You just got engaged. You are on cloud nine. You called your parents, texted your friends, posted your engagement photos of you and your new ring on Instagram. The next step will be to tell everyone else and that will most likely happen by mailing save the date cards first and the actual wedding invitation later.

Many couples choose fun, whimsical, unorthodox save the dates, even if their wedding is very formal. Rules for savethe dates are more relaxed and allow more room for creative expression.

Wedding invitations typically are expected to represent your wedding, so the more formal the wedding, the more formal and traditional the invitation.

Below see listed from most affordable to least affordable techniques used for invitation printing.

Digitally printed

Probably the most popular type of invitations, are also the most eco-friendly when it comes to the amount of paper being used for printing. Since the process is pretty straightforward (you send the file to the printer and the file prints as intended) it has less trial and error printing that can result in unnecessary paper waste, that is so prevalent in the other printing techniques. New digital printers are also very accurate in producing rich vibrant colors and printing light colors on dark backgrounds. Nowadays, there’s also a much bigger selection of digital papers being offered and one can choose from many novelty and luxury papers that were previously only available for higher-end print techniques.

There is a limit however to how thick the invitation can be since the paper is being fed through the machine, but many paper manufacturers offer double thick stock that is compatible with digital printers.

If you are looking for even heavier stock, you can choose duplexing, meaning gluing two pieces of digital paper together after the top piece has been digitally printed. If you really want to splurge, you can ‘edge’ the sides of your duplexed invitation with metallic ink or duplex it with a textured, novelty backing.

Thermography vs. Engraving

If you like the feel of raised printing that digital printing simply can not offer, you have the option of thermography or a more expensive engraving. Thermography combines offset printing ink with a powdered resin which is baked so that the

resin rises to give the ink a raised, textured effect. The invitation is first offset printed with a slow drying ink. Next, the printed sheets get dusted with powdered resin, the areas with wet ink soak in the resin, while the excess is vacuumed off. Heat is then applied which melts the resin to form a raised print.

Engraving technique utilizes copper plates that get etched with the invitation’s design. Ink paste is applied to the plate and then the plate is pressed into the paper in effect transferring the ink from the plate to the invitation.

The telltale sign of the thermography printed invitation vs. engraved invitation is on the back of the invitation card. An engraved invitation will have indentations from the copper plates being pressed into the paper, while the thermography printed card will appear flat on the back since no plates were used to deposit the ink.


Letterpress printing was the primary technique of printing since its invention by Johannes Gutenberg in the mid-15th century and remained in wide use until offset printing was developed. This method is very labor-intensive, hence costly. Each color has to be pressed separately and requires a paper of a particular thickness and quality so the pressed design registers well.

Next time when you meet with your family to discuss your wedding invitations, you can charm them with your knowledge of printing techniques and be ready to explain why you are choosing a specific type of invitation.