Wedding Invitations Chat with Saima Khan, Thursday, February 19 at 11 AM

The write stuff.

When she was growing up, Saima Khan’s favorite time at school was always art class. “I recall making highly embellished appreciation cards for my parents or a Valentine’s card for my best friend,” she says. Khan went on to the Maryland Institute College of Art and earned a degree in graphic design before heading to work for some of the top design firms in the area. But it wasn’t until her brother got married that she really felt her calling. She created her first wedding invitation for his wedding, and she was hooked.

Khan opened Saima Says Design in March 2006. Since then, she’s been the stationer for more weddings than she can count (from here to Australia!), and her work has been featured in Grace Ormonde Wedding Style, Inside Weddings, and Brides Magazine. Her Georgetown studio offers lines of custom and ready-to-order special-occasion stationery. “Exceptional stationery, we know, requires more than technical ability,” she says. “We put our skills in the service of compelling concepts, taking inspiration from a multitude of sources—architecture, fashion, history, nature. After researching our themes, we spend countless hours experimenting with fonts, motifs, and colors to ensure a harmony of design elements.”

Khan is coming to The Washingtonian for a live chat on Thursday. Whether you have questions about timing, wording, themes, or anything else, Khan can help. She’ll be here for the chat from 11 to noon—start submitting your questions now.

Do I really have to spell favor "favour" and honor "honour" on our wedding invitations? It seems overly formal to me but our invitation company says we should use the old english spelling. Thanks!

I feel that etiquette is intended to make life easier, not more difficult! That's why it can be a useful guide for an event like your wedding. With that said, sometimes traditional and more formal protocol just might not feel right for the type of wedding you are having. For instance, if your wedding is formal or black tie the old english wording would be appropriate and an obvious match. For informal weddings, or ones that are more casual it might not seem right to use the old English wording. 

 Weddings these days are more complex and diverse–and these changes are reflected in the language of wedding stationery as well. Do not hesitate to write a message that is a true reflection of you and your own situation. 

 The only must-haves in your text are your names, the date and time on your ceremony and the location of your ceremony and reception.

Washington, DC
I'm on a strict budget for my wedding, and some have suggested cutting money from the invitations. Do you think this is a good idea?

Your wedding invitations are the introduction to your wedding and set the tone for your event. Personality is everything in your invitation! There is nothing better than an invitation that is a true reflection of your personality as a couple and mirrors your tastes and the style of your wedding. 

 Besides, I feel that if you are able to introduce the look and feel of your wedding through your invitations, it makes a lot of other decisions easier and gives you a great platform to bounce ideas from. For instance, once I have established the colors and visual graphic design for a stationery suite, our clients will apply these design elements to other aspects of their wedding decor, beyond paper goods. The visuals can be used for cake design, projected lighting on your dance floor and accessories, such as menus, escort cards and table cards. 

Seattle, WA
Has the economy affected the way couples are tackling their stationary needs? Also, do you have any eco-friendly suggestions or options?

More and more couples are looking for ways to still have a very unique, personalized stationery package, but definitely keeping cost in mind. There are ways in which this can be accomplished. 

We have just launched a ready-to-order "Signature Collection," which still has the aesthetic and sensibility of our custom "Truly Yours" collection, but is very budget-friendly.

For couples on a defined budget, I also recommend condensing the number of items ordered in your stationery suite. For instance, if your ceremony and reception are at the same location, you can consider eliminating a separate reception card, and this saves on the cost of printing an additional card. Also, for directions and accommodations, consider directing your guests to a wedding website, instead of printing a card.

 In regards to environmentally friendly goods, our entire Signature Collection is printed on eco-friendly, 100% cotton paper. We also offer several recycled papers.

Washington, DC
Do you create everything in your own studio?
Yes, all our designs, including "Signature" and 'Truly Yours" are created in our Georgetown studio. We offer several printing techniques–lettepress, engraving and flat printing and this is done off-site.
Washington, DC
How necessary is a calligrapher these days to address the invitations? Are other brides turning to other handwriting methods?

You may also consider digital addressing, which is less expensive than hand calligraphy. We offer this service. There are a number of fonts and colors to select from.

