Wedding Invitations: Different Printing Methods for Your Wedding Budget

The Wedding Guru Judy Lewis fields this week’s wedding questions. Today: From letterpress to lithography, the Wedding Guru describes the many varieties of wedding invitations

Even when the economy isn’t in a downturn, budgeting is a huge issue to many bridal couples. Of course, some things can be eliminated without much effect on the appearance of the ceremony. For instance, some couples opt to print their own invitations to save a little money; this week’s bride questions whether that’s a good idea.

A Valley bride asks: “Because the invitation is the first thing that my guests see, I think putting a little extra money into them sets the tone for my wedding. But there are so many options out there that I’m not really sure what choice to make! Can you help?”

(See next page for answer)

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Dear Valley bride: While I agree that wedding invitations help set your wedding’s tone, I do believe it’s possible to choose something beautiful that isn’t outrageously expensive. It helps to know why some invitations are much more expensive than others.

Digital and offset printing (lithography) use different methods and materials, but they create the same overall look — and they’re both cost-effective. They print in multiple colors, with fine detailing, and on different types of paper. (It’s important to note that the quality of offset printing can vary amongst printers, so be sure to preview samples before you commit.)

Foil printing and stamping yields a sheen that ranges from a slight glow to really shiny. Though slightly more expensive than digital or offset printing, you’re buying an expensive look that’s still relatively cost-effective. A wide range of type styles (fonts) and motifs can be used, and its price is comparable to engraving; this is primarily used for very formal weddings.

Thermography layers ink on paper; when you touch the paper, you can feel the raised ink. It’s a very popular and traditional choice, because it gives the look of engraving (without the cost).

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Perhaps the most elegant printing method is letterpress. With this process, raised letters and art plates are rolled with ink and then pressed into soft, thick paper. The downside? Many type styles aren’t available, because the individual letters are pre-set and determined based on the machine itself. In addition, the artwork and letters can’t be excessively thin, because the process for making the plates isn’t suited for fine detailing. Because it’s more an art form, letterpress printing isn’t readily available and tends to be pricey, especially when several colors of ink are used.

Engraving is an old process that hearkens back to the 17th century. More expensive than thermography, it’s usually reserved for high-end, ultra-formal weddings. The more invitations you print using this method, the more cost-effective it becomes.

I hope that this answered your question, or at least gave you a place from which to start! Good luck!

» Tips on how to make your own wedding invitations
» Hudson Valley Weddings 2011
» Submit a question to the Wedding Guru
» View our Wedding Guide

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