The Look of Your Wedding Invitations – A Guide

Everyone knows there’s something special about the arrival of a wedding invitation. From the moment it’s spotted amid the usual daily mail, there’s a giddy sense of excitement in the air. The mere touch of its creamy paper is a delight to each recipient, and its regal appearance is a sure sign that a significant event is about to unfold. If you’re tempted to choose an invitation that is extremely creative, keep in mind that no other event in your life will allow you the privilege of sending out an invitation with the formality and elegance of a traditional wedding invitation.


Above all, a beautiful invitation sets the tone for the romantic celebration you’re planning, whether you will marry in a church setting, on the beach, or at your parents’ home. Creating your perfect invitation is easy if you’ve studied the guidelines included here. Exploring paper samples, reviewing typestyles, and contemplating the overall look of your invitation will ensure that your invitation comes together perfectly.


Start the process of choosing your invitation by selecting a paper color if that element is most important to you, keeping in mind that the shade of the paper will play a vital role in the total look of your invitation. Variations in color, in order of brightness, include bright white, soft white, traditional white, and ecru. Ink colors also vary, but black is considered the most formal choice. If your invitation has a metallic border, however, you might consider choosing coordinating gold or silver ink.

The Look of Your Wedding Invitations – A Guide

Next you’ll want to consider the style and size of your invitation by exploring the options available in the color you have chosen – or, if the style is more important to you than the color, make that decision first.
The most commonly seen invitation size and format is a folded style, often called a letter sheet or folder, which measures 5.5 x 7.75 inches when folded. You will also find folded styles and elegant single cards in a variety of sizes. Folded styles and classic cards can be plain or designed with a panel or other border design. If you select a paneled style or an ornate border such as a floral motif, consider how your wording will fit in the allotted space. The length of your wording should play a role in determining the size of your invitation, too. In addition, the most formal invitations are usually larger; the smaller styles are excellent choices for more casual celebrations.

If you’re not already familiar with the terms “engraving” and “thermography,” the two most common printing processes for wedding invitations, you’ll soon learn the difference. Known for its impeccable detail and elegant appearance, engraving originated in the 1700s and is the most expensive printing option. With engraved invitations you will notice raised print that is pressed through the paper, so that letters and images can also be felt in reverse on the back.

Thermography originated in the 1930s as an imitation of engraving, but gained its current popularity in the post-World War II era. Thermography is a much faster process than engraving and is also less expensive because it does not require the use of a plate, but instead achieves its raised print through a heat-controlled process using special inks and powders. Thermography offers the same elegant look as engraving, minus the pressed image on the back of the paper.

Some brides today elect to print their own invitations on laser printers, which is a decidedly less expensive option. If you choose that route, pay careful attention as each invitation is printed in order to come up with a finished product that is as professional looking as possible. You can order plain cards from most stationers that are perfect for at-home printing.

With paper chosen, you’ll want to add the perfect font, or typestyle, to the mix. It’s easy to be confused by the many fonts available, but a good rule to follow is to choose lettering that complements the formality of your celebration. Also note that a smaller invitation looks best with a more delicate font, and that a simple font is easiest for guests to read.

Some couples choose two fonts: one for their names (printed slightly larger) and one for the rest of the invitation copy. If you do choose a double font, select styles that complement each other.

When you envision the total look of your wedding invitation, remember that no more than 14 lines of wording is the recommended length, with the reception information included on a separate card.

With more than 14 lines, the words can be crowded and more difficult to read. If you absolutely must have more than 14 lines, remember that black will be the most legible ink color for the smaller font size. One way to shorten is to remove the names of the groom’s parents or print reception information on a separate reception card.

You will find that Nuptial Script, Snell Roundhand, Park Avenue, Agfa Nadianne Book, Zapf Chancery, and Caslon Open Face work well for lengthier invitations.

When choosing the font that is right for the style and formality of your invitation, notice the thickness of the letters and how dark the lettering appears. A font that is small and dark may be more difficult for your guests to read.

As with the script fonts, pay close attention to the size of the font and the thickness of each letter. When choosing a font, keep in mind the size of your invitation. A font that is extremely dark or heavy would be overpowering on a small invitation.

The essential elements of a wedding invitation are simple, but they are important. And creating the right look and feel for your wedding invitation is important. Regardless if you want to do it yourself or you want professionally printed elegant wedding invitations, take the time to create a design, a look and a feel that is just as spectacular as your special day will be.