What Would They Know? Amanda Cookson of Be My Guest

by | Stationery Wisdom, What Would They Know?, Wisdom


Polka Dot Bride

How do you give your guests a glimpse into what your wedding might feel like, or set the tone of your day? The first peek for many of your guests will be the Save the Date or the wedding invitation itself. So choosing your stationery is one of the most exciting tasks in your pre wedding journey. Will your wedding invitations exude elegance, or will they have a rustic, or modern feel? Amanda of Be My Guest has a wealth of knowledge about all things design and stationery  – colour, design, the type of paper, font style, and ways to tweak an invitation to make it uniquely yours. Knowing that your stationery is just the way you envisaged it creates anticipation and is one more exciting step towards your wedding day. Be inspired as Amanda tells us her story.

Please tell us a little about the reasons for starting Be My Guest.

I initially began designing wedding invitations for friends, and friends of friends, while working fulltime as a Marketing & Events Manager. When I took time out from that job to have my first baby, I realized going back wasn’t realistic – my husband works away from home during the week, and I needed more flexibility than what my current job provided. So I took the plunge and started Be My Guest.

Be My Guest – Image by Winmill Crreative

Where are you based?

I’m based 20 minutes south of Dunedin, in the South Island of New Zealand…. Most of the time. My business is set up to be run from anywhere, so I also get away to a family holiday home in Central Otago and work from there.

What areas of the world do your customers come from?

Most of my invitation design clients are from New Zealand and Australia, but I have looked after couples in the UK and USA too. My most surreal day was sending invites to New York (population 8.49 million) and Middlemarch (population 300).

What is your design background?

I’ve always been a creator. I went through high school doing art as a subject and as a hobby outside. Then in my early career I began picking up the skills and technical knowhow to work within the graphic design programs I use now. I also have a degree in Communications and Marketing which gives me a more theoretical view of things. This year I’ve started art classes again, and have been exploring different media.

What excites you about being able to be creative?

I love the problem solving aspect – the “aha” moment as a good idea comes together.

How would you describe your design style?

I have to be a bit of a chameleon to produce what my couples would like, so I don’t have one particular style that I stick to day to day. Outside of digital design, I’ve always been a messy, abstract, paint-by-feel artist.

Be My Guest – Image by Winmill Creative

What do you love about designing invitation suites?

I love making things match, I love hearing someone’s ideas and visions and taking them to the next level. I love seeing everything come together.

How important is your stationery in communicating the flavor of the wedding day?

Your wedding invitations are the first indication of what your wedding day is all about (and often the only indication, until the wedding day itself!). So you’re relying on the design to convey the style, tone and formality of your wedding day. Whether you specifically say something, or rely on the design to implicitly state it, the wedding invitations are the primary means of communication with your guests.

What inspires or influences your (new) designs?

My custom clients have always been a source of inspiration – hearing what their vision for the day is, and their initial ideas. But in the last year I have been learning more and more about the printing and production of invitations – taking on the finishing of my items and gaining more experience – and as I learn more about the capabilities of the presses and paper, I find more ideas I’d like to try and boundaries I want to push.

What elements of the stationery suite can be personalized to set it apart?

You can personalize most things about your stationery suite. With all design and printing, there’s often many ways to achieve a particular look or idea. If you’re open to different ideas or ways of doing something, then you can make something uniquely your own (rather than just copying straight from an idea on Pinterest that you thought was cool).

How long does this service take from first contact to delivery of the final product?

The timeline for wedding invitation design varies between couples, but can take anywhere from a week for a pre-made design, to eight weeks for a custom design. I can end up working with some clients for months though, depending on how much information they have at hand when they first get in touch, and what stationery pieces they want/need.

Be My Guest – Image by Winmill Creative

What is the design process?

For the Be My Guest Wedding Collection (my ready to order designs), you simply select your wedding invite and place an order on the website. Then send through your wording and design notes. For custom design, couples get in touch and we arrange a time to meet, either via Skype or in person at my home office. I take lots of notes and a draft is produced from there.

The process from here is similar, any route you take – we share emails back and forth with drafts and once the couple is happy, the invitations are printed!

Is it wise to order sample packs of your preferred ready to order invitations if you’re unsure?

Ordering a sample pack is a great idea. Wedding invitations are such a tactile, physical thing, that it’s really hard to understand what you’re getting without seeing something physically first! Plus what I’ll call grey might be what you’d consider silver… so having something physical for us both to reference cuts out any miscommunications. The cost of the sample pack from Be My Guest is redeemable on your future order of wedding invitations so it’s a pretty low risk and excellent peace of mind.

What elements may be changed on a ready to order design?

Couples are often surprised what they can achieve with a couple of tweaks to a ready to order design! You can change the colours and fonts – these two plus picking a different card choice can completely transform an invite from elegant and glam to rustic country chic.

Other than invitations what other paperware do you offer the bridal couple?

I design guestbooks, bridal party proposal cards, engagement party invitations, Save the Dates, seating plans, wedding reception stationery like menus and order of services, plus stickers and tags.

What new ideas have you released – that excite you for the future?

I’ve been exploring vinyl stickers and decals – got a few things in the pipeline that I know my couples will love! There’s so much you can do with them.

Beautiful Peonies Save the Date – Be My Guest – Image by Winmill Creative

How do you see stationery design evolving – what are some new trends you see emerging?

I love when couples integrate the use of their stationery throughout their wedding day, in elements that aren’t traditionally paper based. For example, check out this incredible cake and biscuits which use the imagery from my popular Beautiful Peonies wedding invitation

Photographer & Stylist The Little Hire Company  Cake The Cake Eating Company

What do you love about living in New Zealand?

I am a bit of an introvert, so I love the quiet pace and being able to get away from it all with only an hour or two drive.

Any secret places or things in New Zealand that you’d like to share?

If you’re looking for a short adventure, cycle the Otago Railtrail. A keen cyclist can traverse the 150-ish kilometers in a day but if you’re doing it with friends or your spouse, take some time and plan for multiple stops along the way. There’s amazing food, wine and scenery to be had – and you can do it guilt free since you’re burning it off when you cycle between stops!

Photographer & Stylist The Little Hire Company  Cake The Cake Eating Company

Thank you Amanda for sharing your story. What a stunning idea to use your invitation design on your cake and  sweet treats to give your wedding a beautifully cohesive look! To find out more about Be My Guest visit the website.

Headshot – Be My Guest – Image by Winmill Creative




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