Thursday, November 20, 2008

White (House) Weddings

The election is over, and now we know that the 44th President of the United States will be Barack Obama. President-Elect Obama soon will be moving into the White House with the rest of his family (and the new puppy promised to his daughters). But no matter who lives in the White House, we generally like to think that it belongs to all of us. And whoever lives there is President of the United States, after all, whether you voted for him or not.

We all know that First Daughter Jenna Bush chose to get married at the Bush ranch in Crawford, Texas, but given the opportunity, wouldn’t you want to have your wedding at the White House? For most people, that isn’t an option, but there's a way to give your wedding the “presidential seal” of approval.

So even though you may not be able to get married at the White House, here’s advice from, a fun wedding blog, about how to get a Presidential keepsake for your wedding: all you have to do is to put in a request with the White House Greetings Office for a hand-addressed “wedding greeting”.

Here's a sample of the greeting you can get from the White House that I found on the blog "33 for a moment," where I learned you can also get one for a new baby, an anniversary (50th anniversary or more) or birthday (80th birthday or more).

There is a catch: the White House policy is to make a request for a greeting within 12 months AFTER the wedding occurs. Maybe they have been burned by brides or grooms with cold feet at the last minute…but that’s the way they do it. And we know better than to argue with the White House, don’t we?

Purple Raincoat would love to make a keepsake out of that wedding greeting - what a fabulous first anniversary gift…so we’re offering a 50 percent discount to the first person who sends us a White House wedding greeting to be turned into a keepsake. If your wedding took place within the last 12 months, ladies and gentlemen, start your engines, get that request in to the White House, and then give us a call. We can’t wait to make something beautiful for you.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Engagement survival kit for brides-to-be

There's silver, there's gold, and then there's platinum. Platinum is strong, durable and relatively rare - qualities that make it desirable for many couples when choosing an engagement ring - qualities that we hope apply to every engaged couple, as well.

If you're a bride-to-be who has been lucky enough to receive the engagement ring of your dreams, and it happens to be made from platinum, Allure magazine wants to hear the story of your engagement. By entering, you will be come eligible to win one of 200 "Platinum Engagement Survival Kits" full of beauty and fashion goodies, and four grand prize winners will receive platinum wedding bands.

So what have you got to lose? Enter now.

And keep thinking "platinum" for a framed keepsake of your wedding invitation by Purple Raincoat. We have silver keepsakes and gold keepsakes, but our platinum keepsakes give us the most room to be creative and truly showcase the spirit of your invitation.

Sample of a platinum framed invitation keepsake by Purple Raincoat.
This large and elegant invitation was folded, with the English text on the outside and the Hebrew text on the inside. Both parts of the invitation were mounted on cream brocade vellum, antique white moiré paper and black suede paper. The background includes subtle prints in shades of sage, taupe, and cream, including a cream beaded paper. Cream silk flowers with pearl centers accent the invitation; a string of pearls is anchored by black silk flowers. Black satin ribbon decorates two corners of the invitation keepsake. The design is finished with a cream mat and an ornate black frame.

Your wedding invitation keepsake should be as unique as you are, just like your engagement ring. Unforgettable days deserve unforgettable keepsakes - so be sure to "engage" Purple Raincoat to create one just for you.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The campaign to elect the invitation to your party

OK, we’re 13 days from electing our next president. This Presidential campaign, which seems to be endless, actually will come to an end. And someone will win. And that might be someone you support (or don’t).

For many people, election night is a time to throw a party. If you’re one of those people, why not use an election-themed invitation? At Tres Chic Designs, you can create an invitation showing your support for Democrats or Republicans in general, as well as for Obama or McCain in particular. Create your design using stars, stripes, donkeys, elephants, flags, martini glasses (martini glasses? Maybe they think we’ll be toasting victory, or drowning our sorrows in defeat)…But get your order in soon so there will be time to invite your friends to your party.

On the other hand, if you’re really into politics, you might want to keep this “election” thing going. Bees Cards has an election-themed bar mitzvah invitation, including a customized ballot card for the RSVP.

Whichever party you support, we hope you will elect to have Purple Raincoat serve as your official invitation keepsake creator for all of your parties - celebrations, that is. Check out our portfolio, then voice your choice - call us and put us to work. "Keepsakes you can believe in" from Purple Raincoat put your "Celebration First."

Here’s to the red, white, and blue, and may the best people win!

Friday, October 10, 2008

98 and counting…

My father was born on October 10, 1910 - that's 10/10/10. He turns 98 today – happy birthday, Dad. One of the things my father loves about birthdays is getting cards, and fortunately he gets a lot of them. This year, my husband, daughter and I are going to visit him for a family birthday celebration, so I’m going to bring him a special card: a Purple Raincoat collage made especially for him. It is focused on one of my favorite quotes about aging, which certainly applies to my father:

I typed the quote on white cardstock and mounted in on black circle embossed paper; black/white/gray circle patterned paper, black and white dotted paper, and textured black paper. The background is a complementary black/white/gray circle printed paper. The horizontal accent is black-on-black diamond cardstock topped with white striped embossed paper and textured black ribbon. The vertical accent has white circle embossed paper layered on black-on-black striped paper. Portions of black circles accent the top, bottom, and right sides of the collage. Black circle brads finish off this piece, which will go into a textured black frame.

Here’s to a great 98, Dad. You’re not just close to magnificent, you’re already there.

Have a favorite saying you would like to showcase in a Purple Raincoat keepsake? Get in touch – we would love to turn that memorable phase into an unforgettable keepsake. It's the perfect gift for the person who has everything and is celebrating a milestone birthday - 50th birthday, 60th birthday, 70th birthday, 75th birthday - you get the idea.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Invitation keepsakes start with great invitations, Part IIIa: Be ready to answer your dealer's questions

A good dealer (see Invitation keepsakes start with great invitations, part II; selecting a dealer) will ask you lots of questions before you start – and you should be prepared to answer them. Key questions include the following:

What is the occasion - for example, is it a wedding, engagement, bar/bat mitzvah, or milestone anniversary, baptism, retirement ceremony, or surprise birthday?

What kind of party (or parties) you are having – for example, a country club reception following a church or synagogue wedding ceremony, a luncheon following a bar/bat mitzvah and a separate party for children?

Is everyone invited to all parts of the event? For example, only out-of-town guests may be invited to a special brunch or dinner, and some children may not be invited to a rehearsal dinner.

Is there a caterer who needs to know your guests’ choices of entrees? If so, you may want to include this information on your response card.

Are there out-of-town guests who need to make hotel reservations and let you know what parts of an “event weekend” they will be attending?

How are you going to address your invitations – for example, do you plan to do them yourself, hire a calligrapher, or have the invitation company print the guest addresses?

Do you have any budget constraints when it comes to selecting your invitation? Most good dealers carry a wide variety of invitations at a wide range of prices. A dealer should have invitations available in your price range – if not, it’s time to find another dealer. Browse the invitations available through eInvite (get there from the Purple Raincoat homepage) to get ideas of what is available in various price ranges.

Your dealer also should be able to suggest ways to save money without compromising the quality of your invitation. For example, some invitations allow for more text than others, and so may eliminate the need for a reception card. Others may have room only for the essential information about a wedding ceremony or a bar/bat mitzvah service, making it necessary to include a reception card with the information about the celebration.

