Personalized Wedding Invitations

The printing technology to personalize wedding invitations

When you are choosing invitations for your wedding, you want something that says “this is who we are” not “we’re just like every other couple who has ever been married.” One of the easiest ways to personalize your invitations and to make them your own is through the type of printing you choose.

Many couples don’t realize how many options are available or which ones would be the best choice for them. Let’s look at a some of your options, as well as their pros and cons.

offset printerLithography

Lithography is a fairly old form of printing. It was actually developed near the end of the 18th century by an actor and playwright known as Johann Alois Senefelder. With lithography, a reversed image or message is created, usually on a plate made of aluminum or plastic. Then it’s covered in combination of chemicals, known as an emulsion, and exposed to light. This causes the image to be transferred to the paper.

Because the printing itself has no texture, this method is often known as flat ink.

Lithography Pros:

Affordable – Because lithography is one of the easiest printing methods available, it is also the least expensive.

Versatile – While some printing techniques won’t work well on certain types of paper for wedding, lithography can be used with almost any smooth surface.

Lithography Cons:

Common – For both of the reasons above, lithography is a very common printing technique for wedding invitations. That means the rest may not be as unique as you’d hoped for.


While lithography is an older process, thermography can be credited with popularizing the modern wedding invitation after World War II. However, thermography had been used prior to that period in small ways. There is some confusion about who invented this process and when it was first used – the oldest dates seem to be the mid 1800’s.

With thermography, an invitation is first printed. Then while the ink is still wet, a resin-like chemical is applied over the ink. The invitation is heated so the wet ink and the resin combine. As a result, the printed text appears raised while the paper behind it looks smooth.

Thermography Pros

Fast – If you wanted this same look without thermography, you’d end up having to order your wedding invitations much earlier because it would take at least five weeks to create them.

Less Expensive – While not exactly cheap, thermography is much more affordable than engraving. In fact, you’ll save about 70% if you choose thermography, and you’ll end up with a very similar appearance.

Thermography Cons

Ink and Paper Limitations – Because of the heating involved with thermography, not just any ink and paper will work. You’ll need to contact your stationer to make sure you are using the right combination – otherwise your invitations will not turn out as you had hoped.

Popularity – Of all the print methods for wedding invitations, thermography has become the most popular. Mostly because it looks expensive without costing a fortune. If you’re wanting something that makes your invitations look special, then this may not be the option for you.

printing technologyEngraving

Engraving is by far the oldest form of printing around. While the engraving process we’re concerned with dates back to the 1600’s, some engraving was being done by hand many centuries earlier. First, an engraver must carve the image or message into a plate, usually made of copper. The image/message is reversed so that it will appear normal on the invitation. After the plate is carved, the paper is placed on an inked plate. The engraved copper plate is then pushed down onto the paper. This method creates the standard look of engraved invitations – the raised lettering on the paper.

Engraving Pros

Special – Because of the costs associated with engraving, not many couples can afford to have their wedding invitations engraved. That means it’s going to be something special.

Good for Large Affairs – While engraving is pricey, if you are having a very large wedding with lots of guests, it might become a cost-effective option since the more you print the more affordable it becomes.

Engraving Cons

Price – Cost is definitely an issue with engraving. At two to three times the cost of thermography, it simply isn’t the best value for couples unless they are working with a sizable budget.

Time – Because of everything that is involved in engraving, creating invitations using this method is more time-consuming. You’ll end up waiting at least four to five weeks, in most cases, for your invitations to be ready.


Calligraphy is one of the oldest methods of creating wedding invitations. After couples first began announcing their weddings in writing, monks would write their invitations by hand in fancy script. Basically, that’s what calligraphy is – fancy writing. If you want your invitations to be written in calligraphy, then you have two options. You can have your invitations written out by hand by a calligrapher or you can go to a printer who can create the look of calligraphy on printed invitations.

Hand-Written Calligraphy Pros

Unique – Nothing is as unique as hand-written invitations. Each one will be slightly different because it is written by hand.

Beautiful – Perhaps no other printing style is quite as beautiful to look at as calligraphy. It definitely adds something to the overall look of your invitations.

Printed Calligraphy Pros

Affordable – Printed calligraphy is more cost-effective than hand-written calligraphy and can be a good way for you to capture the look you want at an affordable price.

Beautiful – Even though it may not be as beautiful as hand-written calligraphy, the printed versions are a close second.

Hand-Written Calligraphy Cons

Cost – As you can imagine, hand-written calligraphy can cost a small fortune. To hire one individual to write all of your invitations by hand is no small feat, after all. It’s definitely beyond the budgets for most couples.

Time – If you want hand-written calligraphy, then start early. No single person can write up 100 or 200 invitations quickly and still do a good job.

Printed Calligraphy Cons

Limited Availability – While this option may be a good one for many couples, it’s not available through all printers. You may have to search around to find someone who can provide this service.

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