Printing Options For Your Wedding Invitations

 The Pros and cons of the most popular printing Techniques for your wedding invitations and stationery

With so many printing options available, it may be hard to know which technique is best for your wedding invitations and stationery.  After working in the print and design industry for over 15 years, I’ve become pretty familiar with the different options available.  I’ve put together this guide to help you understand some of my favorite printing techniques.  If you want to read all about each process and get to know the pros and cons of each technique, keep reading!

Digital Printing

Digital printing is the latest technology in the print world.  With this type of printing, you’ll get a quick turnaround along with the best print quality for graphics, text and photographs at the most competitive prices.  No plates are required and there is hardly any set up.  The digital file is sent, and is then printed by depositing toner onto a wide variety of substrates including paper, metal, glass, canvas and other materials.

Pros:

  • great quality
  • can print multiple colors at once
  • cost effective for small runs
  • it’s fast - works good for tight-deadlines

Cons:

  • unable to match Pantone colors
  • not as cost effective for high quantity runs

Flat Offset Printing

Offset Printing is a commonly used printing technique in which the inked image is transferred (or “offset”) from a plate to a rubber blanket, then to the printing surface.  One of the biggest disadvantages to this method is the time and cost associated with producing plates and printing press setup.  Although it’s more expensive, matching exact colors is possible, and the quality is very good.

Pros:

  • prints colors exactly how they should appear
  • cost effective for high runs
  • better image quality

Cons:  

  • expensive
  • more time is required than it is for digital printing
  • setup is time consuming
  • not as cost effective for small runs

Letterpress

This is such a lovely way to print invitations, greeting cards and stationery.  Letterpress is the oldest traditional printing technique.  First, the digital design is output to a film as a negative, and then exposed to a polymer plate using UV light.  Then the ink is mixed by hand, often trying to match a Pantone color.  Pantone is a color matching system printers use to get an accurate match of a certain color.  When it’s time to print, the carefully chosen paper is fed one at a time into the press.  A slight debossing effect is left where the ink has been laid.  Blind debossing is where no ink is used, and is purely used for it’s debossing effect.

Paper stock is an important part of letterpress.  Typically heavyweight or richly textured paper is chosen to compliment the debossing effect.

  Letterpress Wedding Invitation Suite  by Chatham and Caron
 Letterpress Invitation Suite by Cocorico

Letterpress Invitation Suite by Cocorico

Pros:

  • luxurious feel and look
  • very elegant and beautiful
  • heavily textured and thick stock

Cons:

  • usually prints only 1 to 2 colors at most
  • expensive
  • not ideal for large solid color areas
  • 2 week turn-around - longer than most printing techniques

Foil Stamping  

This is the process of applying metallic or colored foil onto paper.  The process involves stamping a heated die to seal a thin layer of foil to the paper.  Foil stamping is somewhat similar to letterpress and engraving, in that the color is applied to paper with pressure.

Pros:

  • the only way to achieve a vibrant and opaque metallic effect
  • you can use a dark paper with lighter text
  • luxurious feel and look

Cons:

  • usually 1 color foil at most
  • expensive because it is a labor intensive process

Engraving:  

This is the most classic way to print your wedding invitations.  Engraving is very similar to letterpress, except the text is embossed to create a raised effect.  It is typically reserved for very formal events.

 Engraved Wedding Invitation

Engraved Wedding Invitation

Pros:  

  • very beautiful
  • timeless
  • traditionally simple designs
  • works well with fine text
  • great option for white ink on colored paper

Cons:

  • expensive
  • long turnaround times
  • not ideal if the invitation has more than 2 colors

Thermography:

This is a less expensive option that achieves a similar effect as engraving.  The process uses a powder and special ink that creates a raised effect when it dries. This is an affordable option if you want fancy invitations with a quick turnaround.

Pros:

  • produces a similar effect to engraving but for a fraction of the cost

Cons:

  • not ideal if the invitation has more than 2 colors
  • the raised ink has a rubbery feel

I hope this gives you a better understanding of what printing techniques are available for your invitations.  Choosing a printing method really comes down to what your design looks like and what impression you hope to give your guests.  If you have any questions about what technique would be best for your own invitation, please get in touch!  I would be happy to discuss all of the options available and help you choose the best way to print your invitations.