Paper Talk: Understanding Invitations and the Different Types of Paper to Consider

Aug 17, 2023 | Traveler’s Q

Invitations play a crucial role in setting the tone and theme for any event, from weddings and birthday parties to corporate meetings and conferences. With so many types of invitation paper to choose from, deciding on the right one can be overwhelming. Understanding the different types of paper and the invitation printing techniques used is essential for creating an invitation that is both visually appealing and functional. When choosing an invitation paper, it’s important to consider factors such as color, weight, finish, and texture. Additionally, the type of printing used can greatly impact the final look and feel of the invitation. By delving deeper into the types of invitation paper and printing techniques available, you can make informed decisions and create invitations that effectively convey the message and style of your event.

Invitation Paper Types

When it comes to choosing the perfect invitation paper for your special event, it’s important to consider several factors. First and foremost, you want the paper you choose to be of sufficient weight and thickness to not only look good but also hold up well during the printing process and while being handled by your guests. One popular type of invitation paper is cotton paper, which is made from 100% cotton fibers and offers a luxurious look and feel. Another option is linen paper, which has a subtle texture and is similar in weight to cotton. For a more eco-friendly option, you may want to consider recycled paper, which is not only sustainable but also comes in a variety of textures and finishes. Ultimately, the type of invitation paper you choose will depend on your personal preference, budget, and the overall theme of your event.

Paper Weight

When it comes to invitation paper, the paperweight is an important consideration for both aesthetics and functionality. The white cardstock is the most common type of cardstock used for invitations, boasting a smooth matte finish that is perfect for printing text or graphics. Linen cardstock mimics the look of linen fabric and is also a popular option for invitations, offering a matte finish that adds a touch of elegance and sophistication. Cotton cardstock has a smooth texture and is highly absorbent, making it an excellent choice for photo printing. Felt cardstock, on the other hand, has a much more coarse texture and is not recommended for home printers as it is rather thick. Colored cardstock comes in various options and resembles thick craft paper, while laid cardstock features subtle vertical ridges. For a unique touch, wood grain cardstock boasts a subtle and unique wood texture. Finally, vellum is a thin and translucent paper that can be paired with thicker paper for a one-of-a-kind look. Kraft paper is also a popular option for a rustic look.

By understanding the different types of invitation paper available based on their weight and texture, you can choose a paper that best reflects your style and fits the occasion.

Paper Thickness

When it comes to choosing the right paper for your invitations, the thickness of the paper is also an important aspect to consider. Most book-style invitations are printed on 80# text paper, which is sturdy enough to hold up as a booklet but still lightweight enough to mail with ease. For a more substantial feel, you may want to consider using 100# or 110# cover stock instead. This type of paper is heavier and thicker, giving your invitations a more luxurious and high-quality feel. If you’re looking to use printing techniques like letterpress, you’ll need even thicker paper to ensure that the texture and depth of the impression are properly displayed. A 220# cover stock would be ideal in this case as it can handle the pressure and leave a stunning impression. In summary, the thickness of your invitation paper can significantly affect the look and feel of your invitation, and choosing the right weight is crucial in achieving the desired aesthetic.

Printing Techniques

The type of printing technique used can greatly impact the overall appearance and feel of your invitations. The most popular printing techniques for invitation paper include letterpress, digital, and foil stamping. With endless possibilities, selecting the appropriate printing technique can lend a unique and personal touch to your invitation cards.

Digital Printing

Digital printing is a popular printing technique that has gained considerable attention over the years due to its high-quality print results. It is an affordable option that yields similar results to a standard home-office laser printer but with much better quality. It is especially ideal for those looking to print on a budget. One of the great advantages of digital printing is that you can choose any color you wish for your invitation card and print on thinner paper, which is perfect for those who desire a more lightweight and delicate feel for their invitations. Another advantage of digital printing is the minimal turnaround time required, which is usually just a few days. Therefore, if you are looking for cost-effective, time-efficient, and high-quality prints for your invitation cards, digital printing is the option for you.


Letterpress is a printing technique that has been used for centuries, and it remains popular today for creating invitations and other printed materials that require an elegant, timeless look. In letterpress, each letter or design element is created as a raised surface on a metal or wooden block, which is then inked and pressed onto the paper. This process results in an indentation on the front side of the paper and a raised impression on the back. The texture and depth of the lettering add a sophisticated, tactile quality that cannot be achieved with other printing methods. However, the process also requires a specific type of paper – a soft, bulky material that can be pressed deeply without tearing – and at least two weeks for the ink to dry properly. Despite these limitations, letterpress remains a favorite of designers and printers who value its unique look and feel.


Engraving is a printing technique that yields a sophisticated and formal look that is perfect for invitations. In this process, letters are raised at the front and indented at the back, giving them a tactile feel. The raised surface is inked, and then the paper is pressed onto it, causing the ink to transfer. Due to the complex nature of the process, engraving is the most expensive of all printing techniques. However, it results in a distinctive and unique look that exudes luxury and elegance. It also works best on thick paper such as cotton-based stock. As a result of its intricate process, it requires 2 to 6 weeks of turnaround time. In summary, engraving is a luxurious print technique that adds sophistication and elegance to any invitation.


