Invitations 101



Invitations 101
Invitations 101
A basic introduction to invitation design and construction
by Paper Mojo
Copyright 2012 Paper Mojo LLC. All rights reserved.
page 1
Your Starting Point
Define your style
Chances are magazines, design blogs and Pinterest have helped
you collect a wealth of inspiration for your wedding and
wedding stationery. If you don’t have a starting point, these are
a good resource for ideas. While you are browsing, think of the
personality you would like your event to display and choose your
inspiration photos with that in mind. Once you’ve collected
several photos of invitations that resonate with you, examine
each one to find the common elements that define your style. It
may be a particular color, a classic formality, or a style of
typography. Or it may be a combination of several elements.
Whatever you identify as the design aspects that attracted you to
your chosen examples, you can use as the basis of your style.
The goal is not to necessarily copy the design, but to use the
photos as a starting point.
Talk your ideas over with your partner and begin to collect
words that evoke the essence of the style and personality you
want your wedding to have - what you want it to feel like. This
may seem a bit silly at first but once done, it can have a
powerful effect on helping you make design choices in the
future. Choose words that express the personality of you and
your partner. Avoid any temptation for a style makeover, so
don’t include words like grand pageant if you are casual and
laid-back. You do not want to feel like an outsider at your own
Share your wedding personality words with your wedding elves,
such as your Mother, future Mother-in-Law and your
bridesmaids. They can help everyone stay focused.
Copyright 2012 Paper Mojo LLC. All rights reserved.
budget chic
full of laughter
full of love
shabby chic
wild celebration
page 2
Define Your Color Palette
The best place to start looking for colors for your wedding palette is your and your fiancee’s
personal surroundings and your closets. People prefer to surround themselves with colors that
make them feel good and make them look their best when they wear them. Above all, if you
look like death in orange, don’t choose it just because it’s featured in Martha Stewart
Weddings. Your colors, like your personality words, should reflect your style and make you
the shining star of the event. Begin collect paint chips, fabric swatches or magazine clippings
to build your palette.
Your Style & Colors References
The process of defining your style words and colors helps define your entire event style, so
don’t skip over these steps. Add your style words and color palette swatches to a small note
book or envelope that you can carry in your purse. There will be plenty of tempting choices in
the coming months as you make your plans, and having your style resources always at hand
will make those choices much easier. Just compare your style words and color palette against
any choice you are considering and it will help you stay focused. When your style words are
beachy and playful and your colors are aqua and taupe, no matter how tempting those deep
red napkins with the gold emblem are on sale for 70% off, you can easily pass them by.
Define Your Budget
If you have ever come across an invitation from your parents' or grandparents' wedding, it is
always a treasured family heirloom, no matter how modest. The invitation is a statement of
the style and uniqueness of your ceremony and reception and more importantly, is the first
public symbol of your new life together. Even if your budget is tight, it is still possible to
create something that expresses your uniqueness.
Generally speaking, the more components in a DIY invitation, the higher the cost. Fancy
embellishments such as rhinestone buckles can easily double or triple the cost of basic
materials. If you are budget conscious, there are many other ways to add luxury touches to
your design. As you begin to build your design ideas, you can easily tally the cost of the
materials you are using. While it may be difficult to not solely focus on cost, we suggest that
you let the sky be the limit till you find a look you love, then pare down to meet your budget.
If you are planning to print your own stationery, don’t forget to budget for the toner or ink
and any other printer costs.
Copyright 2012 Paper Mojo LLC. All rights reserved.
page 3
Basic Wording
First and foremost, an invitation must be
informative. Keep it short and easy to read.
Below is the basic layout.
Invitational line
Request line
Bride’s name
Joining word
Groom’s name
City, State
Mr.andMrs.Elton Hercules John
invite you to share in our joy
as our daughter
is united in marriage
Saturday, the twenty-second ofJune
Saint HelenaEpiscopalChurch
Less Formal
Don’t be afraid to use traditional wording or
a variation even in a very nontraditional
invitation. It makes sense to stay with good
etiquette, as you would most likely prefer
your wedding to be viewed as a serious and
respected event.
