Paper Hearts Business

  • Change of Plans. Planning a wedding during a pandemic.

    I never thought something like this would affect our world the way it has, but here we are, quarantined in our homes and wondering when we will be allowed out again. At first I thought the threat would only affect April weddings which I fortunately do not have any April couples this year. Then the bans extended to 8 weeks, which might affect all of my May couples. (insert heartbreak here) I sent an email out to those affected couples, but I wanted to share with you all my words of reassurance and how I plan to navigate the uncharted waters that lie ahead.

    I am doing everything I can to help those couples affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. If you need advice or formal printed cards, please just send me an email.

    My plan is as follows:

    Working remotely, connecting digitally: I am continuing to work normal business hours in my home office as I have the resources and tools I need to complete my jobs right here at home. I am still hustling and here to support you with the best-in-class service you’ve come to expect.

    Since my wedding service is not event based, my schedule is flexible enough to accommodate unexpected situations such as this. Should you need to reprint your wedding invitations, there is no need to be concerned if my printing schedule can handle it. I will do everything in my power to make the process smooth should you need to postpone and/or reschedule your big day.

    Safeguarding your invitations: Every invitation order moving forward will include a glue stick to seal your envelopes as the CDC recommends not licking envelopes.

    Offer support and guidance: As we all continue to navigate the unexpected that is coming with the coronavirus in the next couple months, I am here to offer you advice with invitation etiquette should you need to postpone and/or reschedule your wedding. If you find yourself in a situation where you need to do either of these, I am offering a few things to help things run smoothly.

    1. Free digital graphic

    This offer is for any couple, regardless if you are a current client of mine or not. If your wedding needs to be postponed and/or rescheduled I will create a digital graphic that compliments your wedding invitation design to send to your family and friends electronically.

    2. Free postponement postcards

    If you are a current client and have already sent out your wedding invitations, I’m offering formal postponement postcards at no charge. These cards will be 4 x 6 in size and match your wedding invitation design.

    3. Discount on reprinting

    If your wedding invitations have already been printed, I am offering 15% off the reprint of your wedding invitations once you decide on your new wedding date.

    In addition to these steps, I will be monitoring the latest information including recommendations from the CDC and World Health Organization and doing my part to stop the spread of this disease. I will continue to keep an eye on the situation and make further adjustments to my action plan if and when necessary. The health and well-being of my clients and community are of utmost importance.

    I’m here for you.

    COVID-19 has affected all of us in some way. For the couples who are cancelling or postponing their weddings, my heart breaks for you. As a wedding vendor, I can tell you that the wedding community has been uniting and brainstorming the very best ways we can help. If plans for your big day have been changed due to the virus, please email me.


  • Exciting things are happening at Paper Hearts!

    Reflecting and looking back

    I am a very sentimental person, so I love reflecting and looking back at the year on January 1st. I usually start by thinking of all the fun things I’ve done and experienced with my two boys. We traveled, learned, had lots of firsts, and even more laughs. My husband started a new job, working from home a few days per week, and that changed the whole dynamic of my workday (in a good way!) And we celebrated many birthdays and holidays with family and friends. Overall, 2019 did not disappoint and for that I am grateful.

    From a business perspective

    2019 was SO GOOD to Paper Hearts, so from a business prospective, I am one happy small business owner. I taught my first stationery styling class, participated in countless epic styled shoots, made many new vendor friends, and worked with some wonderful couples. I created 18 new custom wedding invitation designs all with unique ideas and details. I pushed my creative limits to the max and worked with new printing vendors to create some one-of-a-kind pieces. From the bottom of my heart, thank you to everyone I worked with as a client and a vendor. You have all made my year successful and I wouldn’t love my job as much as I do if it weren’t for you.

    Looking ahead at 2020

    There are so many good things happening at Paper Hearts, so looking ahead at 2020 I am pretty excited! The thing I am most excited about is The Paper Hearts Collection will officially be launching soon with a carefully created selection of wedding suites for couples to choose from. You will be able to add on as many or as little extras to the collection suites to truly make it your own. Don’t worry, I will still be available to design custom pieces for you, but the collection will provide designs to easily choose from or start with. If you haven’t noticed yet, the Paper Hearts website got a facelift in preparation for this new and exciting addition of the collection. I added a FAQ page with helpful info and resources. My contact page is easy to navigate and choose exactly what you need help with. And my 2020 pricing guide is updated and ready to download!

