Behind the Design: “Joyful” Wedding Invitation

Chicago-based Minted designer Carolann Belk Parran of Pink House Press shares her vision and the creative process behind her hand-lettered wedding invitation “Joyful.”

hand-lettered wedding invitation

What was the inspiration behind this design?
I was in the middle of planning my own wedding, so I thought about what words I would want my guests to associate with my wedding from the moment they opened their invitation. I knew I wanted to do something fun with typography, so I decided to give the word “joy” the most prominent and central role so that the happiness of the couple could really come through. 

Describe your creative process – from initial idea to end result.
Knowing that I wanted to do something typographic for this design, I first decided on the wording and which words to make most prominent. I sketched out the design making the words “joy” and “marriage” largest, and filled in the empty spaces with the floral filigree. To finalize the design, I scanned in the words and floral pieces that I wanted hand-lettered, and positioned complementary fonts for everything else.

What are some challenges you faced as you were designing?
I wanted my hand lettering to look clean and smooth because I was mixing it with fonts, and that’s always difficult when moving from pen and paper to digital. I used the help of my Wacom tablet to digitize this design, but just purchased an iPad Pro and am excited to play with that to make the digitization process easier in the future!

Describe the type of bride or wedding you imagined this design would complement?
I envisioned this invitation for a sweet Southern belle whose spirit exudes the title of this design, “Joyful.” And with such a long season for outdoor weddings in the South, the floral-inspired filigree would perfectly suit an outdoor celebration (like my own!).

What wedding trends do you love right now?
I love that more and more couples are breaking from tradition or are putting a new spin on an old tradition to make their day more personal. And now that guests tend to be more spread out and have to travel farther for weddings than in the past, I love adding in a little local flavor in the form of wedding favors, décor, welcome bags, or food and drinks!

hand-lettered wedding invitation

Tell us about your workspace.
I was excited to get my very own home office when I moved to the Chicago area last year! I now have lots of storage space for my printers and presses, and a large desk where I can spread out my pens, brushes, and tablets. But realistically I usually meander over to the couch to work by the TV.

How did you come to design for Minted?
I had heard about Minted through the grapevine and knew they held design challenges, so when I had a little spare time from my then-day job I decided to submit a little watercolor illustration I did on a Sunday afternoon. I always think the best worst thing to happen in my Minted experience was that this very first entry got picked, because it made me think that winning challenges would be easy (spoiler alert: it wasn’t!).


More from Pink House Press:
• “Joyful” wedding invitation
• “Evergreen Wishes” holiday card
• Carolann’s Instagram

More from Minted:
• Wedding Invitations
• Save the Date Cards
• Wedding Websites

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Minted Real Wedding: Cassie & Scott in Aubrey, TX

Cassie and Scott, after a doozy of a wedding proposal in Aruba (involving Cassie passing out!), decided to tie the knot at The Grove, a stunning alfresco venue in Aubrey, TX. The couple sent out Minted save the dates (“Sweet Embrace” by Hooray Creative) and foil-pressed wedding invitations (“Engraved Flowers” by Phrosné Ras), then exchanged teary “I dos” before their 95 guests (including many of the groom’s family members who had traveled all the way from Australia).

Minted Real Wedding at The Grove in Aubrey, Texas

Bride and groom: Cassandra Tipps & Scott Mcguinness
Occupations: Professional figure skating coach (Cassie); PGA Tour caddy (Scott)
Based in: McKinney, Texas
Wedding dateNovember 14, 2015
Venue: The Grove, Aubrey, Texas
Number of guests: About 95
Minted save-the-date card:Sweet Embrace” by Hooray Creative
Minted wedding invitation: ”Engraved Flowers” by Phrosné Ras
Wedding planner: Wendy Kay from Birds of a Feather Events
Florist: The Southern Table
Cake designer: Jar Cakery
Photographer: Apryl Ann Photography

How did you and Scott meet?
Scotty and I met at Christie’s Sports Bar in uptown Dallas. A girlfriend of mine and I went to the restaurant/bar to watch one of the Dallas Stars playoff games. (My friend and I were ice girls at the time for the NHL hockey team, so we were and are pretty big hockey fans.) We sat in a booth towards the back by ourselves, ordered food, and focused our attention on the game. Scotty and his friend were sitting nearby—his friend ended up saying hi first, but it didn’t take long for Scotty (who was pretty shy at first) to come over and sit across from me after my friend got up to go to the bathroom. We continued to talk and the game ended, and as we were walking out he asked for my number so we could hang out soon. The rest is history!

