A wedding invitation is a letter asking the recipient to attend a wedding. It is typically written in formal, third-person language and mailed five to eight weeks before the wedding date.
Like any other invitation, it is the privilege and duty of the host to issue invitations, either by sending them herself or causing them to be sent, either by enlisting the help of relatives, friends, or her social secretary to select the guest list and address envelopes, or by hiring a service. With computer technology, some are able to print directly on envelopes from a guest list using a mail merge with word processing and spreadsheet software.
Historically, wedding invitations were hand-written unless the length of the guest list made this impractical. When mass-production was necessary, engraving was preferred over the only other widely available then option, which was a relatively poor quality of letterpress printing. Hand-written invitations, in the hosts’ own handwriting, are still considered most correct whenever feasible; these invitations follow the same formal third-person form as printed ones for formal weddings, and take the form of a personal letter for less formal weddings.
Commercial wedding invitations are typically printed using one of the following methods: engraving, lithography, thermography, letterpress printing, sometimes blind embossing, compression plate process, or offset printing. More recently, many do-it-yourself brides are printing on their home computers using a laser printer or inkjet printer. For the artistically inclined, they can be handmade or written in calligraphy.
Tissues are often provided by manufacturers to place over the printed text. Originally, the purpose of the tissue was to reduce smudging or blotting, especially on invitations poorly printed or hastily mailed before the ink was fully dried, but improved printing techniques mean they are now simply decorative. Those who know that their original purpose has been made irrelevant by dramatic improvements in printing technology usually discard them.
Modern invitation design follows fashion trends. Invitations are generally chosen to match the couple’s personal preferences, the level of formality of the event, and any color scheme or planned theme. For example, a casual beach wedding may have light, fresh colors and beach-related graphics. A formal church wedding may have more scripty-type-faces and lots of ornamentation that matches the formal nature of the event. The design of the invitation is becoming less and less traditional and more reflective of the couple’s personality. Some web-based print-on-demand companies now allow couples to design or customize their own wedding invitations.
The invitation is typically a note card, folded in half, or perhaps French folded (folded twice, into quarters). Other options include a sheet of paper, a tri-fold, or a trendy pocket-fold design. The appropriate paper density depends on the design, but typically ranges from heavy paper to very stiff card stock.
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