So you want to make your own wedding invitations. Fantastic! This makes perfect sense. Because back when I got married, we wanted the feel of custom invites without the budget for custom invites. So we improvised. It involved a bit of a struggle with our home printer (there was no solid information online on best practices those days). But after some trial and error, we got good results. So to save you from jammed printer trays and bleeding ink, the folks at LD Products rounded up all the information you need on how to make-your-own-wedding-invitations-without-tearing-your-hair-out-or-even-crying-once.
Want To Make Your Own Wedding Invitations? Start Here.
Pro-tip: If you’re just getting started on this whole making-invitations thing, we’ve got everything you need to know to get started in our comprehensive guide on DIY Wedding Invitations. And for those of you who want to print your own wedding invitations (without, you know, designing them), businesses like Printable Press (pictured above) and E.M. Papers offer affordable—and gorgeous—printable designs, customized to your specs.
But first, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of what you should know (and what I wish I had known) before you print your own wedding invitations:
The Failsafe Guide To Printing Your Own Wedding Invitations
Picking Your Printer and Ink
The very first question you need to ask yourself is what kind of printer do you have, and what type of ink does it use? Most inkjet printers use dye-based ink made up of small, colorant particles dissolved in liquid, (usually water or glycol), which is absorbed into the paper. Dye-based ink is well known for its wide color gamut, deep blacks, and brilliant saturation. These inks will produce vivid images when printed on semi-gloss or gloss-coated paper. The only downside? Dye-based ink doesn’t have the longevity of other options, such as pigment-based ink.
Pigment-based ink contains very fine colorant powder suspended in a solution rather than dissolved, so the color is left on the paper’s surface instead of being absorbed. The visual difference can be subtle, but the results are great: prints that last much longer (especially when paired with archival papers). A downside to using pigment-based ink is that it’s more expensive, as there are printers that typically come with several color pots to accurately re-create a range of colors.
If you’re printing an elaborate background that’s heavy on color as part of your invite, keep in mind that this will not only affect your paper choice but drain your ink reserves quickly. You’ll likely need to buy replacement cartridges to keep getting the colors you want. A smart alternative to name-brand ink replacements is to look into reputable distributors of compatible cartridges and double check with your printer manufacturer to find out how many pages on average you can expect from each. Then you’ll have a better idea of how much ink you’ll need for the job.
Everything You Need to Know About Paper
Picking your paper is one of the more important decisions you’ll make when printing your own wedding invitations. Much like fabrics for dresses, there are dozens of different kinds of paper, each with different features and looks that can radically augment the whole look and feel of your design as well as determine its print life.
When it comes to wedding invites, make sure you choose a durable material whose paper weight is no less than 80 pounds or 12 point stock for the heft and feel that invitations usually possess. You’ll also want to consider how much color your design will use—some types of paper don’t take large ink coverage very well.
If your design involves mostly photos, pair dye-based ink and any type of photo paper to bring out the sharpness and color of your shot. Generally, choose paper with coating, such as semi-gloss, gloss, matte, resin, or polymer, when printing with dye-based ink. The coating helps soak up the ink, greatly reducing bleeding or runoffs. You can use swell-able papers with dye ink, too—the coated surface “swells” as it absorbs the ink.
Of course, printing your invites with pigment ink opens up your doors to a whole selection of textured paper. Linen, feltweave card stocks, and cotton rag are popular choices for wedding invites. You can find different varieties at any office supply store, and your local stationery store will have an even wider range of paper finishes and weights available too.
Some paper types might be too heavy for your printer; printing with paper that is heavier than around 85 pound stock may not work with your standard front-loading printer (it’s too thick to bend around the print head without damaging the page). A quick way to avoid this drama is to check online and make sure your printer can handle the paper stock you’ve chosen before you start.
Cost and Quality
An easy way to save on your printing is to set your printer to produce several invites, R.S.V.P. cards, or place cards on each sheet. Size your invites right to help make printing two or three on each page not just easier, but also more cost-efficient. That way you end up with less paper waste and more money to get heavier paper stock. Plus, smaller invites will hold up better in the mail, as they are less likely to get folded or bent during processing.
Also, if you want to keep your invitation framed for posterity, consider getting paper designed to preserve your print for decades on end. Look for paper described as acid-free, archival quality, or gallery quality when you are shopping. These papers are designed to interact with the ink on the page and keep it looking fresh as the day you printed it for forty, fifty, a hundred years. Keep in mind that many of these specialty papers will cost more than your average paper, and many more are designed to interact with just one brand of ink.
Design Considerations to Remember
Design anything you will be printing with bleeds. “Bleeds” is a printing term for when images or other design elements deliberately extend or “bleed” beyond the trim edge to avoid the appearance of unwanted white spaces on the finished product. This is particularly applicable for invites with photos. It will make cutting your invites a lot easier as well.
Calibrate screen for color balance. Modern high-definition screens do a good job of replicating colors, but in spite of modern print technology, advancements in getting true-to-life image quality, especially for fields such as photography where many had been lagging, there is still often a disconnect between the two. Be on the safe side. Make sure your screen is color-balanced and calibrated before you print. Otherwise, you may find yourself wondering why the printed blue is different from the blue you’re seeing on screen, despite all the legwork you put into making sure everything was proper.
Foil lettering and accents shimmer. Applying them at home is a lot easier than you’d expect. While you can’t print foil accents direct from your printer, with a little extra elbow grease and some creativity you can really make your invites stand out.
You can DIY and make it fancy. Want to include letterpress, embossing, or die-cutting to your invite for an extra special professional look? There’s an affordable DIY solution called the Cricut Cuttlebug machine available on Amazon. If you’re looking to do some foil printing on your invites, consider this $20 laminator as shown on this DIY video. And yes, you can even print letterpress invitations yourself! Check out this video.
Stay away from scissors. When it comes time to trim your invites or table placeholder cards down to size, do not use scissors! That’s one way to guarantee uneven cuts. If you have a lot of invites, invest in a paper cutter to start trimming, or use an X-Acto knife to make sure you get clean even cuts. Cut each invite individually to make sure you get the results you want for each and every guest.
Be ready to make adjustments. One great benefit to printing your own wedding stationery and invitations is you have the utmost control over the process. Rather than waiting for the print shop to deliver before you see your results, you have instant access to proofing your design, correcting colors, and making sure everything is perfect. That, of course, means test prints galore so make sure you take this into account when shopping for the right amount of paper. It’s more work and takes a level of creativity and you probably won’t succeed at first, but if you’re prepared to try out some things you will have a lot of fun AND love the results.
Did any of you make your own wedding invitations, Or print them at home? What did you learn in the process?