This week is the #justacard campaign. The idea is to promote all the small little people and save the independent artists, boutiques and inevitably the creative high street. Essentially, every time someone buys even just a card, or a pin, or anything at all, that person does a little happy dance and gets a glow feeling, and it directly helps them to support their own families - to clothe them and put food on the table. And, as you know, I'm all about running a business ethically, using ethical and indie suppliers, and LOVE to see people who do things creatively, so this is right up my street!
But what can this mean for you? What do YOU get out of it? Well, you get something that potentially no one else has, or certainly something that most people haven't seen before. You get something more personal. Something that sparks a conversation. Something with a story. Maybe a nice, cosy feeling yourself.
"But isn't it more expensive?" Actually, no. Of course if something is handmade then you are paying for the skill of the workmanship, but if it's a single person or very small group of people then there are not the same overhead costs to cover such as factories and transport and sales staff and marketing etc etc etc. It usually works out about the same or less for a much higher quality item, that is far more unique.
"OK.. so how on earth do I bring this concept into my wedding? Do I have to base my whole wedding around this idea?!" Of course you don't need to base your whole wedding around it - remember, even just a card makes a difference, so do what feels right and viable for you. As for how to do it, let's have a look at some ideas below!
Jewellery // This could be your wedding ring or engagement ring, or it could be another piece of jewellery you or your partner might wear on the day. It could be a gift for a member of the bridal party (it's a popular choice for bridesmaids or the mums). Etsy and Instagram are great places to find inspiration for a style and the best thing about buying jewellery from an indie designer maker is that if you would like to tweak a design or have it made in a half size, or with a different chain length or in a slightly different material - if it's possible, they'll do it! They'll take the time with you to chat about all your ideas to make them a reality.
Bouquet charms and mementos // I've seen a lot of people like to remember their loved ones on their wedding day, and one of these ways is to attach a little charm with poetry on to the bouquet. This is a sweet idea but if you wanted something more personal, why not look at Made by Daisy? Daisy creates not only jewellery, but also preserves handwriting and drawings in silver - you could have your loved one's handwriting as your bouquet charm, or on a bracelet or a lapel pin, and it would always be deeply special. There are also craftspeople out there who can do amazing things with ashes, or sand from a special place, or fingerprints... so many ideas.
Veils // Oh. My. Dayzzzzz. Have you ever looked at the variety of creativity and flair available to you from all the amazing small sellers on Etsy?! There are layered veils, and cape veils, and coloured veils, and embroidered veils, and sequinned veils, and ornate birdcage veils, and vintage veils, and bespoke veils, and ombre veils, and veils with pom-poms, and, and, and... I want all of them! Every length and interpretation imaginable, suitable to fit any budget and style. And not just veils, but incredible headpieces from tiaras to hair vines and crowns and bands and pins...I bought my bridesmaids some hairpins made by Lauren Wheeler Artistry and they are made from preserved hydrangeas! They were absolutely perfect on the day and even though they are the most delicate things I think I've ever handled, they stood up to an awful lot of partying!
Bags and other accessories // Again, there are so many options out there. I found myself a cute little blush suede heart shaped bag that can be carried as a clutch but also has a small strap if required, and it was handmade by Ashley Wild Bridal. Ashley made the bag and had it delivered to me in a very tight turnaround and she was fantastic! With an indie seller, if you want a bespoke colour, you may well be able to get it! But not forgetting the importance of a great tie or pocket square, if you have something very particular in mind you can probably find someone who can provide it. Whether that's someone who can even design the fabric print for a waistcoat or bowtie, or make something very size specific, there is so much choice than just the big brand shops on the high street. Some other sellers I'd particularly recommend are LizzieBug for children's waistcoats and bowties (she's amazing at sourcing fabrics for your vision!), and Emma Moore at Arsenic and Old Lace UK for adults and kids ties and bow ties in some sophisticated yet understated styles.
Candles // So, we had neon candles running down our banqueting tables (I know, brave choice, everyone who heard about it beforehand was a little unsure!), and we found them in a tiny little boutique in Rye, Kent (The Shop Next Door). They made a big impact in dressing the tables and the cake table etc. The candles themselves were from a. slightly larger brand, but we purchased from a. tiny independent, and even that means supporting an indie business. There are loads of boutiques up and down the country where you can find quirky little things for dressing the space, or a nice gift for someone you'd like to thank, or even #justacard ! If candles are your thing though, why not check again somewhere like Etsy or Not on The High Street to find your perfect shape or colour, or even your perfect scent! What better way to create an atmosphere than buy having a particular scent that people will remember? And how amazing is a marbled candle, or an ombre one? Candles don't have to be white, or one block colour!