Mr.& Mrs. EltonHercules John
request the honour ofyour presence
at the marriage of their daughter
Saturday, the twenty-second ofJune
Saint HelenaEpiscopalChurch
Share inour happiness
as we get married
Saturday, the twenty-second ofJune
Saint HelenaEpiscopalChurch
Copyright 2012 Paper Mojo LLC. All rights reserved.
page 4
Anatomy of an Invitation
The bare bones pieces of an invitation is the invitation card, the
reception card, the response card with self addressed, stamped
envelope, and outer envelope. An inner envelope is considered
traditional, but alternatives are becoming popular as pocketfolds
and pochettes will stand in for an inner envelope. Optional
enclosures beyond the reply/response card are the reception
card, map or directions card and the accommodation card.
Envelope Sizes
4 Bar - 3 5/8” x 5 1/8”
A2 - 4 3/8” x 5 ¾”
A6 - 4 ¾” x 6 ½”
A7 - 5 ¼” x 7 ¼”
Outer # 7 - 5 ½” x 8 ½”
A8 - 5 ½” x 8 1/8”
Wedding invitations come in many sizes and shapes and
defining those details would be part of your overall design
decisions. It is usually best to design your pieces to use standard
size envelopes as I doubt that making envelopes is on your to-do
list. The standard sizes for envelopes are listed on the right.
A9 - 5 ¾” x 8 ¾”
Booklet - 6” x 9”
#10 - 4 1/8” 9 ½”
Square - 5” x 5”
Square - 5 ½” x 5 ½”
Plan to make your invitation 1/8” smaller than your envelope on
all sides, and up to ¼” smaller if your invitation is especially
thick. For example, a 5 ¼” x 7 ¼” envelope (called A7) would
be used for a 5” x 7” invitation (also called A7). A7 is used for the
inner envelope and the Outer #7 is used for the outer envelope.
The 4 Bar envelope is a common size for a reply/response card.
Copyright 2012 Paper Mojo LLC. All rights reserved.
Square - 6” x 6”
Square - 6 ½” x 6 ½”
Square - 7 ½” x 7 ½”
page 5
Design Basics
Begin the design process by gathering together all your design
inspiration, some basic cardstock & invitation supplies, and any
other materials you think may be fun to play with in your initial
design exploration. Your job at this point is to explore different
types of invitation construction, so that you can later choose one
that works best for your final design, budget, and time available
on task.
A Foolproof Font Mix
Choose a formal script
font for the Bride &
Groom’s names and
accent text, and a
small caps font for the
balance of the text
Formal Script examples
The printed parts of your invitation can be designed in either
basic word processing software such as MS Word, in graphic
layout software such as Adobe InDesign or Illustrator or in
specialized invitation software. Use whichever tool you feel most
comfortable with, as all will do basic invitation layout equally
once the software’s tool are understood.
Image processing software such as Photoshop can be used in a
pinch, but software dedicated to handling photos does not do the
best job at handling text. If you’re using a photo in your design,
you can polish it up in an image processing program and then
import it into either Word or Illustrator (among others) to
complete your design and add the text.
Remember to save your work, and use the trick of saving your
file as a different name or version every few changes. It’s very
disheartening to discover you liked your design best before you
made the most recent changes, but that version has been saved
over and you must start from the beginning.
Chopin Script
Edwardian Script
Small Cap examples
Optimus Princeps
Copperpl ate
In choosing your fonts, you generally want the character of
your font to reflect the personality of your invitation. Script and
calligraphy fonts are popular for invitations and can range in
personality from stately formality to romantic flourishes to
playfully quirkiness. If choosing a more decorative script font,
you may want to pair it with a more simple font for the majority
of your text to keep your information completely readable. Try
not to use more than two font styles in your design. In general,
more than two can make your invitation come off looking
overly busy, amateurish, and hard to read.
