Vintage Valentine’s Day Greetings

The roots of Valentine’s Day can be traced back to Ancient Rome, though the modern incarnation of the Holiday didn’t begin until the turn of the 19th century.This article in Town & Country Magazine illustrates a brief history of how Valentine’s Day has evolved and why the tradition of sending greeting cards has become a fixture of the season.

We love looking back at vintage Valentine’s Day cards from the 19th and 20th centuries to see changing trends. Many of the bold illustrations and puns of the past have given way to more subtle designs, though we can’t help but smile when we look at how people have expressed their love through the ages.

Please feel free to share some of your favorite Valentine’s Day cards that you have received over the years and tag us on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook.

In the Mail: A “When-to” for Wedding Invitations

The beginning of a new year marks the beginning of a new wedding season.  Dempsey & Carroll’s Austin Ackles answers some of the frequently asked questions about the most optimal timelines for ordering and sending wedding invitations. 

Congratulations! You’re getting married, you’ve locked down your dream location, and now you need to spread the word. Here are a few tips for a wrinkle-free work flow that will result in perfectly timed wedding paper.

 

When is the best time to send Save the Dates?

Save the Dates are usually sent anywhere between six and twelve months before the event. Consider sending them out on the early side if your wedding is in a location with limited flights and accommodations such as Aspen or St. Barts. If the wedding is located in New York City, six months ahead is usually fine. Be sure to include the hotel block information with the Save the Date and not later with the invitation because that’s when guests need it most. If everyone is invited to Friday night festivities and Sunday brunch, call it a “Save the Weekend” so that your lucky guests will know to book a longer weekend.

 

OK, my Save the Date is in the mail! When do I need to start the wedding invitation process?

Trusty sources say that invitations should be posted between six and eight weeks before the wedding, but here at Dempsey & Carroll, our clients generally prefer eight weeks out. Working backwards, producing fine engraved papers with hand finishes takes about six weeks and calligraphy of the envelopes takes  a minimum of two or three weeks. For design time, allow about three weeks. Faster results are certainly possible when required, but to get the most enjoyment out of the process, come to see us at least five months in advance of your big day for a stress-free, luxurious experience of a lifetime!

 

And what about the paper I need for the day of?

We usually start working on menus, welcome notes, ceremony program booklets, escort cards, and place cards right after we send the wedding invitations to print. All the paper then has a congruent feel for a perfectly polished wedding!

 

Spotlight on Leo Mascotte, Part II

Austin Ackles sat down with Creative Director, Leo Mascotte, to discuss more of his favorite Dempsey & Carroll wedding suites. 

AA: This wedding took place on a family property in Old Chatham and we drew a marvelous tree the couple was to be married beneath. (The resulting steel engraving die was a sculpture in and of itself!) What makes this wedding suite one of your favorites? 

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LM: Old Chatham’s charms, to no surprise, are notably old school.  This Columbia County hamlet oozes classic Yankee Town & Country charm, and is home to one of America’s most storied fox hunts, The Old Chatham Hunt Club.  The blind engraved tree motif could not be more inspired.  So too the navy blue and white color palette, classic and crisp, yet decidedly modern for a wedding.  These colors perfectly set the stage for this type of “Down East” event.  As does the Chevalier font, as naturally handsome as the chocolate labs I imagine sleeping under the couple’s table.

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I Would happily take odds that the weekend felt like a trip back to a cherished campus. The Groom and groomsmen in navy blazers, with Hermes ties chosen to recall shared sport. Radiant and crisp in Oscar de la Renta organza, the bride, seemed to be the source of the reception tent’s glow.  Her mother, effortlessly triumphant spending an evening at home amongst abundant flowers, planned to appear picked from the property’s gardens.

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AA: This wonderful couple was married in the bride’s grandmother’s garden just outside Melbourne, Australia. They loved the watercolors from our Mark Ingram collection (which we used for their save the dates) and they wanted to incorporate them into their wedding suite. I think the colors are delicious! 

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LM: Tasty indeed, the palette reminds me of tea at Laduree, in Paris.  The pale pistachio walled salons filled with a dazzling array of pastel tinted macaroons.  The wedding stationery is kept from getting too sweet by the underlying hint of rich ochre in the custom sand colored ink.

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Attention to detail here is remarkable.  Each piece of the extensive suite was engraved, such a wonderful and increasingly rare touch.  Rarer still, each item received edge treatment using a custom pale french pink.  The invitation is set apart by it’s exquisite beveled edge.  My favorite touch is named Henry B. the couple’s beloved Labradoodle.  He sits atop the reply card, bestowing a welcoming glance encouraging all to join.

