Pocket Invitation Number 1

Shown here: pocket folder with invitation attached; four insert cards: rsvp, directions, brunch, evening party; tab on flap shown upper left, rsvp envelope lower left.

This is the first pocket invitation set I designed. As I was the customer, I made it a rather complex project. This included using for the first time a letterpress printing set that I got in the spring, a small model that sits on the table. I lettered the text, drew the border, and had a plate made to use with this press. I found that applying the ink takes practice. I love the look of the impression in the paper. I used that for the invitation cards, which were adhered to the folder. The other items also used my lettering and design, but were printed by a commercial invitation printer, http://www.phdcalligraphy.cceasy.com/. I was wise enough to know I wouldn’t have time to hand-press each item. They were then all assembled, some of them using more insert cards that others, depending on whether they were out-of-town guests or not, and put into the envelopes which we addressed using our computer printer. It was a great learning experience, and a pleasure to create.


The invitation season has begun. I had a great session with a customer–the whole family–for a bat mitzvah invitation. The photo shows the table with all the materials we referred to for this project. It is always a fascinating process which is at first overwhelming, but the preferences become clear soon enough.

While I work with customers all over the country, thanks to the internet, phone and mail, it is great to meet in person. I’m glad to be able to offer this to those in the Greenfield-Shelburne Falls-Amherst-Northampton area, as well as to those in Western Mass., Connecticut and Vermont who are able to travel here.

Invitation albums set out for browsing

Pocket Invitations

Pocket invitations are so appealing, providing a neat packet which holds the invitation on one side and all of the smaller insert cards of an invitation sets in a pocket on the other side. This packet goes into an outer mailing envelope. Pricing will vary depending on how many cards there are in the set and whether or not I provide original art for it. $600-1200 would be an approximate price range for 100 invitation sets with this pocket format depending on the choices you make.


Pocket album open on lower left; pocket invitation I produced this summer on right.

Ready to order invitations?

 Most of the invitations that I produce for customers are custom designs. Even if it is based on a design already in my collection, there is usually some customization that goes into the final product. It can be a smooth process, and the following pointers will help you get started.

1) The invitation will convey to your guests a sense of what the event will be like: casual, meaningful, formal, intimate, are words that you might think of. When we start talking about the choice of paper, the colors, images, lettering, size, shape, these will all relate to what  you want to communicate. Bring these ideas to the first discussion of the project.

2) Think about the coordinating items in the set that you will need. These can include:

• The invitation itself, with a single or more formal double envelope. A double envelope set has an inner envelope that is addressed with just the name(s) of those invited at that address. The envelope (or inner one of a double set) may have a liner which relates to the design of the invitation, using a particular color, pattern or texture of paper.

• A save-the-date card or postcard that would go out well in advance of the event; it could include hotel reservation information.

• A respond postcard or card with envelope. This should request that guests include their names, number attending, and, if needed, entrée choice(s). It is also nice to leave some empty space for a note.

Reception cards: These may be used to invite a guest to a Friday evening dinner, a rehearsal dinner, a Sunday brunch, an evening party for a morning Bar or Bat Mitzvah, etc. You may need two or three such cards, but they may not all be ordered in the same quantity. For example, you may send 100 invitations, but only 30 may be for out-of-towners, who might be the only ones invited to a Sunday brunch.

Directions and hotel information: One card may include directions to the event and a reception; the directions may give instructions from a few locations. Hotel information may be on a separate card or one the reverse of the directions.

Gift registry, charitable donations: You may want to inform guests of gift registries. If you are starting a marriage with two full households, you may use a card to indicate a preference of charitable contributions on your behalf. Some Bar or Bat Mitzvahs will indicate a place to make a donation if that is the kind of gift you are giving.

Placecards: There are many ways to indicate where guests should sit; one way is to use folded cards with the guests’ name(s) and table number.

Table numbers: We make table numbers (or sometimes a thematic table name) for an event that use elements of the invitation design.

• A favor tag or label can be designed to tie to or adhere to favors you give your guests.

Thank you note and envelope: Usually a folded card with the name(s) of the wedding couple or Bar/Bat Mitzvah. I often include a design element from the invitation.

3) Don’t underestimate how much time it will take to get the address list in order. Printing the invitation will take about a week, so you want to be working on that list while we’re designing the invitation.

4) Timing: Most people plan to send the invitations 6-8 weeks before the event, although some customers report that number is creeping up. Allow two weeks for printing. That means that an ideal time to start discussing the order is 4–5 months before the event. We can produce invitations in whatever time you have, but this is a comfortable margin.

Simcha Music: Tempo

I’ve learned a lot about music from playing in the Wholesale Klezmer Band. I play the flute and lead dancing. It has helped me see more clearly the band’s role in making a celebration truly happy.

There is a tendency, especially when a band has just one “Jewish set” that they play, to play the music at a frantic, fast tempo for that whole set. The result is that the dancers get breathless and soon leave the dance floor.

My preference is a slow approach, where the tempo and intensity of the music build, so that it is easy for guests of any age to join the dancing, people have  a chance to look at each other and feel connected by the music and the movement. As the tempo of the music changes, when the dancers make their steps smaller, they are able to keep on dancing. It is very aerobic, and doesn’t have to be taxing. We play for a good 45 minutes in a dance set, and want to keep as many people dancing as possible.

One of the things I like to have happen is that, when the bride and groom or the bar or bat mitzvah are lifted in chairs, the circle of dancers keeps circling around them, perhaps in more than one circle, going in opposite directions. It increases the exuberance and sense of celebration. When the music has gotten too fast too quickly, the dancers see the lifting of the chairs as an excuse to stop dancing and to clap hands, standing in place.

It is part of traditional Jewish dancing for one or two people to go into the center of the circle and “shine,” the Yiddish word for this kind of dancing. Those in the center may swing each other around, might do a “kazatske,” walk on their hands, or do a “step-kick” circling movement; while they’re taking their turns, it again feels more festive if the circle around them keeps going. It is great when the band can encourage this kind of dance participation with the way they play the music.