Brides are inundated with terminology they may have never heard before like taffeta, tulle, chiavari, and bentwood, or in the case of today’s topic: wedding stationery printing techniques such as letterpress and engraving. Lucky for you, I have taken the time to produce the ultimate guide to wedding stationery printing techniques! Let me decipher all the stationery styles for you, so that your job of choosing the right stationery is a little bit easier when you start shopping and comparing wedding stationery.
The technique of engraving is one of the oldest, finest, and most formal forms of printing, dating back to the 1700’s. The process involves a copper plate that is etched with a design and text (in this case your wedding invitation). The plate is then coated with ink and pressed together with two tons of weight against the invitation. Similar to embossing (below), the pressure from the plate creates a raised indentation on the back of the paper.
Tip: For a formal wedding invitation, black is the best ink color to choose.
Engraved invitations are easily recognizable because of the distinct look and feel. Keep in mind that engraving is typically the most expensive technique in invitation printing. The best indication of an engraved invitation is the indentation or “bruising” on the back of the invite.
One online wedding company to check out for engraved wedding stationary is Crane and Co.
A more cost effective printing technique is called thermography, which involves mixing ink with a resinous powder that adheres to the stationery, and then placing under heat for the resin to melt and fuse with the ink.
The result is a finished product left with a clean, slightly raised, and shiny effect that is similar to (but not as elegant as) engraving. Because this technique does not need an engraving plate, it requires less manual labor. Therefore, thermography is a much faster and cheaper option than engraving.
Check out Etsy for a great selection of thermography wedding stationery.
Letterpress is a printing technique that involves high quality and heavy weight paper. A design is pressed with an inked metal plate, which transfer ink and leaves a deep impression in the paper. As you can see from the image above, a three dimensional print is created that looks simply exquisite.
Tip: Each color used will be a different plate, so sticking to 1 or 2 colors for your stationery is a good option.
Minted has a large and beautiful collection of letterpress invitations.
Offset printing (also known as lithography or flat printing) is done by an inked impression made from a plate to a rubber-stamp like surface, which is then transferred to the paper. Offset printing produces a flat image and is considered a higher quality than digital printing. Typically offset printing is a budget-friendly option for brides looking for one step-up from digital printing. You have a ton of flexibility as far as color options and number of colors you can use.
We looked, but not a lot of online stationers offer offset printing these days. Most have moved to digital printing.
Digital Printing is probably the most common technique you will find. Digital printing is fairly straight forward: a company relies on computer technology to print the image from computer to paper.
Unlike traditional printing techniques, digital printers spray the ink onto the paper rather that imprint on them. The finished product tends to be flat and one dimensional in appearance. However, no other printing method can match the crisp look and true color match that digital printing provides.
Minted offer hundreds of digitally printed wedding invitations.
Foil stamping is the perfect way to add a little glitz to your wedding invites, and comes in a variety of colors or finishes like silver, matte, and holographic. Foil stamping is a specialty printing process that involves creating a die that is pressed against a special kind of foil. The foil then transfers the design onto paper under pressure and heat, creating a luxurious effect.
Both Minted and Etsy have great selections of gold foil invites. I bet you can find the foil invite for your wedding stationery at either one! For more gold foil ideas check out our article that lists a curated roundup of select invites we love.
Similar to engraving in that an imaged is raised by a copper plate, embossing does not use ink. This printing technique is most frequently used for monograms, family coast of arms, small decorative images on wedding stationery, and high end business on business letterhead/cards.
Embossing brings a clean elegance to the final project and is very easily distinguished from other products.
PaperSource has a few beautiful embossed wedding invitations to choose.
Gloss-pressing is a new printing technique offered exclusively by Minted. It involves debossing beautiful, subtle glosses onto high-quality paper. Debossing is the inversion of embossing – a metal die is stamped on the front of the cardstock to create an indentation rather than the raised imprint you get with embossing.
The end result of gloss-pressing is a luxurious, elegant look that will make your wedding stationery suite stand out. Minted’s collection of gloss-pressed wedding invitations and related stationery is extensive and includes many styles – from rustic to modern, bohemiam, vintage, illustrative and more.
Lasercut is more of a wedding style than a printing technique. Nonetheless, Lasercut wedding invitations are so beautifully intricate and amazing to look at that I simply had to include them in this guide.
Check out Wedding Paper Divas for some stunning laser cut designs.
An art form that you don’t see often anymore are beautifully handmade cards written in calligraphy. I think calligraphy has to be one of the most elegant ways to present a wedding invitation.
Unless you are blessed with a knack for writing script, or have a friend that is talented enough to pull it off, you will have to hire a professional calligrapher. They usually charge by the hour – leaving this invitation technique for more intimate and formal occasions such as weddings.
If you are interested in hiring a professional calligrapher, I highly suggest Laura Hooper Calligraphy.
An extremely popular option are downloadable (printable) templates. Etsy has a plethora of choice when it comes to such templates, and I love that you can print from the comfort of your own home or a professional printing company.
If you choose to go this route for your wedding stationery, not only will it keep your cost down but you can also find full matching suites of stationery … engagement party invites, save-the-dates, all the way through to table numbers and thank you cards.
Work closely with an Etsy artist to create the perfect wedding suite custom tailored for your big day.
At Home Stationery Kits
If fancy invitation are not the route for you, another cost effective route is to create your own custom wedding invites from a pre boxed easy to use kit.
There is a little DIY-ing involved, where you will have to download software and use your inkjet or laser printer to create them. However, these kits come with everything you need to create a simple but functional invitation.
Let me know in the comment section below if you have enjoyed my guide to wedding stationery printing techniques!