Before you get your heart set on any one invitation style lets talk about the six most commonly used printing methods for wedding invitations. Determine which is the best fit based on your needs by answering the follow questions:
- How many invitations/pieces do you need?
- When do you need them in hand?
- What is your mail-by date?
- Which print styles are available?
- What is your budget?
The 6 Most Common Printing Methods for Wedding Invitations
Method No. 1 | Digital Press
Digital printers spray the ink onto the paper rather than imprint it. As a result, digital images tend to have a flat, one-dimensional appearance, but the rich colors more than makeup for the difference.
This printing method is best for reproducing color and black-and-white photographs on your cards, announcements, and invitations. No other printing method can match the crisp look and true color match that digital printing provides.
This method also has the fastest turnaround and is the most affordable.
- Paper Weights: 80lb to 110lb text and cover
- Textures: smooth or lightly textured (like linen or felt)
- Turnaround Time: 7 to 10 work days from final proof approval
- Costs start at $300
Method No. 2 | Offset Printing
Offset is similar to digital, but the quality is higher and slightly more expensive. Offset printing uses a rubber stamp-like cylinder to press the ink onto the paper.
This printing method is used more for save-the-dates, as it’s less formal. Unlike digital printing, requires a custom plate and the ink is premixed beforehand.
This method adds a few extra days to the process and requires a minimum of 100 prints per plate. The designs and lettering are more vibrant than digital, plus you have free rein with your color and paper choices.
- Paper Weights: 80lb to 100lb text and cover
- Turnaround Time: 10-14 days from final proof approval
- Costs range from $700 – $1200
Method No. 3 | Thermography
Thermography involves adding a resinous powder to the printing ink, which becomes slightly raised when heat is applied.
This method requires a die for each piece/color and a minimum of 100 prints per die. This method is the best fit for a single-color design with mostly lettering and clean line graphics.
- Paper Weights: 80lb, 100lb, 110lb, 140lb cover
- Turnaround Time: 6+ weeks from final proof approval
- Costs range from $500 – $700
Screen Printing | Method No. 4
Screen printing involves creating a stencil of an image on a screen of porous mesh traditionally made of silk. Then a squeegee is used to pull paint-like ink over the stencil, forcing it through the mesh onto the paper. Most commonly used for printing t-shirts.
Unlike in other methods, screen printing ink sits right on the surface, resulting in rich, vibrant colors. You can screen print almost any flat surface; paper, chipboard, fabrics, wood, leather, and metal… opening up so many creative possibilities for your invitation and day-of-event stationery.
This method requires a screen for each piece/color and a minimum of 100 prints per screen and is best for 1-4 color designs with lettering and graphics.
- Paper Weights: 80lb to 140lb text and cover
- Turnaround Time: 4+ weeks from final proof approval
- Costs range from $400 – $1200
Method No.5 | Letterpress
Letterpress involves setting type and motifs in reverse on a letterpress plate. The plate is inked and then pressed onto the surface of the paper. This pressing process transfers the ink and leaves a deep impression creating a three-dimensional print that has a feel unlike any other type of printing.
This method requires a plate for each color and a minimum of 100 prints per plate and is best for 1-2 colors with mostly lettering and silhouette style graphic motifs. You can also have the paper pressed without color to leave a ghost impression in the paper.
Letterpress requires high quality and generally heavier-weight paper that will not tear or thin when pressed. 100% cotton CRANE’S LETTRA® Papers feel like fabric and look like hand-made paper.
- Paper Weights: 110lb cover to 220lb cover
- Turnaround Time: 8+ weeks from final proof approval
- Costs range from $500 – $1500
Method No.6 | Foil Stamping
Foil Stamping is similar to letterpress in that the color is applied using pressure. The dies are heated and then stamped to seal a thin layer of foil to the paper. This method is great for a secondary print element like a border or monogram. OR add a touch of sparkle to your invitations by highlighting your names or even a design element like a flower.
This method requires a plate for each piece/color and a minimum of 100 prints per plate.
- Paper Weights: 80lb to 140lb cover with a smooth surface
- Turnaround Time: 4-6 weeks from final proof approval
- Costs range from $100 – $250
So, which printing method do you think best fits for your invitations? Leave your comments below.
Now that you have chosen the printing method, the next step is to pick out the paper your invitation will be printed on. Check out my post on paper types.
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