Receiving a letter pressed wedding invitation in the mail equates to, in our opinion, the decadence of a triple chocolate sundae. It’s a treat, a gift, and one that should never see the bottom of a trash can because (gasp!) how could you possibly toss such art? A time honored tradition, we are thrilled to see it playing an important role in weddings, setting the tone for the nuptial events, and salute brides and grooms who recognize and appreciate its textured toothy greatness. Fortunately, there’s a sweet ‘lil shop in Portsmouth dedicated to such paper hounds who, despite today’s electronic age, crave a weighty paper experience, too. Say hello to Gus & Ruby Letterpress.

Welcome to Gus and Ruby Letterpress<br><a href= target=_blank>emilie inc. photography</a>

L&L: Tell us a little about you, your background and the history of Gus & Ruby Letterpress.

GUS & RUBY: Founders and partners-in-crime, Samantha Finigan and Whitney Swaffield, discovered early on that we were cut from the same cloth. We met while working for a small advertising agency: Samantha managing accounts and Whitney designing.

While we shared a biting sense of humor and an eye for good creative, it was our wily pups, Augustus “Gus” and Ruby, that truly fostered our lasting friendship. Once the dogs fell in love, like any good dog parents, we were resolved to nurture the mutual canine adoration.

Our lust for letterpress and dreams of designs were topics of discussion on many a late-afternoon jaunt with the dogs. Samantha’s entrepreneurial aspirations and Whitney’s desire to continue in the steps of her father and grandfather in the printing industry led us to realize that a shared dream of owning our own paper boutique could become a reality.

Thus, the seeds of Gus & Ruby Letterpress were planted.

Gus and Ruby are thrilled, to say the least.

The pups and owners Whitney and Samantha<br><a href= target=_blank>emilie inc. photography</a>

L&L: Describe the range of services that you offer. What is the bulk of your work?

GUS & RUBY: We are a full service stationery boutique and letterpress print shop.  We retail all sorts of fabulous stationery, paper-related products and select gifts for the home and office, but our real passion and specialty, however, is the custom design process.  We adore working with people to create wedding invitations (or party invitations!  or birth announcements!) that truly reflect their unique personalities and their vision for their big day.  From the simple, understated postcard save-the-date to the raucous, multi-colored Mexico-inspired wedding invitation, we pride ourselves on creating the perfect invitation trousseau for our clients.

In addition to working with brides and grooms on their wedding paper needs, we enjoy working with clients on custom letterpress print jobs from identity design and business card printing to social stationery and much more!  We’ve developed relationships with many designers and businesses and are happy to collaborate on printing projects in addition to design jobs.

Their darling Portsmouth shop<br><a href= target=_blank>emilie inc. photography</a>

L&L: You have a darling shop in Portsmouth, New Hampshire’s, town center. What’s inside?

GUS & RUBY: Our store houses stationery, cards, and gifts for home and office from over 100 artisan designers and printers.  We work hard to represent a large variety of small to medium sized design studios and do our best to keep the majority of our goods made in the USA.  In addition to retailing some seriously fabulous paper goods, we have a charming custom invitation suite where we meet with brides, grooms, parents-to-be and party people to dream up the perfect invitation, announcement or any other custom paper delight.  We welcome brides and grooms into our private custom design suite within the store, pour them a glass of champagne (we’re big believers in celebrating the entire planning process!) and discuss all of the lovely details of their love story and wedding. It is our greatest joy to help clients translate their vision and personalities into beautiful printed pieces. Our custom suite is cozy, inspiring and the perfect place to get the creative juices flowing.  In addition to providing truly custom design and printing, we are honored to represent over 17 albums of wedding and party invitation designs, both flat and letterpress printed, from some of the country’s most sought-after designers like Bella Figura.Custom letterpress sample<br><a href= target=_blank>Brea McDonald</a>

L&L: For those who don’t know, what is letterpress and why is it so desirable?

GUS & RUBY: Letterpress is a centuries-old printing technique in which raised-plate metal cuts are inked and pressed into cotton paper. Each card or envelope is hand-fed through a press one sheet at a time. Gus & Ruby Letterpress custom work is done on an antique Chandler & Price press circa 1896 – originally owned by Whitney’s grandfather, “Pop.”

With an emphasis on high-quality craftsmanship, the elegant and luxurious finish of letterpress stationery remains a timeless choice for any occasion. That said, we also retail flat printed invitations for those people who prefer the smooth surface or are working within a particular budget.

Whitney and Ruby<br><a href= target=_blank>emilie inc. photography</a>

L&L: How far in advance should couples shop for and order their wedding day invitations?

