Graphic Design AdviceGraphic, Design, Advice
ServiceScape Incorporated
ServiceScape Incorporated
2017

How to Create an Elegant Wedding Invitation


As a designer, wedding invitations are some of the most fun projects I get to work on. There's something incredible about creating something that's one-of-a-kind and tailor-made to a couple's personalities and style—not to mention that the invite itself becomes a keepsake for the couple even after the wedding is over.

Because of the creative freedom that wedding invitations allow, it's easy to get overwhelmed by all the style and production choices. Whether you're a designer working for a client or you're creating invitations for your own wedding, here are a few tips that can help take your invitations to the next level and create a polished, beautiful visual experience for guests. While making creative choices for your invitation, it's important to keep in mind the style of the wedding and personalities of the couple in order to design something that truly represents them and feels appropriate for the event. This can be a great source of inspiration for you as you begin designing. It's also important to consider a couple's budget before beginning so you don't present them with options they can't afford. With a little creative thinking, distinct and beautiful invitations can be created on any budget.

Size

One thing that can help your invitation stand out is considering a unique size for your invitation. While a standard 5x7 invite feels traditional and formal, a different proportion can create a custom feel. A smaller invite has an intimate feel, while a larger one can feel grandiose. Play with the proportions and orientation as well—try a tall and skinny shape or flip the invite to be landscape instead of portrait. Another option to consider is a square, circular, or die-cut shaped invite. However, keep practicality in mind–too small and your invite might not have enough room for legible information, and too large or uniquely-shaped and it might be challenging or expensive to package.

Typography

When choosing the typeface for your invitation, think about how formal you want the invitation to appear and the overall impression you want guests to get from the invitation. Using a formal script font for the names of the couple is a great way to make the invite traditional and elegant. These fonts generally use thinner and more intricate strokes, and they work well with ornate graphics and imagery. Casual script fonts more closely resemble actual handwriting and can give a personal, laid-back appearance to your invite. Their heavier brushstrokes make them more modern-looking than formal scripts.

Serif fonts also feel traditional and classic, and when printed are some of the most easy-to-read typefaces, making them ideal for the supporting body copy on your invite and invitation materials. Sans serifs feel modern, clean, and classy, and they work great both for headers and body copy.

When choosing font pairings, it's best to stick with fonts that contrast with each other to create a sense of balance and harmony. Avoid using scripts for anything except titles and headers, as these can be difficult to read at small sizes.

If you're on a budget, it can be difficult to find quality typefaces for free or little cost, so below I've outlined a few good choices that are completely free to use. Font Squirrel is a great resource to find quality fonts for free.

Fonts
Here's some free fonts that would look great in a wedding invitation.

Unique imagery

To make an invite truly feel like it was custom-designed, consider creating custom visual elements or illustrations. This will make the invite feel personal and considered, and your client will probably appreciate the extra touch. A custom or unique illustration avoids making the invite look like it was created from a pre-designed template.

If you're not an illustrator, another route is finding quality illustrations that you can repurpose to create a one-of-a-kind invite. The Graphics Fairy is a great online resource for free, public domain images including flourishes, floral accents, and page dividers. Or, consider creating minimal, geometric graphic elements for a polished and clean look which pairs great with a sans serif font.

Paper stock

There are lots of options when it comes to choosing the type of paper you print your invites on, even if you're on a budget. Paper with a matte finish feels classic and minimal, while textured paper can elevate your design and has a more artistic, handmade feel. Shimmer paper or other types of lustrous, semi-gloss papers create an upscale and luminous feel. Cotton or fabric-based papers are warm and approachable. Thinner paper stocks feel delicate, while thicker stocks feel substantial and considered.

Along with weight choices, paper stock also comes in different variations of white and ivory. A bright white paper feels fresh and modern, while ivory or off-white feels traditional and antique. You could also use brown kraft paper for a rustic vibe or colored cardstock for a fun pop of color. Overlaying your invite with a translucent vellum paper is an easy way to create both elegance and visual interest.

If you're not sure how a certain paper will look or feel, don't hesitate to ask your printer to send you paper samples—many common printing sites online offer this option for free on their websites. Making guesses about a paper stock without samples or a physical proof can lead to extra costs and time spent if the paper isn't what you expected. This also makes the choice easier for your client if they can see and touch the paper before buying.

Production

There are a variety of different finishing techniques that can elevate your design and give it a premium feel. Letterpress invitations add dimension and texture. Currently, letterpress is a very popular option for printed pieces like invitations and involves making impressions on paper to create a raised surface out of lettering or design elements. Foil-stamping, another popular technique, is a great way to add metallic shine to your invite, and it is usually available in a variety of gold, silver, and bronze tones which can be applied to any part of the design. A great way to create an intricate feel is having edges or elements of your invitation laser-cut into lace or floral-like patterns.

Finishing options like the ones listed above can be costly, but there are several less expensive ways to add interest to your invite. Simply rounding the corners of an invite can help it feel softer and more custom-made. Printing a pattern or solid color on the blank side of your invite is also a great added detail. Instead of having your invite be a flat piece of paper, you could consider a folded card for your invite. Tri-fold designs are a popular option right now, and a bonus aspect of this design is it allows extra room for other photos and graphics to be added. Folded cards can add an element of anticipation as a guest opens and unfolds the invitation, and they also work well to contain other pieces that go along with the invite, like RSVP cards and maps to the reception.

As with paper stocks, talk to your printer to see what finishing options they have available and how much they cost. If you're crafty and have the time, DIY can also be an option to cut production costs—foil stamping kits, corner rounders and punches, and paper scoring tools can help you achieve your desired effect without spending a lot of money.

Invitation suites

One of the best ways to make your invitations feel professional is to create a cohesive package of all the different printed pieces for the wedding that all use the same design elements. Think "save the dates," envelopes, RSVP cards, reception maps, programs, menus, place cards, and thank you cards. Having all these different pieces feel cohesive is an ideal way to reinforce the wedding theme through a guest's entire experience, and it'll save your clients time and hassle because they won't have to design every piece separately.

Packaging

Finally, consider the way your invitation will be packaged and sent to a guest. To secure the contents of the invitation together, consider using elements like belly bands, ribbons, twine, or lace to add a handmade touch and to allow the guest to easily pull the whole stack out at once. Custom envelopes that match the design are an easy and relatively inexpensive way to package everything up, but if your budget allows, sending your invites in a small or shallow box can really make an impression. For the address labels, printing or stamping the text directly onto the envelope or package looks professional, but handwriting adds a personal touch that your guests may appreciate. To seal your envelope, design a custom sticker with the couple's initials or use a wax seal. Packaging is a great opportunity to think creatively and to try the unconventional.

Overall, don't be afraid to think outside of the box for the design and production of your invitation—the right solution will make your invite stand out and be a beautiful reflection of the couple's heart and character.

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