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Handmade Weddings: Creating Custom Letterpress Wedding Invitations with Pistachio Press

Apr 7, 2009

by pistachiopress

Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods

Letterpress printer pistachiopress walks us through the process of getting custom made invitations. Check out some of the other Handmade Wedding posts we’ve done on invites: Invitation Options with Moontreepress, Pushing the Envelope with Calligraphy, Invitations and Papergoods by Poppytalk.

As a printmaker, I have always loved the tactility of prints on good cotton papers.  Naturally, this led me to letterpress printing and eventually to working with brides and grooms on custom wedding invitations. I know that the idea of working with a printer on custom invitations can be a bit overwhelming, but I hope this piece will clarify the process and make the experience a bit less daunting.


[Left: save-the-date booklets, Right: wedding stationery designed by Alexander Cheek and printed by Pistachio Press]

For custom letterpress wedding invitations, I think it’s best to start with a printer whose work you love, even if that work isn’t exclusively wedding stationery.  There are a lot of great letterpress printers on Etsy who also make and design wedding invitations. Etsy’s Alchemy feature is another way to find a printer who will work with you on custom designs.  My favorite part about Alchemy is the option to send a private request to a seller whose work you already love. (You can also contact a seller by sending her a “convo” message.)  I suggest purchasing a sample of the printer’s work to get an idea about the quality of the papers and printing offered. 

For most of the history of letterpress printing, the inked type just lightly kissed the page and didn’t create an impression.  In contemporary letterpress printing, the tactility of a deep impression on cotton paper is often desired to set the piece apart from other forms of printing. Many printers now use photopolymer plates instead of lead type, which allow more options for typefaces and illustration elements (see more about how this works here).  It’s a good idea to talk to the printer if you would like a very specific impression.


[Left: photopolymer plates, Right: detail of machine stitched invitation]

Letterpress printing is generally a bit more expensive than other forms of printing because the labor involved is often much greater.  The paper must be fed through the press separately for every color printed, which will be a large factor in your pricing quote.  To keep costs down, many couples opt to go with a two-color invitation and one-color response cards, thank you notes, and menus.


[Left: eyelet lace cards, Right: recent invitation and response card]

Depending on the complexity of the illustration you want and how many pieces are being designed, complete custom design work can range from $300-$800 in addition to the cost for printing, which can range from $500-$2000.  This generally includes one design direction and about three rounds of revisions.  For custom work, it’s especially helpful to have a clear idea of what you would like the finished product to look like because additional revisions can increase your overall price. 

Having a solid idea about the kind of wedding you’re planning is key when you start looking for invitations.  Are you going to have a large, traditional wedding or a smaller wedding at a park?  Your invitations are the first indication your guests will have about the wedding and they help to set the tone. The more information you can give to your designer, the better!  I love knowing where a client is getting married or what colors the bridesmaid dresses will be and incorporating these details into the invitations.


[Left: hand-drawn invitation, Right: detail of a response card]

Many letterpress printers have several options available for customizing handmade invitations without having a complete custom design created from scratch.  For all of my pre-designed pieces, the couple always has the option of changing ink colors, paper stock, wording, and typefaces.  I have a list of available typefaces that I provide to my clients and I often custom-mix the ink colors for the invitations to match a swatch of fabric from a tie or a dress.  If the designer already has a card with a design you like, you may want to ask if that specific element can be incorporated into your wedding invitations.  This may also cut down on the cost of custom design because the illustration and plate have already been created.  


[Left: mixing the perfect shade of green ink, Right: green swirl cards]

The timeframe for custom invitations is generally 4-6 weeks for design work and 4-6 weeks for the printing.  The process may be shorter if you know exactly what you want, or longer if you make a lot of changes to the design.  I would suggest building in a bit of a cushion in your timeline for addressing the invitations.  Many printers will mail you the envelopes early so that you can start the process of addressing or give them to a calligrapher.


[Both images: custom design by Tara Hogan (tarahogan.etsy.com) and printed by Pistachio Press]

If you’re in love with the work of a designer who isn’t also a letterpress printer, you may want to ask the designer and the printer if they would be willing to work with you on the invitations. I have printed for a few clients who either designed their own invitations or worked with another designer and the process was a lot of fun.  

Further Resources:
Pistachio Press (www.pistachiopress.com)

Handpicked Wedding Items | Wedding Category | Wedding Showcase

Paper Goods Category | Letterpress Wedding Invitations

More Handmade Wedding Posts

71 comments

  • JustAnotherDay

    JustAnotherDay said 9 years ago

    Beautiful work! I am saving up for a press! (just a table top though) Hopefully it won't be too long!

