Julie Cook

Designer and founder, Swash Press & Design

At Julie Cook’s North End studio, the chug and click of the old Heidelberg Windmill letterpress mixes with the playlist of the day and the excited chatter of brainstorming and collaboration. “Since we meet clients in the same space where our equipment, tools, and materials are, couples really get to see that their wedding papers are truly handmade with much care and attention to detail,” says the Swash designer. “We always encourage couples to swing by while their project is on press so they can be a part of the process.”

Q | What do couples need to know about the process of trademarking their day with custom-made wedding papers?

A | Wedding invitations set the tone for the entire celebration, so get started early. The process takes anywhere from two to eight weeks—longer when there are complicated design requirements. One recent bride and groom planned to marry on a family farm using a familiar mountain range as the backdrop. We created a monogram-and-mountains motif that was the common thread on save-the-date cards, invitations, envelopes, programs, and favors. We used a custom stamp on the outer envelope and a monogram tag to tie it all together, and we printed the invites with gold foil on dark wood veneer. They were gorgeous and yet natural and warm, perfect for their big day.

Q | What else can you do with that Heidelberg?

A | Couples might want a bar menu listing signature cocktails, signage directing guests to the ceremony and reception, fun photo-booth add-ons, and cards listing all the passed

appetizers or gelato flavors. Don’t forget how special guests feel when they see their names printed on escort cards. And we can do more than flat, information-based papers; how about adding a word search to the back of the menu, or instructions for folding an origami crane with the program?

Q | How can couples best use sites like Pinterest to communicate style?

A | I prefer seeing one concise board of how they imagine their whole day. We want wedding papers to be unique, so I study their pins to find elements that move me and then I come up with possible directions. As a palette starts to emerge, we can work on the details and create something they truly are excited about.

Q | Letterpress isn’t cheap. Are there ways to cut corners?

A | Modify an existing design from the stationer’s portfolio instead of going fully custom. Consider offset instead of letterpress for the thank-you notes and information cards. And couples who are crafty can line their own envelopes and complete other embellishments. A good stationer should happily demonstrate the best way to approach these tasks.

Q | Modern couples are all about environmentally friendly celebrations; how can their printed materials pass muster?

A | Most clients are concerned with using recycled materials, but the tree-free cotton papers we use are even more earth-friendly. They’re produced domestically, making use of fibers recovered from the garment industry and allowing us to create that oh-so-desired deep impression on pillowy soft, thick, luxurious paper. We use soy-based inks without added chemicals and recycle everything.


Currently Crushing On

Classic typefaces

“Engravers” is my favorite, but I only use it very sparingly. It makes me feel rich.


Cool color palettes

Navy and mint with a pop of orange is perfect. I love mixing classic with something unexpected.


Text bling

Gold foil is a big hit in the shop this season, and we especially love using a natural element as part of the palette.


Marissa Mead

Owner, Covet & Swoon

Overwhelmed at the prospect of pulling together a day dotted with ingenious interactive tabletop elements and to-die-for garland swags? Don’t be. “My job is to look through all my couples’ inspiration and pinpoint the theme while executing meaningful components and tossing out the ideas that don’t necessarily work well with the overall mix,” says paper-obsessed party detailer Marissa Mead of Covet & Swoon. Possessing a rare one-two punch of art and business, she makes even the most elaborate days seem easy.


Q | These days couples might get the sense that their wedding isn’t complete without a totally original, overarching theme. What’s your take on all that?

A | I don’t believe weddings need a theme; they can sometimes seem contrived and random. The planning process is much easier when the couple’s heart and soul are behind every decision. Some of the most beautiful weddings I’ve designed for have been themeless, relying instead on color palettes, graphic elements, and the location. Then again, one of my favorite weddings had an industrial revolution/art deco vibe partially inspired by the movie Hugo, with gears, cigars, iron, copper, and lots of cool steampunk grit.

Q | When couples do have an authentic concept or motif for the day, how do you help them create impact and balance?

A | Say they start with something small, like an anchor, which might make us think of water, sailing, ropes, knots, and island life. Maybe the color navy. The anchor shows up first on the save-the-dates, and those will come to mind again when guests arrive and see signs hung with thick twine and nautical colors on chair cushions and runners. But you don’t want to go overboard. (Ha!) It’s best to play it easy and let color complete a cohesive message. 

Q | Pinterest empowers us all to get out the glue gun, but the results aren’t always wedding-worthy. What are the perils of hands-on projects?

A | I love the DIY trend, but I recommend limiting it to a few projects and using a professional to handle the bigger ones. I’ve seen so many couples take on a ton of projects and then run out of time in the end, causing a lot of unnecessary stress. If friends and family want to contribute, just remember to be flexible with the end result, as projects won’t always turn out exactly as you envision them.

Q | And speaking of everyone’s favorite inspiration obsession, what’s your tip for making the most of it?

A | Think about the look you’re going for before creating your Pinterest boards and then only pin images that support it. If you have too many ideas that are all over the place, there is really no point in sharing them with vendors because they may not know which direction to go with.


Currently Crushing On

Bright brights

I really want to design neon details and décor! Anyone up for it?


Energetic studio tunes

I’m digging melodic dubstep. I throw on an apron in my barn studio and just get in the zone.


Big-screen inspiration

I love that ceremony scene in Love Actually with the surprise musical interludes. Involve your friends and family—it’s so fun!

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