Printing Process and Your Wedding Invitations: What You Should Know
by Laura Collins
"Professional laser printing" is not professional. Inkjet and laser printing are not archival and are substandard for any special event invitation. Additionally, there is no such thing as "laser" or "computer" calligraphy. Calligraphy, by definition, is always done by hand. Laser calligraphy is merely printing your envelopes via computer, which is considered to be a major breach of invitation etiquette. Your own handwriting is much preferable (no matter how "bad") to computer printing. Be sure to ask your invitation designer specific details regarding your printing. Printing methods can make or break an invitation! The following is a list of acceptable printing methods:
Until relatively recently, "engraving" was a must for any invitation of distinction. The process begins with producing a brass plate into which the text is engraved. Ink is then pushed into the engraved parts of the plate. The plate is then impressed upon the paper stock, resulting in a raised lettering from the ink. The cost can run anywhere from 300-400 per item. Engraving is the only method that works when wanting to print light color on dark stock.
"Letterpress" originated with a machine that used individual lead type letters to make up the print copy and is impressed upon the paper. These days, letterpress has kept up with technological advancements and individual type is no longer needed. Like engraving, a steel plate is made, but the areas to print are raised, rather than depressed. These raised areas are coated with ink and then impressed upon paper. Letterpress is our choice upgrade for most printing options and is about 30% - 50% less expensive than engraving.
With "offset lithography", the inked image is transferred (or "offset") from a plate first to a rubber blanket, then to the printing surface. When used in combination with the lithographic process, which is based on the repulsion of oil and water, the offset technique employs a flat (planographic) image carrier on which the image to be printed obtains ink from ink rollers, while the non-printing area attracts a film of water, keeping the nonprinting areas ink-free. Offset printing is not a raised print.
Thermography uses a paper plate to which ink is first applied and then thermography powder (similar to embossing powders) is applied after that. The piece is then "baked", resulting in a raised, glossy finish. Thermography is a cost effective way of achieving a similar look to engraving, however it does have limitations in some instances.
Our calligrapher can make a "master" of your invitation and we can reproduce it using offset thermography to the extent that you cannot tell the difference between master and reproduction. Masters are between $225 and up, depending on how detailed and how much embellishment there is. Please be advised, metallic gold or silver cannot be reproduced without a second print process of hot foil stamping.
Custom colors are determined by use of a PMS book (Pantone Matching System). This enables professional printers to print colors according to a standard. Once you pick your PMS color, then any printer will be able to reproduce it accurately. There are thousands of custom colors to choose from and one is guaranteed to match your needs.