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How to Tell the Difference Between Letterpress and Regular Wedding Invitations

Throughout your journey of finding the perfect invitation style, design, and technique, we understand if there are moments where there’s just a little too much to look at. With all the different combinations of printing methods and colors to choose from, where do you even begin? You need the right invitation that sets the perfect tone for the wedding day of your dreams, and we’re here to help.

As you have researched and explored invitation styles, you may have found yourself gravitating toward letterpress wedding invitations. We can’t blame you! They are our favorite type of wedding invitations too, because of the luxe, extraordinary feel of the paper and embossing. However, you may have questions about what the letterpress process entails. Not only that, but it would be great to know the difference between letterpress invites and regular wedding invitations.

As wedding invitation designers and artists, we are immersed in the key styles of elegant wedding invitations and are happy to walk you through the difference between the digitally printed invite and the timeless, letterpress wedding invitations.

The Difference Between Regular and Letterpress Wedding Invitations

Each type of invitation is created and processed in its own unique way. We will start with the digital style and work our way to the letterpress method.

How Digital Wedding Invitations Are Produced

Wedding invitations that are to be printed digitally are done so by the use of large commercial offset printers. After the file is triggered electronically, the cardstock, that has been loaded and selected, will automatically begin to run through the various parts of the machine.

Ink, whether it be color or black and white, will interpret the the electronic file’s information and accurately place tiny dots of ink on the cardstock at an incredibly rapid pace. This type of printing process or method will dry the ink within the machine, so there’s no need to worry about any smudging.

The digital printing method is the fastest way to print and produce a large quantity of wedding invitations at once. However, we’re interested in a printing method that gives us a little bit more character within each invitation. We want letterpress!

The History & Process of Letterpress Invitations

Antique letterpresses are commonly used to print invitations in today’s time. Each press is run either manually or electronically. It presses the invitation design down into the soft and stunning cotton paper, leaving a beautiful footprint behind—a footprint that will leave an everlasting mark on your guests’ hearts when they open up the invitation for the first time. Letterpress printing will leave your stationery with beautiful and unique impressions, that may vary from piece to piece, depending on the amount of pressure applied during the production process. With the crisp line work from the machines, we’re certain you’ll be in for a special treat with this printing method.


Due to its fine delicacy, this printing process is a slower, more hands-on process, but definitely worth the extra time and care it takes. This stunning technique was used for a long time – printing anything from newspapers to books to advertisements – until digital computers rose to the top and redefined efficiency. Luckily for us, the letterpress printing method has made a comeback in the wedding invitation industry.

Let’s travel back in time for a moment. Letterpress printing was invented in the mid-15th century by the acclaimed inventor, Johannes Gutenberg. And, we cannot say it enough, thank you, Johannes.

This printing process continued to grow and evolve through the years, such as in the 1800s when new forms were utilized to revolutionize newspapers. You know the type – the style that had boys in news caps hollering, “Extra, extra, read all about it”, which can be seen in some of our favorite, classic movies.

As the years went on and the carefully crafted wooden type became easily molded metal type, and technology threw the era through a loop in the 20th century when offset printing was established. Slowly, letterpress printing began to fade with the rise of the digital method. However, over 60 years later, a woman stepped up and changed the game.

Seeing the beauty and texture of the lost art, a movement to bring letterpress printing back was largely started by Martha Stewart. Yes, it was Martha who saw its beauty and said,

"Great care is taken in choosing the perfect wedding stationery – couples ponder details from the level of formality to the flourishes of the typeface. The method of printing should be no less important, as it can enliven the design exquisitely. That is certainly the case with letterpress." 1

Here at Shine, we certainly agree with Martha—the method of printing plays a huge part in the fine details of every stationery order. From the typeface to the paper, letterpress printing gives the stationery a unique character, which is important to achieving the perfect wedding invitation suite.


After the couple selects the paper of their choice, from four luxurious 100% cotton cardstocks, the invitation design is placed onto an antique letterpress. There are four main steps to the letterpress process to follow:

  1. Composition
  2. Imposition
  3. Lock-Up
  4. Printing


Also known as type-setting, composition is when the movable type pieces are adjusted to create the right text. After rounds of revisions on design and wording with each couple, a final draft is approved. This knowledge is used to have every letter selected and placed in just the right position.

Once all the letters are placed and held together with a composing stick, all of the type is tied together with a string. This ensures a secure setting that will have each and every invitation matching with a streamlined look.2


The process of imposing is when someone does the arrangement of pages, making sure they are within the correct margins and lined up in the right direction. A “forme” is created that ensures all pieces formed and set into place.3

With letterpress, careful steps are taken to ensure the page is printed right, within the correct frame, the first time, which is done through imposition.


In this last stage of the process is the lock-up. After each piece has been set into place by the imposition, such as the type and frame it is ready to be printed. The lock-up ensures that nothing moves around while being printed. When the lock-up is ready, you should also be able to transfer it around without anything falling out or moving.



The printing itself requires careful craftsmanship.

