22 September, 2010

You're Invited!: An Intro to Engraving

For many couples, the invitation suite is just as important as any other design aspect of their wedding. Unfortunately, the world of stationery can be a bit mysterious and frustrating, especially if you don't know what you're getting into.

This week we'll take a look at the four most popular printing techniques for wedding/party invitations. I will outline the process of each and give a few tips about design and cost. Quantity, design choice, paper selections and printing technique are the main factors when determining cost. Price can also vary greatly between designers, especially now that invitation trends have moved in the direction of combining beauty with functionality. Your invitation suite will be like a little work of art and will give your guests their first taste of the wonderful day to come.


Engraved invitations will give the most traditional look. It has also been a staple in wedding stationery for decades. Abby Jean and Louella Press are my two of my favorites. So beautiful I can't stand it! Exquisite lines and decadent detailing, one look and it's love!

The process is fairly labor intensive and is largely done by hand. Engravers etch lettering into metal plates. Ink is sunk into the depressions in the plates and loaded into a specialized printing press. The paper is pressed into the plate and the ink sits on the surface, creating the raised lettering. Engraving's signature feature is the bruising that occurs, like a halo around the lettering on the paper. This is a desirable effect and speaks to the beauty of the overall look. The bruise is caused as the paper is pressed against the plate.

Inks used for engraving are opaque and unique to the process. An array of colors are available including white and a number of metallic colors. For the bride looking for a twist on tradition, try printing bold, vibrant colors on darker stock.

Now for the bad news. Engraving, while beautiful is very costly (sad!). In nearly all cases, it is done completely by hand. Also, the pieces are put through the press once per color. So, the more colors you add, the more labor is required, and the pricier it gets. Budget conscious brides can make engraving more affordable by employing a few tricks. First, try to stick to one ink color, but make a statement. Use something like gold on red paper, white on green. Second, if you must have that incredible multi-color design, save it for the most important pieces (the invite card itself or the save the date). The reply card comes back to you anyway, so look for the savings.
Get ready for a long turnaround, typically 4 to 6 weeks (expect 8 weeks during the high traffic months of April-August). Some designers can get it back faster, but not by much.

This is the totally gorgeous Treasury invite from Louella Press. Hello, beautiful!
Notice that heavenly halo!

Photo credit: Louella Press

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