When it comes to personalizing your wedding, the possibilities are virtually endless. If you’re looking for ideas, know that one of the most elegant and unique options available to you is creating a wedding crest that speaks to the two of you as a couple. The crest—a symbol that typically includes initials, personal icons and some sort of ornate detail like flowers—can become a personalized touch added throughout your day’s paper goods and overall design. “It’s a great way to work with a designer and still get a white-glove experience without having to go the completely custom invitations route,” says watercolor artist Cami Monet Miller of designing a wedding crest with an artist. “Custom art will really elevate any paper piece and make it feel extremely bespoke.”
Meet the Expert
- Cami Monet Miller is a watercolor artist and the founder of Cami Monet, a paper goods company based in Winter Park, Florida, that specializes in custom wedding invitations.
- Joy Montgomery is the founder of The Stationery Bar, a bespoke wedding and event stationery company based in Long Island, New York.
The crest will usually be introduced on your save-the-date cards or wedding invitation suite before being used on details like cocktail napkins, signage, and party favors, but you can be as heavy-handed or subtle with its inclusion as you’d like. If you’re curious about wedding crests, whether or not you should design one for your big day, and how to effectively use your design throughout the ceremony and reception, we’ve got your covered. Here, our experts weigh in on all-things wedding crests, and we share beautiful examples to inspire your own design.
What Is a Wedding Crest?
A wedding crest is a symbol created for a ceremony and reception that contains multiple elements, often including the couples’ initials or joint monogram. Think of it as an old-school coat of arms, but with a romantic twist (though some people still do go the traditional regal route). “Typically, when we design [wedding crests], they’re not that intricate—more modern than Victorian-looking crests,” shares Joy Montgomery of The Stationery Bar. Today’s designs tend to be done in watercolor and are usually a circular shape featuring initials or names in the middle surrounded by decorative flowers or greenery with some meaningful symbols throughout that are personal to the couple. That’s certainly not your only option, though. They’re completely customizable, so the design is totally up to you. Some couples put their wedding date in the middle rather than initials, and others prefer a more ornate, symbol-heavy crest than one that features lots of floral motifs.
Though there is a difference between a crest and a monogram, Montgomery says the two are very closely linked, and for some couples, the more simple look of a monogram is more appealing (creating one also tends to be less costly). Both become something special for the wedding and beyond.
What Is the Significance of a Wedding Crest?
Wedding crests “help [couples] preserve their memories for years to come,” says Mongomery, who adds that a custom design can ultimately become a modern family crest to be passed down through generations. It can be used for personalized stationery after the wedding, in home décor like embroidered pillows, and etched onto heirloom-quality crystal stemware, flatware, and serving pieces. When designing a crest, you should think about the meaning you’d like it to have; if you like the idea of passing it on to future generations is appealing, you may go with initials or a last name rather than a date so it’s not so specific to the wedding day, for example.
What Elements and Symbols Are Typically Included in a Wedding Crest?
So, what should you include on your wedding crest? “Designing a crest is like making a cake: you can keep it classic or simple or go absolutely wild,” says Miller. All of her crests start with a base “ingredient” of flowers, which she uses as a frame, but you can choose vines, greenery, or even just simple lines for a more streamlined look. The monogram in the middle is, of course, the main event and can be customized by choosing the vibe of the font—traditional script or more modern. Then, Miller starts layering in the main symbols of the crest, which will usually appear at the top or bottom—things like a meaningful place, animal or other symbol. “And finally, it’s time for the little sprinkles,” says Miller. Along the sides, she will add nods to favorite hobbies, sports, foods, pets, and so forth.
“This is where the magic really happens. Crests are unique in the sense that I can bring in a couple’s love of hot wings and hockey in a sophisticated way—and why yes, I did add buffalo wings and ranch dressing into a crest. It always blows their mind,” she says. “It’s the unexpected pairings that make the best crests because every illustration plays an important part in telling the story.”
Most crests start with a wreath of flowers. “We often use floral inspiration from the bouquet, but flowers in my crests can also be representative of special people or locations. For example, a bride asked to use forget-me-nots to symbolize her late grandmother, and I love incorporating state flowers as a nod to hometowns,” explains Miller.
Pets are a super common symbol on wedding crests as they’re often the first “child” a couple has together. Dogs and cats are, of course, the most common, but if you have a really special fish or bird in your life, show it! Other times, animals can have significance in other ways than as a family pet—equestrian couples may choose a horse, or if there’s a farm in the family, a favorite cow, goat, or alpaca may make the cut.
Another common symbol to include is a building or place. This could be the wedding venue, the spot you got engaged, or your shared home. You can also go a little more abstract with a depiction of a landscape that means a lot to you as a couple—be that the beach, the mountains, or a city skyline (maybe two cities brought together to symbolize the both of you).
Coat of Arms
For couples rooted in tradition, existing family crests or coats of arms may be incorporated or family heirlooms like an antique engagement ring passed down through generations.
How to Personalize Your Wedding Crest
To make a crest truly personal, small symbols throughout the outlining frame can add visual interest and also take on secret little meanings. Miller has incorporated running shoes, Hawaiian shirts, ginger jars, stethoscopes, passports, sushi, surfboards, and footballs. “Making all my crests chock-full of surprises—like a Ferris wheel that represents the Santa Monica pier—is a must, and I love coming up with creative ways to offer sneaky nods to unexpected details about the couple,” she explains.
Some crests are more simple, letting different types of greenery and flowers with small details like bees and butterflies shine. It’s almost akin to how personal you want to get with your vows in front of your guests—you decide which elements of your relationship to share with loved ones.
How to Have a Wedding Crest Made
As artists, both Montgomery and Miller encourage going the totally custom route by hiring a designer. “A professional takes off the pressure of doing it and makes it look cohesive,” says Montgomery, warning of the pitfalls of DIY sites out there. “It’s hard to piece it together and tweak the size and the color. You may not understand the proportions and how to make it larger without distorting it.” That being said, there are sites out there that allow you to create a crest from a template and piece it together using pre-designed elements. It can be more cost effective, so if this is the path you take, Montgomery suggests doing your homework and shopping around. She says Etsy is a user-friendly option.
Another way to work around a tight budget (Montgomery’s pricing, for example, starts at $500 for a custom-designed crest) is to opt for a custom monogram. This more simple design is less labor-intensive and can give you a bespoke element with a lower price tag.
How to Use Your Crest Throughout Your Wedding
Once you have your design, it’s time to decide where and how you will display it. The invitation suite is the most obvious place, but there are tons of other fun ways to make use of your one-of-a-kind piece of art. Montgomery recommends using it on napkins, programs, thank-you tags, and even a modified version as a floater on the dance floor. “Think of the crest as your wedding logo. You can use it everywhere, and it really makes your day-of details feel cohesive,” adds Miller. “My favorite unexpected ways to use them are for corn hole boards, custom-printed stir sticks, and dance floors. I’ve even had couples use their crests for flags on their getaway boat.”
At the end of the day, no matter how you choose to incorporate your crest, it will be something that is yours and only yours. Looking for more examples? Below, 20 ideas we love.