Tell us about the proposal!
Okay, so I have a story for ya… The second week of December 2014, I had a weeklong break from work, so Scotty and I took off to Aruba for a nice, warm vacation. (Little did I know he had already asked my father for my hand and bought a ring.)

The day that he proposed was a doozy. We had planned to go on a four-hour excursion to the south part of the island with a tour group; our first stop was a natural pool surrounded by volcanic rock. When I got in the water, I struggled with my flotation device and I remember kicking a sharp rock. I got out and one of our guides noticed I had cut my foot and was bleeding. Now, anyone who knows me knows I don’t do well in these situations—I sat down and suddenly felt queasy. While holding on to Scotty and trying not to pay attention to the guy cleaning me up, I passed out. Fell into Scotty arms. Out cold. I came to about a minute later and was very out of it. “Where am I? Why do I hear water?” The rest of the day was a slow one. Being bandaged up and very groggy, I told Scotty I didn’t know if I was up for dinner that night and he put absolutely no pressure on me to go, which I loved. Thankfully, I decided to suck it up and go out—we were in Aruba, after all!

Little did I know that Scotty had it all planned: a table on the beach with a perfect view of the sunset (I thought we just got lucky!). After dinner, it took forever for our check to come. Scotty went to “ask” for it and our waiter came over and suggested we take more photos. This was weird to me since it was dark by this time, but we stood up and suddenly the saxophone player, who had been playing for the restaurant, walked over playing “All of Me” by John Legend. Next thing I know Scotty is saying “I love you so much,” crying, and fumbling with this little blue bag (Tiffany!). He got down on one knee and asked, “Will you marry me?” I started crying and said “YES!” I kissed him, we hugged, and the all of the guests at the restaurant clapped and cheered. What. A. Day.

Minted Real Wedding at The Grove in Aubrey, Texas

Who made your wedding dress?
Wtoo by Watters

What was the wedding-dress shopping process like?
Fun. I loved seeing how different dress styles looked on me—big and poofy, slim and classic. I definitely wasn’t a “first dress” girl. It took me a little while to realize what I wanted. And my mom, who is a dressmaker, was there every step of the way to help me, as well.

Click through for more from Cassie and Scott’s wedding

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Meet a Minted Artist: Denise Wong

After working in a variety of art-based professions—art-exhibition planning and design as well as practicing art law—New York City-based painter Denise Wong decided to quit in order to pursue her own art practice full time. Here, Denise shares her artistic journey, where she finds inspiration, and what Minted means to her as a working artist.

Meet a Minted Artist Denise WongDenise Wong was photographed at the Minted Local store in San Francisco alongside her limited edition art prints “California” and “Highway One.”

Have you always wanted to be an artist?
I’ve always wanted to be an artist, ever since I was a child. I have very early memories of drawing, it was my favorite activity to do. When I was younger, I treasured my art supplies and I’m happy now to have finally integrated my childhood visions into my adult life and to have made art a full-time career. I think the things we truly enjoy should be the stuff of our everyday lives.

Tell us about your art.
My specialty is painting, particularly acrylic painting, but I also work with mixed-media works on paper. Painting is a wonderful, expressive form—it’s a very visceral form and I really love getting my hands into the paint. I started out drawing, like many artists do, and eventually transitioned into painting, starting with figurative painting. Later, I transitioned from figurative painting to more abstract works.

