Same-sex wedding cards from Papyrus hit stores in the fall of 2013, almost two years before marriage equality swept the nation. The small test assortment of six designs featured various techniques, including flat printing, letterpress, and handmade (which includes traditional add-ons like bow ties and tiaras). “There was immediate interest and the collection expanded again in 2014 and with each passing year, we’re updating and adding to the assortment,” says Dominique Schurman, Papyrus’ CEO.
Recently Papyrus made GLBT additions to a few holidays like Valentine’s Day and Christmas with subtle design additions and edits. “Although, not specifically calling out a GLBT-theme, the design is creatively relatable to all customers,” Schurman says. “We’re committed to expanding our same-sex card offering, whether it’s for a wedding, a holiday, or an everyday occasion.”
The company’s most recent addition is in digital custom-printing wedding invitations. Although any of the digital wedding invitations are customizable for all marriages, Papyrus began integrating same-sex couple names into the breadth of their offerings in hopes of being part of everyone’s wedding celebration, whether it’s helping to create the perfect wedding invitations or a greeting card to celebrate the next big event.
“Wedding themes will always be represented by traditional design formats that speak to how special the occasion is,” Schurman says. “What we have noticed is a shift in demand for casual, organic, and personal representations. We see personalization becoming a more important need than traditional wedding designs that the market has always had represented. Trend has become very relative in the wedding market.”
“We make cards for the relationships people actually have, not the ones we wish we had, and all of my work is based on universal truths about being human,” says writer, illustrator, and founder Emily McDowell. Her business began as an Etsy shop on the side of her regular job in advertising.
She remembers, “I just sold illustrated prints until January 2013, when I made our first card, designed as a Valentine for the person you’re kind of dating, but not really (so it would be weird to get them a normal card, but it would also be weird to not get them anything).” Nothing like it existed at the time, it went viral online, and McDowell used that as the jumping off point to start a company, launching to wholesale in May 2013. Now her cards can be found in nearly 1800 stores or directly online at www.emilymcdowell.com.
One wedding card includes an excerpt from John Roberts’ marriage equality decision, but otherwise her goal is for all of the cards to apply to all kinds of weddings. Which means none of the wedding cards feature “Mr. & Mrs.” gender-based imagery, traditional engagement rings, or anything that would prevent them from being used for a GLBT wedding. “They’re more about observations on marriage and relationships that are universally applicable,” she says. Shoppers will notice some nontraditional Mother’s and Father’s Day cards (i.e. ‘Happy Father’s Day, Mom’ and ‘This Mother’s Day, let’s celebrate the amazing job you did at basically raising yourself.’), and a lot of nontraditional Valentine cards, based on uncommon insights into relationships.
But don’t expect to find anything too trendy — everything with Emily McDowell Studio is one-of-a-kind. “I don’t really follow trends with my work,” she says. “Some of it’s funny, some is more sentimental, but it all falls under the same umbrella of human observations.”