Which printing method should I use for my wedding invitations?

THE DIFFERENT PRINTING PROCESSES - EXPLAINED

If you have found yourself here, odds are that you have recently gotten engaged and are beginning to delve into the wonderful world of wedding planning. Welcome and congratulations! Seeing how you’re here, I imagine it might be time for you to get started on all things paper, and with that comes a few things you should know about the printing processes that come along with that. You might have heard some terms like “Letterpress” “Blind Deboss” or “Hot Foil Stamping” that may have left your scratching your head or nodding along with a mental note to google whatever the heck that is. If that’s the case, well you have come to the right place! I intend to break down the most popular printing styles used with wedding invitations so you can make an informed decision about which printing method (or methods) you like the best.

DIGITAL FLAT PRINTING

First up is digital flat printing. This style of printing is by far the most popular and most commonly used. This is the process of taking an entire image and printing it digitally onto your desired paper. This can be done with ink (through ink jet printing) or toner (with laser printing). Most common household printers use digital flat printing. When printing for wedding invitations I partner with professional printers who use high quality commercial grade digital flat printers to ensure your paper and printing is always on point. Digital flat printing is the best method for printing intricate and colorful designs. You can print #allthecolors with digital flat printing and you can do so all at once, making this method not only pretty but efficient.

PROS and CONS of DIGITAL PRINTING

  • Beautiful crisp colors for intricate and complex designs

  • Great saturation for use of lots of colors or big areas of color

  • Fastest printing method and most cost effective

  • Limiting if you are wanting to achieve metallic colors such as gold or silver

LETTERPRESS PRINTING

Next up is the age old printing process of letterpress. This style of printing is essentially how printing got it’s start (Think Gutenberg). But you aren’t here for a history lesson so pardon me as I jump ahead to explain how it’s used today to make wedding invitations super spectacular. Letterpress printing uses a combination of a printing press to apply pressure, a custom plate (or die) of the design, ink that is hand mixed to match a chosen color swatch, and paper (usually a thick weight card stock). The Paper is loaded onto the press, usually one at a time, as the die is rolled with ink and stamped down onto the paper, leaving an impression of the design on the paper that you can see and feel. Because of the artisan process and the stunning impression left, this is a preferred printing method for elegant social affairs.

PROS and CONS of LETTERPRESS PRINTING

  • Handmade and artisan quality will impress your guests

  • Letterpress can achieve crisp, bold printing with high quality inks

  • Each color requires its own custom die to be made and for an additional run through on the press. This makes this printing process more costly than standard digital printing, especially when using multiple colors.

  • Due to the intricate process, Letterpress requires more time for printing than standard digital printing, this is really only a con if you are in a hurry.

HOT FOIL STAMPING

My personal favorite printing process is hot foil stamping. I am a sucker for all things that sparkle. Hot foil stamping is quite similar to letterpress printing in that it involves a press to apply pressure and a custom plate (or die) to apply the design to paper. The main difference is that instead of using ink on the plate, it uses a foil film and a heated die to stamp the foil into place on the paper. The result is the same beautiful impression you have with letterpress, but this time with stunning metallic or matte foils instead of ink. The most common colors used are gold, silver, or copper. But you can even get blue, red, rose gold, holographic rainbow, and many many more! I also love to use Letterpress and Foil together in combination. This image here is black letterpress with gold foil text on a double thick paper stock. Truly a sight to see in person.

PROS and CONS of HOT FOIL STAMPING

  • Ability to achieve truly metallic impressions in many colors and shades

  • Can be used in conjunction with Letterpress or Digital Printing methods

  • Handmade artisan quality will WOW your guests

  • Due to the labor intensive printing process, foil is more costly than other printing methods and takes a longer time. Be sure to allow space in your budget if you want to include foil as well as getting started early so you don’t run out of time.

BLIND IMPRESSIONS - DEBOSS vs. EMBOSS

Another method that is also similar to Letterpress and Hot Foil Stamping is that of creating Blind Impressions. Embossing is the process of creating a raised impression onto paper and debossing is the processes of creating a depressed or sunken in impression onto paper. It is called a “blind” impression because no ink is used and it is intended only to create a tactile impression on the paper.