What did you do before pursuing art full time?
I’ve dabbled in many things over the course of my life—I’ve worked at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Columbia University Department of Art History in their Modern Art and Curatorial Studies department—but my own art practice is the thing that keeps pulling me back. Whenever I would veer off course, I would continue making art. I went to law school to study art law; prior to that, I was in graduate school for social science, focused on anthropology. I studied museum-exhibition design to make art more accessible to the public in an approachable way. While doing that I became interested in issues on cultural property and repatriation of stolen art; so I went to law school and studied art law, worked for an art-law journal, and became a lawyer. The legal work was very detail-oriented and I found that the more detail-oriented my work became, the art I was making—which initially was figurative in nature—started to come more abstract. Painting was a great outlet for me because I could balance the details of my work with the free-flowing nature of abstract painting.

How did you transition into a full-time art career?
It was slow and gradual. I took a number of art classes on the side as I pursued a variety of career opportunities. I was always making art but I just needed the right opportunity to begin selling art. While I was a student, I was interested in making art accessible to a wide variety of audiences and was always interested in innovative models of art exhibition and art sales. Companies like Minted are very forward-thinking and when I saw that Minted had expanded to the art world, it was a perfect match.

Meet a Minted Artist: Denise Wong

How did you discover Minted?
I was extremely busy with my day job and my art practice was getting pushed to the side. I was trying to think of ways to get back into making art and spending more time with my art practice. One day, I discovered through a blog post an ad for Minted and I checked out the website. Once work calmed down a bit, one day I opened up a magazine to a full-page ad for Minted. I went back to the website again and saw they were launching an art competition in a couple of weeks—I applied and the rest is history.

What makes Minted’s artist community unique?
What I love about the Minted community is that it’s extremely friendly, it’s almost like being in art school with family. It’s a very personal community and is a great way to get feedback in an honest and friendly way—I love it.

What’s inspiring you these days?
Inspiration is everywhere. I live in New York City and it’s very diverse and vibrant. I find inspiration around every corner—I love where I live and it’s a great place to get inspiration daily for the variety of pieces I’m working on.

How would your friends and family describe you?
They’d probably describe me as creative, with many interests, and very dedicated to pursuing them all.

What does your future look like?
When I think about the future, I’m very excited about the many opportunities I have in mind. One of those is Minted’s recently launched commissioned art program. It enables me to connect with art enthusiasts from all over the United States. I love working on commissioned pieces because it’s a way to connect with a customer in a personal way to create a piece that suits them.

Click through for more from Minted artist Denise Wong…

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Behind the Design: “Boho Ikat” Wedding Invitation

Minted designer Nicole Armstrong of Penelope Poppy, who’s based in Pittsburg, Penn., shares the vision and creative process behind her brightly patterned wedding invitation ”Boho Ikat.”

Boho Ikat wedding invitation from Minted

What was the inspiration behind this design?
I was very inspired by the brightly colored bohemian weddings that I had been seeing and wanted to create a design that embodied that look and feel. The super bright colors are a bit of a departure for me but it was fun to explore different palettes and capture vibrancy. A good friend of mine was getting married the same time as I was creating this invitation and she was a big inspiration, too—she even helped name the design!

Describe your creative process – from initial idea to end result.
Sometimes I get inspired by an idea and sit down and start hashing it out. Other times I am sitting at the computer, knowing that I need to create something. I just start messing around with different ideas and there is a lot of morphing and transforming that happens as it begins to shape. When it comes to designing, I am a “feeler,” everything that I create is based on instinct, no so much the rules of design. To complete a project, I need to get it to a place where it just feels right to me.

What are some challenges you faced as you were designing?
One of the biggest challenges with “Boho Ikat“ was the color palette, I was concerned about getting it just right. I really wanted that vibrancy to come through and to have playful colors that complemented each other nicely without coming off like a rainbow tie-dyed shirt. That’s why I chose a palette of hot pink, teal, mustard/gold. I wanted to convey the fun spirit of a boho wedding and these colors worked perfectly.