Table dressing // You may have these things provided, or be hiring them, and that is great! If you're hiring from a small local stylist, then that's especially awesome! They will probably even come and dress your tables and event space for you which is an amazing service, and well worth it for the skill and attention to detail that they bring. If you're purchasing napkins, these can double up as favours and/or place names if they are embroidered with names or monograms - there are lots of people who offer this service, and the effect is really quite emotional.
Sweet Tables // These are really popular at weddings, and are often full of glass bowls stuffed to the brim with sweets! How can you do this in a way that supports the #justacard principle? Well, yes you could buy them from a glassblower, but you could also support your local high street by investigating your charity shops - they often have lots of this kind of thing for a very small price, and every penny goes into helping to support vulnerable people and your local area. Why not do something sweet with your sweets?
Music // Local musicians! Live music is the biggest atmosphere bringer to a wedding, EVER! If you see someone awesome busking in the street, and you're looking for some live music for your day, ask them for their details! You'll make their day, and they could make your day! Or look up local music academies/colleges, orchestras, quartets etc... Speak to them and let them know what you're looking for and you might just come up trumps.
Stationary // This is where a lot of people try to save money, that's for sure. For invites, there are several options - create your own from scratch, purchase a design and print it yourself, or have someone do the whole process for you. All of these are absolutely fine! If you'd like to support an indie business, you could choose to print at a local printer business and they can chat with you all about paper types and ink types and really guide you through the printing process. If you buy a design that you can personalise, if you buy from a small seller on Etsy rather than a big mass printing business, you will be supporting that individual and giving them a glow feeling, plus having something that fewer people have for their invites. And if you choose for someone to design and print your invites then that just helps them out even more! If you connect with a supplier with a graphic design background then you could get something really special and unique.
Stationary also includes place names, table plans, signage and orders of ceremony. You'll have your own ideas and style for these, but it's possible to get them to tie together, or to be amazingly distinct. One wedding I photographed had all their tables named after gins, and the table plan was full of beautifully ink-splattered watercolours of the bottles with amazing graphically designed lettering next to each one. It was such a feature that got so many people talking and ooh-ing and ahh-ing! In terms of place names, I've seen names carved from wood, names on log slices, stamps on pegs, calligraphy... so many variations. Have a look at creative sellers and see what inspires you!
Other details // Some people like to have a ring box or cushion to present the rings if they are exchanging during their ceremony. You can find all sorts of things like this on Etsy and Not on The High Street, but you can also find gorgeous little boxes in independent boutiques - often with knick knack items, or maybe a glass little jewellery box, or a ceramic ring dish. I have a store local to me, Two Ducks, which always has so much inspiration for this sort of thing! Or how about even a ring cone? Or wacky socks? Or pashminas to keep bridesmaids warm in the evening? Or wrapping paper for those gifts?
The Dress // I've spoken about how to find your dress ethically before (here), and I am a great believer that you will find something totally YOU by looking at indie designers, smaller more specialist boutiques and that dreams can become reality with an amazing seamstress. I found my dream dress at Rock the Frock, and it was a dress exclusive to their store, but I had previously discovered the designer on Etsy and was in the middle of designing a bespoke dress with them! Call it coincidence or fate, Irena at MilaMira was clearly the lady for me. So, think outside the box, and don't be afraid to try a designer you've not heard of before!
Gifts for each other // You know each other so well, and yet all of a sudden it seems so hard to find something that is personal and special enough for the momentous occasion of your wedding day. Think personal, and different. I commissioned Suze from House O'Fellows to embroider a hoop with some custom characters and a custom pun that summed us up, and my very tricky to please husband actually loved it (What a relief!). She also does custom wedding venues on hoops, or anything you ask really! I also really love the work by Nia Tudor Illustration - she does amazing couple and family portraits, that are so detailed and friendly and happy - that might be a wedding anniversary gift! An amazing gift we received as a couple was actually a pair of porcelain polar bears by Jill Maguire Ceramics (we do like polar bears...) - they're having a bit of a cheeky flirt on our hallway wall at the moment, and Jill even made sure our names and the date were on the back - I love that we know they're there, and it's like the bears have a little secret! These are all unique and personal things, created with the utmost care by incredible artists, and things we will treasure forever.
I hope that somewhere in this you have found an idea that has caught your eye, or your imagination, and that you'll check out some of these amazing people and places, plus any others you come across in the process. Be brave, be different, be inspired, and remember that even #justacard makes a world of difference.