Step One: Create Your Guest List

Once the excitement of getting engaged to your best friend starts to wear off, it is almost inevitable that the feeling of creating millions upon millions of wedding to-do lists will occur. One part of our job as a wedding stationer is to help make the entire wedding process go smoothly for you. Let's look back at the timeline we shared with you last week:


Before you can begin to think about the design of your save the date (or wedding invitation), you will need to create your guest list. It's important for the guest list to be one of the first steps because it will help create a timeline for you. Even more importantly, your guest list determines the quantity for each piece that you will need(save the date, invitation, etc.).

After enjoying engagement bliss, we recommend that you sit down and make a rough list of everyone you and your fiance would like to invite. Make sure to consult with your immediate family members and close friends as well to see if you have left anyone out. This can ultimately lead to your first wedding meltdown(a great way to see how you and your future hubs handle stress) as your small, intimate wedding has grown into a a small, intimate wedding of 200+!  As much as you may not want to, this is the time to make the necessary cuts in order to create your perfect guest list.

If you find yourself not being able to cut anyone from your guest list, one option is to have an A and a B list. If this is an option for you, make sure to give yourself more time on the back end. You will not send your "B list" a save the date, but you will want to make sure that it is not noticeable that they were only going to be invited if individuals from your "A list" were unable to attend. For this instance, we recommend mailing out your first batch of invitations 8-10 weeks out, so that you can mail out your second (or third) batch out around the 5-6 week mark.

There are many other reasons why the guest list matters. Most notably is the fact that weddings can get quite expensive. For your wedding stationary, you don't want to over or under-order. Just like with most of the other vendors, your guest list will determine the cost of your wedding stationary (although we can usually get very creative in order to make your budget stretch). We also recommend that you always order at least 10-15 extra invitations because there will inevitably be a few that you forget (and you want to make sure to keep one as a keepsake, and one for your mom, and grandmom...). ;)

Another important note that most brides forget (myself included): for wedding stationary, you are looking for the number of households you are mailing to and not the actual guest count. A good rule of thumb is to divide your guest list in half and to add 25.

Now that we have a good understanding of the importance of guest count, we can focus on designing your save the dates! Next week, we plan to highlight some of our favorite save the dates.

As always, please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or if you would like to schedule an appointment!

Balancing it all

Being a business owner really makes you learn how to balance your everyday life, not only to complete each job from start to finish, but more importantly, to maintain your sanity.  When I first started PaperDolls, I was working full time in Newport News (hello commute), and trying to network my booty off in order to "get my foot in the door", all while trying to stay on top of current orders, meetings, and did I mention I got married that year?  This was really all before I had any clue as to whattttttt the heck I was doing.  I was staying afloat, but as a "business woman", I truly did not know the first thing about anything.  I think you lean that in time, once you've been exposed to it for a good while.  After 2 years of piddling around, I finally said "alright lets do this" and within a year, I quit my full-time "day job" to take that leap of faith -- self-employment.  I can tell you right now that it would not have been possible without a few "connections" that helped me tremendously, in addition to a super supportive husband. Fast forward two years later, and I decide to throw a baby in the mix!  I've always wanted to be a momma, but I don't think I ever understood exactly what it meant.  I was fond of the idea and had always been drawn to the baby section of stores, and had heard that "you'll never sleep again" and "you're responsible for another human for 18 years" etc. but it took having one to fully understand any of that.  I never imagined that I would be a stay-at-home working momma, and feel very fortunate that I'm able to do that. It was something that I had thought of and often worried about when I was working at my old full-time job. I would hear my coworkers talking about having to leave their babies after maternity leave, or just on a daily basis, and I always thought "well that would suck", and then pair it with the cost of day-care and I wondered if my job even made since. But in the hustle and bustle of everything, I never thought I would be able to stay home with my own children.  Having seen both ends of the spectrum, I can say neither are easy.  I think when you work full-time and can't be with your child, you probably want nothing more than to be able to stay at home with them, but let me telllllll you. It is hard.  I definitely still feel so very lucky, and I wouldn't have it any other way, but it is so so hard.  I thought it was next to impossible to balance things BC(before child) with a blooming business.  I even thought I had it bad when I was operating on 2 hours of sleep in the newborn days, but I was still able to get through my busy season without any childcare.  And now, at 9.5 months old, while I'm sitting here typing and he is in his walker playing with the trash can, I can say I had it made before. And the funniest thing is that I will look back on this stage in a few months, when he's actually mobile, and laugh at this.  But my point to all of this, is that now I have HELP :) :) :)  Starting this year, my husband and I agreed that its time for a part-time sitter.  So now that I have a sitter coming for ~20 hours a week, I can breathe again and delve into the 2015 wedding season.

