Wedding Invitations and Printed Materials: A Mini-Guide

By Lisa Beth Miller

On average, most couples spend around two percent of the wedding budget on printed materials. Many fail to realize just how many printed items are actually needed for a wedding event. It is best to get organized early and order all of the printed items at once, from one source. This type of planning often leads to discounts, plus it allows the couple to keep a consistent look throughout.

So, what exactly needs to be printed? Your shopping list should include save the dates, invitations, RSVP cards, pre-stamped return envelopes, directions/accommodations cards, escort and place cards, table and menu cards, cocktail napkins, and programs. Of course, the proper postage for the invitations, save the dates, and return envelopes must also be accounted for!

When you sit down with your printing professional, be sure to bring color swatches and any information regarding the theme or style of your wedding. The printed items for an eclectic shabby-chic wedding should not look the same as those for a formal black and white wedding. It is important to establish your “brand” to your guests from the first moment they hear about the wedding!

When choosing invitations, also keep in mind that heavy cardstock, multiple pieces and layers, and bulky packaging may all lead to increased postage costs!

Also keep in mind that invitation costs will vary greatly depending upon the printing method that you choose! You must be sure to ask lots of questions in order to get the best prices. What are the printing methods that you should be familiar with before your appointment? Here is a quick reference list (descriptions based on information from The Knot).

Engraving: The letters are raised on the front and indented on the back of the invite. Engraving is ideal for an ultra-formal affair; it is one of the most expensive methods of printing.

Thermography: This technique almost indistinguishable from engraving, except that the lettering is slightly shiny, and the back of the invitation remains smooth. This method also has a formal look but is a bit less expensive than engraving.

Letterpress: The letters are indented on the front and slightly raised on the back of the invite. The look is textural and sophisticated. This technique is usually used for traditional designs and is one of the more expensive printing methods.

Digital Printing:  The results are similar to what you’d get from a home printer, but professional printers offer higher quality, so you won’t end up with a homemade looking result. Digital printing is perfect for casual or funky wedding styles and for couples who are on a tight budget.

Offset Printing: Offset printing is similar to digital, but the quality is higher and it’s slightly more expensive. The letters and designs are flat. This is a great budget-friendly printing method that works well with more casual designs.

Foil Stamping:  The paper-like foil leaves a metallic design behind. Foil stamping complements a luxe, romantic wedding, but it’s also become increasingly popular for whimsical and casual invites.

Embossing:  Think of it as engraving but on a slightly larger scale. Letters and images appear raised but colorless. It’s perfect for monograms and bordering. The look is subtle yet modern.

Choose printed wedding items wisely and be sure the coordinate with the overall style and look of your event. Happy printing!


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