Working with your dealer, you should be able to create an invitation that is as unique and special as the people and occasion being celebrated. So don't hide that invitation in a drawer - display it proudly with a one-of-a-kind Purple Raincoat keepsake. You put a lot of thought into the invitation; we put a lot of thought into showcasing it as a unique work of art in a framed invitation keepsake. Great for any special occasion. No question about it!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The apocryphal bar/bat mitzvah invitation

Here is the bar/bat mitzvah companion to the "don't let this happen to you" wedding invitation. (You'll have to click on it to read it but trust me, it's worth it).

In my days as an invitation designer, fortunately, I never saw anything like this. You can find versions of it all over the internet at places such as The Bat Mitzvah Blog (which has the fabulous subtitle, "You're not going to wear that, are you?) But you know there are people out there who can totally identify with these sentiments - if they haven't given the party, they have gone to it.

Would we turn this into a Purple Raincoat collage? Let's just say I have a feeling this is going to show up as a sample one of these days...

In the meantime, if you receive a bar mitzvah invitation or bat mitzvah invitation that doesn't look like this, have we got a gift for you - give the gift of Purple Raincoat memories. Take a look at some of the framed keepsake collages Purple Raincoat has created for bar/bat mitzvah invitations.

Both boys and girls absolutely love getting these keepsakes. One girl even designed her invitation so that the collage would include the color she that's thinking ahead. It's also a great gift for a few people to chip in and give as a group gift. The bar/bat mitzvah child will always remember who gave him/her their Purple Raincoat collage, long after the thank-you notes have been written.

So give the gift they want - make it easy on yourself and call or email Purple Raincoat.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Calling all brides, present and past

You’ve heard of Martha Stewart, maybe? You know Martha Stewart has a thing for weddings, right? Well, Martha has completely updated and revised her the “weddings” portion of her website, in cooperation with Wedding Wire. There are two routes to this resource: you can get there from (click on the “weddings tab”) or from Wedding Wire. You’ll find free planning tools, a community where you can ask questions and share experiences, and the opportunity to set up a website for your own wedding. And of course, on Martha’s wedding site, you can get ideas on everything that’s wedding related – how to choose your wedding cake or a color scheme, for example.

This is a fabulous resource for wedding-related vendors from all over the country. You can search by geographic area to find vendors who are close to you – you can browse multiple geographic areas to find vendors such as Purple Raincoat, who service the entire country. The vendor websites offer you a chance to learn about providers and services that might be useful to you.

Wedding Wire also is the place for engaged couples and the recently married to review their vendors, helping those with upcoming weddings to benefit from your experience. So if you have ordered or received a Purple Raincoat framed wedding invitation keepsake, you will be invited to post a review of Purple Raincoat on the website. And don’t stop with Purple Raincoat if you’re a recently married couple - anyone who posts reviews of five vendors gets a gift card from Martha Stewart, so why not let those with upcoming weddings benefit from your experience?

Purple Raincoat is proud to be affiliated with Martha Stewart and Wedding Wire. You can find Purple Raincoat’s listing in the Boston geographic area under these categories: Unique Services, Flowers and Décor, and Invitations and Favors. The “unique services” category includes everything from fancy porta-potties to horse-and-carriage rentals to pole dancing parties…things you didn't know you needed!

Still working on your invitations? Martha Stewart has a beautifully illustrated article on different invitation styles. If you’re looking for creative ways to combine wording and design for an invitation that completely reflects your style and personality, check out these samples. Here’s one new and creative idea: a letterpress invitation made from the bride’s handwriting (see the sample “Loaded with Laid-Back Charm”).

Once you have your invitations, be sure to give Purple Raincoat the opportunity to turn it into a one-of-a-kind keepsake that will bring back the memories of your special day (and all the hard work that went into it). After the wedding is over, the invitation is one of the few tangible “things” you have left – it makes a wonderful keepsake, but not when it is stuck in a drawer. Purple Raincoat will showcase your invitation as a unique work of art that is not only meaningful but also beautiful in its own right. Contact us – or ask someone special to order one for you. Cheers!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Save that envelope! Save that stamp!

Personalized stamps, such as those made by PhotoStamps, are becoming increasingly popular for weddings, bar mitzvahs, bat mitzvahs, and other celebrations. The PhotoStamps website is a fountain of inspiration and information about personalizing your postage and ways to use these stamps. The stamps are a small indulgence, but remember that the price per sheet goes down the more sheets you order – that’s another reason to find lots of uses for them.

For weddings, for example, in addition to using them on your invitations and response cards, you can use them on save-the-date cards and thank you notes. Here’s another creative idea from PhotoStamps – take photos of your wedding party and turn them into customized stamps - give the stamps to your attendants as a token of appreciation for sharing your special day.

Once you start paying attention to these stamps, you’ll see them everywhere. My daughter was visiting her friend Sarah one recent afternoon. Sarah’s sister is having her Bat Mitzvah this year (along with many of her friends) so she is starting to get invitations to her friends’ celebrations. An envelope had arrived in the mail that day, and Sarah and her mother were trying to figure out who sent the invitation – they didn’t recognize the return address. But the envelope's stamp featured a photo of the guest of honor, which my sharp-eyed daughter noticed – she pointed it out and said, “you can see who it is.” Mystery solved!

Even if you don’t order custom postage, you may be able to find a stamp that fits your occasion. I’m working on a bar mitzvah invitation collage now for a boy who clearly cares a lot about baseball. The invitation has a personalized baseball-theme stamp with the date of the event. But for the response card, they are using the regular “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” stamp from the post office. So with a little detective work (find a post office that has a good selection of stamps and friendly clerks who don’t mind spending a few minutes while you browse the possibilities) you might find something that is almost the equivalent of custom postage, but without the custom cost.

Custom stamps make wonderful additions to Purple Raincoat invitation keepsake collages (see my earlier thoughts on this subject). Envelope linings also can be featured in the keepsakes - see my daughter's Silver invitation keepsake. There are more examples on the Purple Raincoat website (see Jill's Platinum keepsake in the Bat Mitzvah examples).

So when you get an invitation in the mail, don’t throw the envelope away – it might have something I can use it when I create a beautiful framed invitation keepsake for you. Have an invitation to an upcoming event? Ready to order? Hang onto that envelope, and contact us today – we can’t wait to get started on your one-of-a-kind gift.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

I love New York…weddings

Is anyone you know getting married in New York City or on Long Island? If so, be sure to let them know about these two wonderful wedding resources: and If you need it for a wedding, you can find it on these sites. And there are great forums on the site for brides and grooms to ask questions and share experiences. Engaged couples and newlyweds can find lots of useful information there.

Purple Raincoat is proud to be a participating vendor - we have our own page on both sites with detailed information on our framed wedding keepsakes and many photos of samples. So tell those New York and Long Island brides and grooms to check us out. After all, as the song says, “it’s autumn in New York that brings the promise of new love”.

Even if you’re not getting married in New York, there are vendors on these sites that you might want to use – you'll find everything from favors to “save the date” magnets – even invitations…

We look forward to seeing you at Long Island weddings and NYCity weddings, and at, where you’ll see samples of our distinctive framed keepsakes for all occasions.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Celebrate the silver moments

We can’t all be Michael Phelps and win gold every time we dive into the pool, but winning the silver remains an accomplishment to celebrate. So when Fitness Together in Lexington, MA was awarded a certificate commemorating their status as a Silver Level Franchise, they didn’t just want to frame the certificate – they wanted to display it in a way that was commensurate with this achievement. Who you gonna call? Purple Raincoat, of course.