GUS & RUBY: The invitation decision, design, proofing and printing process can vary quite a bit from album to album, so we always suggest getting the ball rolling sooner than later.  We recommend making an initial appointment approximately 9 months to a year before your wedding to start looking at designs, discussing options for save-the-dates and generally getting a feel for what is out there in terms of wedding paper. Save-the-dates should be mailed 9-12 months prior to your wedding if many guests are traveling to your event and 6-9 months prior to your wedding for a more local/regional event.  Wedding invitations should be mailed 8-10 weeks prior to your wedding and the printing process ranges from 10 business days after proof approval to 4 weeks, so it’s always best to get started a good amount of time before your big day (at least 4 months).  If you are interested in truly custom design, we recommend getting started  a good deal earlier than that, as the design process can take some time to nail the perfect piece!Letterpress sample<br><a href= target=_blank>emilie inc. photography</a>

L&L: Describe the process of working with Gus & Ruby.

GUS & RUBY: Wedding stationery is an area of particular passion for us here at Gus & Ruby Letterpress! We believe that every part of planning your wedding should be a joyous, celebratory experience. Navigating the ins and outs of wedding stationery can be a difficult task on your own. We are experts at offering advice regarding timing, explanations of the necessary pieces, tips on etiquette, effective wording and, of course, creative inspiration used to craft a truly personal package. From the fabric of your dress to your groom’s favorite baseball team, every detail can influence the design of your perfect suite.

During a private appointment, we will discuss everything from your love story (we’re suckers for the proposal story!) to the number of invitations you’ll need to what day-of pieces you foresee printing.  Most importantly, though, we’ll focus on what you love, what you despise and exactly how we can craft a package that is perfect for your vision and your budget.

Custom letterpress sample<br><a href= target=_blank>Brea McDonald</a>

L&L: What was the most memorable wedding invitation you have seen and why?

GUS & RUBY: We worked with a couple recently to create an absolutely fabulous barnyard-themed invitation suite.  From the campy wording of the save-the-date to the barn-door and custom illustrated invitation, each element of the trousseau reflected this couples’ energy, humor and their family-centric wedding.  The wedding took place at the groom’s family’s farm and, upon showing the mother-of-the-groom, the finished reply card which had an illustration of the special cows they raised on site, she immediately recognized the specific heifer and exclaimed “Oh, that’s Trudy!” I nearly died laughing.

Samantha and Gus<br><a href= target=_blank>emilie inc. photography</a>

L&L: Whitney, you just celebrated your one year wedding anniversary! How in the world did you pick your own invitations? Do you view the process differently now having been a bride yourself?

GUS & RUBY: Designing my own wedding invitations was, by far, the hardest part about planning my wedding. I started early and came up with a design “funnel” – which is basically a list of words that describe the vision for the wedding and is something we do for all of our custom clients. Our invitations had to pass through this funnel; this meant that they had to: make our guests smile, be sweet and traditional as well as bright and outside of the box while still reflecting our relationship, which is easy going and fun. While I was happy with the way they turned out in the end, I am relieved to be back to designing for other brides and grooms. It is not a project I will miss working on!

Private bridal consultation area<br><a href= target=_blank>emilie inc. photography</a>

L&L: What “must-see” places and eateries do you suggest folks from out of town check out while visiting Maine or coastal New Hampshire?

GUS & RUBY: We are both donut fanatics, so one sure-bet stop for us is Congdon’s Doughnuts in Wells, Maine.  They have THE BEST donuts in the area.  They are so good, in fact, that we served them, along with some bubbly, at our grand opening (and at Whitney’s wedding)!

A few of our other Maine favorites include the Standard Baking Co., Fore Street and Nosh – all in Portland. In Portsmouth, New Hampshire, we’re regulars at Brazo (amazing fish tacos!), the River House (best place for a beer on the decks and good people watching) and Flatbread Pizza Co. (our favorite spot for work meetings).

Letterpress sample<br><a href= target=_blank>emilie inc. photography</a>

L&L: Thank you for giving us an inside peek into Gus & Ruby Letterpress. If readers want to get in touch with you to schedule an appointment or pop on by your shop, what is the best way for them to reach you?

GUS & RUBY: We would love to hear from you!  Please feel free to drop us a line, stop by or give us a ring.

We strongly recommend making an appointment to look at invitations and to discuss custom design.  We pride ourselves on providing exceptional customer service and want clients to have a phenomenal experience working with us.  Scheduling a private appointment ensures that we’ll have the time to sit with you to answer all your questions, offer tips and suggestions and generally fawn over your big event.

Visit Us at 29 Congress Street, Portsmouth, NH 03801. We’re open Monday – Thursday 10AM – 6PM; Friday and Saturday 10AM – 8PM; Sunday 10AM – 5PM or contact us at 603-319-1717,,, and find our fan page by searching for Gus & Ruby Letterpress.

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