You guys, it's been a hot minute since the last time we gushed about a wedding supplier in this series. What better way to kick off a new year of supplier interviews with none other than one of our favourite creative stationers - badass husband and wife team White Cottage Weddings!
Guys! How are you? Can we just pretend we don't know and love you for a second and ask you who you are and what you do?
Oh hey ladies! We are Toby and Kelly, husband and wife and the team behind White Cottage. We're wedding stationers, based in Northamptonshire, but work with guys and gals all over the world.
If you had to describe your style and design in three words, what would they be?
WELL. BAD. ASS. Ha, ok maybe unique, illustrative, rad.
What's it like working creatively with your spouse?
Kelly: Toby's my lobster. As much as it pains me to publicly declare it (because of my badassness), he's my best friend and the most brilliant man I know. So spending all our time together is pretty cool. The worst part of our job is hitting the creative wall, so being able to bounce ideas and work in progress between us makes things so much easier. I handle the concepts and the majority of the design work and Toby does the tricky illustrations and tech stuff.
Toby: Yes, I am the assistant. I'm the Chewbacca to Kelly's Han Solo. Im basically Kelly's wookie :D
What has been your most ambitious design or brief to date?
A couple of years ago we had the pleasure of working with a glorious couple that found us on the internet and loved what we did. They were getting married at the Hôtel de Glace in Québec City, a super cool (in all senses of the word!) chapel built from snow and ice. They wanted the design to be fun and to include illustrations of the ice chapel and their dogs, but other than that, they told us to do whatever we wanted. I'm not going to lie, I felt the pressure. A combo of an open brief and the expectation that we would produce something not only personal that looked cool, but was funny too? Hilarious on demand is DIFFICULT. Long story short, after a lot of tantrums, tea drinking and pondering, everything came together and we produced one of favourite ever designs. We learned a lot from that job in terms of our style, how to handle enquiries and realistic expectation of how a design can take. That stationery totally catapulted our portfolio too and without it, we might not have received some of the early interest we did in our little business. For all it's difficulties, we're so thankful we got that gig.
Where do you get your ideas?
Kelly: Our couples are our biggest inspiration. I always try to meet face to face whenever possible, whether that be at wedding shows and events or for sit down consultations. We are people people (is that a phrase? :) and so getting to know our customers helps us to create something truly meaningful and representative. Beyond that, I honestly don't know! I never entirely know what a custom design will look like until I get to it and then it just kind of happens. I am more than aware how douchey that sounds by the way :D I try to be flexible throughout the design process. I've found that you can't force a design and if you're too regimented with how you want a piece to look, if you hit a problem, it's usually complete redo time.
Toby: Ask her about the Napoleonic fort design that made her sit in under her desk and threaten to go back to teaching.
Kelly: I couldn't make the bloody whale work, it was really difficult!
Who would be your ideal client for wedding stationery (real or fictional, we don't mind!)?
Kelly: Oh blimey, tricky. If you'd have asked us what sort of stationery we'd like to design before we got in to our groove, I'd have probably said moody stuff. Toby and I are lifelong geeky goths at heart (albeit nowadays hidden under warm toned skin and casual knitwear :) so to get our teeth in to something dark and melancholy would be interesting. Maybe Morrissey's wedding? Although, it's unlikely that Morrissey would ever find anyone worthy of Morrissey's hand, so maybe Morrissey marrying himself? Having said that I'm a total sucker for an American style rustic, woodsy design so maybe Jack and Ennis from Brokeback Mountain? Spoiler alert, but OH SO SAD.
Toby: Kate Bush.
Kelly: And who?
Kelly: He loves Kate Bush. Ok, I'm hitting my stride now... Carrie and Quinn from Homeland. I'm thinking bold typography, clean layers, lots of them and foil. Lots of that too.
Toby: How about Frank and Karen from Punisher, or Kylo-Ren and Rey?!
Kelly: I think we're getting a bit carried away with this one...
What do you wish couples knew better about what you do?
It would helpful, sometimes if customers understood the time (and associated cost) that goes in to the concept, creation and production of great wedding stationery. The very large majority of the people that we meet that go on to order with us appreciate all of this entirely. However, every now and then we wished that some folk could see the hours that turn in to days, long nights and entire weeks that are spent creating even one item of stationery. There are a small amount of people on the planet that think we pull stationery out of our magical art arses. Unfortunately, we do not have magic arses. I don't want to end this question on a moan though, so thankfully we rarely have to deal with this issue any more.
What do couples always forget when it comes to wedding stationery?
Kelly: Couples can sometimes forget that it is their wedding stationery and their wedding. Pleasing family members and consideration of complex social situations within their stationery is so difficult to see and I really feel for those people that end up settling for things that they wouldn't naturally choose, to suit others. I think, as a basic rule that you should opt to go with whatever you can happily live with. Compromise to suit others might end up being the best option for you, but if you think that settling might be one of those things that you'll go on to regret, stand by your principles and own your wedding along with all of the creative decisions.
Toby: Couples can also forget that the weddings as a whole are pretty disposable and stationery is one of the few things you can keep forever. It's not something you want to look back on and hate and 100% worth your time, attention and investment.
What are your top tips for couples putting together their ideas for stationery?
It can be tempting to put together a Pinterest board for stationery and fill it entirely with examples of stationery that you like. We often see boards that end up with a hundred different designs, most with conflicting styles and for a designer, we end up with a bit of a needle in a haystack situation. What's much more worthwhile, is putting together a board that represents the whole wedding and maybe a couple of stationery examples to indicate specifics. The style of font you prefer, or the format of a table plan for example. Stationery is the thing the runs right from the very start of your wedding planning (save the dates, invitations), through the day itself (table plans, place settings and order of services to name but a few items) and beyond (thank you cards, favours), so understanding what you have planned for the entire day is really useful for your designer.
Kelly: I can waffle a bit, so I should probably let you go now. Final thought though, don’t be afraid to shop ‘off the shelf’ and explore independent design studios. There are so many good ones out there. Happy stationery shopping!
Toby: But you should probs check us out first :D