It is important to understand your options when it comes to printing, because this is usually where money and turn-around time become significant issues. So here is a brief review of the different methods of printing used for invitations.
Engraving is the most traditional printing method; it was introduced in the 1600’s in monastic schools. The printing process involves etching the lettering and imagery into a metal die, inking the etched depressions, and then pressing the paper against the die.
The result is that the text and images are raised on the printed side of the paper and indented on the opposite side. Engraving is used primarily on traditional, formal invitations. It provides sharp, intricate lettering that has a three-dimensional quality, but it is a costly process, and often requires a long turn-around time.
Another classic printing method called letterpress was on the verge of extinction before recently enjoying a renaissance in popularity, especially among boutique stationers. Letterpress can be considered to be the opposite of engraving, in that the lettering on printing plate is raised, which creates indentations in the paper during the printing process. Letterpressing is especially suited for luxurious handmade papers.
Image from Peculiar Pair Press
Thermography remains a popular printing technique for invitations. Thermographic printing feels similar to engraving, in that it produces raised lettering on the printed side of the paper. To create this lettering, the paper is first printed with standard ink, then the paper is dusted with a resinous powder and passed through a heating unit. The thermographic lettering is not quite as fine as what you get with engraving, but it is popular because the raised lettering gives the invitation an elegant look, but at a lower cost.
Lithography or offset printing is a possible option if you’re on a budget, as it is less expensive than thermography and faster to print. Lithography is basically a photographic printing method, where negatives are transferred to a thin metal plate which is wrapped around the cylinder of a sheet-fed press. The ink lies flat on the paper, but a virtually unlimited variety of colors can be selected.
Digital Printing now surpasses lithography as a low-price option in many circumstances, especially when the print quantities are relatively small. While the actual digital printing has a higher cost per page, there is an offsetting cost savings because there is no need to make printing plates. Digital printing also provides a short turn-around time.
No matter how you choose to express yourself, the invitation and save-the-date card should set the tone for your special event by giving guests a captivating preview of what’s to come. If you can create a sense of anticipation and excitement with your printed materials, you can be sure that everyone will have a fabulous time at your celebration.