When it comes to your wedding stationery, there are a lot of choices you can make. Between colors, patterns, and papers, the options can sometimes be overwhelming. Another decision you’ll ultimately be faced with is which printing technique to use. There are many different options and the best choice for you will depend largely on the look you’re going for and the budget you want to stay with. Use this “Printing 101” guide to help you sort out what all those techniques even mean and pick the look that’s right for you.
Digital printing is the most cost effective type of printing technique and is similar to printing you might do at home (with the exception that stationery printers can produce sharper colors and images without the potential for smudging). Digital printing has enabled full-color printing on card stocks, papers and envelopes at a lower cost and quicker turnaround as there are no plates required or expensive set up fees to accomplish this type of printing.
White Ink Printing
White Ink is one of my favorite looks and is impossible to achieve on a standard in-home printer. It’s been used a lot more recently as it lends itself to more rustic type invitations and complement them well. This digital option offers a great way to highlight white text and graphics on dark pigmented stocks. Although more cost effective than foil stamping with white matte foil, digital white printing is less opaque, so choosing the right card stock is important.
Digital Metallic Gold & Silver Printing
Another one of my favorite techniques, digital gold or silver printing is a great alternative to foil stamp printing if you’re looking to keep costs down. In this process, metallic gold or silver toner is fused to the surface of card stocks and papers with heat. This digital option offers a great way to highlight metallic gold or silver text and graphics on dark pigmented stocks.
For you crafters out there love the look created with your embossing powders and heat guns, you’ll love thermography as well (since this is probably what you’re actually doing with that heat gun and powders anyway). Thermography is a print process that relies on heat to create raised ink, resulting in an elegant, tactile effect. In this process, a resin powder is applied to the paper, adhering to the ink. After removing the excess powder, the printed piece is heated and the mixture of powder and ink dries, forming the raised effect. Most colors are printed with colored ink and then a clear thermography powder is added. Specifically for gold and silver thermography, it is printed in gold or silver ink and then gold or silver powder is added. This process is a cost-effective way to achieve the look of texture without the added costs of plate-making.
Letterpress is probably one of the most expensive printing techniques around but also one that creates the most sophisticated and classical looking invitations. Letterpress printing is a technique of relief printing using a printing press. The letters are indented on the front and slightly raised on the back of the invite. Custom dies are positioned into the bed of the press and inked, then paper is pressed against it to transfer the ink, creating an elegant, tactile effect. With letterpress, you’ll be limited to the type of paper you can use, as it only works well on heavier card stocks. It’s a wonderful choice for highlighting fine details, but the more ink colors that are used the more costly this process can be, as unique dies are required per color.
Embossing & Debossing
These techniques are great for creating unique looks! Embossing alters the surface of the paper stock by providing a three-dimensional or raised effect on selected areas. The procedure requires the use of two dies: one that is raised and one that is recessed. The dies fit into each other so that when the paper is pressed between them, the raised die forces the stock into the recessed die and creates the embossed impression. A specific level of pressure is applied to the dies in order to squeeze the fibers of the paper, which results in a permanently raised area in the paper. Debossing is similar to embossing, but recesses the design rather than raising it. Rather than the paper being raised in specific areas, it is indented. Although it is not as common as embossing, it is occasionally used to provide a different effect or appearance that fits a particular theme.
Foil Stamp Printing
Foil stamping is also a pricey option for invitations but creates a beautiful look. With foil stamping the application of pigment or metallic foil, often gold, silver or white, to paper where a heated die is stamped onto the foil, making it adhere to the surface leaving the design of the die on the paper. This process is a popular choice for wedding invitations as it can significantly elevate the formality of a piece.
It’s important to think about what look you’re trying to convey through your wedding invitations and pick the printing technique that fits best with that look and your budget! But keep in mind that while printing techniques can alter the look of your invitations, if you have a good stationer, you’ll be able to create the invitation that’s perfect for you regardless of technique you use.