Electrical Engineer attempts to design wedding invitation

Don Nelson's picture


I should state up front that I *am* a designer by trade--a designer of circuit boards. No, I have no graphic design training, nor much marketable talent outside of a nerdy lab. I do, however, have a sister-in-law with not much money who asked me to design her wedding invitation. Ok, so I am a bit of a typophile because, frankly, the technology of printing through the ages has piqued my interest in typography. So, Ginny asked for my help because I have a decent font collection and because I will work for beer.

Anyway, Ginny is feminine, but not "girly", and both she and Joe are pretty informal people by nature, outdoorsy, and warm. They are getting married in Cape May, New Jersey. That is all I have to go on, since she has no guidance of style to give me. So, I purchased a license of Zaner because I was looking for a good excuse to do so and also because its ornamental-yet-masculine look seemed appropriate for Ginny and Joe's personalities. (Turns out, they love it) I paired it with Goudy (the eponymous one) italic because it is of roughly the same era and I thought that it paired well with Zaner. The mossy-colored grass (a pair of Zaner glyphs) is intended to suggest the sea grass of Cape May, and would be a recurring motif in all printed material I make for them. The paper stock (6" x 6") is sandy colored (again, more beach) and has a simple embossed border ~0.75" from each edge. The walnut ink color is Ginny's choice; she vetoed my preference of deep ocean blue.

Anyway, I pair fonts together about as well as I pair wine with food, which is to say, not at all. Remember, I work for beer, not Merlot, and design telecom equipment, not telecom logos (many of which suck). So, what do you think of this pairing? Does it seem appropriate or am I committing a typo-sin by letting them share a page?

I am using Pages, so I don't have access to many of the niftier features of Zaner and had to handle some of the trickier letter combinations and variants by hand. I had trouble getting the swoopy "H" (tried all the "H"s) to play nicely with the "tt" of "Scott" and this was the best I could come up with. Does it still read "Scott", or have I renamed him "Scoll"? Oh, and if the inimitable Mr. Hunt is reading, I hope I haven't offended you with dreadful application of your lovely typeface.

I kept the layout simple because these are simple people and, frankly, I don't have the knowledge to do anything less simple anyway. Do you think that it has acceptable composition and balance? I really like my sister-in-law and don't want her invitees to hurl upon opening the envelope. The problem is, I've been staring at it for so long now that I have stopped "seeing" it, and would really appreciate some outside opinion. (please be gentle--remember I don't do this for a living!)

Thank you all in advance very much for your time!

[edit: I realized that my image viewed on a web browser doesn't show the edge of the image, so it is hard to see the layout. Viewed on a browser, the upper-left corner of the browser window is the upper left corner of the finished card and the text is centered in the square you make from this margin]

Invite.PNG63.42 KB
bojev's picture

Relax, it is OK. The main question is always - does the client like it.

Scott Thatcher's picture

From a mathematician (and a Scott) to an engineer: I like the script used for the names, and I read "Scott." I can't give you any expert opinions, but have you considered putting all the text on one side and the leaf graphic on the other? Something like this:

I don't know about the slanty right justification in my image--I just wanted to illustrate the text on one side, graphic on the other. To me, that looks neater, but again I'm usually the one asking for help.


poms's picture

Why is there no delete-button, folks. We're adult and know what we are doing … nearly most of the time ;)

Spire's picture

I think Scott Thatcher's version is an improvement.

I don't like the bullets -- especially the one in between April 28 and 2007. Why not just use a comma?

ben_archer's picture

Holdup a moment there... I'll give some contrary advice and suggest that Don got it right first time – his original version suceeds in integrating the supporting text and graphic, pretty harmoniously and pretty playfully IMHO. Separating the two only introduces an uncalled-for problem in the composition as that slanty right hand edge of the type directs the reader's attention to ...where exactly?

I can read Joe's middle name fine (ornate script faces rely on a bit more context perhaps) and I think the walnut colour ink is a nice touch from someone who's not a girlygirl.

I have no problem with the bullets either – they allow more air into the lines and keep that Goudy Italic from looking bunchy (which is what you might get if you only allowed for a comma and a single space).

Don it's time you upgraded to charging Merlot. Enjoy the wedding y'all.

Don Nelson's picture

Sincere thanks to everyone for your thoughtful comments!

I'm probably worrying about this more than necessary, but I really want to do a good job for my sis-in-law... and being family, I'm not sure she feels comfortable giving me honest feedback. Still she seems to like what she's seen so far. The bullets vs. commas discussion is particularly interesting and may be worth some experimentation. I want the text to look attractive but I also don't want to introduce a distraction.

Thanks again for your help and time; I really appreciate it.

Miss Tiffany's picture

Zaner is a gorgeous face. A few thoughts.

1. The serif face needs to at least be as light as the thin appears to be in Zaner otherwise it will continue to be a darker block of text. I'd suggest, in the least, making your typeface smaller.

2. Our eyes natural travel from the left of the page to the right. The bottom block catches my attention because of the aforementioned weight as well as the fact that it hangs further to the left that the names.

3. Perhaps consider making the larger illustrations a bit smaller or lighter in tone so it doesn't call more attention than the names. (Same problem as mentioned in #1 in that the thickness is overpowering the names.)

Very lovely colors though and it is nice to see Paul's type in use.

Don Nelson's picture

Thank you, Miss Tiffany, for your thoughts.

I see your point regarding the relative weights of Zaner and Goudy. Zaner has a weightier lower case variant that might balance better with the text block. I also sized the text block and the sea grass graphic down a bit relative to the names and I think that it may look a bit better. My--admittedly untrained--eyes start at the names after this change.

I agree that Zaner is gorgeous... and that almost-ambigram "and" glyph is so cool!

Thanks again

Miss Tiffany's picture

The balance in between Zaner and Goudy is much better now. I might still be tempted to go smaller. I would still go smaller with the ornament, down to the point that it matches the weight of the thin strokes on Zaner. I would still also consider the alignment of the text at the bottom. You've centered the names, but perhaps left-aligning the other text would be better? ... OR ... center aligning it and remove the ornament (put the ornament below)?

Don Nelson's picture

I want to thank everyone for all the advice I received for this project for my sister-in-law. I gave her a few options and she selected this version and paper.

She was really pleased with the final product, and has been getting compliments.

thanks again everyone for your time and thoughts!


Don McCahill's picture

What? You printed them out on special paper? I was planning on using the PDF to crash the party.


I hope you all have a blast.

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