Traditional invitations, at least in America and most of Europe, have always been white or ivory paper printed with black ink, and always engraved or embossed. (You should see an expensive Indian invitation, though – they’re delivered in boxes and include some remarkable things!)
Brides often still want the elegance and formality of the traditional invitation, but many others want something a little, or a lot, different.
Remember, the invitation is the first thing the guest sees for the wedding. It sets the tone of your big day, and gives the guest a clue as to whether the wedding is formal, semiformal, or casual.
Anatomy Of A Wedding Invitation
Wedding invitations traditionally include:
- The outer envelope or mailing envelope
- Reception card
- RSVP card for invitation and reception
- An inner envelope to mail back the RSVP card
- Map, driving directions, and important phone numbers; also information on where to stay while in town for the wedding.
Some more elaborate invitations also include an engraved card and a second inner envelope to hold the invitation – bringing the envelope total to three. Do you need all this?
It’s up to you. In a very casual small wedding, just an email can be sufficient; in the aforementioned Indian invitation, a hard wood box contained all the above material in brilliant red in a cloth-lined pocket, along with photos of the bride and groom under rice paper, stationery, and even a pen! To cap it off, when you opened the box by untying a red ribbon, it played Indian wedding music.
Wedding Invitation Types
There are several types or styles of wedding invitation you can send your guests…
Engraved or embossed: This type of wedding invitation involves stamping the card in a mold to leave an indentation or imprint. Engraved invitations take the longest to prepare; six weeks or so should be allowed after you approve the design and content. They are required for the most formal weddings.
Thermographed: These wedding invitations are printed with the same process used to create raised lettering on business cards. These are somewhat less formal than engraved, yet still elegant. You can print in colors besides black.
Calligraphed: These handwritten wedding invitations look old fashioned and elegant, but also take quite a while. You should never try to do this if you’ve never done calligraphy; it takes a special flair, and the ink smears easily.
Hand Colored or Personalized: Making your own wedding invitations is a new trend, adding a personal touch to your special day. For my brother’s wedding, I helped him print out rose-based invitations that opened like double doors in the middle; the doors were tied with a ribbon matching his wedding colors and the whole card was delicately edged with shimmering gold paint, like old-fashioned books. Creativity and your personality will dictate how your personalized cards look.
Boxed set wedding invitations: These pre-prepared invitations can have personalized messages printed on them by inkjet or laser printer; with the proper equipment, you can even print in metallic leaf with a laser printer. These sets are fast, easy to use, and can be a perfect choice.
Addressing Wedding Invitation Envelopes
It’s not considered proper to use labels on your envelopes, but you do have a choice between the cramping of hand-lettering envelopes yourself, the expense of hiring a professional calligrapher to do it for you, or using calligraphic fonts on your computer to print all the addresses for you.
The most critical thing, though, is having all the correct information. The most beautiful wedding invitation in the world is worthless if it goes astray.