paper mistake?

I am planning on doing some wedding invitations for my sister on a very tight budget…..We’ll be sending out at least 400 invitations so I’m trying to find cheap paper. How does heavy card stock work for letterpress? I’m a beginner so have never tried it. Certainly, cardstock would be the most economical choice, but I don’t want to make a mistake using it for the invitations if it doesn’t print well….Any thoughts, experiences?

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Any of French’s #100 cover stock is suitable and durable enough for fine press work. We’ve printed wedding invitations on it, and it’s affordable.

Hi. Perhaps you should go to a place like Kelly Paper or Xpedx and pick up some samples of cover and card stock. Then you can make some test prints and choose the stock that works best for you. Big paper stores like that often have envelopes to match, too.


Paper Source has beautiful Luxe Cream and Luxe White paper that is already cut to size. It’s more pulp-y and soft and takes the impression a little better than plain cardstock. Paper Source offers a discount when you purchase multiple packs.

You will spend a fortune at Paper Source, especially on the Luxe range, and it’s not a very good paper for letterpress. Too hard, basically, and only economical if you’re printing less than 50 of anything.

400 wedding invitations are going to require a lot of paper — which means that from a cost perspective you are in the lucky position of needing parent sheets that you can have cut to size at Kinko’s or wherever, by supplying a pdf.

I don’t know how many pieces are included in the set beyond the invitation and reply card but this should be enough:

When you add matching Lettra envelopes you’re looking at about 60 cents per set for the finest of the low- to mid-range papers.

And I don’t think I’d bother printing on a sub-par paper, and definitely not 400 of anything! Totally not worth it. Save yourself the work and have it flat printed.

Pearl, I don’t know where you are coming from if printing 400 invitations for a sister isn’t worth the time. Certainly it could be a great and memorable gift to give to print the invitations for a sibling’s wedding.

I did so myself, and I never regretted it. I often volunteer to provide invitations for friends as a gift.

Now, I’d have to say that doing so as a first effort at letterpress printing might well be a mistake. I’d get busy and try some other projects just to make certain the quality will be what you expect. Printing is a craft, and as such, takes some time to learn and achieve proficiency.

By all means, take Barb’s advice and get some samples of various paper stock to try your hand before you purchase a pile of paper and it doesn’t print well for you, or doesn’t appear as you would wish.

A day spent printing can be somewhat theraputic, and if you could involve the future bride and groom in the enterprise, could be a very memorable experience for all involved.

I agree with jhenry- it’s a wonderful gift. i also agree with cupcake press that the Luxe line prints well. not the BEST, of course, but it’s what Paper Source uses for their letterpress work and it looks great. surprisingly enough, it isn’t a less expensive alternative than lettra. you’d be looking at $200 for the invite paper alone and almost another $200 for the envelopes. I just saw some very nicely done invitations done on the Sundance Felt 80# cover (has matching envelopes) and that’s about as economical as you can get. (by the way, i really don’t work for the company- this is the second time in two days i’ve mentioned this paper.)
on another note, i’d be very careful cutting down parent sheets at kinko’s- some locations don’t carry large enough cutters to do the job. they’ve also consistently ruined 8.5x11 size reams that i’ve taken (extremely uneven cutting) so i no longer use that service. they cut NON cotton stock well.

I’m sorry if wasn’t clear in my response — I meant simply that I don’t think there is much sense in taking the time to letterpress anything — whether 4 or 400 pieces, for a stranger or for your sister — if the paper is sub-par. Especially a sibling’s wedding invitation. I would say that if the effort put into printing exceeds the effort put into materials, why bother.

I do think it’s a lovely gift and I too do it for friends and relatives, and no, I never regret it either.

As for cutting, it can be tricky, I know, since the Lettra or any cotton stock will be quite soft — a professional printing and binding shop should be able to do it for you without trouble. But it can’t hurt to ask them to test it first!

If I were a relative Newbie doing 400 wedding invitations, I don’t think I’d bother with office supply house card stock, or any sheets that have to be cut down, nor would I bother with any retailer. I think I’d talk to my local paper house and buy blank “Wedding Sets”. They come in nice neat little boxes, with the matching inner and outer envelopes…. ready for you to print upon. It’s what many small lithography shops do.

The last time I checked, Crane made a very nice set in off-white that would be perfect for letterpress.