Embossing alters the surface of paper by providing a three-dimensional or raised effect on selected areas. This method requires the use of two dies: one that is raised and one that is recessed. The dies fit into each other so that when the paper is pressed between them, the raised die forces the stock into the recessed die and creates the embossed impression. Debossing is similar to embossing, but recesses the design rather than raising it. Rather than the paper being raised in specific areas, it is indented. The process involves applying pressure to the front side of the paper and forcing it down from the surface.

The image to the right shows a blind deboss impression of palm leaves. It is a little tricky to capture the true feel in photos, but in person it is a subtle way to add design to an invitation in an elegant and understated manner.

PROS and CONS of BLIND IMPRESSIONS

  • A beautiful way to add subtle or understated design elements to your invitations

  • Because of the use of multiple plates it tends to be more expensive than other print processes.

USING PRINT METHODS IN COMBINATION

One of my favorite things to do is to combine printing methods to let each method shine at what it does best. For example I love to combine digital flat printing with pops of gold hot foil stamping. This works best whenever I want to add some sparkle to one of my illustrated or watercolor designs. When I’m designing an invitation that uses line art (like in a botanical sketch or custom venue illustration) I love to use both letterpress and foil. Letterpress takes the line artwork to a whole other level while adding foil to the text adds that extra kick!

Digital + Gold Foil

Digital + Gold Foil

Copper Foil + Gray Letterpress

Copper Foil + Gray Letterpress

While there are many other print methods out there, these are the most popular and most commonly used print methods when you work with me on creating your event stationery. If you have any questions about any of these print methods or other print methods you might have heard of but I didn’t cover here, send me an email at hello@featheredheartprints.com and we can chat about it in more detail.

Why should I send a wedding invitation?

mail an invitation

I've been asked a time or two from friends or couples planning their weddings, "WHY the heck do I even need to send out wedding stationery? Can't I just email people a wedding invitation?" 

First of all, excuse me while my paper loving soul cries in a corner for a few minutes.

Okay, I'm back and ready to address why it's best to send a physical printed invitation to your guests. 

Why paper is a better choice than e-mails when it comes to wedding invitations:

Shown here: The Penelope Suite - New from the Artisan Collection. Photography by PJ Saffran

Shown here: The Penelope Suite - New from the Artisan Collection. Photography by PJ Saffran

  • Deliver important information: Arguably the most important part about why you need invitations is that you need your guests to know that they are invited and where and when to join the party! If you don't have guests, then you don't really have an event.

 

  • Show off your personality: Your wedding invitation is an opportunity to show off your personality as a couple. Bring in personal touches that tell your story and fit your event. If you are a fun couple and have a fun love story, tell that with your invitations. If you are a serious couple and love structure and all things elegant, show that off with your wedding paper. Don't be afraid to show who you are.

 

  • Set the Tone: Your wedding invitation is the first glimpse that your guests will get at what to expect when it comes to your wedding. This is your chance to communicate many things about your wedding. Is your wedding upscale? Do you want your guests to come prepared for an elegant party? a garden soiree? A classy cocktail evening party? Use your invitations to convey that to your guests. You can literally spell it out (ex. "Black Tie" on your invitations) OR you can communicate the level of elegance by the paper you send.

What message do you think an e-mailed invitation sends to your guests? What kind of party might they be expecting? 

mailing invitations is better than email

 

  • People LOVE to get mail that is not a bill. I know this might sound a bit silly, but seriously barely anybody sends snail mail anymore. In our fast paced lives the majority of our information is sent and shared online. Our physical mailboxes get filled up with junk and it's quite honestly depressing. I look forward to the holidays and birthdays because I have a few friends that still send holiday and birthday cards. Nothing makes me more excited than checking the mail to find something that isn't a bill! :::Cue the audio of angels singing::: Your guests will feel the same level of excitement when they open their mailboxes to find your pretty Invitation.