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AA: How we love a perfectly-sized New England church wedding and then a celebration afterwards at a yacht club! This wedding suite is one in a series that is a variation on a very classic theme. How do you see it reinvented this time?

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LM: I love the look of this suite almost as much as I revere the venerated yacht club where it was held.  This group sets up a carefully balanced interplay of established forms set off against modern elements.  A generation ago this piece would have been printed on a folded sheet.  Today so rarely used, the foldover’s scarcity may as well predict it’s return to favor.  Here, a stiff Embassy card reflects the current currency of chic.   This nod to today is set in contrast to timeless Italian script.  For me this font remains, the unassailable definition of impeccable old school elegance.   The suite’s painted edges are left un-beveled, at once old school handcraft, and not expected.  The rich pewter ink color manages a similar duality, with Commodore worthy aplomb.

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AA: Dempsey & Carroll has this long running creative partnership with the legendary firm, Schumacher, and this is a beautiful example of our collaboration. The font here feels old and new to me at the same time. What is it that makes this invitation suite at once breezy and stately?

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LM: This celebrated print “Birds & Butterflies” was based on a hand printed 1960’s wall covering found in Schumacher’s archive.  Available as both a fabric and wallpaper it has a lovely density that never overpowers.  Set amongst charmingly drawn foliage, rendered in spare black on white, a flock of colorful creatures takes flight.

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The Open Antique Roman font almost seems to have been picked from amongst the fabric’s vines.  The letter forms have a polished yet unfussy 1930’s feel.  Designer Thomas O’Brien coined the phrase “Vintage Modern” which seems to describes this Schumacher print, the  and this this suite perfectly.  I can think of no better way to mark a marriage in Millbrook, NY.  Very top drawer.

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Love: A History

At Dempsey & Carroll, Valentine’s Day is a particularly exciting holiday.  A recent article in People highlighted the history of this holiday, and how Valentine’s Day cards came to be, with the first cards dating back to the third century. We love sweet handwritten sentiments, but for us, what’s most interesting about Valentine’s Day is the chance to go through some of the books written and published by our founders, Messrs. Dempsey & Carroll, in the late 1800s. We have compiled some of our favorite quotes about love in honor of the upcoming holiday.

“Love is the desire that good be forever present to us” – Socrates

This quote is emblazoned on the title page of Messrs. Dempsey & Carroll’s 1883 publication “Love”, a collection of love letters and love sentiments from the ages.

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In an extract of a letter from General George Washington to Miss Nellie Custis, he advises in choosing a husband.

Love is said to be an involuntary passion, and it is, therefore, contented that it cannot be resisted. This is true in part only, for like all things else, when nourished and supplied plentifully with aliment, it is rapid in its progress; but let these be withdrawn, and it may be stifled in its growth.

We see that many of the sentiments expressed in the letters express the same passion that Washington described to Miss Custis.

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How great soever may be the bounties I have received, the joy I feel in being loved by a king whom I adore, and to whom I would with pleasure make a sacrifice of my heart, if fortune had rendered it worthy of being offered to him, will ever be infinitely greater.

– Anne Boleyn to Henry VIII, 1528

 

It is the hardest thing in the world to be in love, and yet attend to business. As for me, all who speak to me find it out, and I must lock myself up, or other people will do it for me…

…Methinks I could write a volume to you; but all the language on earth would fail in saying how much, and with what disinterested passion, I am ever yours.

– Sir Richard Steele to Mary Scurlock, 1708

 

Your letter gave me more delight than anything in the world but yourself could do; indeed, I am almost astonished that any absent one should have that luxurious power over my senses which I feel. Even when I am not thinking of you I receive your influence and a tenderer nature stealing upon me.

– John Keats to Fanny Brawne, 1819

 

Real Weddings: Suzanne and Daniel

Suzanne Schueller and Daniel Gottlander

July 25, 2015

Saint Anne’s Church

Mackinac Island, Michigan

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On a breezy Friday evening, welcome cocktails with incomparable views of the Straits of Mackinac thrilled guests on the East Front Porch of the legendary Grand Hotel. A lively dinner followed in the hotel’s grand yet still intimate Cottage Restaurant.GrandHotel_East_Front_Porch