Describe the type of bride or wedding you imagined this design would complement?
Let me paint the picture for you: The wedding takes place in the desert, with mountains in the distance, lots of bright florals, succulents, cactuses, brass accents. The bride is wearing a floral crown and a lacey, bohemian-style dress and her groom is casual, maybe wearing a fun tie. Think: feathers, dream catchers, terrarium centerpieces, and macramé.

Boho Ikat wedding invitation from Minted

What wedding trends do you love right now?
I am a huge fan of brides who can pull off a completely cohesive event without being too matchy-matchy. Different patterns and colors. I love bridesmaids in mismatched bridesmaid dresses. It just looks so much more personal and interesting and less “cookie cutter.”

How did you come to design for Minted?
I loved designing wedding stationery and was so excited to find a community with such beautiful and inspiring work and couldn’t wait to become a part of it. I submitted pieces for my first wedding invitation challenge back in 2010. Six years ago! I love the company and appreciate the community and level of detail that goes into every aspect. Minted does everything with excellence and with a genuine and sincere work ethic—something I strive for in my own work.


More from Nicole Armstrong:
• ”Boho Ikat” wedding invitation
• Nicole’s Minted Store (Penelope Poppy)
Nicole’s Website
• Nicole’s Instagram

More from Minted:
• Wedding Invitations
• Save the Date Cards
• Wedding Websites

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Meet a Minted Artist: Mya Bessette

Meet a Minted Artist Mya Bessette

How did you end up doing what you’re doing now?
I worked for over a decade in the oil fields of Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, where I met my husband, Cody. When we found out we were having a baby, I left that career (because babies and oil fields don’t mix). I found myself finally able to decide what I really wanted to be when I grew up. So I revisited my life-long love of painting. Initially, I was painting for my daughter, Nevi—I wanted her world to be full of color and uplifting art. As I began honing my skills and my personal style, my little sister encouraged me to begin selling on Etsy, which I then did for about seven years. Eventually, my paintings began to filter out into galleries and I launched my website and began selling directly from my site.

Did you study art formally in school?
Nope. I’m self-taught.

Where do you currently reside?
Bigfork, Montana. My home overlooks Flathead Lake. The towering Mission Mountains are to the east, Glacier Park is a 30-minute drive away, and the village of Bigfork is an artistic little hamlet tucked beside the Swan River and behind a marina that spills out into the lake. I can’t figure out why everyone on the planet isn’t living here. It’s a dreamy place with a slow and peaceful pace.

Meet a Minted Artist: Mya Bessette

Can you share the schedule of a typical day in the life?
Wake up before the kids, sip Mainline coffee while I reply to customer emails, and formulate my “to-do” list (so I’ll have something to laugh at later in the day). Wake the kids for school, make a bagel with cream cheese for one, slightly “burny” toast with thin pats of cold butter for the other, tend to all special requests for lunches, pack ‘em, dress ‘em, hug ‘em, and put them on the bus. Breathe. Spend every possible moment creating without interruption. I go into a bit of a trance when I paint—texts are ignored, usually phone calls are as well, and time passes so quickly; I’m almost always surprised by the roar of the bus coming up the hill. Then, I get to hear all about kindergarten and first grade from the two sweetest little kiddos and start the evening routine. After I put the kids to bed, I try to reflect on the day and take time to catch up on all of the correspondence I missed while creating.

What are some of your own “rules” for living + working?
I try not to put too many restrictions on how I work. It seems that the more flexible I am with my process, the more genuine my paintings are. However, since my studio is in my living room, I do try to paint when I have that space to myself. I’m not very good at starting and stopping; when I’m in my creative zone, I like to stay there!

Meet a Minted Artist Mya Bessette

What objects have been most significant to you lately?
I never would have thought that I’d ever say this: flowers and botanicals. I’ve always meandered between abstract works and landscapes. Creating my latest abstract florals has been such a unique and organic journey. I’m also pretty obsessed with geometric shapes right now.

Please describe your last month in a word.
Rejuvenating

Can you share an as-of-yet unrealized project with us?
Yes! In the spring, I plan to team up with children’s clothing company, Couture Flower, to release a line of children’s swing dresses created with fabric from my original art.

