Stationery Tips

  • 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.


  • 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!


  • How To Make Your Last Name Plural

    Are you on the hunt for the perfect photo to use on your Christmas card this year? Whether you’ve scheduled a mini session with a professional photographer or snapped your own picture, family photo cards are the most popular type of holiday card to send to family and friends. Christmas cards are one of the most beloved holiday traditions of the season, but sometimes our beautiful cards are filled with grammatical errors and misplaced apostrophes. If you’re sending a Christmas card this year, here is a simple guide to making sure you’re following the rules.

    If you can remember one thing from this post, never add an apostrophe to make your last name plural.

    Paper Hearts Christmas Cards

    Last Name NOT Ending in “s, x, z, ch, sh”

    You do not place an apostrophe after the the last letter. Adding an apostrophe makes the name possessive. Just simply add an “s” to the end of the name.

    The Smiths or The Smith Family
    The Kotarskys or The Kotarsky Family

    Last Name Ending in “s, x, z, ch, sh”

    Add an “es” to the end of these names. There is an exception to this rule. If your last name ends in “ch” but is pronounced with a hard “k” sound, like the word monarch, add an “s” rather than “es.”

    The Lucases or The Lucas Family
    The Joneses or The Jones Family
    The Archs or The Arch Family

    Other Common Christmas Card Misspellings

    Happy Holidays, not Happy Holiday’s

    Season’s Greetings, not Seasons Greetings
    This time it is possessive and needs an apostrophe because the greetings belong to the season.

    You can shop my full collection of 2018 Christmas Cards on Etsy! Orders must be placed by December 10th.

    Allison Kotarsky


  • An Inside Look At My Top Five Favorite Materials

    All designers have their own creative style, their speciality, their niche. I like to consider myself as a clean white space dominate designer with soft and romantic details. Typography also plays a large part in my designs. I like to use clean serif and sans-serif fonts (those regular fonts), and carefully selected script fonts with glyphs (those swirly extras). Since starting my business in 2011, I’ve had the opportunity to use many many different materials to design and build my custom wedding suites. Here’s an inside look at my top five favorite materials to use.

    photo by Jessica Fike Photography

    1. Wedding White Card Stock
    This cardstock is my favorite and my go-to stock choice. It is a soft white, not a stark white, and is thick and sturdy for invitations and enclosure cards. If you have a soft or natural color palette I will more than likely chose this paper for your invitations.


    photo by Caitlin’s Living Photography

    2. Envelope Liners
    Envelope liners are a great way to add a pop of color or a pattern to your invitation. It’s another chance to use watercolor florals or place a wedding crest/monogram on the suite.


    Paper Hearts Invitations Envelope Printing Morgantown

    photo by Ashton Kelley Photography

    3. Watercolor Florals
    If you’ve been following my work or browsed my portfolio, you can see that I LOVE watercolor florals on my wedding invitation designs. The digital graphics come in many colors and designs to fit just about anyone’s wedding theme or colors. I have a few go-to websites to purchase my watercolor art from, including Creative Market and Etsy. I do not paint my own watercolor art, but I enjoy supporting other talented artists!


    photo by Caitlin’s Living Photography

    4. Belly Bands
    Like envelope liners, belly bands are another way to add a pop of color, pattern or material to your invitation suite. I also love their practical purpose; holding all of the cards together! When brides are deciding which add-ons to keep and which they can live without, I always suggest keeping the belly band for practical and astheic purposes.


    photo by Marcellaneous Photography

    5. Moody Hues
    Step aside blush pink, they moody hues are here! For a long time, like 5 years, shimmer blush pink was my go-to for envelope color. I loved how it matched just about every color scheme and my brides fell in love with the soft shimmer and elegance. Don’t get me wrong, it is still absolutely beautiful to use, but the wedding color trend is shifting to more moody colors like burgundy, navy, hunter green and black. I’m going to also throw it out there that dusty blues and dusty rose pinks are also becoming a trend. I consider these moody as well because they are an alternative to the traditional light blue and blush pink that we saw in weddings for many years. I’m loving a good dusty blue envelope.

    If you have any questions about how you can incorporate these top five elements into your wedding suite you can contact me to discuss your options. I’m always happy to help and chat about my love of paper!

    Allison Kotarsky


  • Stamps Cost How Much? | Wedding Invitation Postage

    Vintage Stamps

    It’s Engagement Season!

    This week marks the start of engagement season. *happy dance* Engagement Season starts at Thanksgiving and ends around Valentine’s Day because that is when most proposals happen. As a wedding professional, this is the most exciting time of the year! I love seeing friends and family get engaged and I love even more to hear all about how the proposal happened! The holidays are also one of the busiest times to sit around the table with your family and start to plan out the wedding budget. It’s that awkward conversation, but it has to be done. Here’s something you may forget to put in the wedding budget, postage stamps.


    What Will I Be Mailing?

    There’s more wedding stationery to budget for than most people realize. Here’s a run down of some of the wedding pieces you might send in the mail.