    Here’s a look at some of the custom designs created in 2019

    photo by Hannah Hicks

    photo by Molly Moroose

    Allison Kotarsky


  • Hey Alexa, Order My Wedding Invitations

    Hey Alexa, order my wedding invitations

    If you’re anything like me and millions of other shoppers across the world, you love Amazon Prime. It’s hands down the best subscription I have and well worth the yearly fee to have those must have items at my doorstep in two days with free shipping! Who doesn’t love fast and free? And while I’m obsessed with this convenience, I do realize the amount of employees and logistics that go into getting that one small item across the country to my little house in West Virginia.

    Amazon is a HUGE company, my self-run small business is not. Turning around custom designs or full print orders in just two days is usually not possible. Custom. Designs. Take. Time. The whole process isn’t just clicking buttons on my computer. While I may be efficient at my job after many weddings under my belt, there is a long thought process that goes into any creative work. When I initially meet with couples I like to discuss not only their wedding plans but their lives together. I like to know about how they met, how they got engaged and where they plan to honeymoon. I want your wedding stationery to feel like you and reflect your whole wedding vision. This doesn’t happen with a few clicks of a mouse.

    The Custom Invitation Process

    While asking Alexa to order your custom wedding invitations isn’t possible, I’ve made the process super easy for you. Wondering how it all works here at Paper Hearts? Here’s what a normal custom wedding invitation process looks like from start to finish.

    Initial inquiry email

    Fill out that little form on my website the best that you can. The more info you can give me, the better! This only helps you get a more accurate estimate sent back to you.

    Estimate approval + retainer fee

    You click yes that you want to move forward, pay that retainer, and then we’re off to design land!

    The details form

    I have a very detailed form that you fill out with all of your wedding details. It includes spaces to list your name how you want it to appear and wording choices based on the style of wedding you are having. The whole form is simple and easy to go through. This form helps structure your custom design and is essential to my design process.

    In person meeting

    I love to chat and show you color swatches in person if you’re local! I could talk about paper for hours. This is a real hands on experience where you get to see and touch the paper and printing processes. Can’t meet in person? No big deal! I’m happy to send you samples of things if you request it!

    First design proof

    After you fill out the wedding invitation details form and we have a meeting, then I begin your custom design. I take everything you’ve told me and use my creativity to design something unique just for you. This proof is sent via email with a space to leave comments.

    Second + third proofs

    If needed, we can go back and forth a couple times to tweak wording and design a bit. These proofs come via email and include a space to leave comments.

    Final proof approval

    After we’ve gone back and forth and have everything exactly how you want it, I send over the final proof. This proof is sent via email and includes a very detailed checklist to make sure all of the wording and spelling is 100% accurate.

    Final count + guest addresses

    Before the invoice is sent over, I will need your final count of invitations and your guest list sent to me (if I am printing your envelopes.) Often times your final count has changed since our initial estimate so I like to make sure you are ordering enough. I always recommend ordering around 10 extra invitations.

    Balance is due

    After you sign off on the final proof and send your addresses, the balance is due. The invoice is sent via email and can be conveniently paid online following the link I provide.


    After you sign off on the proof and pay the balance, your design is invitation status officially considered “Printing in Progress.“ You cannot make changes at this point without a fee.

    Shipping + Delivery

    If I can hand deliver your invitations I prefer that so I know your invitations are safe and secure. If I am shipping them, I use USPS priority mail and pack them with lots of bubble wrap and love.

    Happy Dance Time

    Feel free to do a little happy dance when you see your finished invitations for the first time! I love hearing all about your tears of joy and compliments from your family members. Don’t forget to leave me a 5-star review to share your experience with other future couples!


    If you’re wondering when you should contact me about custom wedding invitations, here’s a handy timeline!


  • Giving Back: Teaching a Styling Class in Deep Creek, MD

    I recently had the amazing opportunity to teach a flat lay styling class to a group of eight wedding professionals in Deep Creek, Maryland. The class was an equal mix of instruction and hands-on learning. We met at The Cornucopia Cafe, which also has amazing coffee, desserts, full dinner menu and even a craft beer on tap brewed specially for the restaurant.

    Flat lay definition: A flat lay is a picture taken from a birds eye view of a collection of items laid out on a flat surface. Usually there will be one item that is the main focus of the shot known as the hero, all the other items in the flat lay are there to complement the hero piece.

    The attendees were asked to bring items related to their business to photograph and we saw a great mix of materials! As a perk for attending the class, each student got a handout listing the sources from which I order my styling supplies, as well as a little run down on how to make your own fabric styling board. They also got to dive into my stash of styling ribbons, ring dishes, wax seals and fresh flowers ( to create a flay lay of their own during the class.

    As a blog reader, if you would like a copy of my little tip sheet you can download it here!

