Here's to taking the mystery out of the printing process!

By Alyssa Brown
February 05, 2019

When you start working on your save-the-dates and invitations, it quickly becomes apparent that there are a number of options for printing styles. With the exception of their varying price differences, it's sometimes difficult to tell the difference between each. Here, we cover the most common printing techniques so you can decide which method best suits your needs and style.

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Letterpress

Letterpress is one of the most common techniques when it comes to invitation designs. It's formal, yet has a handmade quality that makes invitations feel unique. Originally developed as a book printing technique, this method presses ink into paper using plates. The resulting look is as though the letters have been indented into the paper. This method is very labor intensive (each color has to be pressed separately), and requires paper of a particular thickness and quality, so it tends to be more expensive and is often reserved for invitations only.

Foil

Foil stamping is a really neat process that involves no ink whatsoever. It works similarly to letterpress in that the paper is indented with text, but foil replaces ink and is heated for application with pressure. Most couples use this method if they want metallic elements on their invitations, or if they want a glossy print style. Foil can be difficult to read on smaller text or thin fonts, so you'll want to be selective when applying this technique.

Embossed

Embossing is a good method to use if you're printing something like a monogram or large-scale text. Blind embossing is an ink-free method that uses metal plates to stamp letters into the paper and create a raised-relief surface. It's unlikely that you'd use this as the sole printing method of an invitation, but you might opt to use it for a reply card, menu card, or thank-you note.

Engraved

Engraving is kind of like the opposite of letterpress, so that text is raised on the front and indented on the back. The way this effect is accomplished is by etching an invitation's design into a copper plate then inking the plate and pressing it into the paper. The finished product is rich with ink and reads as very formal, which is why it's often reserved for invitations.

Digital, Flat, and Offset Printing

Depending on the printer you're working with, they might choose to use a digital, flat, or offset printing style for your save-the-dates, invitation enclosures, or day-of paper materials. Digital printing is generally the most affordable option, using a simple process to transfer a digital image to paper. Offset printing produces a flat image much like digital printing, but may be more effective on certain paper types, and with more accurate color matching and vibrancy.

Laser-Cutting or Die-Cutting

Laser-cut and die-cut options usually enter the picture when you want to incorporate something that's really detailed and cut out to fit your design. Say, for example, your wedding is set to take place in Mexico and you'd like to have a customized invitation that looks like classic papel picado. To cut the paper precisely to your design, your invitation designer would use a laser-cut method.

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