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Pushing the envelope with trendsetting ideas

Pushing the envelope with trendsetting ideas
Elsje Designs creates fun & functional gifts, stationery and table decor with a true South African touch


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Thursday, March 25, 2010

A family affair!

Our favourite recent wedding was a very special family affair! My nephew, Schalk van der Merwe got married to his Stellenbosch varsity class mate, Huibré Visagie. It was a priviledge for me to be part of this unique wedding. These two engineers, wanted to proudly celebrate their afrikaans roots. Tables were named after family farms, stitched detail with vintage artwork and all the unique object d’art came from Schalk’s family farm, called Telefgraaffontein – lovingly selected by my creative and very organized sister, Seugnet - everything form old books, tiny antique medicine bottles filled with dainty flowers, porcelain plates etc. We had so much fun together, I would do it all over again! This was a day filled with happy memories – boere celebrating in style, making this a day to remember.

Ian Mitchinson, the photographer, said: Huibre and Schalk married recently at in Reibeck West. The area is one of my favourite places to shoot in all of the Western Cape, so I know when I am lucky enough to work there that the possibilities are going to be vast. Also, it helps when you mix it with two stunningly good looking people who are as adventurous as Schalk and Hiubre.

I met Huibre at Café Felix where we shot the preparations, and then my assistant Francois went and captured the guys getting ready. Café Felix too, is such a gem. After the ceremony I shuffled the bride and groom of to Riebeck Kasteel to shoot in the little village there.

I could write for hours about how much I love the Reibeck Kasteel/West area, but hopefully you can get a feel for that in this imagery that I’m proud to say I was lucky enough to capture.

Congrats to both of you Huibre and Schalk, and thanks to Elsje from Elsje Designs for recommending them to come to me for their wedding photography.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Sneak Peak...

More amazing pics coming tomorrow from Schalk and Huibre's special wedding!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy 54th Wedding Anniversary!

Wow, I am very proud to state that my parents, Bertus and Madeleine van der Merwe, has been married today for 54 years!

Chains do not hold a marriage together. It is threads, hundreds of tiny threads which sew people together through the years. - Simone Signoret

Success in marriage does not come merely through finding the right mate, but through being the right mate. - Barnett R. Brickner

Our wedding was many years ago. The celebration continues to this day. - Gene Perret

A great marriage is not when the 'perfect couple' comes together. It is when an imperfect couple learns to enjoy their differences. - Dave Meurer

Do not marry a person that you know you can live with; only marry someone that you cannot live without. - Author Unknown

Marriage is not a noun; it's a verb. It isn't something you get. It's something you do. It's the way you love your partner every day. - Barbara de Angelis

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Chasing butterflies!

This beautiful collage, called Chasing Butterflies, was created by Kathryn from Snippet and Ink - a blog with beautiful inspirational ideas. Thanks Kathryn!

We are proud to announce that we now stock these glass bell jars with printed butterflies.

Price: R400 (excluding vat & courier fees)

Size: H20cm, diam 12.5cm

Please contact me for more information at

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

What's hot on paper?

Elsje Designs always try to stay ahead of trends. Recently I browsed for new ideas and came across this article on The Knot. Reading it, I was delighted to see we are spot on with our current creativity! Please let us know if you have any ideas or suggestions - we would love to hear from you.

When it comes to your wedding, you want to stamp your own personal style on every aspect of the day. In the business world, they call this "branding." In the wedding world, the branding begins and ends with your stationery. You can use your stationery to pull together the entire look of your wedding. Just select a color, monogram, and font, then run with them. Here we offer 21 hot ideas to help you create a suite of wedding stationery that's as unique as the two of you.

1. Gold Is the New Black
Gold has made a comeback in fashion and accessories. This luxe metal is now popping up in wedding stationery too. Lisa Hoffman, owner of Ceci New York, a custom stationery boutique, has created invites using gold papers, gold engraving, and gold-lined envelopes.
Wear gold heels, use gold utensils, and dip cocktail glasses in gold-dusted sugar.