    A special thanks to the Garrett County Wedding Professionals and The Deep Creek Wedding for inviting me to teach at this unique event. I look forward to hopefully teaching another class in the future!

    Photos by Jessica Fike Photography


  • Paper Hearts on a Podcast!

    So You Said Yes – The Dos and Don’ts of Wedding Planning is a podcast by Brittany Anne‘s and it covers topics such as finding the perfect wedding dress, the appropriate venue and now it answers important questions about your wedding invitations! Brittany met with me in my studio where we chatted all things paper. Some hot topics discussed were the contents wedding invitation suite, how much postage you may need, plus my tips and tricks for staying within your stationery budget while still having a beautiful design!

    If you’re just beginning to plan your wedding and want more information about invitations, start by downloading my printable wedding stationery timeline and filling out this form to tell me all about your wedding.

    You can hear the whole episode by following the link below (it also includes helpful information from Haley of Studio Lane Calligraphy about watercolor designs) and don’t forget to subscribe to listen to all of Brittany’s Wedding Planning topics!

    Episode 6: Save the Dates, Invitations, & More!


  • The blog post I look forward to every year…

    Well, we’ve made it to the end of another year! 2018 was so good to me in many ways. I love looking back at my year and focusing on the positive wins and this year was filled with little victories. My business is moving forward and I met most of my goals like blogging regularly and getting organized with my client management software Dubsado.

    RTS Leader Retreat

    In January, I traveled with Rebecca of MotionWorks Weddings to the annual Rising Tide Society leader retreat held in New Orleans. This conference really kicked off the new year with good vibes and I look forward to the attending retreat again in 2019. The energy from the other leaders and the sense of community made me feel like we are really doing good things with our group in Morgantown. If you’re a creative entrepreneur in the Morgantown area, email me for more information about our group meetings!

    Madison Short Photography
    New Office Space

    In June, we renovated our basement and I gained a beautiful new office and studio space. The office move also helped me to organize my paper samples and overflowing craft supplies. The office is perfectly pink and gold, my own little oasis for creativity.

    Holiday Market

    In November, I was part of the biggest and best Handcrafted Cooperative event yet! The Holiday Market in downtown Morgantown was so successful for all of the makers and I look forward to selling my prints and pillows at future markets.

    Welcome Baby Boy

    Along with the business wins also came the birth of our sweet baby boy, Reid. He arrived in August and is by far my biggest accomplishment of 2018 and completes our family of 4. I never thought I would be a boy mom, but here I am raising little gentlemen and loving every slobbery minute. I took a much needed maternity leave from August until November with only light work between November and the end of the year. Starting January 2 I will begin normal office hours, but I am adjusting my production schedule to account for my new life chasing two littles. You the customer won’t really see any changes, but I will be giving myself a few more days to complete projects.

    Amberlee Christey Photography
    2018 Design Projects

    Speaking of projects, In 2018 I created…

    30 Wedding Invitation Suites
    6 Baby Shower Invitations
    2 Bridal Shower Invitations
    3 Baptism Invitations
    2 Birth Announcements
    6 Birthday Party Invitations
    7 Christmas Cards
    1 Human Baby
    + many wedding day stationery orders and branding projects!

    I can’t thank my brides and customers enough for letting me create these beautiful pieces for their most important day.

    Here’s a look at a few wedding invitation designs of 2018.

    Kathryn Hyslopp Photography

    Megan Lee Photography

    Jenna Lindsey Photography

    Danielle Durbin Film and Photo

    Kuirsta and Seth

    Steven Dray Photography

    I hope you and your loved ones have a joyous and prosperous new year, and to quote Ellen, “be kind to one another.”

    Allison Kotarsky


  • What It Means To Shop Small

    Shopping Small – The Handcrafted Cooperative –

    I’ll admit, shopping local is something that wasn’t always important to me. I didn’t truly understand the importance of the shopping small movement. It wasn’t until I became a entrepreneur myself that I knew how much hard work and love went into each small business and their products. The blood, sweat and tears are something we all know comes with any job, especially a small business, but what I didn’t realize came with the gig was the overwhelming support of the creative community. The friendships I’ve gained since becoming a small business owner is something I was surprised by and I’m incredibly grateful for. These business owners, these REAL PEOPLE, are so welcoming and kind. We all have struggles in our craft but at the end of the day we all love what we do and enjoying bringing joy to each person who makes a purchase from us. We love building other another up rather than tearing each other down to make our community stronger.

    The Handcrafted Cooperative offers a seasonal retail market dedicated to handmade items created by the most talented independent makers in our area. We help improve our local economy, support small business, and keep our community unique.

    I am so excited to be a part of the Holiday Market this year.

