Sonia recently purchased a storefront in downtown Homewood (not too far from Savages, so now you have an excuse to visit both!), Inflations and Invitations. I had to go see it in person, so here are some images from the trip and an interview with tips for brides!
images by Spindle Photography
How did you get into graphic design and invitations?
I was always into art when I was younger, so eventually when it came time to decide what I wanted to do, I thought Graphic Design was a good choice for a career where I could be creative. I worked in marketing as a designer for a national bank and during that time my sister got engaged and asked me to design her wedding invitations. From there, I started going to bridal shows and my business started to grow by word of mouth. I then decided to take the leap and design full time.
What's the story behind your storefront in Homewood?
It's actually an old house that was converted into a retail space. The store has been here for over 25 years (could be more) from what sources I have talked to and it used to just sell balloons. Over the years, there have been a few owners that have changed it slightly and its now a balloon and invitation store. My husband and I purchased the business last year and remodeled it and have added more gifts and stationery, as well as my custom invitation design to the store.
What is the design process like start to finish?
The initial step is to meet with the couple and discuss their personal style and get a feel for what they like and dislike. We discuss location, bridal fashion, colors, & flowers they are using in their wedding, and I ask them to bring clippings from magazines of things they like. Next we talk about what pieces they want to include so I can get them a quote. Pieces can range from a invitation, reply card, or direction card to favor boxes or labels. I walk them through the basics, Invitation and Reply card, then see what other stationery items they might need. Once they get pricing from me and are ready to move forward, I present at least 3 design options for them to choose from. Once the design is chosen and changes they want have been made, we move forward with the other pieces and start the printing process. Printing can take anywhere from 2-5 weeks, depending on the complexity of the pieces.
some examples of original designs by Sonia
What tips do you have for brides who want a custom design for their invitations?
Wedding invitations give your guests the first glimpse of what your wedding will be like. So let you invitations be a reflection of your day, down to every detail. If you are a contemporary bride, don't be afraid to do something different or non-traditional.
How soon before the wedding should your order your invitations?
If possible, I would say order them 4 months in advance, and try to send them out six to eight weeks before the wedding.
What factors most affect cost/what are some ways brides can cut cost without sacrificing quality invitations?
A great way to cut cost is to do a reply postcard instead of a traditional folded card with envelope. You save on the envelope and weight for your invitation postage. You could also cut out the inner envelope as well. There are also different printing methods that could cut cost, if you love the engraved look but don't love the price, Thermography will give you the same raised look and feel but cost much less.
how amazing are these wrappers?
What are your favorite invitation trends this season?
I am seeing a lot of Wedding Logos, not your traditional monogram, but more of a logo design. This is a great way to "brand" your wedding and get a complete look throughout your pieces, even down to favors. I also love playing up destination weddings. Designing the invitation to look like a plane ticket or vintage postcards are a fun way to get your guests excited to travel to your destination wedding.
How cute is Sonia's shop?! Even if you aren't getting married, Inflations and Invitations carries some really great notecard sets., journals, and can print announcements/invitations for other events. And, they still have balloons! (I'm definitely planning on getting some big round ones for a photo shoot soon!)
Plus, Sonia is available nationwide so non-Birminghamians don't have to miss out.
Yes, I realize that's not a word.
For more eye-candy visit Sonia's website or her shop at
2856 18th St S, Homewood, AL 35209!