The Questions You Never Thought You Would Have To Ask - Blog | Letter Press

March 6, 2015

The Questions You Never Thought You Would Have To Ask

There comes a moment for you as an engaged couple, after you have done the important things like choose your partner, fix a date and book a venue, when you realise you need to get your invitations printed – otherwise, who’s going to come to the wedding? And that is the moment you find yourself confronted with a bewildering lexicon of printer’s jargon, unholy words that nobody in their right mind would use – do you want fly cards? Should they be plate sunk? Hot-foiled or letterpressed, flat or raised? 330, 490 or 600gsm? Here at The Letter Press in Cirencester we are entering our 30th year of printing wedding stationery (which, by the way, is spelt with an ‘e’ – stationary isn’t going anywhere); and over the years we have got used to the sort of questions which most worry our prospective customers.

First of all, the different methods of printing, all of which have their own place and attraction. Humble Flat Print is just what it says it is, the most straight forward form of printing and also the cheapest. This is what you use for information sheets, table plans, place cards and reply cards; all areas where practical legibility and reasonable economy are your priorities. Save your money for the stationery which really matters, the wedding invitations and the invites to any evening party, the orders of service for the church and the menus which will enhance your place settings. Here you have a choice of the following methods of printing:

Raised Print


Raised print is also known as thermography, because it is by heating a resin on the surface of the wet ink that the type is raised. The resulting raised surface adds distinction to the job and is similar to the effect of engraving, widely regarded as the smartest form of printing but nowadays prohibitively expensive. For many peoplethe first thing they do when receiving an invitation is to run their finger over the print to see if it has been raised.

Letterpress Print

Time was that if you were a young letterpress apprentice, wet behind the ears and generally gormless, you would have been given an almighty bollocking if you printed with so much pressure that your type left a deep impression in the board; type, an alloy of lead, tin and antimony, had two distinct characteristics: it was soft, and it was expensive. Printing with so much pressure would wear out the type very quickly, as well as leading to an equally speedy exit from the printing trade.
Nowadays, however, we print from photopolymer blocks which are thrown away afterwards, so piling on the pressure presents no problems, making it possible to achieve a tactile and visual effect which is quite pleasing: the lettering digs into the board, which has been chosen for qualities of softness which best display the effect. So at The Letter Press we choose watercolour boards which we call “Impression Boards”, and we recommend that our customers choose these for their letterpress wedding invitations.


Hot-foil involves transferring a metallic pigment onto the board by means of heat and pressure; the metal block sits on a heated bed in the letterpress machine, reaching temperatures of about 130c; between the block and the board runs the foil (like kitchen foil), and the combination of heat and pressure transfers the pigment onto the board. In contrast to ink, the foil is a solid skin, which means we can use it to print onto dark coloured boards. Gold and silver are the most typical foil colours used, but there are many other colours, either gloss or matt, available. At The Letter Press we foil in white onto Colorplan Smoke board, which looks very striking and smart:

Our website,, shows many different examples of wedding stationery using the methods above. Typically people looking for wedding invitations spend a long time researching, with multiple repeated visits to the site before their order is placed. Whether or not you should just get on with it is dependent on when you feel you should send the invitations out, and this is another question we are often asked: how much time before the wedding should I send the invitations? Traditionally invitations were sent out six weeks before the event; but that was in the days when weddings were celebrated in rather grotty tents borrowed from the WI where you were served with triangles of bread coated with something generically termed “Meat Paste”. Weddings today are somewhat grander affairs than those of the post-war years of austerity, and having laid on a good show you do want to make sure you get the guests on your A-list. Eight weeks is now the standard time before the wedding that you send out the invites, more if your guests are coming from the jungles of New Guinea or some similarly far-flung place. So in that case, the next question: how long will the printing take? Well, it shouldn’t take a month, but it’s best to allow a month, so in other words, you should order your wedding invitations a full three months before the day: you don’t want to end up paying express charges to get your printing order pushed up to the front of the queue.

Another common question is how many invitations? You are inviting 120 people, for example; but at least 70% are married or in partnerships, so you probably could get away with 80 invitations. However you want to avoid at all costs having to go back to your printer to order 15 extra invitations because people on your A-list can’t come and you are now asking those on your B-list. As a very rough rule of thumb, therefore, you should order 80% of the number of people you are planning to cater for – so for 120 that is 96 invitations, for 150 guests 120 invitations, for 200, 160 invitations and so on. Getting guests to reply is also a concern; you can print after the letters “RSVP” “by 30th April”, or whatever date is relevant. Many of our customers choose to have a reply card printed. This is a simple card with binary, tick box questions of the Yes/No variety, supplied with envelopes printed with the return address, all designed to make the task of replying as easy as possible for even the most disorganised of adolescents! Not knowing whether your invitees are coming or not is an extra worry you really do not need!

Back to blog home

Other Blog Posts

Luxury Printed Stationery - a guide to the different types of printing May 26, 2017

Over the last few months we’ve been highlighting the art of letter writing and why it’s not a dying art. Hopefully giving you confidence, inspiration and most of all the tools with which to ensure your letter writing skills grow. But… it can be confusing when buying – what do you buy, how many do you buy and what do all those print types mean. So we thought we’d put together a guide to show you what the choices are, then you can get your very own luxury stationery personalised just for you.

How to write a great letter April 5, 2017

In this modern age of emails, text and direct messaging, even Snapchat, you would think that writing a letter is becoming a lost art and one that many people simply don’t know how to do. But actually it’s not. As digital technologies take over, well almost everything, we can see that trends are moving back towards more traditional values. Music, once it was vinyl, then tape, then CD, then MP3 players, and now streaming, such as Spotify, but what’s growing exponentially? It's vinyl again. The same with jigsaws and colouring books away from computer games. The pleasure and sense of achievement of creating something yourself is becoming hugely popular and letter writing is once again seen as an emerging trend.

2017 Top 10 Wedding Blogs March 6, 2017

Engaged couples have a number of sources to be inspired to create their own perfect yet truly personal wedding day that says so much about them both. Luxury personalised wedding stationery and invitations obviously forms part of their big day and we’re obviously biased as we know wedding day stationery can add so much more than you would ordinarily consider.

Planning a Wedding Proposal to Remember January 30, 2017

How, where and when to propose is very special and one that often needs careful consideration. If you want to make your proposal one to be remembered and one to talk about for years to come we’ve got a few suggestions. Some are more traditional and then there are some which are quite adventurous!

Wedding Invitations - A History January 9, 2017

With the emergence of modern mass printing techniques, even at home there has been a turn around in the popularity of traditional printing techniques. This is seen as a sign of higher quality and more attention to detail. Therefore Letter press printing techniques have made strong resurgence.