Then, on the big day and an absolutely perfect July Saturday, Suzanne and Daniel exchanged vows in Saint Anne’s Church. Ste._Anne's_Catholic_Church_on_Mackinac_Island[1](The parish used a historic log church for over a century but the current church complex dates from 1874.) Revelry followed the ceremony at the Grand Hotel’s charming outpost, Woods. Located a short carriage ride into the wooded interior of the island, Woods, housed in an opulent Tudor mansion with Bavarian charm, proved the perfect hideaway for dinner and dancing.Schueller_Coach_WoodsSchuellerCoach

Historic Mackinac Island, located between the upper and lower peninsulas of Michigan where two Great Lakes meet, is under four square miles and has a year round population of fewer than 500 people. One of the island’s famed Victorian houses has been in the family for generations. Motorized vehicles were only briefly allowed on the island and have been prohibited since 1898. No Uber here; bicycles and elegant horse-drawn carriages are the norm.

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With Suzanne’s parents, Shannon and Dean, Dempsey & Carroll was pleased to create the most classic engraved foldover invitations, reception cards, and response card sets as well as several short stacks of lovely ceremony program booklets bound by ivory silk ribbon. For Daniel’s parents, Eva and Robert, we created an inspired rehearsal dinner invitation in our vibrant peacock blue ink. Delightful papers for a splendid series of events. Congratulations, Suzanne and Daniel!Schueller_InformationCard-web

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Photography: Sara Wright

Wedding Video: William Erwin

60 Years From Now

Will a friend, lover, colleague be able to look back upon your words with fondness and appreciation – feeling the worn texture of the paper, drinking in old sentiments now faded, catching a scent of years gone by? Today is a great day to write a letter.

We had to call out the recent clip in the December, 1 2014 issue of People Magazine.

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“I will come again to the kitchen, pretending you are not there and discover you again. And as you stand there cooking breakfast, I will kiss your neck… .”

A Spotlight on Mark Ingram

From the first visit to delivery, how long does the process of acquiring the perfect dress usually take?

It can be quite a long process.  We recommend that brides begin shopping for their gown ten to twelve months before their wedding.  They should order their gown no less than eight months before their wedding.  Designer gowns may take as long as 5 months to be delivered to the salon. Purchasing less than six months prior to your wedding may incur a designers rush fee. In some cases the gown may not be able to completed at all.  Our gowns are all made to order and this takes time, plus we need to make sure that each gown arrives in time to have proper fittings and alterations period. That can be minimally two months.

 

How many people is too many to be involved in the selection and fitting reed? 

I recommend that a bride only bring one or two people close to her that she trusts.  Too many people in the fitting room can confuse the bride and really make the whole selection process more difficult.  Many brides often shop alone for their first appointments and bring their mother, sister, maid of honor back to make the final selection.  If a bride feels they need to bring a gaggle of bridesmaids, wait for the final alterations fitting or book a VIP appointment where we will close the shop which will then allow room for all and everyone.

It must feel fantastic to have made so many brides absolutely elated for the most important day of their lives! Has it become an addiction?  It is definitely the best part of the job.  I wish I could be in the fitting rooms with the brides all day to see the tears of joy, but someone has to run the business and find the designers and gowns to feature in the Atelier.  I do make it a priority to try and meet every bride at some point during her appointments, especially when she is in a final fitting to see the completed look.

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What’s the craziest accessory you’ve ever known a bride to have hidden under her dress? 

I don’t know if they really show me those things since I am a man!  But our brides often like to have something sentimental, like an heirloom or a token from their mother or grandmother either sewn or tucked into their gown.  And some of the designer shoes they are wearing now are fierce!  My girls are not wearing simple dyables, we see the most extraordinary shoes! Just last week we did have a client who came in with the most incredible gold and feather cape and wanted to find a gown to go with!!!

 

After a number of years of experimentation and some pretty outrageous themes, we’ve been seeing a large increase in requests for a more timeless, elegant invitation. Is the same thing happening in dress design?

Yes and no.  Our brides seem to be falling into two camps lately, those who want the classic, timeless styles a la Oscar de la Renta and Carolina Herrera and those that want to push the envelope fashion wise.  The more adventurous girls are really adapting more of their personal style and ready to wear sensibilities into their bridal style.  They are opting for sexier, more bare and sophisticated gowns.  Then we have many girls who opt for a classic look for the ceremony and something outrageous and fabulous for the reception!

 

God forbid, if you couldn’t do what you’re doing now, what would be your runner-up dream career? 

Who knows, something creative for sure!  I have always liked the idea of designing something myself.  Now that I have designed the paper collection, I really am looking forward to what else I can do creatively.  I am very inspired by men’s tailoring lately, so who knows what I might be doing next!