Save or splurge! Letterpress invites

Categories   Wedding Inspiration

We’d like to take some time this morning to revisit our ‘Save or Splurge‘ column by giving you all a few tips on letterpress printing. While it’s such a beautiful technique, it can sometimes be disheartening to find out the cost behind its beauty. We’ve asked an expert in this area, Suann of Simplesong Design, to weigh in on how she helps guide her clients through the process of creating an invite that’s unique and cost-effective.

letterpress printing techniques

General letterpress info: what it is, the charm of it, etc.
Letterpress is the oldest method of printing and all “modern-day” letterpress printing is still printed on antique presses. Letterpress printing is an art as much as it is a technique; and it’s certainly a labor of love. It’s an extremely manual process from mixing the ink by hand to setting up the press, one color at a time, to individually fed paper. But the end result is something so lovely that you can not only see but feel!

If clients have a lower budget but want letterpress, what options do you give them? How can they get the most bang for their buck? What are alternate techniques you offer in conjunction or instead of letterpress?
Because of its involved process, letterpress can be expensive and is priced by the number of colors in your design. The easiest way to keep costs down is to keep the number of colors down. And in our opinion, letterpress is best with 1 to 2 colors—let the printing speak for itself. Some other easy but cost-effective ways to add impact is to print on colored paper. But one thing to know is that letterpress ink is translucent by nature. So, printing a light color on a dark paper stock is usually not possible. You could also use a colored envelope for the RSVP card, use fun custom or vintage postage, or create an envelope liner.

Or, incorporate creative, personal touches into the design. Here we added a fabric pouch to hold the 1-color invitation. We’ve also mimicked a classified ad for this save the date and used painter’s tape to affix it to another piece of paper. Simple but memorable touches.

letterpress printing ideas

Things worth splurging on:
If you’re going to the extent of letterpress printing, splurge on paper that lends itself to letterpress printing. Letterpress printing almost always looks lovely but it’s even lovelier when printed on extra thick 100% cotton or bamboo paper. It makes that much more of an statement when your guests receive their invitation. A couple of good places to research and/or buy letterpress paper is and Keldon Paper.

Not related to letterpress printing, but part of the overall package. Splurge on calligraphy. Add that final touch and have your addresses calligraphed. Work with your calligrapher to select a style and ink that complements your invitation. And if you’re going to work with a calligrapher, be sure to order extra envelopes! Most calligraphers require 15% to 20% extra envelopes for “just in case”

letterpress printing techniques

What are things your clients can do on their own to help save them cost? Can you list some resources/tips that you give your clients?
Instead of having your address letterpress printed or calligraphed, get a rubber stamp made. There are lots of custom stamp options available on Etsy including, Meant to BeNote Trunk, and LetterGirl.

Line your envelopes using a nice matte wrapping paper. We love the patterns from SmockInk and Wit, and Avie Designs to name a few.

If you’re supplying your own envelopes, a few good envelopes resources include: Paper PresentationPaper SourceHeinrich Envelope, and

stamp envelope

Thanks for all of your helpful advice, Suann!

{photo credits: kate headley photography, I Can Totally Market That, Simplesong, Alyson Brown, frolic}

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Candace {} on Aug 16, 2011

Great post! So many great tips!

Kristen S on Aug 16, 2011

I loved letterpress so much, that I took a course with a local letterpress studio, then designed and rented studio time to print my own invitations. All told, we had 5 days of printing, and about 80 hours of designing, cutting, assembling, making envelope liners, and addressing all inner and outer envelopes. It was worth it in the end, as I had my letterpress invites, but it was SOOOOO much work! If I had to do it over again, I might have splurged instead of saving!

suann | simplesong on Aug 16, 2011

Thanks for letting me share tips today, ladies!

Christine Nichole on Aug 16, 2011

Where can I find the website to order the lovely address stamper? Thank you!

Holly Schoenke, Simply Sweet Weddings on Aug 17, 2011

I love that rubber stamp! Such a good idea

Danielle on Aug 17, 2011

I just wanted to drop in my 2 cents: Besides from photographs, our invites are the one thing that we have retained from our wedding. We continue to get compliments about them, and while we definitely splurged - in the long run, I feel like it was totally worth it! We asked for the copper plates and had them framed up! I know it's easy to say: just spend more money!!! But I was shocked at how many people kept them, and how much I enjoy seeing our invite on our wall. (We had the image blown up and made into a poster) :) yay Letterpress!!!

Amanda Champness on Aug 17, 2011

I love letterpress. I have used it alot in my own Art work and so with my wedding coming up I thought it was the prefect reason to invest in a press. We now have nearly everything we need and have spent over £200. But I still think it will all be worth it in the end. Plus I'm not including it in the wedding budget as I'll be making all my future work on it. Loved your post! And wanted to ask about your comment about printing light on dark. Would printing white on brown paper work? Or would it need to be black? Don't want to spend £20 on white ink if it doesn't look good!

Angela Dal Bon Sacramento Invitations on Aug 17, 2011

Letterpress is absolutely luscious! I agree that thick cotton paper makes it even better. I really like the fabric pocket on the invite.

JennyAnn Wheeler on Aug 18, 2011

the stamp in the picture is made by the amazing ladies at Primele. They have a blog and an Etsy here: I purchased a return stamp just like the one pictured, and I LOVE it to bits! :)

Sally @ ourdreamlives on Aug 24, 2011

I'm not planning a wedding any time soon... but these are still great letterpress tips! I really hope I'll be able to give it a go one day soon!

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