Kerri Powers of Fitness Together with her Purple Raincoat collage

This custom-sized (11”x17”) collage uses blue, black, white, and (of course) silver to capture the spirit of this achievement. The certificate is mounted on full sheets of black textured metallic paper and gray-on-gray printed paper. Split sheets of blue suede paper are anchored with large silver eyelets. Below that is a subtle silver-on-black striped paper a layer of ocean blue paper, accented by strips of silver-patterned white paper. Silver metal mesh and sheer silver ribbon provide horizontal and vertical interest. A simple black frame picks up the strong black circle on the certificate.

How do they like it? “It’s really cool,” says Kerri Powers, co-owner of Fitness Together (and personal trainer extraordinaire). This collage is on display to inspire their clients and to remind them that success at every level should be celebrated.

Life is short; you’ve got to take advantage of every occasion to celebrate, whether it is large or small. So what are you proud of? Somewhere – in a box, in a drawer – you probably have a certificate marking some significant accomplishment in your life. When life gives you an award, say thank you, and then be sure to showcase your achievement with a Purple Raincoat collage.

P.S. Would you like to create an award as a keepsake for someone special in your life? Let’s talkPurple Raincoat can help you with that, too.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The other side of the coin - $27,800 just doesn’t buy what it used to

In contrast to our last post (the popularity of the $100+ invitation), it’s clear that rapidly rising prices are causing more couples to take a closer look at how they spend money for their weddings. From the August 20, 2008 Boston Globe:

“Couples planning their big days are finding that their budgets - whether hundreds of dollars or tens of thousands - won't stretch as far. The cost of the average American wedding is still $27,800 with 153 guests, but that $27,800 doesn't buy what it once did. Local brides and grooms have pared down guest lists, taken on creative tasks themselves, changed venues, and in some cases considered moving their wedding over state lines to save money.

Even some couples without budget constraints appear to be toning down their celebrations. According to Rebecca Dolgin, executive editor of the Internet’s popular wedding website, “…there's less shame in going small as opposed to emulating a celebrity wedding. Some couples with no budget restrictions are using their money to make an affair look homier and small by doing weddings at home and on beaches, she said.”

So small can be beautiful. Take my wedding, for example. My husband and I got married on two weeks notice in front of 28 close family members and friends in my mother-in-law’s living room. Our reception was held in her home’s lower level. All of my out-of-town family was able to attend, as was our rabbi who came down from Maine (after Shabbat began). We had beautiful flowers and fabulous food (grilled outside) on December 30, when every caterer in town was available. I bought an off-the-rack dress and veil that needed minimal alterations. My husband wore his best suit; we did buy a new tie for the occasion. Our chuppa (wedding canopy) was made using my husband’s late father’s tallit (prayer shawl) and dowels from the hardware store (decorated with greenery by our florist). Ironically, we didn’t even have invitations – everyone was invited by telephone.

Our biggest indulgence was to hire the best available photographer, which was a fabulous decision because after all, photographs are one of the few things you have left when the wedding is over. We didn’t skimp on that, and we’re still happy about that decision. We have gorgeous photographs of our warm, intimate, spectacular wedding, which I wouldn’t have traded for anything. All without the stress of long-term wedding planning. And we had money left over to enjoy a honeymoon in Mexico.

So don’t be afraid to think small. Oprah Winfrey did a show on how couples might be better off having small weddings and saving their money for major anniversary celebrations if the marriage lasted 10 or 20 years. That’s not a bad philosophy. The important thing is to get married, not to go into debt to have a “fairy tale wedding.” And it’s a lot easier to live “happily ever after” when you start married life without a mountain of debt.

Six months after our small wedding, we had a party where we invited all of those friends and co-workers who otherwise we might have invited to our wedding. We kept it simple in a private room at a local restaurant with gourmet pizza, wine, and another wedding cake. For this party, we did have an invitation – now preserved in a Purple Raincoat keepsake collage with a photo from our actual wedding.

Wedding Anniversary Framed Keepsake
Originally uploaded by PurpleRaincoatonline

This collage uses a photo from our wedding plus the invitation from the "reception" held six months later. Read more about it and see other examples on the wedding/anniversary page at

It’s never too late to create a cherished invitation keepsake. Dig out that wedding invitation and let Purple Raincoat help you bring back the memories of that special day. What a wonderful anniversary gift for you to give to your spouse – or, kids, to give to your parents to celebrate their 20th, 25th, 30th, 35th, 40th, 45th, 50th, or any other wedding anniversary.

So think ahead if there is one of these milestones coming up in your family, and get in touch with Purple Raincoat - beat the rush.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Have you heard the one about the $100 invitation?

For many people, holding an event to celebrate a life milestone involves making choices based on cost. Some have an afternoon event because lunch costs less than dinner. Some use potted plants as centerpieces because they are less expensive than flower arrangements. Some print their own invitations or send announcements by email to save on printing and postage costs.

But it is obvious that for some people, cost is no object. I received an invitation years ago in a box that cost $4 to mail. The invitation itself involved multiple folds, inserts, wrapping, ribbons, and photographs. I can’t even imagine what that invitation cost.

When the sky is the limit, the invitations can take your breath away. And that’s not always a good thing, according to this story by SheSez on Divine Caroline.

(“T)oday I came home after schlepping the kids all over tarnation for after school activities, and spied a twelve-inch square box. What could it be? I lifted the lid to reveal the mother of all invitations! Sitting in a nest of curly, angel hair pasta-like wood shavings was a hand-painted tambourine. It was a beautiful work of art, depicting the first song that appears in the Torah.

And there’s more. The explanation of the relationship between the musical instrument and the Bat Mitzvah girl is offered on gold, pink, and cream colored stationery.
It spells out the significance of the Bar Mitzvah girl and the scene depicted on the tambourine.

I couldn’t help but start calculating how much this individual invitation must have cost. With a couple of clicks of my mouse, I established that each of these works of art retails at $65. Then, there’s the stationery, the wooden “pasta,” the square of Papyrus paper that adheres to the inside lid of the box, as well as the pink envelope that holds all the very expensive stationery. As I examine the box more closely, I note that the pre stamped, pre-addressed RSVP envelope bears a very special 58-cent stamp. But this is no ordinary stamp. Instead, the face of the stamp bears a photographic image of the Bat Mitzvah kid, posing like a showgirl cabaret style.

I’m on a roll here. I get out my calculator. I determine the cost of the individual invitation before applying a very simple multiplication calculation that would reveal the sum total of the invite alone. Now, remember, that’s before even considering the cost of the party.
Packaging—(gold colored, 12-inch square cardboard box, wooden “pasta” nest), probably $10
Postage—Silly me! It didn’t arrive in the regular mail delivery, it was delivered by courier. $20?

Math is not my strong point but that has to bring the cost of an individual invitation in at approx $100+. Now, we know at least one hundred kids have been invited so, what? Multiply this by 150? 200? You get the picture.

Suddenly, I have to stop my math project. The TV is blaring in the background with images of the fire wreaking havoc in Southern California. An estimated million residents have been evacuated and 1,500 homes have been burned. I’m thinking about how much time and money it will take to make things okay for these traumatized people.

Back to the matters at hand. I check the box noting my child won’t attend. He tells me (after all this!) he’s not especially friendly with Tambourine Girl. As I walk to my mailbox, the ash-laden air, contaminated from the Malibu fires, makes me cough slightly. I pop the envelope in the mailbox, marveling at the craziness of the world.”