 

  • Keepsake: You might hear people say, "But it's just paper, everyone will just throw it away"….Maybe I'm a bit biased here because I am a paper nerd, but your wedding invitation will be one of the very few remaining elements after your wedding/party is over and done with. Yes you will have your memories and obviously your photographs. But everything else will be gone. I mean, what do you think happens to the venue, rentals, food? You spend lots of money on those, but those don't get to stay with you forever. Your wedding stationery is a perfect keepsake for you to frame and display, or include in your wedding album to remind you about all the details from your event. 5, 10, 20 years from now you can look back and reminisce about all the details that came together to make your best day ever! When you have good quality wedding stationery, you will be surprised how many of your guests will tell you that they kept your invitation as a keepsake.

 

Still not convinced you need to send physical wedding invitations? That's okay, the beautiful thing about planning your wedding is that you can make your own decisions and do what you want! So do what makes you happy and you won't go wrong.

 

Enjoy your week!

 
xoxo Emily-01.png
 

When should you order your wedding invitations and other stationery timeline questions

A timeline of when to order your important wedding stationery items

You got engaged! Hooray! The excitement is still fresh, you're on cloud nine.... and I'm sure by now approximately 739574 people have asked you "So... when's the big day?". If you are anything like me when I got engaged, this might have caused you to jump into overdrive planing mode if for no other reason than to not have to continue to dodge that question for the 739575th time.

One of the biggest questions I get asked, as a wedding stationer, is about when to send out the important wedding invitation and stationery items. When do I send out my save the dates? What if it's a destination wedding? What about shower invitations? Or Rehearsal dinner invites? But what if my Great Aunt Suzy won't stop asking me when she is going to get her invitation even though the wedding isn't for another year? Can I just send them now?... okay that last one might not be a common question, but you can all probably relate to that, am I right?

When-to-order-and-send wedding invitations and stationery - a timeline and guide

So I'm here to help answer some questions about not only when you should mail everything, but also when you should think about getting started on working on those paper goods as well. Most custom stationery designers, like myself, will book out weddings in advance. The reason for this is because the design process takes time. Now the amount of time it takes to create custom invitations will vary with every stationer, so it's always best to ask them up front when you should order, but in my experience this guide is a good estimate of what is pretty common among wedding stationers.

Of course, not everyone is going to feel the need to have a completely custom design, there are a lot of great collection designs out there that can be personalized and printed more quickly, so in those cases just count backwards from the "send" recommendation to get your "start" time. 

WHEN TO ORDER AND MAIL YOUR WEDDING STATIONERY

Let me start with a little disclaimer *Starting earlier is always better in my book* The reason for this is because starting later might limit what can be added or done with your invitations. Also rushing the designer can sometimes limit creativity. So if you know your wedding details, such as the date, location, time etc... then what are you waiting for? Let's get started :) 

Engagement Party Invitations- You should start on those designs right away and plan to mail them to your guests at least 2 weeks before your party. If you plan on doing a formal engagement party where you will be doing a dinner or meal for your guests, then you might want to think about mailing them at least 4 weeks in advance to allow time for replies. 

Save the Dates - This can be broken down into two categories, in town weddings and destination weddings. For weddings that will be in town, or local to most of the guests, you should plan on sending those out about 4 to 6 months before the wedding. Which means you should start working with your stationer about 6 to 8 months before the wedding on the design. Now if you are planning a destination wedding, those should be sent to your guests at least 6 to 8 months before the wedding, which would mean you should start working on the design at least 8 to 10 months before, even longer if you are able to. 

Wedding Invitations - Wedding invitations should be sent 6 to 8 weeks before the wedding. I see some people suggest sending them sooner with destination weddings, but if you sent a save the date that really isn't completely necessary. For local weddings I do not recommend sending them any sooner than 8 weeks before the wedding simply because people tend to forget to send the RSVPs back at a higher rate when you send your invitations out too soon. For destination weddings, I wouldn't recommend sending out the invitations any sooner than 12 weeks prior. So this means you should start working on your custom invitations at least 6 to 7 months before your wedding. I would say even sooner if you know you want to add some bells and whistles like foil stamping, vellum wraps, custom envelope liners etc. *Pro Tip* - If you are worried about making sure people are able to book their travel plans, make a wedding website and put accommodation information on there. This way people can start making their travel plans when they get their save the dates. 

