In Part 1 of our wedding invitation series, I talked about the design process and how all the major elements came together. In this post, I’ll go through how we selected the paper and the process of choosing a printer for our letterpress invitations.
Before I can go into the paper types and letterpress printing, I have to touch on our color palette since it dictates the design decisions.
Since I wanted to a romantic theme, I was drawn to softer colors. When thinking romantic, people often gravitate towards blushes and ivories and although I love shades of pink, I wanted to avoid them as the main color of the wedding (to which the Frenchman agreed). Also, many of the surfaces at the wedding venue were ivory hues, so I wanted a color that would contrast yet complement. Which led us to a soft French blue color, with gray as its counterpart.
I did bring in the blushes and ivories in the florals and the wedding attire and the midnight blue included below is the color of the men’s suits. To add a bit of contrast, we also included touches of gold accents where we could.
Going back to the invitations… to keep the simple elegance that I wanted, I opted for a off-white paper with gray text. I planned to bring in some of the colors from our palette with a french blue invitation band and a gold wax seal (more on these details in a later post).
Choosing the Paper
Since I’m such a stationary geek, I wanted to choose the paper and envelope options. And I wanted to see (and feel!) them in person. I turned to the best local paper store in Los Angeles – McManus & Morgan. This place is a no frills paper shop. Gary is so knowledgable about all things paper and talked me through the best options for what I was looking for.
I showed him our invitation design and a few of the inspiration photos and based on this, he saw that I liked the look of soft textured paper, especially the cotton texture that is found in letterpress invitations. Most letterpress paper is uncoated (no shine or gloss) and when deciding on letterpress printing, you want a paper that is thick enough to capture the impression of the press. With a fluffy 100% cotton paper, the press leaves a soft impression which feels a little more romantic versus a tighter weave paper (with less cotton content) that would leave a sharper impression, which would feel a little more modern.
At this point, I was unsure of splurging for letterpress and was also looking at digital printing, which would be a less expensive alternative. Even with digital printing, I still wanted to have thick, textured paper. He suggested a beautiful 100% cotton Savoy by Reich Paper in Natural – which works for both letterpress and digital printing.
The thickness and sturdiness of paper is also known as paperweight (but it is not the actual weight of the paper). It can be very confusing and there are several resources online to help explain paperweight if you want to know more. Since I was able to see and feel the paper, Gary suggested a cover paper which is typically heavier and thicker, perfect for invitations (think of cardstock). For the Savoy, he suggested a cover at a weight of 118#. He also provided me a sample of the 184# (much thicker) which I loved, but was much more expensive and I thought the 118# was a perfect thickness and a compromise on paying for letterpress printing.
If you don’t have access to a local paper store, many of the major paper companies provide swatch books that you can order online. The swatch books generally provide you with the different color options and paperweights.
Ordering the Paper
When ordering the paper for your printer, you’ll need to think about the size of your invitations and how many will fit in a sheet. The printer will typically cut the invitations to size. If you opt for a local printer, you can provide your own paper (although they can also provide it for you). Our main invite was 5″ x 7″ with the map insert at 4.5″ x 6.25″.
If you do decided to buy your own paper, you’ll have different sheet sizes to choose from. The sheet size can come in various sizes, including 8.5″x11″, 20″x26″, 22″x30″, and more and come in packs of 5, 50 or 100. If you don’t have access to a local paper shop, there are several online retailers. Boxcar Press has great resources on different types of paper and where to buy them.
When deciding on the paper and printing, I really, really, really, wanted letterpressed invitations. I love letterpress so much, I even took classes a few years ago and considered the ways I could get my hands on my own letterpress machine.
Letterpress is so lovely, but of course, because of this it comes at a higher cost. There are few opportunities in your life to opt for letterpress invitations, and your wedding is one of them. So although it was a pricey option, I splurged in the end because the paper and printing meant a lot to me personally.
Because we had the digital files already made, I obtained estimates from several different printers across the country. The majority of printers will provide their own paper and while obtaining quotes, I found that most of the ones did not carry the paper that I had chosen, Savoy. As an alternative, many of them suggested Crane’s Lettra line. For the Savoy Natural 118# paper they suggested Lettra Cover Pearl White 110#.
I ended up choosing Mercurio Brothers (based in my alma mater of Berkeley, California). I loved that they were a small family operation that had been in business since 1946. They had great reviews and they were quick with their communication. Their website also has a handy printing calculator so you can get an initial estimate cost of your print order.
Choosing the Envelopes
Once I decided on the paper, it was easy to select the envelopes since most paper options come with matching envelope options. Originally, I wanted a colored envelope (in either gray or French blue), but quickly decided against this since it would be difficult for me to do my faux calligraphy (more on this in the next post in this series). Since I didn’t plan on letterpressing our envelopes, I ended up purchasing matching off-white envelopes online.
In Part 3 of our wedding invitation series I’ll share how I addressed the envelopes with DIY calligraphy.