In some communities, given unlimited resources, there will always be a “can you top this” competition – “oh year? Well, my invitation is (bigger, thicker, more layered, more expensive, more creative…you get the idea) than yours.” Does this make sense? You can draw your own conclusion. Send in your comments - we want to know what you think.

In my opinion, the most important thing about any invitation is that it reflects who you are and captures the spirit of the event. And that can be done at almost any price point.

Here's my invitation to you if you’re having a wedding, bar/bat mitzvah, Sweet 16, quinceanera or other celebration

Whether you’re spending $1 or $100 on each invitation, make sure that Purple Raincoat has the opportunity to turn that invitation into a unique framed keepsake. We look forward to hearing from you and getting started on your one-of-a-kind work of art.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Design on the vine

There’s something about vineyards…
For many people, vineyards are associated with romance – after all, wine is a traditional symbol of joy, while vines traditionally symbolize life, abundance, and fertility. And isn’t that what we would wish for any couple taking the leap of faith to join together in marriage? So it’s no wonder that a vineyard, full of fruited vines inseparably intertwined, offered the perfect setting for the engagement of one California couple. Their unusual green and brown contemporary wedding invitation featured leaves and curving vines in the design.

Our mission: expand on the “vineyard” theme in creating a keepsake collage as a gift for this couple.
The single-layer invitation is mounted on swirled white vellum, textured chartreuse paper and a green shimmer paper with printed swirls and miniature flowers in brown and maroon. Bronze metal square brads anchor the invitation on the vellum layer. The background paper is a bohemian print of green and brown with a white swirled accent. A brown and gold embossed leaf-print paper tops the background layer. Under the invitation, the horizontal strip includes shiny brown textured paper, olive striped vellum and a knotted olive ribbon. Pulling the entire design together is an unusual brown felt dimensional lace with a leaf-and-vine design. The warm maroon/brown frame (not shown in this scan) finishes this unique framed invitation keepsake.

Were we successful?
When Purple Raincoat collages are ordered as gifts, we send scans or photos to our clients so they can see the results. Here’s what our client had to say about the final product: "I ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT!!!!! I'm sure (the bride and groom) will love it, too. You really brought out all the features of the invitation.”

And here is what my client reported after the wedding: "The happy couple loved your design. Here is her comment:

I LOVE your gift!! Thanks sweetie, that is such a cool gift as a memory keepsake too!"

Our best wishes to the bride and groom – may their cup overflow and may their hearts be forever entwined.

What can we design for you?

At Purple Raincoat, we are dedicated to preserving invitations by showcasing them in unique framed collages. No matter what the occasion, no matter what the invitation looks like, no matter what your design request – Purple Raincoat will do everything we can to fulfill your requests and create a one-of-a-kind keepsake that will be cherished forever. Come on, challenge us – we’re up for it. Check out our wedding and anniversary keepsakes portfolio and get inspired. Then visit our contact page and give us a call or send an email. We can’t wait to get started making something beautiful for you.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Where have all the pressed flowers gone?

Although I would like to believe that Purple Raincoat invented the concept of framed invitation keepsakes, the truth is that people have been decorating and framing invitations for many years. One popular style, which has been around since at least the 1970s, involves using pressed flowers as decorations for invitations.

Crafting with pressed flowers first became popular during Victorian times. The creation of modern pressed flowers involves – no surprise here – the use of a flower press to flatten the flowers and remove all moisture. A pressed flower has a beauty all its own; for example, the pressed version may be richer in color, and have a different “geometry”, than the live version.

A beautiful dried pansy (in my favorite color, of course). You can see other examples of pressed flowers at the Pressed Flower Store.

Pressed flowers can be incorporated into invitations themselves – see how a pansy is used in this elegant invitation, one of a series of pressed flower invitations by Pressed Petals.

I think pressed flowers are beautiful and I think that many beautiful framed invitations have been made using pressed flowers. If that style appeals to you, that’s great. But it’s not my style. From my perspective, in many cases the floral designs are beautiful but it’s not always easy to see how the design are connected to the “tone” of the invitation.

One reason I started Purple Raincoat was my belief that each invitation uniquely reflects the personality of the person (or people) behind it. Consequently, each invitation keepsake should be uniquely designed to capture and preserve the spirit of that specific invitation. To achieve this, I use a broad range of materials including paper, ribbon, mesh, metal brads and eyelets, wire, buttons, skeleton leaves, and silk and fabric flowers. So far, no pressed flowers, but I promise to keep an open mind about incorporating them into my design should the right invitation come along.

I do love using flowers when they are appropriate to the spirit of the invitation. Here’s a recent Purple Raincoat wedding invitation keepsake that incorporates small pearl-centered silk flowers as well as a beautiful stephanotis floral accent.

The invitation itself has two layers of paper, white (with hunter ink) and navy. Beneath the invitation are a hunter green vellum, a textured glossy white paper, and an embossed navy paper. A subtle blue and green printed paper is used as the background, topped by a textured white vellum anchored by white metal accents. A vertical strip of textured green paper is accented with dark blue mesh. A double knotted piece of hunter green ribbon tops a horizontal strip of embossed white paper. White silk flowers with pearl centers decorate two corners of the invitation. The design of the framed invitation features a beautiful stephanotis bouquet as an accent. The washed blue frame softens and completes the design.

And take a look at the statement made by the large pink flower on the birth announcement featured on our homepage. Read more about this birth announcement and see many more examples of our work to get a better idea of what the Purple Raincoat style is all about.

The bottom line: Diffferent strokes for different folks

Just as some people like to listen to National Public Radio while others prefer oldies or current popular music, different styles of preserved invitations will appeal to different people. If you’re looking to preserve an invitation in a way that is unique, contemporary and timeless, and you’re not insistent on dried flowers, you’ve come to the right place – visit our ordering page to get started.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Please Mr. Postman, part II: "Deliver the letter, the sooner the better"

“How much is it going to cost to mail my invitations?”

That’s a question I often was asked when I designed and sold invitations. I always said, “there’s no way to know until you take a full invitation, complete with all inserts, to be weighed at the post office.” Unless you’re sending one folded piece of paper in a standard business (#10) envelope, determining the postage required for a mailing may be more of an art than a science. You’ve got to be persistent sometimes to get the “right answer” that will make sure your invitations reach their intended recipients in a timely manner.

One of my Purple Raincoat clients wanted to order personalized postage stamps for her daughter’s bat mitzvah invitations, so she took a “fully loaded” invitation to the local post office to find out how much postage was needed. The invitation fit into a standard invitation envelope but included several layers and multiple folds; the invitation also included a ribbon tied into a bow. The post office has different postage requirements for mail depending on its size, shape, thickness, and what is enclosed. My client was told that her invitation was “borderline,” meaning that it could qualify for one of two different postage requirements. A recommendation was made to go with the lower amount of postage and personalized stamps were ordered.

The invitations were mailed using the rate recommended by the post office. But a number of them were returned to the sender for “insufficient postage,” which meant considerable extra work for my client. Eventually, she negotiated a “compromise” with the post office – she added extra postage to mail going out of town, but the post office agreed to deliver the in-town invitations at no additional charge. That’s stress that no one needs during the preparation for any special occasion. All’s well that ends well, of course, and everyone told my client how much they loved the invitations, which were really beautiful. And she can laugh about it now. But it wasn’t much fun at the time.

Lessons learned:

When in doubt, use the highest amount of postage recommended by your post office.