This is what I've learned so far in balancing business, pleasure, your homelife, and really the simplest day to day tasks:

1.  GET HELP - Seriously.  I've learned that I just can't do it all.  I'm amazing at time management, lightening-speed quick with design work, and when friends come over, they're like "um really?  How do you do it?".  Girls girls girls.  Lets be honest. I just ransacked this joint 10 minutes before you got here to make it semi-acceptable to look at.  And I'm quick on the computer because I've been doing it nonstop for 12 years. BUT once you're married, that adds a lot to your plate, just having to be considerate of someone else 24/7 and playing the "housewife" role, which is not all that its cracked up to be for those of us that aren't Betty Crocker. So running a business, cleaning the house, cooking for your spouse, making time to hang out with your spouse at night and on the weekends, walking the dog, etc. all starts to pile up.  BC(before child), I was able to handle most of it, but after a year of being a full-time business owner, I had to ask for help.  I have two assistants that help me with business tasks like writing blogs, responding to emails, creating invoices, and one of them actually helps me with the design workload.  Her design aesthetic is awesome and I love her work, even more than my own.  So that was the first step in divvying up some of my workload.  After having Jackson, obviously it became even more intense.  In addition to everything else, it actually seemed almost impossible.  Thats when the sitter comes in :)

2. Ask for advice - Use your resources!! Especially in the wedding industry, everyone is so supportive of everyone else, and most vendors become friends!  Ask who, what, where, when why. For real.  They've been there and they will give you their honest opinion.  They're the ones that told me to get help when I was trying to do everything by myself!

3.  Don't be afraid to make mistakes - Ya'll, I lost a lot of $$$ that first year in business.  Its just part of the learning process. I've made countless typos (who needs spellcheck right? me apparently), ordered the wrong materials, I was burned a few times, and there were times that I thought I had failed.  But it was definitely a learning process, and I learned from those mistakes, and they made my business better!

4.  Don't forget about "me"/family time - You're not doing anyone any good if you're completely stressed out all the time, and can't even make time for yourself (or significant other/family).  Be sure to take a day to yourself here and there, reward yourself for all of your hard work, and make plenty of time for your family.  I used to take appointments at any time (after 5pm, on the weekends, etc.) and now I limit them to M-F, 8-5.  I will of course make exceptions here and there, but most people will work around your schedule if they're really interested in booking you.  Also, when you work from home, its very easy to find yourself working until 10pm.  You've got to be very self-disclipined and know when to call it quits for the day.  Pull yourself away from the computer, and make time for you family.  I've learned that crock pot recipes are a business owners best friend :)  I try to have dinner ready for my hubby when he comes home because he works really hard for our family.. I succeed at this less than half of the time, but I really do try!  Also, at the end of the day, I always try to have an hour to myself to just unwind.  I think it helps me tremendously to just sit back, reflect on the day, prepare myself for tomorrow, and watch mindless tv for a little while(oh, and a glass of wine).

