Wedding Invitation Printing - Printing 101

wedding invitation printing methods

Did you make it to the Facebook Live last week??? In our first week of Invitations 101 we talked about the lingo - what it means to have a flat invitation or a pocket invitation or to add panels and who needs what. 

This week it's all about printing. From basic to formal - how you print says a lot about your style. Digital printing, letterpress, embossing, gold foil …. Seems like a whole new language, right? Each of them has it’s own unique characteristics, we just have to figure out which one is right for you! So, let me help a little.

Digital Printing

Digital printing is the most common type of printing and the least expensive. Think laser or inkjet printer. It means that a file goes straight from a digital file, through a printer and onto your paper. You can buy a desktop laser printer for $200 or a high tech production printer for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

I personally print on a Ricoh printer that is a mid range laser - it's fancy enough that you can't just pick it up at Staples but it's not so outlandishly expensive that I need a crew to run it and a small warehouse to store it. 

It uses four toner cartridges - C,M,Y and K to combine the colors and applies it to your paper in one swift move. It is smooth to the touch and has an endless array of color options. 

It is the most common method because it is the fastest and the least expensive. It's great for an invitation that has a lot of colors to it. Due to the process, you can't use double thick paper, but you can still get a hefty 120 lb card stock that works great. 

While you can use any color paper, keep in mind that the colors get absorbed into a color, so if you want to use, say orange on kraft paper - that orange will be quite muted on the page. To keep your colors vibrant, use white or ivory paper.

How much does it cost? For 100 sets - $270 - $2.70 per invitation
*includes invite, RSVP card, RSVP envelope with printed address, mailing envelope with printed return address on matte white card stock, quantity - 100

Digital White

Digital white is newer to the industry. In olden days (or a few years ago!) when you wanted to have white lettering on a gray page, you would use white paper and essentially put down a gray box and white text. So the front would look like gray paper with white ink, but the back of the paper would be white - faux white lettering. It works, but if your printer isn't well maintained it can be left looking splotchy or have streaks of color rather than a crisp, solid block.

Not anymore my friends! Now they have a laser printer that has a white toner so you can actually use a colored paper with true white ink. {this is SO HIGH on my business planning wish list!!} It looks stunning and isn't too much more expensive than traditional digital printing.

digital white ink

You can go bold like the design above with a rich black or chocolate brown, or go for a lighter look with a light blue or dusty rose.

white ink printing

How much does it cost? For 100 sets - $400 - $4.00 per invitation
*includes invite on classic black with white ink, and regular digital printing on RSVP card, RSVP envelope with printed address, mailing envelope with printed return address on matte white card stock

Digital Metallic

This technique is super brand new to the industry. Similar to digital white, it uses a laser toner fit with either metallic silver or metallic gold toner cartridges. It is a really nice alternative to foil if foil is out of your budget. Use it alone on white or dark paper or mix it with traditional colors for a pop of something special. It has just enough shimmer to catch your guests attention!

digital metallic printing

How much does it cost? For 100 sets - $430 - $4.30 per invitation
*includes invite on classic white with both digital and digital metallic ink, and regular digital printing on RSVP card, RSVP envelope with printed address, mailing envelope with printed return address on matte white card stock

Thermography

Thermongraphy is always classy and traditional.  Do we have any crafters out there that make their own stamped cards??? Have you tried embossing? You stamp your image, shake a clear powder on the image, then use a heat gun and watch it bubble up for a raised texture. 

thermography

Same idea here. The printer is loaded with just one color of ink. As the ink is applied a resin is dusted onto the page. You shake off the excess powder and then apply heat that melts the resin and creates a raised texture. It gives your paper a very distinct look and high end feel at a moderate cost. You can use either one or two colors in this process.

This type of printing is really great for formal designs that are crisp and clean - you won't be able to use it on something that has a colorful graphic on it!

Pro tip! As the resin melts it creates a thicker line than you might think. For this reason you want to make sure that you design with fonts that are larger and don't have as many fine details to them. If the details are too small it will all smush together. 

