Wedding Stories

“Valley Bride” Wedding Invitations When Classic Tradition Pairs with Uniquely Personal

By Hannah Keys Rodewald

Wedding invitation expert, Hannah Keys Rodewald of The Pleasure of Your Company, talks to us about what makes Maryland wedding invitations different… and how to achieve a unique, memorable look.

What do brides and grooms want for an invitation to their Maryland wedding?

From talking to stationery store owners, printing companies we work with, and learning what brides and grooms all over the country select for invitations, it’s clear there really is a “Maryland” look for wedding invitations.

Maryland is more a southern state, especially in the countryside, in that we entertain in a formal, classic, understated and traditional fashion. We still follow the old rules of etiquette; however, many of the brides and grooms we work with are not bound by tradition – they’ve gone to school, have lived and worked everywhere, or have traveled extensively. If they’ve seen something they like in their travels, or something catches their eye on Pinterest, they are all for incorporating it into their wedding. So, we find that most couples don’t want to just pick an invitation from an album or a website – they want to be part of the creative process.

The best ways to describe the invitations that most Maryland couples want are: traditional, classic and timeless… but with an added something different that makes it “theirs” and no one else’s.

Settling on a classic invitation is fairly easy. It’s finding the unique element to set it apart that takes a little more work. First, you have to decide what the personal touch in your invitation should be…

  • What elements in your wedding are very personal to you?
  • What drew you to getting married in this area?
  • Is there something about the venue or setting that spoke to you when you chose it?
  • Do the colors of the season you selected excite you?
  • Maybe there are a couple of words you can use to describe your wedding that you want to convey: romantic and candlelit… casual horse country… or dining, dancing and partying all night long?

Here are some local examples that illustrate how a classic invitation can be turned into something very personal and unique, and very Valley Bride.

For this wedding at Ladew Topiary Gardens, artist Karen Schoelkopf sketched the signature foxhunt topiaries on the lawn at Ladew, and the invitation was letter pressed on heavy cotton stock. The bride chose a floral lining for her envelopes that picked up the colors in her early fall wedding.

If you have a reception at The Elkridge Club in the summer, you know that your photos will be full of lush lawns and flowering shrubs. This bride picked up the flowers in her Redoute floral envelope linings, and repeated them in the whimsical map to Elkridge Club drawn by her sister, Martha Plack.

This wedding was a very formal affair, but the reception took place in the Greenspring Valley barn where the bride boards her horse. She chose a classic William Arthur invitation, but added the drawing of the barn in the envelope linings to personalize her choice.

Street maps and nautical maps are always a favorite. You can find historic maps (old eInvitationsnough that you don’t have to worry about copyright infringement) on eBay at a great price, scan and crop them and use to design envelope linings and invitation overlays.

Many venues have a pen and ink drawing of their building that they would be happy to lend you to incorporate as artwork on your invitations. The Cloisters, Gramercy Mansion and Maryvale Castle are three that have artwork available – there are certainly many more.

This bride ordered a Bella Figura letter pressed invitation using their artwork, but then drew the Evergreen House herself and had it printed on her reception card and envelope linings.

A ribbon tie or bow is always a great way to add a pop of color without taking over the look of your invitations. The choice of ribbon on this invitation was inspired by the Gerber daisy colors of the wedding décor. When you choose colors to complement those in your wedding, be open to choosing ribbons and papers that “go with” and “look good with” your bridesmaids dresses and linens and other décor. Trying to perfectly match ribbon, paper, ink and fabric to each other is probably going to be a very frustrating experience.

So, if you are inspired to add your own personal touches to your wedding invitations, our best advice is to start earlier on selecting the invitations, and leave yourself adequate time to work with a designer or find design elements that you can use. EBay is a great source for old maps, nautical charts, old postcards, books and sheet music. Etsy is a good source for illustrations, hand-drawn maps and other original artwork. is a good, inexpensive source for photos and illustrations.

If you can’t find exactly what you want, sometimes you can commission the artist to create something for you. Or you can go to a design studio and work with a graphic artist to create an invitation that no one else will ever duplicate.

Have fun with your designing, and if you create something that represents the valley well, Valley Bride would love to see it and post it. Send to