Copyright 2012 Paper Mojo LLC. All rights reserved.
(small cap version)
(small cap version)
page 6
Text Alignment
Text alignment refers to whether your text lines up on the left or right side of the page, or is
centered in the middle. Because you will be using only a small amount of text, any of the
three will do. To simplify your invitation, do not mix justifications within the same piece, and
do not force justify your text unless you understand the risks of making it hard to read.
Left Aligned
Center Aligned
Right Aligned
Mr. & Mrs. Elton Hercules John
request the honour of your presence
at the marriage of their daughter
Julia Roberta
Mr. John Christopher Stamos
Saturday, the twenty-second of June
at seven o’clock
Saint Helena Episcopal Church
Beaufort, South Carolina
Mr. & Mrs. Elton Hercules John
request the honour of your presence
at the marriage of their daughter
Julia Roberta
Mr. John Christopher Stamos
Saturday, the twenty-second of June
at seven o’clock
Saint Helena Episcopal Church
Beaufort, South Carolina
Mr. & Mrs. Elton Hercules John
request the honour of your presence
at the marriage of their daughter
Julia Roberta
Mr. John Christopher Stamos
Saturday, the twenty-second of June
at seven o’clock
Saint Helena Episcopal Church
Beaufort, South Carolina
Using layers of paper or card stock in your design can create an elegant frame for your
invitation, while adding a splash of accent color. These layers of card stock or paper can also
be called Invitation mats. The extra layers will add more weight to your invitation, which can
create a rich feel when held. Keep in mind, too, that it can also add to your postage costs.
Invitation layers usually decrease in size 1/8” to ¼” on each side as they are stacked, so that
a 2 layer invitation with a finished size of 5” x 7” (A7) would have a printed top layer of 4.75”
x 6.75” with an 1/8” mat. While 1/8” and 1/4” mats are standard, don’t be afraid to go larger
if you have a decorative paper or pattern you want to show off.
one layer
two layers
three layers
Copyright 2012 Paper Mojo LLC. All rights reserved.
page 7
Invitation embellishments can take many forms. They are usually incorporated into the
design of the printed text.
Printed Graphics
You may draw and scan your own art or use copyright free images to add a decorative
element to your invitation. We’ve listed some good sources in the resources section for
sources of graphics. You will most likely need an image editing software such as Photoshop
to perfect the design.
Applied Paper
Using a rectangle of patterned paper as a design element can be a very effective and
economical way to dress up an invitation. It has several advantages in that it can easily be
repeated elsewhere as an envelope liner or a belly band or both. It is flat and lightweight so it
does not add significant weight or bulk to your invitation for postage considerations.
If you choose a handmade or hand silk screened paper, the character of the paper and
printing can add visual texture and depth to your invitation while also reinforcing your
invitation’s personality.
Copyright 2012 Paper Mojo LLC. All rights reserved.
page 8
Punches & Stamps
Punches and stamps are scrapbook techniques that are sometimes used in invitation design
and can be fun additions. Keep in mind though that these can be time consuming and what is
easily applied to one invitation can be overwhelming to execute when producing 100
Wraps & Closures
These elements are usually considered the packaging for the invitation and can take many
forms. Card stock wraps such as pocket folds, pocket cards, pochettes and gatefolds have
gained popularity in recent years and are elegant ways to organize and contain the enclosures
of your invitation. These card stock elements are part envelope, part presentation folder and
in many cases, part of the invitation itself as many times the invitation is glued to one panel.
In most cases, they replace any need for an inner envelope. Pochettes and gatefolds can also
be made of translucent and lace-like paper for a completely different look.
Ribbon & Twine
Ribbons are very commonly used in invitation designs and simple ribbons can be found on
many commercially produced invitations. Recently using twine rather than ribbon has
become popular in many contemporary invitation designs and lace trim for a vintage look.