What are you serious about?
Teaching my kids to be kind and honest. Being punctual. Following through with commitments.

What things will you never take seriously?
Anti-aging serums, Web MD, shabby chic, people who tell me their kids love broccoli, salmon, and kale.

What are some keys to balancing work and life?
It’s all such a big jumble of chaotic fabulousness that’s it’s difficult to even separate the two. An artist’s eye rarely rests so when I’m out and about enjoying the day with family, I’m the one stopping to investigate the leaves on a fern or photographing a cluster of clouds. When I’m in the studio, I love to involve my family and it’s not unheard of for all of us, my very creative husband included, to sit down for an art session together. When your job is to be creative and innovative, I think life and work naturally blend into one another.

Click through for more from Minted artist Mya Bessette

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How To: Get Great Family Photos (for Your Holiday Cards!)

It’s that time of year again—time to start thinking about family photos to grace this year’s holiday card. So whether you’re hiring a professional photographer or staging your own portrait session, these expert tips from talented San Francisco-based family photographers Katie Rain and Sarah Sloboda will ensure that you nail that picture-perfect shot.

How to Get Great Family Photos for Your Holiday CardsPhoto: Katie Rain Photography

BOOK A PHOTOGRAPHER EARLY (AKA NOW!)
Reserve a session with your favorite local photographer as soon as you can. “October and November are always the busiest months of the year,” says San Francisco-based photographer Katie Rain. “Reach out early to ensure you get a session on the calendar.” Some photographers also offer shorter “mini” portrait sessions, so sign up for photographers’ mailing lists to hear about the offerings before everyone else does.

MARK YOUR CALENDAR
First, think about when you’d like to send out your holiday cards, suggests photographer Sarah Sloboda, who is also based in San Francisco. Right after Thanksgiving? Just as long as it’s before New Year’s? “Figure out the date you need to send them by, subtract a couple days for safety, and then subtract your card company’s turnaround and shipping times,” Sarah says. (Turnaround times can be found on the card company’s website.) Then, mark that day on your calendar with a big X—that’s your drop-dead date for placing your holiday-card order.

How to Get Great Family Photos for Your Holiday CardsPhoto: Sarah Sloboda

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
Most photographers will suggest some local photo-shoot locations, but you can also think of your portrait session as an opportunity to do something fun as a family. Visit that new art museum that opened recently and check out some exhibits together. Or, if your family loves the water, you could head to the local pier, beach, or aquarium. “My job is to help clients think in reverse—memories are something we look back on, but when planning a photo session, you want to look forward,” says Sarah. “What would be a special experience for you and your family? Documenting those moments will bring back more memories than just standing somewhere posing.”

How to Get Great Family Photos for Your Holiday CardsPhoto: Katie Rain Photography

TIME IT RIGHT
Avoid taking photos at noon, when the sunlight is at its harshest. Instead, schedule your portrait session for late-morning, which is the ideal time for kids of all ages. “It’s when they’re most awake and their energy is still fresh,” says Sarah. However, if you’re going the DIY route and taking your own portraits with a camera and tripod, Katie Rain suggests timing it for “golden hour” —about an hour before sunset—when the sunlight is soft and most flattering.

How to Get Great Family Photos for Your Holiday CardsPhoto: Sarah Sloboda

RESORT TO BRIBERY
“A photo shoot is a time for relaxed discipline and healthy bribes,” says Sarah Sloboda. Entice your kids with a reward after the photo shoot if they have fun and participate and pay attention. And during the session, remind them of the bribe. It helps if you keep everything positive—threats and discipline can really make a child stew, and then natural smiles will be hard to come by. A great photographer will develop their own rapport with your child, so encourage them to interact with them directly. Often children want to please strangers that they like, so if you refrain from too much reprimanding and give them space to listen to the photographer’s suggestions, they’ll often listen to them better than their parents (sorry, but it’s true!).


