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One of the first ways the Emily McCarthy Studio began making it’s mark on the world was by creating gorgeous, intricate wedding paper suites for brides of all kinds. To this day, weddings are a huge part of our  creative work here at the studio. What you may not realize is that wedding paper goes far beyond a traditional invitation and response card. The way we are able to work with fabulous brides, of course, is through our phenomenal network of wedding planners. On this particular wedding we got to work with the best of the best, one of our great friends here – Ashley Rhodes of Ashley Rhodes Event Designs. Her events surpass expectations and go right into the record books every single time.

That’s why we’re so honored to show you one of the weddings we recently outfitted with invitations and day of accessories. You’ll see that there’s no limit to how custom your day can be. Let’s take a look at this dreamy Charleston affair – the Alvarez & Cash wedding.


We were seeing life through rose colored glasses as we took into account everything from the church, the reception site, and all of the little things that bride, Ana, was conveying. Emily made it her goal to bring all of these small details to life on paper.

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This musical couple wanted something that stayed true to the elegant and romantic scene they wanted to create, but also nodded to their deep roots.


The wedding program stayed crisp and beautiful with gold flourishes and a couture monogram created specifically for the couple.


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Small touches like these photos created a tie that binds – family. Everywhere you looked, you were surrounded by those that joined them on this path to finding love – both past, and present. The small labels next to them identified just who each person was.

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The menus were created in the same style so that everything truly felt connected throughout the whole experience.

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You could even find Emily McCarthy touches on the food trays! Not only did these fabulous lucite trays present exactly what each server was offering, they continued the theme of the wedding paper suite.

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The couture monogram gave this wedding cake a special life of its own. Simple elegance was really shown throughout this entire day.


The couture monogram didn’t end with just cocktail napkins and the cake – the bride even had these beautiful custom pillows commissioned to keep everything ultra personal.



What’s a party without a signature cocktail? This couple opted for something very personal to them, and we created a unique napkin to showcase the recipe.


One final touch were the take-aways. Something to remind each guest that love is truly sweet, indeed. These small tags stayed true to the entire concept bringing the event full circle. From start to finish, there was a continuity that shone through and made it clear that every detail was truly cared for.


Thank you, Ana and John, for letting us take your vision and translate it through our design. It was such an honor working with you!

Emily McCarthy

Special thanks to all who made this day incredible for the fairytale couple.

Event Planner: Ashley Rhodes

Ceremony Venue: French Huguenot Church

Reception Venue Contact and Beverage Provider: Middleton Place

Photographer: Perry Vaile

Videographer: Hart to Heart Media

Floral Designer:  Em Creative Floral Design

Hair and Makeup: Bride’s Side Beauty

Catering: Cru Catering

Tenting: Sperry Tents

Rental:  Eventworks Rentals

Linens and Draping: Party Tables

Lighting:  TEC

Ceremony Entertainment: George Hiatt

Cocktail Hour Entertainment:  Charleston Virtuosi

Reception Entertainment: The Fabulous Equinox Orchestra 

Officiant: Jimmy Sites

Cake: Minette Rushing

Transportation: Lowcountry Valet & Shuttle



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Categories: invitations, real weddings, wedding invitations, wedding paper suite

We have created this handy Wedding Paper Timeline for all of you Brides out there! Feel free to print and use as a guide throughout your wedding planning process. If you have any questions or would like to talk with us about designing your wedding paper – just drop us a note [email protected]

Visit to view our wedding portfolio.

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Categories: invitations
Throughout the 10 plus years I have been working in the paper industry, I have seen the good, the bad, the ugly and unfortunately, the DIY disasters. In a new world of DIY everything, your invitations should not be one of them. Please hire a professional for this timeless piece of your marriage as your invitations will be something you treasure for many years to come. Here are my top 5 reasons to hire a professional to design or print your wedding invitations.

Thinking about printing your invitations at home or at work? My guess is your printer doesn’t provide archival inks and offset printing quantity. What does that mean? 5 years from now, you’re going to look at your wedding invitations only to discover the ink has started to fade and turn yellow or brown. Over time, the design will mostly disappear leaving you with a faded piece of paper that has also started to yellow and fade. Stick to offset printing, letterpress, thermography or letterpress and 100% cotton papers so that in years to come, you can share your invitations with your children and they will see it in the same way you intended: classic, timeless and representative of your wedding day. I still have a copy of my grandparent’s folded traditional wedding invitation – still in the same condition from almost 75 years ago.