Ribbons can be laced through punched holes to hold invitation layers together or to tie the
invitation set together like a package. The bow or knotting of the ribbon is usually the focal
point of this design element.
Copyright 2012 Paper Mojo LLC. All rights reserved.
page 9
Belly Bands & Seals
Belly bands or belly sashes are strips of paper that wrap your invitation set, holding it
together much in the same way ribbon can be used. The strips of paper can be wide or
narrow, with the most common being about 1 1/2” wide. One of the advantage of using a
belly band rather than a tied ribbon is that it creates a flatter invitation that can be easier to
A seal is a square or rectangular piece of card stock that is used to close a belly band or
invitation pocket. The paper can be layered with decorative paper, or it can display the bride
and grooms initials, names, wedding date or a favorite phrase.
Envelope Liners
Envelope liners area a easy way to accessorize any invitation, no matter what the style. Even
if you have purchased a completed invitation suite, there is still an opportunity to personalize
it with some envelope liners. If you are using Euro-flap envelopes (those with pointed flaps)
you can make a cardboard template to trace out your envelope liners or you can have them
die cut. If you are using square flap envelopes, you can get away with rectangular envelope
liners that are easier to cut.
Choose a paper that coordinates with your invitation design for a traditional feel or introduce
a completely different pattern and color with the liner for a modern feel. You can line just the
interior envelope, if you are using one, or any or all of the envelopes to include the response
card envelope and the outer envelope.
Envelope liners are usually held in place with just a few dots of glue or a small piece of
adhesive tape just under the top edge. When inserting the liner, do not push it completely to
the bottom of the envelope. Leave the interior unglued so when folded, the liner can slide
down a tiny bit as the envelope is closed.
Copyright 2012 Paper Mojo LLC. All rights reserved.
page 10
Putting It All Together
When your final size is a basic rectangle or square printing on
8.5 x 11 sheets is the most economical means of printing
compared to printing on smaller cut pieces . The 8.5 x 11 sheets
can easily be cut down after printing. Group multiples of the
same card on one sheet, or design your layout so the invitation,
response card, directions/reception card and seal all fit on the
same sheet. When compared to printing on pre-sized cards or
cutting away the majority of you card stock, this technique is a
big time and money saver.
Ink Jet printing
A modern photo printer will do a nice job on matte papers but is
not recommended for metallic sheen papers. The ink will bleed if
it gets wet.
Laser Printing
Laser printing generally produces crisper text than ink jet, but
can curl card stock because of the heat used in the printing
process. Metallic sheen papers can generally be printed on a laser
printer although pretesting is strongly recommended. Individual
metallic paper colors can vary in their ability to be laser printed.
Commercial Printing
This is always an option if you should decide you would like
your invitations printed by an outside source. Offset printing,
thermography and letterpress are all options.
We strongly recommend that if you do not own a paper cutter
or trimmer, that you invest in one if you want to do your own
cutting. You can purchase one for under $30 and not only will it
save you hours of frustration but it will serve you well into the
future. Another option is to outsource your cutting. We offer
custom cutting services for our card stock and decorative paper
that are very reasonably priced.
Copyright 2012 Paper Mojo LLC. All rights reserved.
page 11
There are many adhesives that will work well to assemble an
invitation and most any glue used for scrapbooking or
cardmaking will work well. Our personal favorites for small
scale work are Zip Dry adhesive and scor tape but others may
work equally well. Just be sure that you do not use a glue that
overly wets the paper. Glue dots are also very popular for card
assembly and the ATG tape gun is a standard tool for
professional invitation designers.
Zip Dry is similar to thin rubber cement and comes in a plastic
bottle with a fine applicator tip. It is solvent-based and dries
quickly without wetting the paper. An advantage with using Zip
Dry is that there is a comfortable few moments available to
reposition your glued elements before the bond takes hold. Once
aligned, press down lightly to completely spread the glue but do
not weight the pieces. Only the smallest amount is needed, as
the bond is very strong.