Pearl, that is good advice- a professional printing and bindery shop can handle that much better.
it is true that the best printing results will come from the best paper for the purpose, but assuming you (ktlee) have committed to this, i think your best bet is trying out different papers, as mentioned above. when you are shopping around, avoid picking out papers that seem too hard (such as paper source’s p.s. collection). you’ll get very poor printing results out of them. they’ll look almost flat-printed, so, as pearl said, it’d be a why-bother scenario.

i agree that paper source’s luxe line is about the same price-wise as crane’s lettra. but the time saved in not having to cut the parent sheets down to size is worth something. i do a ton of wedding invitation work on the luxe papers from paper source. they’ve all turned out great.

thank you thank you all…..So here is what I’m thinking…First, I agree I need some good practice before I take on this crazy task and I do plan to do that. I do not plan to letterpress the envelopes, so I just plan to buy plain old envelopes from papersource I think.

The plan (which changes every day) is 5x5 square invitations, so I think I have gethered from the above that I should look into either papersource luxe line or crane lettra. If I get 8.5x11 I can use 1 sheet for 2 invites. So a pkg of 250 would suffice….? Maybe then I should go with 8.5x 11 instead of parent sheets?? I would still have to cut them. Can I do that myself with a good paper cutter?

Ok so any final suggestions on luxe vs lettra??
thank you all, i would be quite lost without your help, and my poor sister would be getting who knows what kind of invitations :)

ohhh if it’s a lettra vs. paper source luxe decision… definitely lettra. they have baronial envelopes to match, if you’re willing to up your invitation size a quarter inch, in which case you can still get two invites per sheet, for $15 for 100. that’s a huge price difference from paper source’s envelopes and you’ll get an exact match. yes, you can cut it with a good paper cutter, but it’ll take you a LONG time.

I agree with littlemisspress, definitely go for the Lettra — for both price and quality. A Baronial and 4-Bar envelope combination is what you’re after.

And I don’t know what you plan to do for the reply cards but I would print them alongside the invite. Considering you have to cut them anyways why not.

So you’d initially cut to 5.25 x 8.5, with a letter sheet yielding 2 of these size smaller cards. Then figure your reply card can be 3.25 x 4.75 (yes I know this is not a standard size but it fits). You’ll have lovely matching reply cards and the number of passes through the press will be the same.

You certainly couldn’t do that with pre-cut cards, nor could you print a full bleed or beyond a certain margin — and the pre-cut cards have a huge premium attached to them! Go for the Lettra, you’ll have much more wiggle room to get creative in your printing and your design.

Also… a question I always ask clients when they say they need 400 invitations: are you sure? Assuming a majority are couples that’s 700 invited guests.

You would need something on the order of 250 for 400 invited guests, assuming the same.

well, see… if it’s a debate about which paper is better, definitely the Lettra. but if the debate is about time, go with pre-cut pieces from paper source. it’s not much of price difference between the pre-cut and parent sheets, unfortunately.

and the Lettra envelope is much less expensive than the paper-source, but personally, i think the style of the paper-source envelopes are nicer.

re: printing on pre-cut paper… here’s the deal - i print on a 7X10 platen. and i always pre-cut my paper! i know - it’s crazy, but i hate cutting everything out after printing. i’m a self-taught printer. i have my plates made with crops, make my first impression on the tympan. then i line up a piece of tape along the bottom edge of the crops, on the tympan. then i tape the tongues only of the gauge pins along the tape edge. and i print lots of stuff with bleeds.

I like the Paper Source envelope style, too. I haven’t checked the retail prices lately, but it’s possible to order from Paper Source’s wholesale unit, Waste Not Paper ( There’s a minimum of $350 for first-time orders (was $200 until recently), but the catalog indicates that you might be able to order less than the minimum for a $10 fee. I’m not sure if a resale number is required. You might check into it.

Another nice thing about Paper Source is that they sell convenient plastic templates for envelope liners (not that you couldn’t make your own!). As long as this is a labor of love, you might consider liners. A custom liner cranked out on an inkjet printer might be nice — and very inexpensive, material-wise.


If money is an issue, the last thing I would do is design and mail a square invitation.

Squares are more to mail for one. Two, they have a much higher rate of damage and delay due to postal automation.

Check at Olies if there is one in your town. They are like a big lots or a dollar store. I do letterpress printing and had a customer bring me blank wedding invitations from them and I printed their copy on them. They were inexpensive and printed very well. Hope this helps,

Have to agree with invitedink on the square invitation issue. In my last job (in-house designer for a stationery boutique) we used to have brides ask for them a lot, but many (understandably) baulked when they found out the mailing price. Put it this way – USPS does *not* seem to like handling square pieces. You’ll pay a premium in postage.

It’s a shame, because they look so nice… but if budget is a consideration then I would definitely avoid the square invites!