  • sycamorestreetpress

    sycamorestreetpress said 9 years ago

    great explanation pistachio press! i'm bookmarking it so that i can send clients here. thanks :)

  • VintageEye

    VintageEye said 8 years ago

    Thanks for sharing your process with us!

  • dragonhouseofyuen

    dragonhouseofyuen said 8 years ago

    Fantastic - thanks pistachiopress - for explaining this - I just love letterpress printing, the texture, the depth, the simplicity of colours.. ohh, I could go on!

  • ScottieinaCanoe

    ScottieinaCanoe said 8 years ago

    Gorgeous items! Awesome explaining :)

  • IlluminatedPerfume

    IlluminatedPerfume said 8 years ago

    Ooo gee, I'm missing the Vandercook flatbed. Left it in NYC when I moved to LA. Love all the pics...makes me yearn for a press and that smell of ink! Thanks so much for sharing this!

  • daniellexo

    daniellexo said 8 years ago

    If you ever need an ink swirler, I'm your gal!

  • MyJunkyTrunk

    MyJunkyTrunk said 8 years ago

    Oh my gosh! It's all so gorgeous! Thanks for sharing.

  • ageratum

    ageratum said 8 years ago

    Great story - so much info! Thanks! Hope everyone is having a great day too! :) Donna

  • EnfinLaVoila

    EnfinLaVoila said 8 years ago

    I can't wait for my atelier to be finished, I have a Vandercook and a platen press waiting for me.... Until than, I use my 8 color digital press....

  • TheCraftyRagamuffin

    TheCraftyRagamuffin said 8 years ago

    This story makes me so happy. After handmaking all of my own wedding invitations I got confused responses from some people wondering why I would bother to spend the time doing it. I'm so happy to see that more and more people are choosing to send lovingly handmade invitations, which I think represent what a marriage is all about...patience, creativity and love!

  • Ryanplz

    Ryanplz said 8 years ago

    really interesting. i want to go and do this now!

  • lucybluestudio

    lucybluestudio said 8 years ago

    Letterpress is such a wonderful printing process. Thanks for sharing.

  • worksofwhimsy

    worksofwhimsy said 8 years ago

    Wow, these are so beautiful.

  • vitamini

    vitamini said 8 years ago

    What a great little article - thanks!

  • WoollyWonka

    WoollyWonka said 8 years ago

    Beautiful!

  • lovelygifts

    lovelygifts said 8 years ago

    Very nice work. Love the eyelet cards!

  • baconsquarefarm

    baconsquarefarm said 8 years ago

    Great read full of info, thanks for sharing, lovely work as well.

  • blueberrydeluxe

    blueberrydeluxe said 8 years ago

    Just BEAUTIFUL. I took letterpress in college and I don't know how you guys do it so perfectly. It's so much WORK! Really divine work here. :) xo Blueberry

  • PenelopeAndAnastasia

    PenelopeAndAnastasia said 8 years ago

    Oh I'm so in love with letterpress!! If I won the lottery, I'd have the most beautiful business cards on the planet...and they'd be from Etsy of course!

  • asundrynotion

    asundrynotion said 8 years ago

    Absolutely fascinating with such lovely results. I'd like to see the process in person.

  • mykonos

    mykonos said 8 years ago

    The patterns are sooo pretty!!

  • PetitOiseau

    PetitOiseau said 8 years ago

    pistachiopress did our wedding invites last October - they were FABULOUS! so happy.

  • odiliafu

    odiliafu said 8 years ago

    Great article. Beautiful work. Thanks for sharing!

  • TheCottageCheese

    TheCottageCheese said 8 years ago

    Oh, these are so beautiful! Pistachiopress does amazing work, it was fun to read her description of the process. I'm not doing invitations, as my wedding will be family only, but I am shopping for announcements, so this article is so exciting!

  • SavonShoppe

    SavonShoppe said 8 years ago

    Wonderful read. Use to work in a print shop I found the process fascinating... Great work. Bookmarking.

  • stellahats

    stellahats said 8 years ago

    Beautiful work, I love the pressed designs, they are so crisp!! great papers.

  • VintagePaperParade

    VintagePaperParade said 8 years ago

    Beautiful! I love letterpress. I've taken a few workshops and would love to find a vintage press & explore it more. Thanks for the great article.

  • uncharted

    uncharted said 8 years ago

    beautiful work!

  • Tunaj

    Tunaj said 8 years ago

    WOW! it is a really interesting work. The works are beautiful.

  • CutieDynamite

    CutieDynamite said 8 years ago

    Gorgeous!

  • flyingwishes

    flyingwishes said 8 years ago

    Another AWESOME handmade work of art!!!

  • papermenagerie

    papermenagerie said 8 years ago

    Just lovely! The eyelet cards are my faves. I still need to break in my letterpress.