    • engagement announcement • save the date • bridal shower invitation • bridal shower thank you cards • rehearsal dinner invitation • wedding invitation • postage on RSVP card envelope • wedding thank you cards  

    Cost of Postage Stamps

    *Updated to reflect 2020 postage prices*
    Each piece of stationery you send to your guests requires a stamp. The United States Postal Service is still the most popular way to mail cards and letters in the US. You could use other shipping companies, but USPS really is the most cost effective choice. Here’s the 2020 pricing for the most common postage my couples use.

    • Postcards $.35 • Letters (1 oz.) $.55 • Letters (2 oz.) $.70  

    Things That Increase Postage

    Odd size/Non-machinable surcharge – USPS charges $.15 per item for:

    • square envelopes • items that are too rigid (a bow or string with a knot would fall under this category) • items that don’t bend easily • items that have clasps, string closures, or any other non-standard way of sealing  

    Weigh Your Invitation

    Once you have the completed invitation in hand, take it to the post office to be weighed. If you don’t have enough postage on the envelope, they will get returned to sender and you will have wasted a lot of time and money.


    Average Cost To Mail Wedding Invitations

    Most of my couples have wedding invitations that are 1 oz. or 2 oz. depending on if we use a pocketfold or have a lot of insert cards and embellishments. Here’s what most couples spend on postage.

    • Save the Date $.55 • Wedding Invitation $.55-$.70 • RSVP envelope inside of wedding invitation $.55 • Thank you card $.55  

    Happy wedding planning! As always, if you have any questions about postage or wedding stationery I’m here to help! If you need help addressing your invitations properly, see this article about guest addressing.


    Allison Kotarsky


  • Why Paper Wedding Invitations Are Still Important

    Deep Creek Lake Maryland Boho Wedding
    photo by Jessica Fike Photography

    So you’re planning your wedding and getting advice from everyone in Facebook land on where to order. Many of them suggest discount places because “it’s just paper” and “they will end up in the trash anyways.” Well guess what else will? Leftover food, dead flowers, ripped apart wedding favors (you know, the little boxes with mints that get scattered all over the table), half empty beers, and so on. You see, you can’t make all aspects of your wedding live forever, so why skip on one of the only tangible items your guests will receive? Paper wedding invitations are still important.

    When your friends and family members get that invitation suite in the mail they’re going to hold on to it and use it as their guide to book hotel rooms, plan their GPS route and know the name of who in the heck you are marrying. This little package you send them gives them everything they need to have the best possible experience at your wedding by being on time and in the right location. Sure, you could have them designed and printed at a discount place online but, unless you’re confident you know what needs included on the invitation, you might leave something off. You could also have an online wedding website to have people RSVP, but there are still so many people, like older relatives, that become overwhelmed with wedding websites. This is where the professional stationery designer comes in. I’ve designed hundreds of wedding invitations so I know how to word things properly and offer suggestions on what to include and what not to include. For instance, I bet you didn’t know it’s considered tacky to include your wedding registry on the printed invitation?

    The form you fill out after booking gives me all information for all the possible scenarios of wording you need to include. Planning a wedding can be super overwhelming. I’ve heard it from brides time and time again. But hiring a trusted, local stationery designer is just like hiring a photographer or videographer. We shouldn’t be an afterthought. We need to be there from the beginning to guide you along the way and offer our professional advice. I love helping brides and learning all about you as a couple. Making your wedding day as special and as beautiful as I can is the best part of my job!

    Ready for more information about custom invitations? Click here.


  • 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


  • Farmhouse Table Decor Ideas

    I recently had the opportunity to visit one of my favorite venues, The White Barn at Lucas Farm! Brittney Lucas, the owner and coordinator, invited me to help decorate her farm tables with paper goods for a styled shoot showing creative ways brides can have them styled for their event. We decorated four different tables as well as a brunch bar and two cake tables. See the list of vendors involved below!

    Here’s how you can incorporate paper goods into your wedding decor to add a little touch of detail on your wedding day or bridal shower.

    1. Table Numbers
    Table numbers often get overlooked as a decor piece, but they can help tie in the rest of the paper goods at the table.

    2. Place Cards
    Whether you’re hosting an event for 25 or 225 people, place cards are a great way to organize your guests. The help save their seat while they mingle and give them direction as to where they are to be seated during a large event.

    3. Menus
    Who doesn’t like to know what’s on the menu? I love seeing the food options right there in front of me. Once of the biggest attractions at a wedding, besides the actual wedding ceremony, is the food! Let’s face it, your guests came to eat, drink, and celebrate!

    Brunch Display

    White Barn Brunch White Barn Brunch

    White Barn Brunch White Barn Brunch White Barn Brunch White Barn Brunch

    Dessert Table

    Dessert Table Dessert Table

    Blush and Gold Rustic 

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    Boho Table

    Paper Hearts Boho Table Paper Hearts Boho Table Paper Hearts Boho Table Paper Hearts Boho Table

    Modern Farmhouse

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    Venue: White Barn at Lucas Farm
    Photographer: Sandie Narvaez Photography
    Flowers: Tabitha Robinson
    Food and Desserts: Deep Creek Cakes and Bakes

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