2. Vintage Flair
When it comes to design, couples want a vintage look. Karen Bartolomei, owner of Grapevine in Boston, designs vintage-style invitations inspired by Parisian soap label art, Givenchy couture, and swirl or damask patterns.
Give your cake baker a copy of your invitation and then ask them to decorate the cake using a similar design.

3. Eco-Friendly Elements
Earth-conscious couples don't need to sacrifice style to have eco-friendly stationery. Green options: recycled or seed-embedded paper, wood veneers, and soy-based or vegetable ink.
An excellent option is to choose a caterer who uses locally grown or organic ingredients to create their menus.

4. Postcard Save-the-Dates
To create the mood for a vintage-inspired wedding, create save-the-dates fashioned after classic posters in the form of postcards. Not only does this make for easy mailing, but it can also be a wonderful way to set the tone for a destination wedding. Name all your reception tables after places you've been together using a postcard from each of the destinations.

5. Modern Monograms
Monograms are getting a makeover. Khan sees them becoming more thematic, with stylistic elements like elaborate ampersands. Rather than a simple font, consider using intertwined initials for an updated look.

6. Escort Card Cocktails
For a small wedding, Hoffman loves the idea of escort cards hanging off of a cocktail's swizzle stick. Ask your caterer to have the waiters stationed with trays at the entrance; that way, guests will be able to pick up their drink and discover their seat at the same time.

7. Gray Is the New Brown
One color trend that we love: steel gray. This ultra-cool color can be used in a modern way teamed with robin's egg blue or raspberry pink. The look is softer than chocolate brown, but it's still stylish enough to carry through a contemporary wedding style.

8. Classic Patterns, Unexpected Colors
Modern couples are putting a new spin on the traditional invite by using bright, bold colors. For a formal wedding, an invitation that features a damask- or brocade-inspired print could appear in fuchsia, light blue, or black.

9. Easy RSVPs
To save paper and make it easier on guests, wedding stationers attach stamped response cards to the invite with perforated edges so you tear the card off and mail it -- a small detail with big style.

10. Custom-Made Stamps
Hoffman designs postage stamps to match your invitation design using a pattern, monogram, or motif. These custom stamps add a unique touch and eliminate excess stamps since you can customize the amount.
Take a cue from your stamps; pull your monogram or motif into designs for cocktail napkins, favor tags, and place cards.

11. Downsized Programs
For a wedding keepsake, Kahn encourages her clients to do a smaller program and explore different yet stylish ways to fold them so that departing guests won't simply leave them behind. A 4" x 6" accordion fold can easily fit inside a purse or pocket.
Bring the look of folds into other parts of your reception by way of napkins, table numbers, and textured cake designs.

12. Couture Envelopes
The look of your invitation doesn't stop with the reply card; pay close attention to the envelopes as well. It makes sense because the envelope is a guest's first glimpse at your invitation's style. Beautiful liners in coordinating colors and patterns make this otherwise ordinary packaging necessity a cool keepsake.
Envelopes are just the beginning. It really is all about the details.

13. Material World
For additional richness, designers use high-end fabrics like silk, velvet, and various ribbons. Hoffman designed a luxe invite with a purple velvet wrap, while Kahn favors double-faced satin or organza ribbons.
If you like ribbons, incorporate them in your escort card display using complementary colors and patterns, and have your florist use them as a wrap for boutonnieres.

14. Signature Silhouettes
Whether it's birds perched on flowering branches or a woodsy scene of towering birch trees, silhouettes are becoming an invite classic. These shadowy designs give a refined yet whimsical touch to wedding stationery.
Use a signature silhouette in unexpected places, like a Tord Boontje curtain to separate the cocktail hour and reception.

15. Boxed-up Invites
For a grand presentation, consider packaging your invitations in custom-made boxes. Approximately $1.80 to mail, Khan's boxes can be silk-covered or made with elegant yet thick paper, while Hoffman prefers to have hers wrapped in high-quality ribbon.
Why stop with the invite? Use coordinating boxes for packaging favors, slices of wedding cake, and attendant gifts.

