Make an impact with your invites and get your guests talking about your wedding long before your big day.

You’ll probably hear the same thing from every stationer—your invitations are the first glimpse guests will get into your wedding style. But given that they’re also one of the many aspects of your wedding steeped in etiquette and tradition, it may feel hard to break the mold and let your personality truly shine through. Not to worry, assures On Paper store manager Michelle Lawrence. At the Short North shop, they see a lot of couples who want to keep some sense of tradition, but add their own flare. “There are a lot of small things we can do,” she says. Here are expert-recommended ways to tweak the paper, color and design to make a huge impact.

First Things First

Do you have a theme? At Paper Occasions in Dublin, designers see more couples who want to set the theme for their big day right from the start. “People really want to bring in the tone and feel of their wedding through their invitations,” says Michelle Honer, vice president of Paper Occasions. For example, they see couples hosting a destination wedding incorporating a beach theme in colors and design.

Think about the things you love. “We want to set the appropriate tone first and foremost, but we also want to embrace their character,” Lawrence says. Do you love music? Maybe consider creating an invite that looks like a concert poster. Are you foodies? Whet your guests’ appetites by previewing what’s for dinner.

Now That You Know Your Direction …

You’ve got some creative ideas to consider. Go about invitation purchasing while thinking about the following:

h Put a twist on a classic. Go traditional in design, but add your flare through clever wording, suggests Lawrence. For example, one On Paper couple hosted their reception at a Champagne bar. Instead of writing the classic “reception to follow,” they invited guests to “Join us for an effervescent evening.” “Consider cueing in the venue and different things that you love as a couple,” Lawrence says.

h Go outside of the square. “There are many more die-cut options now,” Lawrence says. Think ovals and circles with the option to add a vintage scalloped border. Laser cutting is becoming a popular option for couples. “It’s not just die-cut shapes, but all of the wording, everything cut out from the paper. It’s really ornate and decorative and can look like lace,” Lawrence says.

h Make an impression with paper. At Paper Occasions, designers are seeing couples use metallic paper to set their invites apart. This striking paper can also easily be mixed with texture to create more dimension, says Honer. For example, for one rustic wedding, Paper Occasions used a metallic paper with a tree bark feel. “We’re seeing a lot of texture and dimension,” Honer says, noting that burlap and lace are also widely popular textures right now.

h Don’t forget the envelope. Adds Lawrence, the envelope is a great place to add pops of color or, for a real surprise, you can add a color or patterned lining inside the envelope. “I think it’s a really fun element of surprise,” she says. “Especially at a certain age group, you are getting so many invitations you start seeing so many things that look similar. You want to stand out in your guests’ mind.”

h Make it modern by mixing and matching fonts. “It’s a very contemporary look,” Honer says, adding many couples are opting for throwback typewriter fonts for a more casual look, or engraved fonts for something more updated. “It’s a move away from the formal wedding invitation.”

h Control your colors. Couples are less frequently using a traditional two-color wedding scheme, using seasonal inspirations and patterns to create a look. But while your invitations offer the first look at your wedding style, that doesn’t mean you need to incorporate everything into one invite, says Honer. “You don’t have to put every single color into the invitation. Maybe you just do champagnes and ivories and then add one pop of color,” she suggests. This helps keep your invites fun, but also classy.

One trend Lawrence is seeing are couples keeping the paper choice clean, but adding a pop of whimsy in a colored border or bold envelope. Says Lawrence, “That also gives it more of a contemporary twist, as you don’t always get a colored envelope in the mail. That really stands out and excites your guests.”