• Be aware that unusual shapes – even squares – usually require “extra” postage. But don’t let that stop you from ordering the invitation you have your heart set on – the cost of postage is literally “a drop in the bucket” of your event costs, and there are other ways to save money if you’re watching your pennies.

• Also, remember that not all post offices are created equal, so you might want to get a second opinion if your invitation is diagnosed as “borderline” postage. Many people have had poor experiences with customer service at our local post office, so we choose to visit the post office in a neighboring town. To make absolutely certain you’re getting the right price, it may be smart to get estimates from more than one post office.

If you’re working this hard on your invitations, or you receive one with personalized postage, you’ll want to be sure the design is preserved and showcased in a Purple Raincoat collage. It’s the perfect answer to the question, “what would be a good gift?” because it is completely personal and can be ordered at a variety of price points. Consider this your invitation to visit our galleries of bar/bat mitzvah invitation keepsakes, wedding and anniversary keepsakes, and special event keepsakes. No postage required!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Please Mr. Postman, part I: Putting the right “stamp” on your invitations

The postage required to mail an invitation often requires a stamp in a denomination without a lot of design choices. For many people, custom postage stamps are a creative solution that helps you send an additional message about your event as part of the invitation. Stamps also can be used to showcase something about the event or honoree that might not be reflected in the invitation. For example, I created a framed keepsake for a bar mitzvah invitation that was simple and very traditional, but the envelope included a personalized stamp reflecting the bar mitzvah boy’s love of music – we incorporated the stamp as a unique design element into the collage, which was given to the boy as his bar mitzvah gift. He loved it.

Detail from a Platinum bat mitzvah invitation collage featuring a personalized stamp as a design element.

And if you’re in the market for custom stamps right now, you might want to visit because for a limited time, they are holding the line on the cost of their stamps despite the fact that postage rates rose on May 12, 2008. These stamps also could be used on save-the-date cards and RSVP envelopes. But buyer beware: I would never advise anyone to order postage until just before you were ready to mail and had a firm estimate from your local post office as to the exact postage necessary. Ordering postage in advance may seem penny-wise but might turn out to be pound-foolish in this world where prices often change without notice.

Personalized stamps make great additions to Purple Raincoat invitation collages. Anyone who makes the effort to put personalized stamps on their envelopes is someone who is sure to appreciate a completely personalized, one-of-a-kind Purple Raincoat preserved invitation keepsake. Visit to see samples of one-of-a-kind gifts great for any occasion, from a bar/bat mitzvah to a wedding, anniversary, graduation, birthday, or corporate milestone. Inspired to order? Find out how easy it is to have Purple Raincoat create and deliver a unique keepsake gift for every occasion. And there’s no need to visit the post office – just email or call us and we’ll get started.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The type is right

Just before Super Tuesday, I wrote about the influence of fonts on our choices – even our choice of Presidential candidates. An analysis of the logos of the candidates in both parties correctly predicted the success of Barack Obama and John McCain. It may not have been written in the stars, but the handwriting – in their fonts of choice – certainly was on the wall for those who did not win.

It will be interesting to see if either one of the candidates makes any changes to their logos as we move into the general election campaign.

Impressions of the candidates based on their logos (from the Font Bureau’s analysis) suggest the enormity of the choice we face as a nation:

Obama: “contemporary, fresh, very polished and professional… the feeling of a hot new Internet company...This typography is young and cool. Clearly not the old standards of years past. “

McCain: "in between, moderate, not too far in either direction...Everything about this logo says you can buy a car from this man. From the perfectly centered star to the perfectly spaced type, the entire design looks like a high-end real estate company.”

As I always say, "fonts have feelings." You want those feelings to be the right ones, whether you're running for President or celebrating a bar/bat mitzvah. So keep this in mind when you're designing invitations for your special occasions.

When you've got your invitation just right, be sure to let Purple Raincoat preserve your memories with a personalized keepsake. We would love the opportunity to create something wonderful with an invitation to the 2009 Presidential Inaugural stay tuned.

Of course, there are plenty of occasions to celebrate besides an inauguration. Birthdays, anniversaries, new get the idea. When you're celebrating, give Purple Raincoat a call so we can create a wonderful framed keepsake just for you.

In the meantime, congratulations to the winning Democratic and Republican candidates. The nominees are in place and the stage has been set – let the wild rumpus start!

Monday, May 26, 2008

The Ten Carat Anniversary

The 50th wedding anniversary may be golden but after that it’s all about diamonds, baby.

According to, the gift associated with a 60th anniversary is diamonds. The 70th anniversary gift is diamonds and platinum; for an 80th anniversary, diamonds and pearls, followed by diamonds and emeralds for a 90th anniversary. So how do you top that for a 100th anniversary? The suggestion is a 10-carat diamond.

I don’t think anyone is going to need to buy a 10-carat diamond as a present for a 100th wedding anniversary any time soon – after all, Mayme and Clarence Vail are setting a record with their 83rd anniversary this year. However, there are a number of businesses and organizations that have passed the century mark.

How do they celebrate? Sometimes, they throw parties. That’s what the Jewish Home and Aging Services (JHAS) of metropolitan Detroit did – they held a gala at the Detroit Opera House to celebrate their 100th anniversary in September 2007. They also used the occasion to honor their executive director, Carol Rosenberg, who has played a major role in the continuing success of this agency with her incredible energy, compassion and respect for the oldest members of the community.

As the JHAS says on their website, “It’s not easy, growing old, but it’s a whole lot easier when a community cares.” Clearly, the Detroit community cares a great deal about providing services to the aging. They also have shown their ability to adapt to the changing needs of their population, expanding their outreach and support offerings over time to improve the lives of older adults in many new ways. Congratulations to the JHAS on reaching this amazing milestone.

And these people know how to party - by all accounts, the gala was a marvelous evening. However, it probably went by in a flash. To help preserve the joyous memories of that special celebration, we created a keepsake collage of the gala’s invitation and presented it to Carol.

JHAS 100th Anniversary Gala Keepsake Collage
Here’s the collage we made for Carol Rosenberg of the JHAS.

Whether it’s personal (milestone birthdays, milestone anniversaries, sweet 16s, bar/bat mitzvahs, quinceañeras, new babies) or professional (a collage acceptance, a promotion, a retirement, a new business venture, new facilities) Purple Raincoat keepsake collages are a wonderful way to celebrate the special events and milestones of your life.

And if you’re lucky enough to be celebrating that 10-carat anniversary, the gift of a Purple Raincoat keepsake is a unique, personalized way to preserve the memories of your celebration that won’t break the budget. Visit us at Purple Raincoat to see examples of keepsakes to get ideas for your own celebrations.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Why watching “Survivor” can help you live to be 100

In my May 15 post, I noted that May has been designated as a month to celebrate Older Americans. So I thought it would be timely to pass along these tips for living longer from Dr. Michael Roizen, chief wellness office of the Cleveland Clinic and coauthor (with Dr. Mehmet Oz) of You, Staying Young: The Owner’s Manual for Extending Your Warranty.

In an article in the April issue of Allure magazine, he was asked, “What’s the secret to living to 100?” His answer: “Watching Survivor. Seriously. Researchers have found that one third of centenarians watch reality TV shows, one quarter watch MTV or music videos, and some even surf the web and use an iPod. They’re also into current events, lead healthy lifestyles – exercise, eat right, avoid excessive alcohol and smoking – and consider faith and spirituality to be a priority.”

Sounds like a plan – and I know these tips work because my father puts them into practice (so long as you include watching sports as reality TV - my 97-year-old father remains an enthusiastic fan of televised games involving Detroit’s baseball, basketball, hockey and football teams, along with the occasional golf tournament).