Thermography is a printing technique that is commonly used for creating high-quality invitations, business cards, and other types of stationery. It is visually similar to engraving but is less costly, making it an excellent alternative. In this printing technique, the letters are raised at the front, resulting in a slightly shiny appearance while the back of the paper remains smooth. To achieve the optimal result, thermography works best on smooth paper that’s not too shiny. Usually the turnaround time for this type of printing is a few days. It is a popular choice for special events such as weddings, business events, or formal gatherings. With its unique and elegant effect, it is undoubtedly a printing technique worth considering to make your event invitations stand out.

Offset Printing

Offset printing, also known as lithography, offers beautiful and high-quality print results with vibrant colors. Although it is more expensive compared to digital printing, it is still a popular choice for various printing needs, including invitation printing. One thing to keep in mind, though, is that it might not look as formal as other printing techniques, such as engraving. Additionally, offset printing usually takes up to a week for the turnaround time, as it involves precise color matching and plate-making processes. Despite these factors, offset printing remains a top choice for those who want to achieve stunning and vivid prints that stand out.

Foil Stamping

Foil stamping is a popular printing technique that adds a touch of elegance and luxury to invitation cards. This process involves using a paper-like foil to create a metallic design that can range from gold to silver to copper and beyond. Foil stamping is particularly useful if you are looking to achieve a rich, romantic look with your invitations. However, it’s worth noting that design options are limited due to the process requiring thicker lines. Another consideration is that foil stamping is one of the most expensive printing processes, as it requires a significant amount of time and effort to get right. For this reason, it’s vital to choose a printing company with the expertise to handle the process, which can take 1 to 2 weeks or longer if outsourced. Overall, foil stamping is an excellent investment if you’re looking for an invitation that exudes sophistication and style.


Embossing is a printing technique that creates a three-dimensional effect on paper. It involves raising letters, patterns, or images from the surface of the paper. The process leaves a stately and elegant impression on the paper and is perfect for anyone looking for a modern, minimalistic, and sophisticated look. The method of embossing is similar to engraving but boasts thicker lettering that does not have any color added, making it an ideal option for those who prefer a simple yet refined finish. However, this technologically advanced process usually requires 3 to 5 weeks of turnaround time and can be more expensive than other printing methods. Embossing is great for producing invitation cards, business cards, stationery, and other print items. The raised texture gives a premium look and can make any design stand out.

Expert Tips to Pick the Right Paper and Printing Technique

1. Invest in Your Paper

Investing in the quality of paper for your invitations can make a big difference in the overall appearance and feel of your event. Choosing a low-quality or cheap paper option may save you money, but it can also make your invitations look cheap, poorly made, and lacking in style. For example, if you’re looking for a beautiful and elegant invitation, a slightly thicker (120-140 GSM [grams per square meter]) and textured cardstock might be a better choice to create that luxurious feel.

Additionally, consider the type of printing technique you’ll be using to ensure that your invitations are printed seamlessly and the result is what you desire. Hence, investing in high-quality paper for invitation cards can make a notable difference in the impression you want to make on your guests, creating a sense of elegance, class, and quality that will be remembered long after the event is over.

2. Find Balance

When selecting an invitation paper, it is important to find balance in your design. While elaborate designs may catch the eye, they can easily become overwhelming when paired with textured paper. It’s important to consider the style of your event and choose a paper type that complements it well.

3. Print Samples First

When it comes to choosing the right paper for your invitation cards, it’s always a good idea to request print samples first. By doing so, you’ll be able to evaluate the paper’s quality and determine whether it’s a good fit for your design. Additionally, ordering print samples can allow you to make any necessary adjustments before the final printing process, saving you both time and money. This is especially important if you’re planning a large print run. When reviewing your print samples, pay attention to the paper weight, texture, and finish to ensure a consistent look and feel across your invitations. Overall, requesting print samples is a small investment that can pay off significantly in the long run.

4. Consider Postage Prices

When selecting an invitation paper, it is important to consider postage prices, as well. Thicker paper typically weighs more, leading to increased postage costs. To avoid any surprises, be sure to weigh a sample invitation and check with your post office for current rates. Additionally, consider the number of invitations being sent and whether or not you will be including additional inserts or embellishments, as these may also impact postage costs. By taking postage prices into account during the invitation paper selection process, you can ensure that your invitations fit within your overall budget and are sent out without any unexpected expenses.

Now you know more about traditional invitation paper types, printing techniques, and how to choose the right paper for your special event. Use this knowledge to make an informed decision when selecting papers, styles, and techniques for your invitations. Quality is key – it helps set the tone of the event long before people arrive!

At Traveler’s Q, we specialize in crafting beautiful, custom stationery that will make a lasting impression on all of your guests. Get in touch with us today to request a proposal and explore all of the design possibilities for making your vision come alive.