More from Katie Rain & Sarah Sloboda:
Katie Rain’s Portfolio
Katie Rain’s Instagram
Sarah Sloboda’s Portfolio
Sarah Sloboda’s Instagram 

More from Minted:
Holiday Photo Cards
2016 Top-Voted Holiday Cards
Foil-Pressed Holiday Cards

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A Beginner’s Guide: Starting an Art Collection

Collecting art sounds like a daunting task, something that perhaps requires an art-history major, loads of disposable income, and jet-setting to the latest “it” art fair. Not to mention all the questions that come along with it: How do you know what’s good? Where do I look? How much should you pay? Rest assured and definitely don’t be intimidated—anyone can collect art, whether you’re bidding for Klees at Christie’s or thrifting at garage sales in search of an overlooked gem.

Ready to dive in and start your own art collection? Click through for our guide to starting an art collection you love (without breaking the bank).

How to Start an Art Collection

1. Browse a ton of art.
The best way to start your personal art collection is to figure out what types of art you like. Are there certain styles, colors, or subject matters that draw you in? Do you gravitate toward black-and-white photos, modern abstract paintings, Dutch-inspired still lifes? Note what you love.

Seeing art up close and personal, of course, is the best way to get acquainted with art. Visit local museums and galleries, attend MFA shows and exhibitions at nearby art schools, check out nearby First Fridays art strolls and chat with the exhibiting artists. In addition to browsing art in person, flip through art magazines at the bookstore and browse the many online resources for great (and affordable!) art: Minted, Etsy, 20×200, Artfully Walls, Saatchi Art, just to name a few.

Click through for more tips on buying art and starting your own art collection

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Meet a Minted Artist: Lauren Adams

Lauren Adams studied visual and studio art at Fairmont State University, painted en plein air for many years, and has since transitioned to abstract, large-scale works by rolling out raw canvas and painting directly onto the surface with acrylics. The West Virginia-based painter took some time to discuss her work, creative process, and a typical day in the life of a working artist.

Meet a Minted Artist Lauren Adams

How did you end up doing what you’re doing now?
It’s been a long, winding path that started in college. My work has been through several phases over the last 15 years. The changes have been quite a process, but what I am always most interested in reflecting on is how the work is still connected. I spent most of my time in college studying the figure through live model gesture drawing/painting (met my future husband—Minted artist Derek Overfield in a figure-drawing course!). Upon graduating university, I worked for years on plein air painting, directly observing the landscape as opposed to the figure. In 2011, I began doing small, more expressive studies on paper and then decided I wanted to translate them to canvas. I wanted to grow the scale of my work plus emphasize the expression of the landscape and experiences felt (versus on-location observation), so I moved back into the studio and utilized one of the methods that I had touched on in school, but hadn’t spent much time with—stained canvas painting, only on a primed substrate. The possibilities felt limitless and I’ve loved it ever since! All of these phases involve embracing the physical work of painting: the gesture of your entire body, your engagement with the process. A celebration of life.

Did you study art formally in school?
Yes, I hold a BA Interdisciplinary Degree in Studio Art and French along with a BFA in Visual Art.

Where do you currently reside?
I live in North-Central West Virginia, in the Allegheny Plateau. It’s great because we have quick access to many beautiful lakes and rivers along with gorgeous views of ancient mountains, yet are still within a day trip to cities like Pittsburgh and Washington D.C.

Can you share the schedule of a typical day in the life?
A typical day starts with coffee and a small breakfast, a bit of morning reading, and reviewing my plan for the day. If there are urgent emails or client questions, I will get to those first. Personally, I find that once those most pressing things are completed, I can then focus easier on my work, without distractions. I will spend the rest of the day painting, either inside (accompanied by my cat) or outside if the weather is decent enough (not too much rain in the forecast). Then dinner with my husband and some exercise. The evenings will be packing any orders, answering other emails that have come through, ordering supplies we have run out of, or sometimes an additional painting session in the summer when it stays light out later. Then it’s time for some rest, with Netflix or reading.

What are some of your own “rules” for living and working?
I don’t know if it qualifies as a rule, but I attempt to keep my daily focus on gratitude. It seems to help with everything else.

