In an effort to stop writing the same thing over and over again in emails to clients, I'm creating a blog series called "Invitation Information" with all the information brides and grooms typically need in order to make some of the biggest decisions about their wedding invitations. (Click here to see the infographic I made on invitation etiquette for the nontraditional bride).
Today, I'm focusing on paper, which can get SO much more complicated than what I'm going to cover here. For the purposes of this blog post, I'm sticking to the basics: the three types of card stocks I offer brides, and the difference between single-thick and double-thick invitations.
single thick vs. double-thick
Amazing advances in digital print technology have allowed certain printers to provide an amazing feature for digital invitations: double-thick card stock. In reality, they print the design on single-thick card stock, but they are able to glue or "mount" two pieces of paper together (with extreme precision) in order to double the thickness of the invitation. The result is an invitation that has the weight of letterpress, screen printing, or thermography, but the creative flexibility and cost-effectiveness of digital printing.
All Emily Rose Ink invitation suites feature a double-thick main invitation piece. It sets them apart from many other digitally printed invitations, which may be beautiful and customized, but still feel flimsy because they can only be printed on 110# paper. It also allows me to offer an invitation suite that feels just as expensive and fancy as more traditional letterpress or thermography invitations. However, because it does add a significant cost to the printing, I allow couples to choose between single and double-thick card stock for the rest of their invitation pieces. Many couples opt for double-thick reply cards or rehearsal dinner invitations, and then if they have additional components (like an information card, reception card, map, or accommodations card), they stick with single-thick for those.
PAPER FINISH: UNCOATED, FELT, & COTTON
There are so many different brands and finishes of paper (the finish refers to its texture and appearance; how the paper is "finished"), and there are distinct differences in feeling, style, and cost for each variation. After ordering hundreds of samples, I was able to narrow down my offerings to three distinctly different card stocks: uncoated, felt finish, and cotton.
UNCOATED CARD STOCK IS:
- smooth to the touch
- less fancy
Uncoated card stock is the most cost-effective option for invitations. It tends to be smooth to the touch, but it isn't glossy like travel postcards or promotional materials, which are usually "coated." Most standard Hallmark-type cards are printed on uncoated card stock, which is easy to write on. The thickness and brand of an uncoated paper can make a big difference in quality, as well. I typically opt for 110#-130# uncoated stock (# is one of a few ways of measuring the thickness or weight of paper), which is heftier than a typical greeting card. I make sure I am using professional printers whose machines can print on paper of this thickness (the machines at Kinkos, for example, would not be able to handle it, and many laser printers jam if you go above 100# stock). Because I am aware of the environmental impact of paper goods, I always opt for a recycled uncoated card stock when I can.
Felt finish is a personal favorite of mine because so many of my designs are hand-painted in watercolor, and it generally has the slightly bumpy texture of watercolor paper. I use felt finish paper for all of my greeting cards and art prints, but I don't always use it for wedding invitations for two reasons: first, it is more expensive than uncoated card stock (about 5-10 cents more per 5''x7'' invitation); and second, sometimes the bumpy texture can make text less legible, especially if the font is particularly small, skinny or light. However, if the watercolor element of the invitation design is something my clients want to highlight, I advise them to use a felt finish card stock. Its unique texture stands out to wedding guests who have received many run-of-the-mill invitations, and it highlights the custom watercolor artwork, Again, I opt to use a paper mill who makes recycled felt stock.
FELT FINISH CARD STOCK IS:
- very textured
- suited to highlight watercolor designs
- slightly more pricey
- occasionally an issue with fine text
COTTON CARD STOCK IS:
- luxurious and fancy
- slightly textured, soft to the touch
- more expensive
- the most eco-friendly option (it's made from cotton instead of trees!)
If I could print everything on cotton card stock, I would. It's hard to convey the luxurious texture of cotton paper through a mere photograph, but the best way to describe it is as almost having the feeling of fabric. To be honest, the average consumer probably wouldn't notice much of a difference between cotton and uncoated paper (shame on them!), but for the detail-oriented, cotton invitations--particularly in a thick stock--exude luxury and importance. Its soft composition lends cotton well to letterpress, so a double-thick cotton invitation has the elegant and expensive feel of a letterpress invite with the creative freedom afforded by digital printing. The slight texture of cotton paper is ideal for my watercolor designs, which I typically paint on a smooth watercolor paper that closely resembles cotton card stock. Of course, the additional cost of cotton stock (40 cents per 5''x7'' invitation) makes it a real luxury, but in my opinion, a luxury well worth it for couples who want to make a statement.
Well, there you have it. Hopefully this is helpful for those of you struggling to understand or discern between different paper options. By no means is this a comprehensive guide to paper options, but it's a start. Feel free to comment below with any questions or thoughts about paper and printing choices. If you're already married, I'd love to hear what you chose for your wedding invitations, and how you feel about that decision now!