How much does it cost? For 100 sets - $710 - $7.10 per invitation
*includes invite on classic white with 1 color thermography, and digital printing on RSVP card, RSVP envelope with printed address, mailing envelope with printed return address on matte white card stock

Screen Printing

Screen printing is a technique that uses a woven mesh with an ink blotting stencil to create your desired image. Each color is applied one at a time and you can layer up to 3 colors to your design. Each color requires a new, custom screen to be built, so the more colors you use, the higher your cost will be.

The inks that are used here are opaque, so screen printing is an excellent choice if you want to use light colors and have them print vibrantly onto darker paper.

How much does it cost? For 100 sets - $950 - $9.50 per invitation
*includes invite on classic white with 2 color screen printing, and digital printing on RSVP card, RSVP envelope with printed address, mailing envelope with printed return address on matte white card stock

Letterpress

We are starting to get to the big guns here - the more artisan printing methods. Letterpress has been around since the 15th century and was once the only printing method available. Back in the day - letters were hand selected and placed onto a bracket. Ink was carefully applied and you pulled a lever to push that text into the paper.

Today, more modern methods apply, but they still use the same machines from the late 1800s. In my dream of dreams I will one day own a vintage letterpress machine.

But I digress. Today, I can design your invitation or stationery set and send it off to the letterpress printer. They take my design and turn it into a polymer plate. Your design is raised up on the plate. They place the plate on the machine, ink is mixed by hand and spread onto the press rollers. All of this is done by hand to ensure that they find the fine balance between too little and too much ink. The machine pulls the paper in and presses the design into the paper.

I love this video by Olive Juice Press to show how it's all done!

It is beautiful and amazing, and oh so complicated and hands on. It's expensive, but worth every penny of it if you can afford it. The larger your order, the cheaper it will be.

How much does it cost? For 100 sets - $800 - $8.00 per invitation
*includes invite on Crane's Letra cotton letterpress paper with 1 color letterpress, and digital printing on RSVP card, RSVP envelope with printed address, mailing envelope with printed return address

Embossing and Debossing

This method is very similar to letterpress printing, but without the ink. It uses the same plate making method to either push down into or up out of your paper to create a 3 dimensional, colorless design.

How much does it cost? For 100 sets - $1,200 - $12.00 per invitation
*includes invite on Crane's Letra cotton letterpress paper with embossing or debossing, and digital printing on RSVP card, RSVP envelope with printed address, mailing envelope with printed return address

Foil Stamping

Again, this is a very similar method to letterpress, however with the addition of foil. Rather than using ink, the plate has foil placed onto it which is then heated and pressed into your paper. A wide variety of metallic shades are available.

If you want just small accents in foil, you do also then need to run it through a digital printer to get other colors, so the price can get much higher here.

But how are big box stores offering foil at prices that are much more affordable than what I can? Look at their designs. You will likely notice on invitations that the foil is used for accents - swirls, patterns, or graphics. They can likely have 10,000 of those made, then just print your information as each order comes in. Sadly, I can't afford to do that yet, so each of my runs will be custom until I can find one fantastic design that sells like hot cakes!!

How much does it cost? For 100 sets - $1,190 - $11.90 per invitation
*includes invite on Crane's Letra cotton letterpress paper with 1 color foil accents and digitally printed invitation details, and digital printing on RSVP card, RSVP envelope with printed address, mailing envelope with printed return address

Pro Tips!

Whew! We made it! The long story short is that printing can be expensive, so you need to look at what your biggest ‘wants’ are and be really honest with your budget. If letterpress is IT for you, cut out all of the extra insert cards and put all your info on a website.

If you’d rather have lots of cards, pockets, belly bands, envelope liners or wax seals and can't afford to raise your budget try digital printing or thermography.

And the biggest tip of all - make sure you get your guest list right the first time and then add in PLENTY of extras! If you use specialty printing, there can often be a minimum order of at least 50 invitations, so you don’t want to have to order more later! Specialty printing techniques generally are a lower cost per print the larger your order is.

 

Don't forget to join me for Facebook live events to talk about all things wedding!

 

by Laura Mays
Tags: paper tips
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