What are the different printing techniques?

Letterpress: A printing technique of relief printing using a printing press.  The type is composed and locked into the bed of a press, inked, and pressed against paper to transfer the ink from the type, which creates an impression on the paper.  Letterpress printing was invented by Johannes Gutenberg in the mid-15th century and remained in wide use until the second half of the 20th century.  Letterpress printing has made a resurgence as a true artisanal form. 

Thermography:  A printing technique that results in a look similar to engraving, but does so more economically. First, the ink is printed on the sheet and a heat-sensitive polymer powder is spread on top. The excess is vacuumed from non-imaged and dry-ink areas, leaving residue only on the wet ink. Then the sheet is exposed to high heat, fusing the powder and ink together to create a raised effect. 

Engraving: A process in which the design is chemically etched onto a copper plate. The plate is coated with ink filling the spaces and then pressed onto paper, creating a raised effect on the paper. 

Flat Printing: A finished product where the ink is completely flat on the paper with a matte finish.  While flat printing is the most economical style, the results are still beautiful when paired with quality paper.


What are the different pieces in an invitation "suite" and why do I need them?

There are a variety of ways to put together your invitation suite, and it all depends on your budget and the formality of your event!

Necessary Items:

Outer Envelope: The outer envelope of your invitation suite is exactly what it sounds like – the outer envelope. This envelope is a non-negotiable (after all, how will your invitations make their way to your guests) and has the names and address of the guests on it, along with a return address and, of course, a stamp. The envelope should always be addressed with the utmost formality.

Invitation: The invitation is also non-negotiable, as it’s the entire focus! Your invitation should include all of the pertinent information. Any additional information (reception location, if it differs from the ceremony location, travel and accommodation information, etc.) should be included on additional enclosures.

RSVP Card: This portion of the invitation suite is generally a required piece (along with the RSVP envelope, below). This piece includes a line for the guest(s) to include their names, somewhere to denote whether they are attending or not and, generally, it also includes a place for the meal selection to be made (for plated dinners).  These days, some families are electing to collect RSVPs online, while others are opting to use their RSVP card to gather even more information about their guests, such as which songs they’d like to hear played at the reception, or to collect advice for the first year of their marriage.

RSVP Envelope: If you’ve elected to have an RSVP card, then an RSVP envelope is a necessity. Each envelope should be addressed to whoever is collecting the RSVPs, and should include a stamp so that your guests do not need to provide their own postage. The envelope only becomes unnecessary when the response card is a postcard (again, please include the return postage).

Optional Items:

Reception Card: If your wedding reception is being held at a venue other than where the ceremony is being held, you should include a Reception Card. This card will include information such as the location of the reception, the time it starts (including the time cocktail hour starts, if you are having one) and perhaps a small, unobtrusive line about attire.

Attire information is only included under very specific circumstances, such as if you are having a black tie affair. Any additional information about wardrobe considerations (such as a gentle reminder to not wear high heels for a wedding on the grass or beach) should be done through word of mouth, or utilizing the couples’ wedding website, if you have one.

Travel and Accommodations Card: In many cases, especially if there are a lot of guests traveling from out of town, or if you are having a destination wedding, it is nice to include a separate enclosure that contains information about pre-arranged hotel rates, the nearest airport, and perhaps travel directions from varying points. Some couples also elect to include information about popular tourists attractions in the area for guests that may find themselves with some extra time on their hands if they are arriving early, or departing after the festivities. This information can also be included in the wedding website, if you have one.

Wedding Website Card: Wedding websites are a great way to consolidate all of the information you guests will need. A wedding Website Card is a great alternative to the Travel and Accommodations Card.

Inner Envelope: The inner envelope is one of preference and formality. Typically, the inner envelope contains just the names (not the addresses) of the guests, in a less formal format. For example, while it outer envelope would read “Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Smith and Family,” the inner envelope would just have the names of each family member listed. The names could be listed in a number of formats (one name on each line, or the names of the parents on one line, with each child listed below), and is purely to assist the guests in knowing who, specifically, is invited. Additionally, while the Inner Envelope is “addressed” in a less formal way, the inclusion of an Inner Envelope is indicative of a more formal event.

Belly Band: Belly Bands are a decorative paper band that is wrapped around all pieces of the invitation suite and is a beautiful way to keep them neatly together during transit.

Enclosure Folder/Envelope: Enclosure Folders are a slightly new trend in wedding stationery. In these pieces, each item in the suite (invitation, RSVP Card, RSVP envelope, and additional information cards) is situated into their own space within the folder. Occasionally, the Invitation may be permanently affixed to one side of the folder, while the other pieces are put into slots on the opposite side. Like Belly Bands, these are a purely decorative feature.


When should I order my Save the Date announcements?

Typically, Save the Dates should be sent a minimum of six months prior to the wedding, so that out of town guests have time to make the necessary travel arrangements. In order to ensure that there is enough time for the pieces to be addressed and put into the mail, you should order them no later than eight months in advance.

If you have guests who will be traveling a long distance, or if you are planning a destination wedding, it may be prudent to send their Save the Date announcements a bit earlier than the others, so that guests have ample time to make any necessary flight reservations and hotel accommodations.


When should I order my wedding invitations?

Wedding invitations are typically mailed six to eight weeks prior to the event itself – erring on the earlier side if there are many guests traveling from out of town, or if you are planning a destination wedding. In this case, you should begin the design process with as much time as possible – preferably right after sending the Save the Dates, and should arrange to have the completed invitations in hand about four months prior to the big day. This will allow ample time for addressing each invitation and transit.

When you’re ready to put your invitations in the mail, be sure to take one completed invitation (with all pieces inside the envelope) to the post office to ensure you have the appropriate postage for each piece. The more enclosures you include, the heavier the envelope will be and the postage will increase. Postage will also differ for any pieces that are going out of the country, as well as any “irregularly” shaped envelopes, such as square envelopes. Postage is often a forgotten expense in planning your wedding budget! Don’t forget to include the postage on the RSVP card.


What is your recommended "in-hand" date for my invitations?

Your invitations should be “in-hand” absolutely no later than three and a half months (14 weeks) ahead of your wedding date. This will ensure ample time for addressing, and will also allow you enough time to address and correct any errors that may have been made in the printing process.

Remember, though, that if there are any adjustments to be made once you have signed off on your proofs (even if your printing has not necessarily begun) there may be additional charges, as the printer may need to create new plates, and new design work may need to be done.


How soon after my wedding should I send out my thank you notes?

While it's true that is never too late to say "thank you", it would be considered in good form to send your thank you notes within six to 12 months after the wedding.  Any later than 12 months would require a very creative note indeed (but it should still be sent)!  

Have more questions?  Please contact us at info@paperandpearl.com and we'll be happy to help!