Graphic designers and Stationers have specific software they license to create invitations and graphics. This software is extremely expensive and they are trained to use this properly. When it comes to the artwork on your invitations, a seasoned designer can properly illustrate graphics for your invitation – either from scratch or from trusted libraries of design elements. Attempting to use clipart from your word program or pulling images from the internet will not result in a good quality image. All images on the internet have been reduce in resolution so they will often appear blurry. Images needs to be at least 300 dpi in resolution to be used in graphics and printing, while all web images are only 72 dpi in resolution. If you do choose to design your own invitations, please do not take artwork from other designers’ websites and samples – this is highly unethical and unfair to these professionals.

Graphic designers and Stationers have extensive libraries of fonts available for commercial use. Their sources will far exceed the font selections available on your computer. We take time to study font trends, purchase updated versions and new scripts to make available to our clients. From choosing a classic font designed by a calligrapher or a block print that will stand the test of time, we know what will best in the design and what will not look dated after a couple of years. Chances are, if you can find fonts on a free font website, they have been in the market for quite a few years and are starting to look dated. Best to stick to classic fonts and hand-rendered lettering.

Oh, how this is SO important for your wedding invitations. Referring back to my blog post a few weeks ago, this is just the icing on the cake – there are many layers to the correct wording on wedding invitations. So many in fact, that a true professional will know all of the proper etiquette rules for your wedding invitation wording. Through their experience, resources and etiquette guides, they will provide you with the correct name order, host lines, time, date and location specifics. I cannot tell you how many wedding invitations I have seen over the years with improper wording and etiquette. A few of the most common mistakes are: 1) Using “Requesting the honour of your presence” while getting married outside of a church setting. This is reserved for a house of worship ONLY. 2) Including the Zip code in the address line, 3) Not including full spelled out names of parents and bride/groom and 4) Not spelling out the state on the envelopes – this is just to name a few! In addition to wording etiquette there are specific ways your invitation should be layered in the envelope, addressed and mailed. 

The paper industry is a very broad industry – there are hundreds of paper options available to the public, trade-only and designers. We have the experience to know how designs will look on specific papers with chosen printing techniques. In most cases, the printers you have at home will not be able to support a thicker stock appropriate for wedding invitation. Paper and envelopes often get stuck in the printer leaving you with frustration and an unsuccessfully printed invitation. It is also important that all of the paper is purchased from the same company. Paper runs can vary at times leaving you with varying shades of whites or ecrus. Buying from discount sites can sometimes leave you with mismatched envelopes and paper. 
Whether you work with me at EMMA J DESIGN or one of the many talented stationers available to brides like you, please let us assist you in designing a unique and timeless invitation for your wedding day. 
Have questions?

One comment

  1. Kit Gana says

    wow!! This is really a very good tips. thank you for sharing this post.

    Unique Weddings

    September 26, 2012
Categories: etiquette, invitations, letterpress
Over the years, I have assisted party hostesses, brides and wedding planners with invitation etiquette and wording. In order to spread the word about invitation etiquette, I have created this handy guide to wording, dos and don’ts. Feel free to share, pin or study for your next event!
Custom invitations are available through EMMA J DESIGN.


  1. The Dumpy Duchess says

    woo hoo! I found a fellow style blogger in Savannah! Beautiful blog! Loved this post. I'm definitely following you! I hope you'll visit my blog and follow me too!

    August 10, 2012
  2. Manners first says

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    August 10, 2012
  3. Courtney says

    What a charming way to ensure we remember our manners!

    September 20, 2012
  4. Cocktails & Lace says

    Love this! Thanks for sharing and letting us re-share.

