metallics are also attractive but they're expensive, since they
need to be printed on coated stock to really stand out."
When selecting a typeface, the sky's the limit. Biondo says that
today, there are thousands available. "I steer corporate clients
away from the very traditional ones: Helvetica, Times New Roman,
Garamond - and into unusual upbeat types like Tree Frog or Tempus
Enclosures: The only time you need a response
card, says Biondo, is for a black-tie gala or a benefit event where
guests must purchase tickets (with price displayed on the response
card) in advance. In those cases, include a stamped, pre-addressed
return envelope. Another optional enclosure is a direction
Forget the tissue paper or inside envelopes unless you have lots
of enclosures; today those are reserved for weddings, not corporate
events, says Biondo.
Envelopes: "They have to capture the invitees'
attention instantly - they need to make an impact even more than
the invitation itself," says Biondo. How to make yours stand out
from the crowd? Use unusual sizes, colored papers, or textured
paper stock. Also, envelopes don't have to match perfectly with the
invitation, but make sure that the colors and the textures marry
Addresses: Hand-lettering is considered the
most elegant way of addressing envelopes. Laser printing ("in an
exquisite typeface," stresses Biondo) is another option. "I don't
recommend printed labels, but if you must use them, use clear
labels with a nice typeface," she says. Return addresses should
appear on the back of the envelope, she adds.
Intra-company invitations (to a company picnic or holiday party,
for instance) should always be enclosed in an envelope (it doesn't
have to be sealed; the flap may simply be tucked inside) and sent
through intra-office mail. The recipient's name and department
should be on the envelope.
If recipients are invited to bring a guest, the first line of
the address should read "Mr. Cary Client and Guest." Note: When
addresses are handwritten, don't stack invitations immediately
after sealing the envelopes or applying stamps; if they're still
wet, the lettering may smear.
Postage: When to send out the invites? Six
weeks prior to the event is standard etiquette.
Mailed invites should be hand-stamped (not metered). Stamps
should be placed neatly in the upper right corner of the envelope.
"Keep the stamp as neutral as possible (i.e., the American flag),"
says Biondo. "Leave the 'LOVE' stamps for the brides."
She adds: "You can cut your invitation costs significantly if
you stuff, seal, stamp and mail them yourself, rather than having
the designer or printer handle those tasks."
Cost: The range is dramatic, from $5 apiece for
a plain invitation and envelope (no inserts) to $50 apiece for
elaborate, one-of-a-kind creations.
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