Photo: Jacqui Cole Photography
Inside Weddings: As an invitation designer, you may be one of the first brides talk to when it comes to their upcoming wedding date. Are you encouraging your brides to cancel or postpone?
Ceci Johnson: [I always tell my brides:] You can’t beat yourself up over it. You’re not alone – it’s happening all over the world. I definitely recommend to just postpone... don’t cancel. You’re going to get married and whenever that happens, it’s going to be wonderful!
IW: I know you do a lot of custom designs and essentially brand for the entire wedding, for someone who had a summer wedding planned and now they’re getting married in December, do they have to change everything?
CJ: I think it really depends... If your event is still in the same place and the theme is still the same, but you’ve just transferred the date, then you’re fine – you keep the same graphics. If you really are switching from season to season, it depends on your design. If you went from a wedding in the Bahamas to now a winter wedding in New York City, then that’s a different feel.
In order to make the most of what you’ve already done, try not to have to start over. If you can keep everything that you’ve put into place for your dream wedding, just change the date and transfer over everything, so you still get everything you were hoping and wishing for. Talk to your venue and all of the creative partners that you’ve hired – just shifting the date will be a lot easier than completely starting over.
Photo: Christian Oth Studio
IW: When you do have to change the date, how do you let your guests know?
CJ: [If you’d like, you can] send something. Do a nice printed piece – it doesn’t have to be as elaborate as the first invitation. There are so many different scenarios. If your wedding is two weeks away, you don’t have enough time to go through the whole printing process, calligraphy, mailing, etc. What we’re doing is a complimentary digital PDF or JPEG that matches the invitation design they received. It’s just a kind notification that you can text or email to all of your guests right away. That’s the fastest way to get the message out.
The reason why I recommend a printed piece first is because I’m sure if you’re just texting everyone, people will be inundating you with a lot of questions. I think it’s better to first send the printed one to just get the message out.
IW: What if you've sent your save the date already, but not the invitation?
CJ: If you’ve only sent your save the date and not the invitation, then I would recommend you just send a follow up with a smaller save the date that lets guests know you’re monitoring the situation and changing the date to x date, and then your invitation follows down the line, according to etiquette – four to six weeks before that date. [You can] reprint just the invitation piece with the new date – if you have a full suite, you’ll be able to keep all of the other pieces.
Photo: Jenny Haas Photography
IW: And if you've already sent the invitation?
CJ: If you’ve already sent the invitation, then follow up with a small printed piece. It does not need to be a reprint of the entire invitation… It can just be a simple graphic printed on a nice card, or you can just go the digital route.
If you haven’t sent your invitation but you’re on the cusp, my recommendation is to sign off on all the items that are not time sensitive, meaning the pieces that don’t have a date. So if you’re doing a beautiful envelope, belly band, laser-cut sleeve – that’s evergreen, it doesn’t matter if you’re getting married this year or next year, it’s going to work with the design. But for the cards that have the date, hold off on those until the very, very end...There are all of these steps – [from production, to calligraphy, to mailing]. If you sign off on the pieces you can and put them in production, and then you get the green light... you’ll have some pieces ready to go in the wings.
If you want to just go for it and mail everything out, just include a little note that you’re monitoring everything. It just depends on the mindset.
Photo: Sarah Kate, Photographer
IW: What tips do you have for wedding planners and other professionals to be doing during this time?
CJ: It’s a perfect time for you to try to find that motivation. Make your daily goal list. Don’t beat yourself up. If you only get one or two things done on your to-do list, be happy for that. Shift your focus on what can you get done – your marketing, doing Instagram Lives, reaching out to your community – all that stuff that you were so busy planning everyone else’s events that you [put it off]. Maybe it’s writing blog posts, maybe it’s sharing your expertise somewhere else… Think about those little challenges you can do for yourself. If you just never had time for something, make time for it and hold yourself accountable.
IW: What is your advice for brides planning their weddings during this time?
CJ: My recommendation to everyone who is thinking they have to stop is: don’t stop! Keep planning your wedding and use it as a happy distraction from all this craziness. It’s the most magical, special day of your life. I can say that across the board for all of my creative partners in this industry, we’re all here and ready to create for you and make things pretty again. I fuel off of my clients’ energy, and I think that collaboration can still happen. We’re chatting with clients on Zoom all over the world and that energy is really promising.
Watch the full Inside Weddings interview with Ceci Johnson on Instagram Live below!