Monday, February 22, 2010


Invitations for me, when I was planning my own wedding a few years back, were a huge source of stress. Mainly because I did not feel knowledgeable. The language was completely foreign to me, with words like embossed and letterpress, engraved, deckle edged and flourish. Excuse me? There are so many options, not just for the design and typeface, but the paper and printing styles too.

Having a wedding planner that can translate the terminology is hugely helpful. But having a stationer that is patient and will walk you through your options is gold. Most often, you'll go into the stationer's studio and pick out what you like from their display samples and then they will talk you through what you picked. But it's helpful to do your homework in advance so you have an idea of what style (i.e. price tag) you want. This way, you can pick out styles you like and then know how to talk through changing the format to suit your needs and budget.

Here's a crash course (definitions from The Knot) on printing styles and relative pricing:

Embossing, $$: A printing technique that forms letters and images with a raised "relief" surface, imparting added dimension to the invitation design.

Engraving, $$$: The most formal of printing methods, through which the letters appear slightly raised. A "bruise" typically forms on the back of the paper from the pressure.

Thermography, $: A heat-based process fuses ink and resinous powder to create raised lettering. It's virtually indistinguishable from engraving work. The subtle differences: thermographed text is slightly shiny and the back of the invitation remains smooth (no impression).

Letterpress, $$: A beautiful printing alternative to engraving. The labor-intensive method dates back to the fifteenth century and involves inking an image to produce an impression: the impression is transferred by placing paper against the image and manually applying pressure. The images and typeface appear precise -- individually "stamped into" the paper -- and very rich in color. Letterpress is great if you're using unusual paper, motifs, typeface, or want to play around with pigments. Comparatively, engraving and thermography restrict the possibilities.

Tomorrow we'll talk more about invitation wording and the timing of invitations, and next week I'll share some of my favorite invitation companies. xo!


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