Shower Invitations - It's best to send shower invitations about 6 to 8 weeks before the shower whenever possible. This means you should start working on your shower invitations about 3 months before the shower. 

Rehearsal Dinner Invitations - These can be sent with the wedding invitations to the people who would be invited to the rehearsal dinner. Because the grooms family traditionally hosts the rehearsal dinner you can do this two ways. You can coordinate with the grooms family to make sure the invitation is worded to show the hosts and include it in mailing with the wedding invitations, or the grooms family can handle everything on their own. It is up to your family and the best way to handle that. If the rehearsal dinner invitations will be mailed separately, it's best to have those mailed out about 3 to 6 weeks prior to the dinner which would mean starting the design should come about 2 to 3 months before the dinner. 

Day of Stationery Items - This is another big question I get a lot: "When should I order my menus, programs, place cards, signage etc?" The short answer is at least 1 month before the wedding. The longer answer is to get started with he day of stationery items at the same time as your wedding invitations. What I mean by this, is let your stationer know what items you will be wanting and then they can create those designs (minus the last minute details) ahead of time. This way, when you start to get your details finalized, that information will be easier to finish up quickly, causing less stress for you and your stationer. 

Thank You Cards - I also recommend designing these at the same time as your invitations. The reason for this is that as your RSVPs start to roll in you can use those to address your thank you card envelopes ahead of time. This will save you SO much time after the wedding and help you get those thank yous out quickly! The accepted timeframe for sending out thank you cards for gifts received before and after the wedding is within 2 to 3 weeks. For gifts received at the wedding, no longer than 3 months. The sooner the better though.

Whew! That was a long one. If you are still with me please give yourself a pat on the back for hanging tough. High fives all around.  Just as a reminder, the downloads are free for personal use only. 

The dreaded guest list. Who's in and who's out?

Okay, so before you break out in a cold sweat, mounds of crumpled paper at your feet, tears streaming down your cheeks as you cry out in distress shaking your fist in the air at the ghosts of wedding etiquette past, let's talk a little bit about who the HECK to invite to your wedding. 

A basic rule of thumb, as far as traditional etiquette goes, is that you and your partner's immediate family and close friends are automatically IN, while distant, twice removed relatives, or old neighbors that you haven't spoken to in 15 years are OUT. (I can hear you saying "duh!" through the computer screen.) 

We all know that crafting the perfect guest list that satisfies all the important people in our lives can be a much more complicated experience. So fear not, my friend, I have created a handy dandy flowchart to help walk you through creating your perfect guest list. Before we get into that, let's talk about where to start. 

Making Your Wedding Guest List

Who-do-i-invite to my wedding - a flowchart to help narrow your guest list

My best advice is to write down everyone that you want at your wedding and everyone you feel like you *should* invite to your wedding. Go through and put a star next to everyone in that list that you 100% want at the wedding and have no doubts about what-so-ever. 

Then go back through the list and put another shape or colored star next to the people who you really want to be there but might be more on the fence about. Leaving the people who maybe feel more like a "I should invite this person but don't know if I really want to" without any marks by their names.

Discuss with your fiancé (or family depending on if you will be getting help) what your desired budget is for your wedding and determine what is doable for you guys and what your ideal guest number would be. Then go back through your lists and see how far off you guys are from the desired number of guests and the number of guests you have written down. 

If the numbers are close then you are good to go, because remember that not every single person you invite will be able to attend your wedding. But if the numbers are very far off then sit down with your fiancé and start to ask yourselves the tough questions of who's in and who's out.  If you have hired a wedding planner (which I very much encourage you to do so!) this would be a great time to get their advice as well. They can help you plan your wedding according to the number of people you want to invite and the budget that you have in mind. It might just mean looking for the perfect location that can accommodate your list and not break the bank. Or it might mean some compromises somewhere else.

Click on the button below the image to download your FREE handy dandy flowchart to help you decide who is in and who is out. *Spoiler Alert- Trust your gut and invite who matters to you guys the most*

who-the-heck-do-I-invite-to-the-wedding-flow-chart-cover.jpg

*free for personal use only, may not be duplicated, sold or used in any commercial purpose.