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The story behind the printed wedding invite

14th August 2015

The history of the wedding invite

Back in the middle ages is was a custom for the town crier to literally shout from the rooftops to spread the news of an upcoming wedding with anyone within earshot being part of the celebrations. This was traditionally an informal wedding invite which would then be passed around through word of mouth.

Those privileged enough to come from wealthy families would often employ a local monk to utilise his calligraphy skills and handwrite individual wedding invites. These would be sealed with a family crest made out of wax and hand delivered for insurances that the honoured guests received their invites. This is when the double envelope first began and had a very practical usage, allowing the outer envelope to act as protection in transit. This was then removed on arrival in order for the guest to receive and sparkling clean sealed invitation.

The emergence of the printed invite

The first ever moveable printing press was invented by Johannes Gutenberg. This marked a clear changing point in the history of printing allowing mass printing of simple items like leaflets and papers. Unfortunately, the quality in these days was not good enough for the high standards demanded from wedding stationery so instead wedding announcements started to be printed in to local newspapers.

The privilege of sending bespoke handwritten invites remained a privilege of upper families until mid 1960’s when the introduction of metal plate engraving was introduced. This involved engraving the metal plate with back-to-front text, filling the carving with ink and then pressing paper on top. This exciting technique became a popular new way for wedding invitations to be created.


Historically, endless methods have been chosen to create the most elaborate and costly wedding invites from the calligraphy style invites of the middle ages to the use of cameo embellishments with lace and satin decorative features seen in Victorian times. No expense was spared by the wealthiest of families as a premium invitation was seen as a mark of your family class and status in the town.


It was not until the industrial revolution following the invention of Lithography by Alois Senefelder that wedding invitations started to become accessible to the mass-market, with printing no longer requiring the process of engraving. This was the start of wedding invites as we know them today.



The modern day invite


The story behind contemporary invitations explains why formal wording and certain traditions (like the double envelope) still remain. Luckily, today, both digital and litho print produce fantastic high quality printed wedding invites at accessible and affordable rates. This allows couples to keep up the custom of wedding invitations whilst adding their own personal touch.


Looking for an idea for your invite? Speak to us today to add a modern twist to a traditional wedding invitation.




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