5.  Enjoy every minute - Even when you're at your wits end with a screaming child, the deadline that has not been met and the dinner that is burning in the oven, try to find light in it all and just enjoy.  These moments won't last forever, especially with your little ones.  It breaks my heart to watch Jackson grow, as selfish as that sounds.  I look back and regret not cherishing more of our moments together.  I find myself focusing on the negative much of the time and I'm really trying to be more positive with everything, because now I see how quickly time can go.  At the end of the day, I want to look back and know that I made the most of every minute.

xoxo <3


Merry Christmas from the Fosters, and Happy New Year!

With Christmas quickly approaching, I wanted to share some of our families pictures taken by our dear friend Jami with Jami Thompson Photography! I've received so many compliments on these pictures and its easy to see why, because she is simply amazing at what she does!! Please feel free to contact her if you're getting married(she has some awesome packages right now), or a family/engagement session! With our first Christmas as a family of 3, I've had so much fun starting many wonderful traditions.  From buying Jackson's first ornament and stocking, to wrapping his presents and signing "Love, Mommy & Daddy", every minute has meant the world to me and I can't wait to experience Christmas day with him!  He's not quiiiiiite at the age where he understands whats going on, or the difference between a balled up piece of paper vs. an actual gift, but we are thrilled to see his reactions nonetheless!  He's stillllll not mobile yet (which is the best thing and the worst thing all at the same time because he's so frustrated that he can't get where he wants to go!) so theres only so much you can get him at this age.  Once mobility does ensue, one of his "gifts" is a big ole 8'x8' playpen that will hopefully give me the teeniest bit of time to get a few things done(I'm sure all of you Moms are laughing at that statement).

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I also wanted to put together a little glimpse of what 2014 has brought us; its's been our best year yet for sure!  I hope all of you are enjoying time off with your friends and families, maybe setting the diets aside to indulge in all of these delicious sweets(I won't even get started on my postpartum weight loss journey, or lack there of), and enjoying some quiet time before the New Year rings in!  We are so excited to see what 2015 has in store for us, and to continue cherishing this year of "firsts" with our sweet Jackson David.  Thank you to all of my brides and grooms for a wonderful year at PaperDolls, we are so thankful to each and everyone one of you! Love to you all!!!

A special thanks to Andi and Zoe and Jessica Ryan Photography for so many amazing maternity and lifestyle pictures with our precious boy  :)

Winter wedding

Before we wrap up our reminiscing over some our favorite winter wonderland invitations, we wanted to share just one more. Just because you are getting married in the winter doesn't mean that your invitations have to be super wintery! We chose to share this invitation suite because it embodies the classic black tie, traditional aesthetic that would be perfect for any time of the year. View More:

Isn't this just classic? This invitation suite is very versatile. Depending on the ink color and fonts, this invitation can be perfect for any wedding or any season. Personally, I think the satin with the rhinestone buckle over lace and the silver mount gives that extra flair for a black-tie winter wedding.

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We hope that you enjoyed! We also wanted to announce that we are going to be changing our blog starting next week. While we will still show off the fun and creative invitation suites we get to do for our brides and for styled shoots, we want our blog to be a resource to you. Check back in next Tuesday to find out our opinion of the perfect wedding stationary timeline!


the most wonderful time of the year

It is finally one of our most favorite times of the year. There is nothing like getting cozy near the Christmas tree with a (basic) Peppermint Mocha to edit invitation suites! To kick off the season, we chose to feature this adorable winter wonderland invitation suite from last year! View More:

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The use of the snowflakes and color provides the perfect look to capture that winter wonderland feel. The suite is printed on a white metallic card stock which adds that pop of shimmer when your guests open it up! The RSVP card uses playful wording, which adds some humor to the suite. The suite is wrapped with a soft blue band and sealed with a glitter snowflake!  You can never go wrong with adding some glitter ;)  Finally, the silver envelopes adds the last little touch.

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Check back next week as we continue to show invitations that make us love this time of year. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us!