Please describe your last month in a word.
Exploration

What are you serious about?
Painting

What are some keys to balancing work and life?
I think sometimes you have to understand that there is no perfect balance—certainly not every day. And maybe that’s okay. I’m guilty of over-planning and it took me awhile to come to terms with the fact that I will never be able to schedule that “perfect balance” in my life. Shifts will happen and certain seasons will come and go. I personally try to watch out for self-care, making sure I am getting fairly consistent exercise, eating healthy foods (for the most part!), and working on maintaining a positive attitude.

Click through to read more from Minted artist Lauren Adams

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Minted Real Wedding: Maria & AJ in Honduras

Maria and AJ, who met during graduate school, invited their 160 guests to Indura Resort, a beautiful oceanside resort in the bride’s native Honduras, for their destination wedding. The Washington, DC-based couple chose “Olive Branches” by Carolyn Nicks as their invitation and incorporated their Honduran and Arabic backgrounds to create a celebration that reflected their cultures, life together as a couple, and shared love of travel and good food.

Minted Real Wedding Indura Resort Honduras

Bride and groom: Maria & AJ
Occupations: Pediatrician (Maria); medical student with a PhD in Engineering (AJ)
Based in: Washington, DC
Wedding dateDecember 19, 2015
Venue: Indura Resort, Tela, Honduras
Number of guests:  About 160
Minted wedding invitation: ”Olive Branches” by Carolyn Nicks
Wedding planner: Gladys Reyna from Agendas y Eventos
Florist: Musa Flores y Eventos
Photographer: Lauren Fair Photography

Minted Real Wedding Indura Resort, Honduras

How did you and AJ meet?
We met when AJ was getting his PhD and I was in medical school. We don’t actually remember meeting. We had chatted a few times here and there but things really took off after our friend invited a group of us over to her house to cook Arabic food together. We started talking more and shortly after that he asked me out.

Tell us about the proposal!
I did not see it coming that day. I was actually post-call from a long 30-hour shift and had napped for a few hours. AJ and I were supposed to go to dinner with my mom, who was in town helping me move to a new apartment. My mom left my apartment presumably to get coffee and AJ came up carrying a bouquet of flowers. He said a lot of wonderful things and got down on one knee in my kitchen, which is fitting since our favorite activity to do together is cook. We then ran downstairs to tell my mom and she pretended she had no idea.

Shortly after, a black car arrived and he said we were still going to dinner but to a different place. He wouldn’t tell me where we were going. We got in the car and drove until we pulled up to a small corner restaurant that I recognized as the place where we had had our first date. I got out of the car and to my surprise my dad was standing in front of the restaurant. He had flown up from Honduras for the occasion. I had called him right after the proposal and he pretended to be home while in reality he was only a few blocks away. I took a few steps and, to my even bigger surprise, AJ’s mom and sister were also there, who had flown in from the Middle East. We all then celebrated and spent the weekend together.

Click through for more from Maria and AJ’s destination wedding

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Printable: Back-to-School Lunchbox Notes

Add an extra dash of love to your kiddo’s school lunch by tucking a handwritten note into their lunchbox. We asked two Minted designers (Baumbirdy and Alethea & Ruth) to design these (free!) printable lunchbox notes. Just print ‘em out, trim the edges, and write an encouraging note letting your little scholar know you’re thinking of them throughout the day!

Free Lunchbox Notes | Printables

Download #1: “Sweet + Studious” Lunchbox Note Printables by Baumbirdy

Download #2: “Brightly Inspired” Lunchbox Note Printables by Alethea & Ruth

Download #3: “Academic Adventures” Lunchbox Note Printables by Baumbirdy

Free Printable Lunchbox Notes from Minted

Photos: @LunchboxDad (top) and @lindseyleeandtheboys (bottom)


More Back-to-School Ideas:
DIY: Back-to-School Pencil Holders (made with duct tape!) 
DIY: Make Your Own Clipboard Frames
DIY: Summer Memories Textbook Covers

More from Minted:
Lunchbox Notes
Notebooks
Clothing & Name Labels

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