Our Wedding Invite | design + print

By hand

envelope calligraphy

After years of addressing others' wedding invitation envelopes, last June it was suddenly time to address my own. I wanted something legible and easy enough to execute (the all caps) and something elegant (the cursive). I wanted white ink on the same paper as the invitations themselves. And I didn't want run-of-the-mill LOVE postage stamps. So I went with a National Park collection, of course! This particular envelope was the only one returned to us, so hopefully all the others made it to their correct destination in a timely manner.

letterpress printing

invitation front cover

There were several steps to creating the outer book jacket-like cover of the invitation.  

  • Find patterned covers from antique books of the Art Nouveau era.
  • Agree on one of them.
  • Type in new authors' names.
  • Create the title "Our Wedding" by hand.
  • Scan and tweak it digitally.
  • Send finished design to Boxcar Press and order a photopolymer plate for printing.
  • Find paper similar to the wedding color of slate blue.
  • Order paper and envelopes from French Paper.
  • Find a time (i.e. several windows in one week) to letterpress my first project at Striped Light.
  • Mix ink (I originally wanted silver, which looks great on some papers--not this one--but ended up with an extremely pale blue that would show up sufficiently).
  • Line up plate on press, add packing to tympan, line up paper guides, print proofs.
  • Print 200+ pages [relatively] uniformly.
  • Set 200+ pages out to dry overnight.
  • Trim edges on all four sides (thankfully, in large stacks,
  • not individually).
  • Send 200+ pages through a separate press to score the fold (not very uniformly, alas!).
  • Fold.

The return address printing on the envelopes followed an similar abbreviated series of steps.

invitation back cover

On the back of the invitation (also ultimately letterpressed) was a monogram I designed by hand but edited digitally in order to send a crisp image off to Boxcar Press for the photopolymer plate.

envelope return address

Paler ink than I would have liked, but it worked for the one invitation that was returned to us due to an incorrect address. 

designed digitally

invitation title page

Since the invitation was supposed to look like a classic book, there must be a title page! Here I reused the hand drawn "Our Wedding" and embellished the page a bit with publishing info. 

(I was living on Midlake Drive at the time and had done the printing myself in Knoxville). This and following pages were printed at Wood Printing Co.

invitation first chapter

With almost any book there is, of course, a copyright page; and some lovely books mention the name of the type in which they were set. (The body of the text in this particular book was set in Kelmscott Roman.) Unlike the first book-like invitation I did for Paul and Jessica Brown which featured a decorative drop cap at the beginning of the first chapter and had more a more prose-like layout (justified left), I wanted something a bit more flourishing for ours.

So, as it happens, our first chapter [of the invitation] looks a bit more poetic.

invitation as library book

Most of the classics I ever read I obtained through the public library, so I added a library book pocket (purchased) holding a library due date card as a response card for our guests. To the left, on the last page of the book, I included our registry information and a suggestion for guest lodging.

library card for RSVPs

I tried to make the response card a cross between an old library due date card and a card catalog card.

  • Our wedding date became a sort of Dewey Decimal reference number.
  • Some other notation became a subtle reference to the two becoming one.
  • The first four letters of the first author's last name sit below the reference number.
  • The book is definitely non-fiction. Autobiography, for sure.
  • Authors listed.
  • Title listed.
  • A reverse request to borrow not the book but the guest(s). (And here a guest who couldn't come kindly left a note. I've kept all those notes!)
  • And then, of course, the date the guests' RSVPs were due and the date they were due to show up at the wedding, witness our vows, and celebrate with us.
  • At the very bottom, the county in which all this was taking place.

My biggest fear in designing these reply cards was that the USPS wouldn't mail them. The library book pockets I bought are only so wide, allowing for an insert of about an 1/8" narrower than the smallest postcard the USPS will accept. But it had worked with the Brown's invitations, so I forged ahead! Here again, I didn't want to go with the stereotypical LOVE postage stamps, opting for stylized birds. And it worked! The RSVPs started coming in, though almost invariably a bit mangled, most guests remembered to write their name in the top left corner, and this card even had a unique cancellation.

our wedding programs

And to continue the lettering styles from the wedding invitation and use up extra matching paper...

Now to print the Thank You card design I have in mind and get all the thank yous into the mail...

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