The operator must understand and have the knowledge of how much pressure is needed to ensure the paper receives just the right amount of ink and impression. It would be considered a bad print if too much ink was applied and it seeped through the paper, or if the impression was too deep and an unappealing “bite” was left on the backside of the invitation. It is a tricky balance, but so satisfying and worth it when the final product is revealed. That indentation creates a dramatic look that one cannot help but love.


Paper is the foundation of the wedding invitation. A digital print needs paper that is more malleable, so it can be maneuvered through the printer itself.

The paper utilized for letterpress invitations is a sturdy, luxurious cardstock. This stand-out paper has the perfect weight and thickness for having inked letters perfectly pressed into it. Shine Wedding Invitations offers four 100% cotton papers for you to choose from for your letterpress wedding invitations:

  1. White Cotton
  2. Ivory Cotton
  3. Gray Cotton
  4. Pink Cotton

White and ivory are both considered to be a classic and traditional choice, but sometimes your wedding theme calls for a little extra nuance with soft-colored paper.

When letters are pressed into the paper, you can feel the difference – literally. When you run your fingertips over the finished product, you’ll be able to enjoy a multi-sensory experience as you feel the indentations created by the antique press.


In digital printing, colors seem to be endless, as CMYK tones can blend together easily for any color imaginable. With letterpress, it’s not as simple, as the ink will need to be applied to the invitation design manually and not by the four cartridges within the printing device.

We are proud to announce that all colors featured on our color chart are now available for letterpress printing. These carefully selected ink colors range from deep red to the lightest of blues. A few of our personal favorites are our rich navy, muted mocha, and rosey blush. Our brides may choose one color for the wedding invitation itself and another color for additional pieces, such as the envelope liner.

Explore a variety of the colors we offer for invitations and corresponding pieces on our color diagram featured below.

over 40 ink colors to choose from


This type of printing method really sets the tone for the wedding invitation suite itself. The deep impressions create a drastic look that adds character and utter delight – it’s not just a visual experience. In comparison to digital printing, which has a overall smooth touch and feel, letterpress ultimately takes printing to the next level and adds a luxurious experience.

Adding to the Excitement with Embellishments

Letterpress printing adds a luxurious and special experience to your wedding invitation suite that your guests won’t be able to put down. However, there are ways to step up the style of your suite even more. With embellishments from our collections, you can add 100% silk charmeuse ribbon around the center of your suite to hold everything together, a vellum jacket for extra glam and excellence, or top it off with a wax seal for a traditional feel. The possibilities are endless with so many customizable options.


When your loved one unties the beautifully knotted bow to your invitation, they aren’t just reading your invitation, but living in the moment and experiencing the joy that comes from it wrapped in silk ribbon. Shine offers 17 custom dyed ribbon colors for each couple to choose from. Each ribbon color compliments an ink on our color chart. Whether you would like to keep a consistent look or if you would like to created a multi-toned suite, we’re certain you’ll be able to find the perfect combination for your stationery. Explore our silk ribbon options below for more inspiration.

17 ribbon colors to choose from


The more embellishments the better, in our opinion! With your perfectly pressed letterpress wedding invitations, adding a vellum jacket and wax seal will be the perfect addition to top off your suite. While remaining traditional and classic in both your printing method and in your embellishments choice, your invitation suite will definitely be one to remember for years to come. The best part is that the suite is uniquely yours!

Delight Your Invitees with a Long-Standing Tradition

Centuries of this evolved letterpress method have made it a classic means of printing that will forever stand the test of time, which is why we’re all so passionate about it! Bring these remarkable invitations closer to home and browse our letterpress wedding invitations.

  1. Martha Stewart Weddings
  2. Wikipedia
  3. Happy Dragon Press
Poppy letterpress wedding invitation styled with pretty florals.

Like What You See?


Letterpress Wedding Invitations

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CEO Autmn Wyda
About Shine
Built on a foundation of classic design and quality materials, Shine Wedding Invitations was launched in 2008 as a response to the need for elegant and timeless wedding invitations. Our designs are simple, clean, and modern, yet stand the test of time. We respect trends, but we don’t rely on them. Our goal is for you to be able to look back at your wedding invitations in 10, 20, or even 30 years and still be thrilled with the design.
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Find your perfect design by visiting our wedding invitation shopping pages
Bring Your Vision To Life
Browse our invitations and find the perfect design for your wedding.
Use letterpress wedding invitations to really make a statement
A Difference You Can Feel
Make a statement with our luxurious letterpress wedding invitations
Request a free wedding invitaiton sample todayFind your wedding invitation style by taking our styling quickFind your perfect design by visiting our wedding invitation shopping pagesUse letterpress wedding invitations to really make a statement

Request a Free Sample Set

Experience our papers, colors, and printing in person.

Not Sure Where to Start?

Take our styling quiz to find the right look and configuration for your stationery.

Bring Your Vision To Life

Browse our invitations and find the perfect design for your wedding.

A Difference You Can Feel

Make a statement with our luxurious letterpress wedding invitations

See Us Shine

Client visions brought to life #shinenewlywed