At first glance, paper is paper right? How hard can it be?
Then you start shopping and you see things like 80lb, 220 lb, cotton, linen, felt, vellum - what does it all mean??
Let me help! I'm a paper pro and my goal today is to help you choose the papers that are a perfect fit for your wedding.
Let's start with paper weight. It can be confusing. There's a metric system and a US system (shocking right?). If you see paper weights that are measured in gsm - that's metric - grams per square meter. If you see a paper weight listed in lbs - that's US, seems logical so far right?
In a nutshell - the more the paper weighs, the thicker it is.
Most cardstocks that you can use in a home printer are 80 lb weight or less. Home printers just don't have the power to pull anything heavier than that through - or if you can shove it through it's not pretty - in my early invitation days, I tried.
All of my invitations are printed on 120 lb cardstock - it's a lovely weight that feels substantial and not flimsy. It has a light eggshell texture so it just feels lovely.
If you really want to step it up, my other favorite weight is 240 lb - double thick. It feel similar to a paper coaster. Why would you consider going this thick? Maybe you have your eye on a letterpress invitation but it just isn't in the budget, or you want a lot of bells and whistles, but need to cut costs somewhere. This heavier weight stock is going to make your invitation feel luxurious, even if you don't have a luxury budget. It's a small thing, but think about how it feels to hold an invitation - the thicker it feels the more high end it feels, and pro tip - it's not a huge expense to upgrade on.
You would also consider using a 240 lb weight if you are using letterpress or foil - designs that are pressed into the paper. You'll get a really amazing impression on that thicker paper that is to die for!
To start - paper comes in either matte or shimmery. That's not a texture per say, but it's the first choice you need to make.
I've found that there is no perfect generalization for which is right for you, it's more of a personal preference. I have used matte and shimmery for everything from formal to rustic.
Beyond that though some common textures are:
Most common type of paper, very smooth to the touch
ideal for - any design, works really well for using a lot of color
Linen has a light, woven texture that looks and feels like linen
ideal for - great for sophisticated invitations, really lovely to touch
not ideal for - large blocks of color
Eggshell paper is softer and luxurious with a thick feel and a drywall like texture
ideal for - really elegant and formal, adds a subtle texture to your design
not ideal for - large blocks of color
Vellum is an opaque, text weight paper
ideal for - fantastic to layer on top of a design or wrap around as a folder closed with a ribbon or wax seal
Duplexed papers are two sheets of paper that glued together.
ideal for - they can give you a really unique look to your design - a bold floral pattern on the outside of your pocket, but a solid inside. Or go with a more subtle choice - shimmery silver on the outside and matte gray on the inside!
Cotton papers are soft and buttery and they just FEEL like a luxury item. They tear nicely if you have your eyes on the torn edge look - you'll get that lovely feathery design.
Ideal for - letterpress printing, go with a thicker paper to really enhance the texture!
Handmade paper is the cream of the crop. It's an artisan craft and comes in some really lovely colors. It has feathery edges for a deckled look because it's actually coming straight from a paper making frame. It's soft and fibrous and comes in a lot of great earthy colors.
ideal for - super luxurious, very artisanal, great for hand deckled designs. Designs will need to be letterpressed or foil, this paper is not suitable for digital printing
Glitter and Foil
These are great for adding glam to your design! Most come in silver, gold or rose gold. The glitter I use has either a coarse or fine grade glitter and it is absolutely no shed. I love it.
ideal for - designs that want to add a glam punch to your design
Layering with texture
I love to use these different textures to add depth to my invite designs. Think of it like getting dressed - you wouldn't want to wear a velvet shirt, velvet pants and velvet shoes all together at once right? You would want to pair velvet pants with a smooth white shirt with a pop of glam in a statement necklace to balance it all out right?
Paper design uses the same concepts. I love to mix and match shimmery and matte to create balance. Add in just a pop of glam with a glitter layer or belly band. I love to take a classic, white invitation and add some personality with a hunter green envelope with crisp, white ink.
There are SO MANY colors of paper out there. You can keep it clean and simple with just white and ivory. You can add just some subtle color with a lightly colored envelope. You can go all out and use big and bold colors with white ink on the darker ones.
Why does color matter?
The colors you use are going to set the tone for your wedding. Say your wedding is using berry colors, pinks, burgundy, rose gold and neutral tones - you can do a lot.
- If you are having a fall wedding you might want to make your invitations more burgundy overall.
- If you are having a summer wedding that is light and romantic, you might want more nudes and pinks with just small accents in darker pinks.
- If your wedding is all glam - a rose gold glitter would stand out really well against burgundy for some real drama.
- If your wedding is black tie, be chic and sophisticated with white letterpress paper and a rich, crisp burgundy letterpress.
How to use colorI'm a big fan of a monochromatic look - it's so elegant and sophisticated. Remember the rule of 3s - the eye likes odd numbers. The most eye catching designs will use 3 colors. I recommend white or ivory plus 2 colors that are in the same color family like this design.
How do you even decide?
What else can I tell you about paper? I've talked a lot today about feeling paper and seeing the colors. How do you do that working with an online invitation designer? You ask her for samples :)
I can't put together a custom invitation in your specific colors, but I can send out small, 2x3" swatches in the colors you are using so that you can play with them like paint chips until you find the right combination for you. If I happen to have extra envelopes or pockets in the colors you're looking for, I'll throw that in your packet too!
I recommend ordering a sample invitation of your favorite invitation and then let me know what colors you are using so I can include swatches! That way you can see a finished design and get a feel for the overall product and then play with the color swatches to get it just right.
Tagged: Paper Tips