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Classic Club Q&A with Stationer Kate Pickett

Editor’s Note: This post is sponsored by Pickett’s Press. The bespoke stationery company is a Presidential member of CBB’s vendor guide, The Classic Club, and this post is part of the member’s many privileges. Find out more about becoming a CC member here.

I’m so happy to introduce one of my favorite independent stationers in the wedding industry who also happens to be CBB’s newest Vendor Guide member, Kate Pickett, of Pickett’s Press! Kate started her company in 2007 and it remains a small woman-owned business today which I find so inspiring! Her beautiful designs are known for their supreme craftsmanship and quality and are carried in select high-end stores around the country. The shop uses 100% hand drawn designs (!!!) and offers bespoke printing in letterpress, foil stamping and engraving. I love how Pickett’s Press brings a fresh feel to tried-and-true traditional styles – the best of both worlds! And I’m so tickled to have the chance to chat with Kate today about her journey of becoming a stationer and about her own envy-inducing wedding this summer in France!

Q. Kate, I adore the timeless aesthetic you offer at Pickett’s Press and while I can’t wait to hear all about your personal journey of designing your own wedding stationery, I’d first love to learn how you were drawn to the art of design and the road that led you to launching Pickett’s Press? 

A. Of course! That is easy – both my love of art and stationery come right from my mother and my idea for the business came from my father. I grew up literally holding a paintbrush instead of a baby rattle! My mother was an art teacher, and I spent a lot of time in her classroom.  My mother was also “raised well” in the old-fashioned way and very traditional in writing thank you notes the minute we got home from a party or received a gift.  Saying thanks by way of handwritten note was second nature to me, and picking our personalized stationery was a fun treat my mother and I would do together. 

My father was an entrepreneur with an amazing work ethic. He always taught me that if you do what you love you’ll “never work a day in your life.”  As I progressed through business school, I realized being an entrepreneur was something that really appealed to me.  If I could find a job where I would be drawing and working with stationery all day, my work would be what I’d want to be doing for fun anyway!  So, I set out to find a way to make a business.  Planning my own wedding after graduation taught me a lot about the invitation business- no one had exactly the type of creativity blended with tradition that I wanted.  It was either very stuffy and old feeling, black on white, or too cutesy and modern.  I always loved drawing, and especially illustrations with fine detailed lines, and my illustrations are perfect for the old-fashioned printing techniques- letterpress and engraving- that we use at Pickett’s Press.  Take that plus my elegant yet whimsical take on wedding invitations and voila a brand was created!

Q. Your upcoming wedding at the Hotel du Cap in the South of France this summer sounds nothing short of magical. How did the location serve as inspiration for your wedding stationery?

A. The Hotel du Cap is one of my favorite spots on earth! It’s heavenly. I always imagined how wonderful it would to be married there.  For my first wedding, which was very traditional with hundreds of people and a traditional reception, it wouldn’t have worked, (first of all they never would have allowed that many people!) but this time around the location fits perfectly with our chic casual, family themed, small afternoon wedding.

We often travel to the South of France, usually with my family, and we have always loved lunch at the Grill.  Here are some photos of my kids horsing around on the high dive!  (I hope they don’t jump in in their wedding clothes!)

Q. Okay, I’m intrigued. Please tell us all about the process of designing your wedding suite for this incredible location! 

A. Pickett’s Press is special because of the custom design element. I personally draw every motif and design in our large library of images, and most of them have been collected over the years because of individual stationery commissions.  For instance, I think of our owl as “Edes’s Owl,” and the artichoke as “Kate Hope’s artichoke” etc. because I remember each client who asked for a specific image.  So, for weddings, I always like to incorporate something hand drawn and special to each couple and wedding.  For ours, I love the feeling of the Chateau high up in the hills looking over the Mediterranean. I drew a line drawing of the Chateau in that setting, and then printed it in a custom French blue I mixed by hand for the occasion:  

The save the date was fun because I used a mix of calligraphy and a fun French font called “Ecolier” and letterpress printed bag tags which I tied with old fashioned French packaging string to tote bags.  Because Andrew and I met in Maine, I used L.L. Bean for the tote bags.  I love giving out bags at either the wedding or mailing ahead as a save the date.  It’s fun to use them for years afterward and remember all the fun weddings I’ve been to.

Because ours is a destination wedding, I wanted to include a basic itinerary and all the other invitations (for the lunch and rehearsal dinner we are hosting) within the main wedding invitation.  Our wedding is at a Chapel on the property, but it is not a traditional service, so the invitation did not need to follow strict conventions of etiquette as it would for an Episcopalian wedding at St. James in NYC for example.  Therefore, I could play with colors, size (I chose square) and adding fun pieces within the main suite.

We added another nice touch for our wedding in hosting the event “together with our children.”  We have five all together, and having them on the invitation made it feel more like a family event.  Since we were inviting only 45 people, and all families including their children, we wanted the invitation to reflect the fact that children would be included at all events.

Q. From your own experiences as a bride and as a stationer, what would your advice be to newly engaged couples looking for the perfect wedding stationery?

A. A wedding invitation sets the tone for the entire day; it signals the formality and style of the event, reflects the personalities of the couple, and has the potential to make the invited guests very excited to be included in the celebration. So, I think it’s important to both develop a vision of your wedding day that reflects your taste and style, AND familiarize yourself with the cost of the types of printing processes so that you don’t end up with engraved wedding tastes and a thermography budget.

In terms of vision, will it be a black-tie affair, a traditional wedding, an informal beach wedding or something in between? Is it a day or evening event? Will the site of the wedding be in your hometown or a destination wedding? Your choice of invitation will reflect this vision.

In terms of cost, what type of printing method are you drawn to? We can certainly explain each of the methods of printing and the differences between them. These methods include letterpress, engraving, embossing, thermography and flat printing. Note any mentions in bridal magazines about the various ways that the invitations that are featured have been printed. Paper stock is not as important as the printing method, but can add to the cost, so you should decide how thick of an invitation you like.

It’s totally possible to have elegant custom invitations within a budget, but going in to the process with a basic understanding of what you want to get and what you can get, will make it all easier down the road.  Anything else, like color palette, wording etiquette, number of invitations, addressing help, we can take care of easily as we proceed.  But having the style of invitation and budget for it set in the beginning is the most important piece!

Q. I’d love to end by having you share some favorite memories that have peppered your career as well as a getting a glimpse at a few favorite stationery projects you’ve worked on?

A. My favorite stationery projects are always custom commissions of fun things to draw! For instance, I loved drawing Dunwalke Farm for Katy and Andrew Allen’s wedding at their beautiful home in New Jersey. And one time, a bride got proposed to by her fiancé tying the ring to the collar of their beloved beagle – so, of course, the save the date had to have the custom drawing of the beagle on it.

Thank you so much for chatting with us today, Kate! It was such a pleasure learning about your business, and, of course, the details of your amazing upcoming wedding! I’m so happy to welcome you as a member of The Classic Club and look forward to following your design adventures!

Dive into Kate’s Classic Club portfolio here or find more of Kate’s inspiring work at Pickett’s Press.

Image Credits: Kate’s personal vacation photos; Kate’s wedding stationery: Margaret McDevitt for Pickett’s Press

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