My father with Carol Rosenberg, Executive Director of the Jewish Home and Aging Services, part of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit. This photo was taken just after the Bessie Spector Brunch honoring the Oldest Jewish Americans on May 9, 2008. My dad looks pretty good for 97, don't you think?

So the next time someone suggests you get off the couch and turn off “The Hills,” maybe you should just tell them you’re working on extending your healthy lifespan. But be sure you don't wait until your 100th to celebrate - there are plenty of milestones worth marking along the way. And remember to preserve the memories of your celebrations of those milestones on our way to your 100th birthday with Purple Raincoat collage keepsakes that are as unique and individual as you.

Come visit us at for unique ways to preserve invitations and honor the special events and special people in your life (including you).

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Happy Older Americans Month!

Since 1963, May has been the month designated to celebrate our nation’s longest-living citizens – those who are at least 65 years old. Originally named “Senior Citizens Month” by President John F. Kennedy, the celebration became the more politically correct “Older Americans Month” thanks to President Jimmy Carter in 1980. The purpose of Older Americans Month is to encourage the nation to pay tribute in some way to the 37.3 million people aged 65+ across the country through ceremonies, events and public recognition.

I was fortunate enough to attend one of those events last week. On May 9, the Metropolitan Detroit Jewish Community held the Bessie Spector Brunch honoring the "Oldest Jewish Americans" - members of the community at least 95 years old. There must be something in the water in Detroit; amazingly, there were nearly 70 honorees, including several people who were at least 100 years old and one woman who was about to turn 110 years old.

Each of the nearly 40 honorees who was able to attend the event was interviewed and had something of interest to say. They talked about coming to America after being born in other countries, discussed their past and continuing volunteer activities and talked about their most memorable experiences. It was an astonishing event that reminds us of the importance of active living at every age.

What was striking to me was to see to many people at the brunch who still function at a remarkably high level. One of the prime examples among the honorees was my father, Ben Gurvitz, who is living proof that getting older doesn’t mean you have to get “old.” He is a marvel who lives independently, has an appropriate joke for every occasion, and enjoys an extremely busy social life involving for the most part people at least 20 years younger than he is who are eager to be in his company. He remembers more names, faces, facts and phone numbers than most people have forgotten. A retired pharmacist, he has aged so little that people still recognize him as the owner of a drugstore he sold more than 30 years ago.

And I’m not the only one who sees my father as special. He is a role model for many people of my generation. As psychologist Steven Ceresnie wrote in the June 2007 issue of Michigan Psychologist, my 97-year-old father is “one resilient human being who treasures each day, never complains, and helps everyone who knows him stay optimistic about the species.” He is living proof that getting older doesn’t mean you have to stop living life to its fullest.

Which is important because by 2030, approximately 75 million people – or about 20 percent of our citizens — will be at least 65 years old. The age group 85 and older is now the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population. So a lot more of us can look forward to being in that same boat. However, as my brother is fond of saying, “getting older sure beats the alternative.” Especially if you can keep a sense of humor about reaching an age where, as my father would say, “God is just a local call.”

So what do you give someone who is celebrating an 80th birthday or 85th birthday or 90th birthday or 95th birthday or even a 100th birthday? Help them keep smiling by giving the gift of memories. I recently presented my father with a Purple Raincoat collage based on the restored wedding photo taken of him and my mother. The look on his face when he first saw the collage was priceless. It was a joy to give him a gift that will keep giving him so much every time he looks at it.

Give the gift that celebrates the past in a way that you can enjoy far into the future. Let Purple Raincoat create a collage to celebrate the older Americans in your life. We can take those old photos and other memorabilia and turn them into unique works of art that touch hearts. What a wonderful way to honor their lives and say “thanks for the memories”.

This collage is similar to the one I gave to my father. The original black and white photo was restored and turned to sepia. Elegant muted papers in tonal prints of bronze, copper, cream, tan, and gold decorate the background of this collage. Read about it in more detail at

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Invitation keepsakes start with great invitations, Part III: Wording

(One in an occasional series of tips for creating great invitations)

Don’t let this happen to you.
Most people work hard to get just the right wording that sets the tone for your event and makes your guests feel welcome. The wrestling over wording can get intense even under the best of circumstances. This "invitation" is an example of someone’s imagination running wild. I have to admit that I like the combination of script and block fonts – it’s quite elegant, actually. Looks can be deceiving, can’t they?

Etiquette books (and websites) suggest appropriate invitation wordings for almost every occasion, and every variant of that occasion – bar/bat mitzvahs for twins, weddings where the parents have divorced and remarried, and so on. You will also find many examples in the invitation books. If you don’t see one that feels right, create your own.

There are (almost) no rules (although it is generally accepted that you should not say “request the honor of your presence” unless a ceremony of some kind is being held in a house of worship).

At a minimum, you should make sure that your wording includes the name/s of those whose occasion is being celebrated, along with the time, place, and date of the event.

On more formal invitations, it is customary to use words rather than numbers for dates and times:

Saturday, the sixth of November
Two thousand and four
at eleven o’clock in the morning

But if you’re pressed for space on your invitation you may want to consolidate:

at 11:00AM on Saturday, November 6, 2004

Other things you may want to include either on the invitation or on a separate reception card:

An opening “invitation” – “Please join us as we celebrate a special day in our family’s life…” or “We request the honor of your presence at the marriage of …”

• An indication of who is hosting the event: Join us as we celebrate our marriage” for a couple hosting their own wedding; “Sylvia Smith and John Jones cordially invite you to attend the wedding of our daughter…”. You can choose to use “Mr. and Mrs. Jones” or Sylvia and John Smith-Jones – use whatever feels right to you and is the custom in your community (again, ask your dealer for help).

• A statement regarding the formality of the occasion: “Black tie” to indicate that formal wear is required; “Business Casual” if khakis and boat shoes are acceptable; “Flip flops welcomed” for a seaside event. (By the way, I believe that an event should be Black Tie or not – the “black tie optional” option is almost guaranteed to make some people feel underdressed and some overdressed – but that’s just my opinion. I am fond of the “Creative Black Tie” option, as well as “Party Attire.)

• An indication of the length of the event: “Join us for dinner and dancing from seven until ten o’clock in the evening” – this is particularly helpful for events where parents may be required to pick up their children at the end of an afternoon or evening event.

If you follow these suggestions, you will be able to create "an invitation to remember" - one that captures the spirit of your event. Which of course you will want to preserve as a framed keepsake of your wedding, which Purple Raincoat will be happy to create for you. See our newest samples of wedding invitation framed keepsakes and bar/bat mitzvah invitation framed keepsakes on our website,

When your friends ask what you want for a gift, be sure to send them to our ordering page so they will get all the information they need to select the perfect gift for you.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Celebrating a 60th? Plant a tree for free

According to Wikipedia, the number 60 – the “natural” number between 59 and 61 – is “semiperfect”* and “highly composite”**. Sound like anyone you know who may have been born in 1948 and is celebrating a 60th birthday?

Even if "60 is the new 40," turning 60 can be tough for some people, particularly if well-meaning friends shower them with “over the hill” themed gifts. I’m not sure where the hill starts, but I don’t see any reason why you can’t keep going up at 60, 70, 80, or more. My husband and I went to see a Tony Bennett concert the other day. Tony is celebrating 60 years of “connecting to people everywhere through the magic of his music,” according to his official website. He may be 82 years old, but you’d never know it by listening to him. He played a solid 90 minutes and thrilled the 10,000 people in the audience with his wonderful performance.