Another adhesive option is Scor Tape. Scor Tape is a doublesided tape adhesive similar to the professional’s ATG tape, that is
applied manually and comes in a roll much like masking tape
with a peel-off paper backing on one side. It is available in a
variety of widths, much like the ATG tape. After positioning, the
bond is very permanent.
Removable glue dots are great for creating closures and wraps
on invitations or for attaching removable items such as save the
date magnets.
Above all, test your glue on your materials before it is time to
assemble the final product. Let the assembled piece rest a week
or so to see how the glue holds up. We have found that some
easy to use tapes will lose some of their adhesive qualities over
time and the pieces will separate.
Copyright 2012 Paper Mojo LLC. All rights reserved.
page 12
Beyond the Invitation
Once your invitation set the feel of your wedding, carry those
elements over to the “day-of” stationery, such as your wedding
program, escort cards and table numbers as well as thank you
cards. When you plan your invitation design, keep these other
stationery pieces in mind. Look for design elements that can
easily be incorporated into these, such as distinctive font and a
unifying paper or graphic. You may want to print your
invitation on an elegant cotton paper, but you could choose a
similar wood pulp paper for the other pieces if you incorporate
other design elements.
The Full Wedding Stationery Suite
· Save the Date
· Wedding Invitation
· Thank You Cards
· Programs
· Escort Cards or Seating Chart
· Place Cards
· Table Number Cards/Signs
· Menu Cards
· Rehearsal Dinner Invitations
Copyright 2012 Paper Mojo LLC. All rights reserved.
page 13
Planning Your Approach
Decide what you want to do yourself
Once you’ve tried your hand at working with the suggestions in
this guide, it’s time to define which elements of your wedding
stationery suite you would like to produce yourself. Although
there are always options available once a design path has begun,
choosing how much you and your family and friends want to
contribute to the design and construction of your Wedding Paper
Suite is best done before you begin to make design decisions.
If you are well versed in graphic layout software and paper
construction techniques, you can jump right in as the sky’s the
limit for you. If you are less than a pro in some areas, never
fear - your invite can still look drop dead gorgeous.
Good with layout software, not so crazy
about glue & scissors?
Let your typography be the shining star of your suite and use
simple construction techniques to carry out the design. Find one
patterned or textured paper that carries out your design theme
and use it as a belly band and/or envelope liner. Choose one or
two coordinating colors for your card stock and envelopes.
Love the cut and paste, but layout software
is a mystery?
Use traditional wedding format in a simple Word document or
try your hand at using inexpensive, specialized invitation
software. You can also purchase semi-custom printed invites
and dress them up a bit with colored card stock.
Also remember that even though you may want to do the save
the date and wedding invitation completely DIY, those elements
of the day-of stationery that are last minute productions, such as
your menus, may be a sanity saver to outsource. You still can
plan your design completely beforehand.
Copyright 2012 Paper Mojo LLC. All rights reserved.
page 14
A wonderful resource for fonts free to use for personal use with
no strings attached
Another good website for free for personal use fonts
A third good website for free for personal use fonts
Good for must-have fonts that are difficult to find free, such as
Copperplate. Single font styles run around $20-$30.
Offers graphics in a variety of sizes that can easily be imported
into your invitation layout software and can be edited in
Photoshop or similar image editing programs. Choose a size that
is 300 dpi for printing. Images run about $10-$20.00
Offers a larger collection of images but most illustrations are
offered only in vector format. Make sure your software can
handle vector images or plan to have the image converted for
use. Images run about $20.00.
An online version of the popular Dover picture library. Pages of
book collections can be previewed and pages can be purchased
individually. Pages can be cut apart and edited in an image
editing program such as Photoshop.
We offer a wide variety of decorative paper, card stock,
envelopes and other stationery components.
Copyright 2012 Paper Mojo LLC. All rights reserved.
page 15