 With that said, calligraphy itself is a work of art and is a beautiful way to introduce your guests to your invitation. The fact that it is hand-written, makes it more personalized and intimate. 

 One thing that I would not recommend is the use of labels. This looks very impersonal and not appropriate for a wedding invitation.

Washington, DC
What's a good budget for wedding invitations? We're trying to be as thrifty as we can without compromising on quality, which is tough. Are there any suggestions you have for cutting costs?

As you know, wedding budgets vary greatly, so it is difficult to assign a number to this question. Generally, if you are looking for custom wedding invitations, these start at $15-20.00 for most studios around the country. For ready-to-order lines, these can range from $8-15 for most. 

There are definitely ways in which you can cut costs and still have a very fine wedding invitation. Please refer to my previous posts for specifics. 

My father died recently and I am planning my wedding with the help of my mother. The wedding will be very traditional and my mother wants to include my father's name on the wedding invitation (to read: "Mr. & Mrs. ____ request the honor of your presence at the marriage of their daughter…"). I don't. Is there a compromise my mother and I can reach? I want to acknowledge my father in some way, but I feel it's inappropriate to put a deceased man's name on the invitation. Do you? Please help, as I do not want to confuse our guests or upset my mother.

Etiquette would advise not to have your father's name on the invitation.

When the bride or groom's mother or father is deceased, the invitation is issued only in the name of the living parents. Your father can be recognized in the wedding program or at the reception. 

Washington DC
Hi Saima! On a Wedding invitation, whose name should be listed first, the bride or groom, or does it not really matter. Also is it necessary to mention the parent's of the bride and groom on the wedding invite?

Wedding invitation text is driven by those who are hosting. For instance, if the bride and groom are hosting, your names would appear first. If the bride's parents are hosting, their names would be first. There are a number of ways, traditional and informal that this can be done. 

If you are hosting and would like to have your parents acknowledged on the invitation, you could start with:

" Together with their families

Jane Anne Smith

and George Andrew Walden"

 For more details, please feel free to call or email us.



Washington DC
Hi Saima, my fiance gave me the responsibility of choosing our wedding stationary!?! Where and how do I start?

Don't be scared! Selecting your wedding stationey should be an exciting and fun process. I do understand that walking into a stationery store, with books and books of designs it can be very overwhelming! You might consider working with a custom stationery designer, like us, who would design something just for you!

Where do you start? Before you order your invitations, you will need to determine:

– The number of invitations requuired.

– The date and time, location of the ceremony and reception.

– Who is hosting (as wedding text is driven by this) and how they want their names to appear.

– To whom the RSVP should be sent to.

– Your wedding theme or color palette.

– Your budget.

 I would recommend to start looking for a stationer early on in the process. This will give you a lot to bounce off of and also avoid last minute rush charges.

Washington, DC
Saima, Should my wedding stationary match the colors scheme that I am using for my wedding? (winter white wedding with matching winter white wedding stationary?
Your invitations set the stage for your wedding, so it is always nice for the invitations to compliment or hint at your affair. Winter white is a beautiful color scheme and you should be able to mix that into your wedding stationery seamlessly. A tone-on-tone blind emboss on a white cotton paper for visuals, and overlying text would be so perfect for the effect! We have a design in our brand-new Signature Collection that reflects this aesthetic, so let me know if you would like more information.
Washington, DC
Hi Saima, I am getting married in August and having our entire wedding outdoors. I still haven't decided what I want to do in terms of an escort table. Do you have any creative ideas to share in terms of escort tables?

For an outdoor wedding there are many creative ways you can handle your escorts.

 In the past, I have designed ourdoor escort cards that hang from branches, and are accented with a tear-drop crystal. The branches would be a great way to hint at the natural landscape of your wedding.

Also, consider designing an escort card that could be a unique shape, like a leaf or butterfly or something inspired by nature. You could place these on a bed of grass, or something with a natural texture.

 Introducing textures, such as bamboo or weave is a more modern, abstract way in which you can handle this as well. 



Thank you for all the questions!

This is all the time we have today, but if there is anything I missed or you may have further questions on, please email me at

Happy wedding planning!