Israel is also celebrating its 60th anniversary. In honor of this occasion, the Jewish National Fund (JNF) will plant a tree in honor of anyone who is 60 years old or has been married for at least 60 years. (Mayme and Clarence Vail, are you listening?) There is no charge – it’s absolutely free.

Visit the JNF website for your free tree

What’s so great about planting a tree in Israel?
From the JNF website: “Over the past century, the JNF family has planted over 240 million trees, built over 180 dams and reservoirs, developed over 250,000 acres of land, created more than 1,000 parks throughout Israel and educated students around the world about Israel and the environment. Through the support of donors around the world, the JNF family was able to ensure that Israel was the only nation in the world to end the 20th century with more trees than it had at the beginning.”

With Earth Day just past, a lot of us are thinking about what we can do to help protect our environment. So this is perfect: The earth needs trees. JNF will plant one for free. You feel great about something really cool in honor of a 60th birthday (or anniversary). The recipient is happy to get something that’s not another “you know you’re 60 when…” gift. Everybody wins.

And the JNF will send out a beautiful personalized commemorative certificate, which Purple Raincoat will be happy to turn into a framed keepsake that would help anyone feel great about celebrating this milestone. Visit Purple Raincoat to see our newest examples of unique special event framed keepsakes and anniversary keepsakes that make perfect gifts for life's special celebrations.

*semiperfect (10 times a perfect number)
**highly composite (has 11 different divisors).

Friday, April 4, 2008

Can a font make you lose your appetite?

A cautionary tale about menus (and invitations)

I believe that “fonts have feelings” – their emotional impact can drive you to make choices on a level that you may not even be aware of. In my February 4 post, I talked about an article analyzing the potential impact of fonts on how voters make their choices for presidential candidates. Well, that article was correct in its prediction that John McCain would be the Republican nominee. Time will tell if the article was right about Barack Obama winning the Democratic nomination.

A few days ago, a Boston Globe restaurant review started by wondering why so few of the people who looked at the posted menu actually came into the restaurant. Here is an excerpt from the review by James Reed (March 29, 2008) – I’m hiding the name of the restaurant (they’ve got enough problems):

“Twenty-seven. That's an awful lot of people we watched as they considered dinner at (the restaurant) and then quickly moved on down the street. It was a recent Saturday night, during the prime dinner hours between 7 and 9 p.m., and one by one, would-be diners lingered over the menu posted outside and kept walking…Eventually, though, we figured out why people kept strolling by. Let's start with the typography on the restaurant's sign. It sounds silly, even ridiculous, I know, but (the restaurant) suffers from what one of us keenly described as "hair-salon font." It's true: The slanted, curly-cue script, which extends to the menu, makes it hard to decipher even a simple word like "agnolotti." © Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

The evening that the review was published, I started reading Much Ado About Jessie Kaplan by Paula Marantz Cohen. My husband’s sisters, Ellen and Laura, recommended this book to me as “light reading.” They never mentioned what the book was about, so it was much to my surprise that I discovered it began with Carla, the main character, fighting with her daughter, Stephanie, about selecting an invitation for Stephanie’s upcoming bat mitzvah.

Carla was unprepared for the confrontation. From Chapter One: “Carla hadn’t thought that picking out an invitation would be so complicated. After all, how hard could it be to choose a good paper stock with a colored border and some curly type?”

Sounds as if Carla was talking about the same kind of “hair salon” font that the restaurant chose for its menu. I think the reviewer was right – in addition to being hard to read, the "curly-cue" font sends the wrong message about the restaurant’s personality.

The first moral of this story? Pay attention to the message you’re trying to communicate when you select a font for anything. The same font that works for a bat mitzvah invitation may not work so well on an upscale Italian restaurant menu.

The second moral? Be prepared for the amount of emotion that gets invested in the invitation selection process. Again, from Chapter One of Much Ado About Jessie Kaplan: "The many trivial, hard-to-differentiate variables involved in picking out a bat mitzvah invitation were just the sort of thing liable to cause a meltdown." All the more reason to showcase the "winning" bar/bat mitzvah invitation with a framed Purple Raincoat collage - a great gift for the bar mitzvah boy or bat mitzvah girl as well as a wonderful keepsake for the parents. To get ready, you may want to start checking out the wide selection of invitations available online - eInvite, Purple Raincoat's online invitation partner, is a great place to begin.

The third moral? Get your hands on a copy of this book if you’re anywhere near the bar/bat mitzvah years. The story of how bar/bat mitzvah planning can take on a life of its own will resonate with you and make you smile – sometimes with laughter, sometimes in painful recognition of your own experience. I’m not done with the book, but in addition to choosing an invitation it has already covered the joys of building the guest list, selecting a caterer, developing a menu, hiring entertainment, and designing centerpieces – all done within the context of a community where “keeping up with the Joneses” can drive a family way over its budget. The book is a selection of the Hadassah Book Club, and includes a reading group guide. This would be a fun one to discuss over coffee – or better yet, a glass of wine. Happy reading!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

What starts at 16 and is still going strong at 99?

Tips for a long-lasting marriage

My 16-year-old daughter doesn’t spend a lot of time thinking about getting married, but apparently getting married at 16 was fairly common back in the 1920s. As reported on the Today show, Mayme was only 16 when she married Clarence Vail, an “older man” of 18 on February 17, 1925.

On February 17, 2008 – after their family had grown to include six children, 39 grandchildren, 101 great-grandchildren, and 40 great-great-grandchildren – they celebrated their 83rd wedding anniversary. The record for the longest known marriage belongs to a couple from Taiwan, but the Guinness Book of World Records is conducting research to see if the Vails are the longest married couple alive in the United States.

As we approach the beginning of wedding season, it would seem to be useful to find out what we can learn from the Vail's 83 years of experience. So what are the keys to the longevity of their marriage? According to Mayme Vail, it takes “patience and humility.” She also notes, “you’ve got to admit you’re wrong now and then…I’ve had to do it.” Wise words, as anyone who has ever been married will admit.

Author Sheryl Kurland uncovered some other secrets to long-lasting marriages. For her book, “Everlasting Matrimony: Pearls Of Wisdom From Couples Married 50 Years Or More,” she interviewed 75 couples who had been married at least 50 years - “real-life relationship experts”, in her words – to find out what it takes to reach that golden 50th anniversary.

Here are some of the tips Kurland passes along for surviving 50 years of family holidays. I think these ideas can be useful at any time of year:

• Never discuss sensitive subjects when you’re hungry.
• Make a list of what not to talk about at family gatherings. For example, try to avoid the word “older,” as in “Aunt Mary is older than Aunt Susan” or “For an older man, Uncle Harold has a lot of hair.”
• At family dinners, if you’ve lost weight recently, don’t mention it. In fact, wear baggy clothes to make yourself inconspicuous.
• Never roll your eyes or shush someone else’s annoying, bratty child who is running around or whining.
• Weather turbulence with laughter.
The pie crust won’t be perfect. Scale down your expectations, and focus on what’s right rather than what’s wrong.

(Sheryl P. Kurland © December 2005).

Put these tips into action and maybe someday the Guinness Book of World Records will be calling on you to discuss your anniversary. And if anyone out there from the Vail family is listening, please get in touch with me – I would love to make a keepsake anniversary gift for you to celebrate this family milestone.