16. Double-Sided Invites
The back of a piece of paper can make a bigger impression than the front. From invitations to menu cards, two-sided stationery pieces wow guests. Ogden favors a simple design on the front, then laminates the back with a coordinating pattern or solid-colored paper.
Consider choosing some linens that match your paper's pattern, such as toile if you're having a country-chic affair.

17. Getting Personal
For small guest lists, some of Hoffman's clients will actually sign each of their invitations and hand-deliver them to each guest. While this can be quite time-consuming, it can also be a memorable, personal touch.
Ask your cake baker to decorate your cake with scripted words taken from a line of your favorite poem or your wedding vows.

18. Relaxed Wording
As more and more couples host their own wedding, invitation wording is changing to keep up with the trend. No longer is formal wording, beginning with the parents' names, a necessity. Instead, the invite can reflect the nature of the event. For a destination wedding hosted by the couple, the invite might say, "Join us in paradise as we say our vows" or "We invite you to join us in a celebration of love."
Create a relaxed vibe at the reception with a family-style dinner. Have a photo booth on hand so guests can take silly pictures.

19. Beyond Paper
These days, it's possible for a wedding invitation to be printed on just about anything. Hoffman does a lot of work with plexiglass and can custom-mold stones for a three-dimensional save-the-date. Other non-paper options: wood veneer, glass, even chocolate.
If you choose something other than paper, like wood, you can also use it as a foundation for your centerpieces.

20. Many a Motif
Rather than just one motif (think flip-flops for a beach wedding), Hoffman sometimes uses two or three icons to unify all the pieces. For example, call out each of your events (like the welcome party and the reception) on the RSVP card with its own motif. Ogden also likes using a small starfish on the save-the-date followed by a conch shell on the invite to create a striking a mix-and-match look.
You can use three-dimensional versions of your motif in your decor, such as adding shell accents to your bouquet.

21. Destination Wedding
With destination weddings on the rise, so is the need for all-inclusive stationery. Rather than multiple invites for each event, Hoffman can design three-panel RSVP instead. She is also the creator of the popular airline ticket-inspired invitation, which is perfect for ensuring that all of your guests will be properly excited about their upcoming travel plans.
Have your invitation design hand-sewn or printed onto the welcome bags and favors (like wine or water bottles) for your guests.

-- Christa Vagnozzi, from The Knot

Whose name goes first on a wedding invitation... Bride or Groom?

The Bride!

This is a common question asked by many of our clients ordering wedding stationery. It is considered as etiquette to print the bride’s name first. This goes back centuries ago when the young woman's parents would have a dowry to give to the groom to be. Today, it's simply protocol.

Your invitation wording may vary according to personal taste, and depending on how formal your celebration will be. But, whatever the format, the invitation should state the following:

• names of the bride's parents or other hosts.

• first name of the bride.

• first name and surname of the bridegroom and his title (Mr/Doctor etc.)

• where the ceremony is taking place.

• date, month and year of the wedding ceremony.

• location of the wedding reception.

• address to which guests should reply, and a reply date.

You might also wish to include:

• details of any dress code/theme.

• time guests can expect the day to come to an end.

• whether children are invited

Who sends the invitation?

Invitations always go out from whoever is hosting the wedding - often the bride's parents. The wording becomes more complicated if parents are divorced or if the couple are hosting the event themselves.

The usual wording for a traditional invitation is:

Mr & Mrs James Jones request the pleasure of your company at the marriage of their daughter Sue to Mr Jonathan Wood at … Church, Town, on (date), (month), (year), at, (time) and afterwards at (reception venue). RSVP: (host's address).

... and if you are hosting your own wedding

Ms Sarah Stevens
Mr Adam Johnson
request the pleasure of your company
at their marriage
on date, month, year
at, time
Church, Ceremony etc

Please let me know if you have any requests or unanswered questions – I am always looking for new articles for our blog! This will be good inspiration for me to do research.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Stunning dresses made by Bonnie

Since Annemie's wedding, we have been inundated with requests for her bridesmaid dresses. Bonnie has subsequently extended her portfolio and is a fashion genius. Please contact her at if you want to know more!