    This week alone, I’ve worked with two other Handcrafted Cooperative vendors bouncing ideas off of each other about our booth set ups and chatting about last minute product additions. We are all excited. We want you to be excited. We want all of Morgantown to be excited. This Holiday Market is going to be the best yet and we can’t wait to see you there. Even if you stop by to browse, listen to the live music or grab some coffee, that means so much to our community of creatives. Your support of the event brings just as much joy as a making a purchase.

    I can’t say enough good things about the coordinator of this whole shebang, Megan Ursic. Talk about an amazing, purpose driven gal. Megan’s positive energy and smile make you feel like old friends even if you’ve just met. She founded the Handcrafted Cooperative because there was a lack of markets in this area focused on makers and handmade goods. This market would not be successful without her ambitious goals to make this the best maker’s market in the area. Thank you, Megan, for your passion and bringing us creatives together for such an amazing event. The lineup of vendors is good, real good. Go check out the line up here!

    The Handcrafted Cooperative
    Saturday, November 17, 2018  |  10am – 2pm
    413 Spruce Street, Morgantown, WV
    Free Admission and Family Friendly

    New Products

    Here’s a preview of some of my new products making their debut at the event this Saturday. To say I love Christmas is an understatement. I had so much fun with these new designs!

    Allison Kotarsky


  • When Should I Send Out Invitations?

    Planning a wedding and sticking to a stationery ordering schedule can be a little confusing. Since there are so many different paper pieces to consider, I’ve created a wedding stationery timeline to make ordering your invitations and wedding day pieces a breeze. The timeline lists each item and tells you when your order should be placed with Paper Hearts and when to send them out to your guests.

    You can download a printable version of the guide that has spaces for you to fill out your own dates.

    Paper Hearts Wedding Stationery Timeline


  • Paper Hearts Rebrand

    After 10 years of being in the graphic design industry, the hardest person to design for is, hands down, MYSELF! I design something for myself and then I completely throw it out the window because I never feel it is good enough. I guess being picky is a blessing and a curse because it pushes me to become a better designer but can also drive me crazy! When I started my journey in 2013 with Paper Hearts, I designed my branding to incorporate two things that I love, hearts and the color pink. Today, I am revealing the new look of Paper Hearts Invitations. It still has the very same heart I started with back then and the color pink, but it matches my design style a little more. Watercolor florals and script fonts are what I love to incorporate for my brides so I wanted to match my branding a little more to my everyday design style. I wanted this logo to be a little more “ME” and I am so excited to share it with you guys!

    Let’s take a look back and my previous logos.logo2013

    And here is the new look for Paper Hearts Invitations! Let me know what you think in the comments below.

    xo, Allison



  • 6 Things To Do Before Contacting Your Stationery Designer

    photo by: Amberlee Christey Photography

    So you’re starting to plan your wedding – congrats! With the holidays winding down, we are in the tail end of “engagement season.” All of those pretty pictures of your gal pal’s new diamonds are probably flooding your Facebook feed and you suddenly realize that 2016 is just a few days away and you’re getting married THIS YEAR! (mini freak-out session). You probably still have a million decisions to make, but hopefully this list will help you to be prepared when it is time for us to meet and talk about your wedding invitations!

    1. Set a Date
    This is a no-brainer. Without a date we can’t really start on a project timeline or narrow down your invitation wording.

    2. Pick a Theme and Colors
    This is a big one. Of course we can decide on the exact color of blue you want to use at our meeting, but come with a general idea of what your wedding colors are and what theme you plan to use for the event.

    3. Set a Budget!
    This is probably the most important one. Unless your budget is unlimited, which most bride’s aren’t, set a budget you’d like to stick with. This will help save time and keep your stationery designer on track with what can be done for you.

    4. Chose a Hotel for Your Guests
    Ok, even if you don’t officially call to book the hotel or necessarily even need one, have an idea about that ahead of time so that we can plan ahead to include that information on your invitation.

    5. Meal Choices
    Decide if you are having meal choices or a buffet/family style ahead of time. This will help us plan out your RSVP card more efficiently. Even if you aren’t tasting food for another couple of months and don’t have the exact meals narrowed down yet, have a general idea so that we can plan accordingly for space.

    6. Know All Names
    This may seem like an easy one, but make sure you know how each of your parents wants to be listed on the invitation. If Dad goes by a nickname and rarely uses his given name, ask him what he prefers. If your beau is a Junior, find out if he wants to be listed as such. This will make planning out the flow of the invitation wording much easier.

    Hopefully this will help prepare you for our meeting! Don’t forget to contact me AT LEAST four months before your wedding to start on your invitations. I look forward to working with you!

    – Allison