Ethan Allen Smith
La Voyage Magnifique is a wedding invitation designed for my little sister, Kennedy Smith, and her then-fiancé, Benjamin Soileau. Kennedy and Benjamin are both writers, so the original concept was simply to make the invite look like a book. For inspiration and design direction, they provided an antique book found in an old book store in Portland. From the beginning, the plan was to design the RSVP look like a library check-out card, placed in an inside pocket.
The floral pattern on the front and back covers were scanned from the antique book and modified to fit on a page that, when folded, would fit inside an A7 envelope. The typefaces, Bolton and the HPLHS Old Style family, are based on early 20th century fonts and match closely those used in book. The aesthetic of the RSVP and “save the date” cards is deliberately more modern, in stark contrast to the book’s art nouveau design. The Neutraface font family was used both for its modern feel and its distinction from the book’s typefaces. The most challenging and most rewarding aspects of the entire process was finding a way to effectively use two vastly different styles in the same piece, without it feeling either forced or kitschy.
With the design tackled, we moved to the printing process. The title page was printed on a soft ivory paper and both the cover and cards were printed on a heavy laid. To keep costs down, the black ink was printed first on a digital press. This completed the title page and added the type-written book name on the cover stock. Most of the rest was printed on a traditional press using PMS 1807 (a deep red) and PMS 295 (a dark blue). Finally, the viking ship emblem on the cover was printed using a letterpress. The cover then was scored, but not folded.
With printing complete, we began the process of building the invite. The title page was sewn into place and the library card pocket was affixed with double-sided tape. As part of the effort to maintain authenticity, a stamp was made with the couple’s address and I purchased a date stamp for the RSVP card. Each mail-to address was then hand-written on the outer envelope and the postage stamps were put in place. The entire piece was then folded and compiled.
Through everything, we wanted the invite to feel genuine and approachable, not only as a design preference, but as a reflection of the characters of the soon-to-be-married couple.