    September 30, 2012
Categories: etiquette, invitations, wedding invitations
My heart is so full of inspiration, humbleness, motivation and energy after the amazing weekend I spent with 21 of the most talented women I know. I will forever be grateful for the experience of attending and speaking at The Stationery Academy, an intensive for stationers just like me. For any of you out there contemplating a career in stationery design, I highly recommend you to go next year. I was asked to speak about Signature Style and Visual Branding. Excitedly, I shared my experience, story and journey to find my own signature style. My brand has evolved and so has my style. I feel like I truly know myself now and know exactly what I want out of life, business and personal growth. It takes time for everyone to get there – you just have to take the steps in finding out WHY you want to be YOU. It has harder than it sounds, but once you can determine the values, fears, strengths and inspiration at your CORE, it is possible to truly discover who you are as a designer or business owner. BE YOURSELF – not anyone else.
Signature style is any representation of yourself – what defines you and what makes you unique.
Have the confidence to design what you love, everyone will follow. Some of the most successful designers in the style and paper industry have made a conscious decision to design against the norm and it proved to be successful.
Like what you like, design how you want to design and you’ll always be authentic.

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Categories: branding, in the life of..., inspired by, invitations
What is Stationery Academy you ask? It is a comprehensive workshop experience for stationers alike and will be hosted this year by Whitney English Kolb and Natalie Chang. I am so excited to be attending and plan on soaking up every bit of motivation, experience and ounce of paper loving peeps I can take in. Spending 4 days with passionate designers like myself will be so wonderful and inspirational. Anyone can attend and you can visit the website here to sign up. Spaces are filling up fast so book now to guarantee a spot! Hope to see you there!

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Categories: branding, in the life of..., inspired by, invitations, stationery
All of the paper gurus from English Paper Company are headed up the big apple for the National Stationery Show to sell and promote lots of fabulous new designs from Twist Paper!
Here are a few of my favorites from the everyday collection:

and from the holiday collection…

One comment

  1. Kate Nisbet Designs says

    love it! can't wait for it to hit stores!

    May 14, 2011
Categories: invitations, stationery

A friend of mine approached me about doing a custom Twist Paper invitation for a party she was throwing celebrating a newly engaged couple. I thought it turned out so cute!


  1. andreak says

    hi, emily.
    your designs are AMAZING!
    i gotta know…do you design all of these in illustrator?
    how did you do the spode inspired design?
    and i LOVE the branch style font for the {K & K} what is the name of that font?

    look forward to hearing from you 😉


    March 25, 2011
  2. Teysha says

    I love this design! Is this something that you can/will sell?

    January 7, 2017
Categories: invitations
I had the delight of hosting a baby shower for my friend, Brandy! Along with the help of 2 other hostesses, we were able to pull together quite a fabulous soiree if I have to say so myself! Starting with the invitations, we set the tone with pink and green hues with a vintage feel. For the shower, we used the same palette and threw in a little Lilly Pulitzer with the tablecloth and attire! We completed the event with a Mimosa Station, Sweets Station with the help of Custom Cakes, delicious food and paper accents from emma j design. Enjoy!

The Invitation complete with her Serena and Lilly-inspired bedding pattern on the reverse and custom envelope liner. Calligraphy by yours truly.

Flower arrangements by your truly, flower from B + C Wholesale Florist.
Monogrammed Flower Trio, Brandy is using these for the nursery
Baby Claire Name Garland
The fabulous hostesses and the mommy-to-be, Brandy in green.
I’m so excited for her and the arrival of Baby Claire!


  1. Jackie says

    Emily – Everything was SO adorable. Y'all did a fantastic job.

    February 28, 2011
  2. JMW says

    What a beautiful shower! Congrats to you on hosting such a lovely event and congrats to the mommy-to-be!

    February 28, 2011
  3. Baby Shower Invitations - Gifts - Greeting Cards says

    Everything looks great.. and Brandy u got a fabulous Friend….I Guess she made ur Day….

    March 1, 2011
Categories: in the life of..., invitations

I was so thrilled to participate in the latest issue of South Magazine, Savannah’s creative and stylish publication! It all started with an idea over lunch with the uber-inspiring Erin Wessling from South. We pulled it together with the talent of Savannah’s leading industry peeps. Thanks to everyone who make it possible! I’m just ecstatic over the final result! Run out and pick up this coffeetable-worth book before it sells out!

Photographer, Angela Hopper
Stylist, Project Runway Contestant, Mitchell Hall
Paper provided by emma j design + Twist Paper
Makeup: Glow
Trunk: Vintage from my Grandparents Dress: Vintage

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Categories: in the life of..., in the press, invitations