Is there a milestone wedding anniversary coming in for one of your friends or family members - a 20th anniversary, 30th anniversary, 40th anniversary, 50th anniversary, or any other special number? For any anniversary, the gift that's always right is the gift of memories, and Purple Raincoat makes it so easy for you. One call does it all. We'll take care of everything, including shipping and gift wrapping. No matter what your special occasion, let Purple Raincoat create a unique and memorable gift. Give us a call so we can start creating something special just for you.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Invitation keepsakes start with great invitations, Part II: Select a dealer

(One in an occasional series of tips for creating great invitations)

In this framed wedding invitation, sky blue was selected as the accent color for this elegant cream, black and gold invitation. This particular blue color was featured on an invitation for a shower given in honor of this bride. Pearls, satin flowers, black skeleton leaves and ornate teardrop frame complete the design. See more samples of framed wedding invitation keepsakes at on the wedding/anniversary page

The variety of available invitations is astounding. There is something out there for every taste and budget. But how to find that right one? Your dealer can be your best friend when it comes to finding the right invitation. Start by using these tips to find the dealer that’s right for you:

You want a dealer who is known for great customer service.
Ask people who have hosted similar events for their recommendations – not only for good dealers, but also for dealers you should avoid. You want someone who has time to spend with you as you go through the invitation design process, will be available to answer your questions, pays attention to every detail, and can help you make decisions when you get stuck.

You want the dealer with the best selection of invitations for you, not necessarily the largest selection. Don’t assume that “more is better” and that having a larger selection of invitation books and companies is always helpful – sometimes, too many choices can be just as bad as too few choices. A local dealer may choose to carry a limited selection of books and companies, but if they know their customers that may be enough.

Other advantages of a local dealer:

• A local dealer is likely to be familiar with other people having the same kinds of events, so they can help make sure that your invitation is “original’ in your community.

• In addition, a local dealer is more likely to allow you to take invitation books home, which is a huge advantage when making your selection. It's great to be able to take your time and consult with your family - this isn't a process you want to rush.

But there are advantages to exploring invitations on the Internet. If you can’t find someone locally who can help you, there are lots of online options available. It also can be helpful to browse invitations on the Internet to get an idea of what different companies offer at various price points. Many offer the opportunity to order samples, which is important because "seeing" an invitation isn't the same as "feeling" it.

Start your online browsing at, where you’ll find invitations for all occasions from several companies, including our favorite company, Checkerboard. The website gives you the opportunity to see your invitation with your words in the font of your choice. It’s a great way to “try before you buy.”

Watch for Part III, coming soon, on getting ready to answer the questions your dealer will ask.

A framed invitation makes a wonderful keepsake for weddings, bat mitzvahs, bar mitzvahs, sweet 16s – even “grand openings”. Be sure to visit to see samples of collages designed to showcase framed keepsake collages for all occasions.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Sweet Little Sixteen

Zoe's Birth Announcement

I can’t believe that 16 years ago today my daughter, Zoe, was born. My mother was born on March 8, and she was quite insistent about not having to share her birthday with her granddaughter; fortunately, Zoe cooperated by being born on March 7th. My mom would have been 96 tomorrow – I will remember her tomorrow, as I do every day.

I recall my own 16th birthday, which was celebrated with a Sweet 16 luncheon for my girlfriends at a restaurant. I know there was an invitation, but there’s no trace of it now. The menu featured a jello mold salad and chicken with a cherry sauce – that’s what passed for sophisticated food at the time. Since that time, I have learned a lot more about food, and have passed along my passion for food to Zoe. Many happy hours pass while we are cooking and baking together. I made her favorite scones as a treat for breakfast today.

Every year, we make her favorite chocolate sour cream cake for her birthday celebration. But this year’s cake will have to wait. Zoe left this morning to spend four days in Washington, DC learning how to advocate in Congress on issues of social justice. My husband and I are trying to teach Zoe that if you want change, you have to get involved and help to make that change happen. This trip will help her build the foundation for a lifetime of taking action on issues she cares about.

On this landmark birthday, it is particularly poignant to look at her birth announcement. I had it framed not long after Zoe was born, but when I began this business she requested that I “redo it”, Purple Raincoat-style. And so I did. There's no expiration date on remembering the joy of a child's arrival in the world. I think that framing a birth announcement is a wonderful gift for a milestone birthday, don’t you?

Happy birthday, Zoe. This one’s for you.

When you're looking for a unique, personalized gift, come to Purple Raincoat, where we are experts in creating one-of-a-kind keepsake gifts. Visit to see more samples of framed keepsakes made from birth announcements and collages for other special occasions.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Invitation keepsakes start with great invitations, Part I: Get Started

(One in an occasional series of tips for creating great invitations)

We are nearing the beginning of prime wedding season - May, June, July, and August - so it's time to think about wedding invitations. The most popular months for weddings to take place are, in this order:

* June
* August
* May
* July
* September
* October
* December
* November/April (tie)
* February
* March
* January

For some people, choosing the right invitation is a piece of cake – they scout online, find a dealer, look through a book or two, and make their selections. However, many people are overwhelmed when it comes to selecting, wording, and designing their invitations. I learned this first-hand during the years I spent selling invitations. For samples of my invitation design work, see the invitations framed as bar/bat keepsakes for Zoe, Dylan, Bethany, Ethan and Sarah, as well as the invitation for the small wedding collage.

Here is one of my favorite designs: a simple, elegant wedding invitation, which is distinguished by the elegant font as well as the very modern "debossed" paper. The paper gives you the look of layers without the weight or expense. For a closer look, visit

Fortunately, I found that there are some guiding principles that you can rely on to create invitations that make you happy and make a great impression on your guests. These are the invitations that people will compliment you on not only because they look great but also because they reflect who you are as well as the spirit of your event.

I’m happy to share what I have learned with you. You may think these tips go into ridiculous detail, which they do, but that is because the process of creating great invitations often involves choices where the details really matter.

It’s like building a house – if you’re starting from scratch, you are amazed at the level of detail involved – who knew that there were so many types of kitchen faucets, anyway? But you have to make those choices, so you might as well be informed before you get started.

And here is your first tip: Start Early

To make this process as stress-free as possible, start early – six months or more before your event. Some of my clients were only about three months away from their event…it can be done, but it’s not recommended. The important thing is to select the invitation itself. Deciding on the details, including the particular wording, font, color, and number to order, can be done later.

The most critical step in the whole invitation process is your approval of the proof. You have to allow time for mistakes to be made – they happen for lots of reasons, even with the best of companies. These days, invitation companies can turn an order around in days (after proof approval). Some companies let you see proofs online; some others will have to fax or email the proofs to you, which takes longer. So it is important to build in a “cushion” of time to reduce the stress on you (and on the dealer). So if you're planning a June wedding, I hope you are well along into the invitation ordering process.

Similarly, it is important to begin developing your guest list, with up-to-date addresses, as early as possible. This will help to ensure that you make the right decision about the number of invitations you need when you actually place your order.

Ready to get started? Take a look at the selection available through eInvite.

Stay tuned for Part 2, coming soon, with tips on selecting and ordering your invitations.

(Can't wait? Email me: for the complete Purple Raincoat Guide to Creating Great Invitations.)

Once you've created that great invitation, be sure you preserve it with a Purple Raincoat collage. It's a great gift, so when someone asks, "what can we get for the bride and groom that is unique," you've got the answer. Just send them to the Purple Raincoat website and we will create something beautiful for you.