  • UptownCreations

    UptownCreations said 8 years ago

    Wow your stuff is awesome! So beautiful!!!

  • fatcrowpress

    fatcrowpress said 8 years ago

    This is a very well written article, the explanation is very clear. Good work! I find that in my job as a letterpress printer educating is a large part of it.

  • Waterrose

    Waterrose said 8 years ago

    How beautiful!

  • SouthwestFlower

    SouthwestFlower said 8 years ago

    This is amazing artwork. I think those eyelet cards are amazing!

  • Nishale

    Nishale said 8 years ago

    Awesome

  • sandali

    sandali said 8 years ago

    WOW -- I am amazed with all the prints !! It gorgeous & I LOVE it !!

  • insecteBrillant

    insecteBrillant said 8 years ago

    i love the choice, so inspiring

  • MademoiselleG

    MademoiselleG said 8 years ago

    Wow very nice work! It's very nice to see how these cards are made.

  • DeNovoStyle

    DeNovoStyle said 8 years ago

    Wow, these are just amazing!

  • ManoCelebrates

    ManoCelebrates said 8 years ago

    Great work, great job.

  • SimpleTraditions

    SimpleTraditions said 8 years ago

    Wow, everything looks awesome, I love the dandelion letter press!

  • sarahearn

    sarahearn said 8 years ago

    fantastic! great to see rachel & her work "starring" here on etsy! thanks so much!

  • EpicBones

    EpicBones said 8 years ago

    love those pistachiopress invitations!! i'll keep this in mind for my someday wedding. sigh...

  • rollandtumblepress

    rollandtumblepress said 8 years ago

    gotta' love the letterpress!!!

  • TheNebulousKingdom

    TheNebulousKingdom said 8 years ago

    really gorgeous! I love the Eyelet lace, letterpress card set

  • asmallbrightidea

    asmallbrightidea said 8 years ago

    beautiful! letterpress always makes me sentimental.

  • Corbaecreative

    Corbaecreative said 8 years ago

    Beautiful! I love the tactile quality of letterpress printing.

  • ArtFromTheHeartBySue

    ArtFromTheHeartBySue said 8 years ago

    Beautiful work that you do! The amount of time and the meticulous attention to detail is just tremendous!

  • edor

    edor said 8 years ago

    so pretty...

  • pistachiopress

    pistachiopress said 8 years ago

    Thank you so much for the wonderful comments! I'm very touched by all of you letterpress enthusiasts!

  • laurabrownart

    laurabrownart said 8 years ago

    this is a really great explanation of the process and how letterpress fits into the printmaking family. great piece, so concise and explanatory!

  • bellasparty

    bellasparty said 8 years ago

    Very interesting. Beautiful work!

  • thestapeliacompany

    thestapeliacompany said 8 years ago

    I love letterpress. I think it's beautiful. Especially your work pistachio! ;)

  • enchantingimages

    enchantingimages said 8 years ago

    oh very nice!! good to keep in mind for the future :)

  • OhFaro

    OhFaro said 8 years ago

    I'm in love with cards and printed materials that reflect a personality. This is a wonderful article.

  • puck55

    puck55 said 8 years ago

    Very good article. Beautiful work.

  • OriginalsbyParis

    OriginalsbyParis said 8 years ago

    Great work! I'm going to tell my niece about this. She is getting married next summer. She will love this letterpress stuff!

  • GeeZees

    GeeZees said 8 years ago

    beautifully done Love it!

  • carinissimo

    carinissimo said 8 years ago

    Lovely!!

  • vintagetrunk

    vintagetrunk said 8 years ago

    Oh I wish I had one of those machines. Beautiful.

  • SweetGraphics

    SweetGraphics said 8 years ago

    Beautiful pieces and great advise. Oh I love the feel of letterpress...

  • rustdust

    rustdust said 8 years ago

    I love the look wish I could see the machine at work.

  • fineartstoneware

    fineartstoneware said 8 years ago

    Very interesting and nice work!

  • ovgilliesdesigns

    ovgilliesdesigns said 8 years ago

    Amazing work! I love letterpress - it looks so stylish & beautiful!

  • Mattamorphis

    Mattamorphis said 8 years ago

    I've always want a letter press. What a fab way to create invites

  • stephaniek

    stephaniek said 8 years ago

    My sister and I are discussing designs for her wedding invitations! We're definitely going to consider doing letterpress printing. There's so much beauty in the simplicity of 1 and 2 color design. Just one of many reasons I love hand printmaking! I especially love the elegance of the impressions into the paper.

  • etsyketsy123

    etsyketsy123 said 7 years ago

    Beautiful. Looks like fun too! I'm thinking of purchasing my own mini letter press because I make cards. What do you think? :P

  • Homepage said 3 years ago

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