How to Save on your Wedding Stationery without Sacrificing Style

They say first impressions count, which is why your choice of wedding stationery is one of the most important decisions you’ll make. Your wedding invitation or ‘Save the Date’ carries with it the potential to set the tone for the entire occasion. We sat down with Alex Power of Terrace Press, a fourth generation printer, to delve deeper into that art of letterpress printing and to get her top tips on how you can make a stunning first impression (pun intended) without breaking the bank.

Wedding Invitation and Menu
Terrace Press Wedding Stationery

FOR THY SWEET LOVE: So printing runs in your family?

ALEX POWER: Yes, my great grandfather was a Pressman, my grandfather was a Compositor, my dad runs a pre-press company specialising in a larger print formats, and then there’s me carrying on the old tradition of letterpress printing with a collection of presses, both inherited and acquired.

The presses themselves are like family too, each with it’s own quirks, process, and even sound. We have 4 letterpresses including Felix and Elke - both 1960 Heidelberg windmill letterpress printers; Ernst - a 1975 Heidelberg windmill; and Brian - a beautiful foot treadle ARAB press from the 1920s that we’re in the process of restoring. We also have Miëka - our foiler; and 3 gorgeous guillotines.

It’s hard to explain how machines can have so much personality and be so much more than tools-of-the-trade. They carry so much history with them and they gather so much more with every job they do. When they’re up and running, its almost therapeutic. In fact, when my son was a baby, the wooshing sound of the presses was the only thing that would calm him.

FTSL: What is the letterpress process? AP: It’s an old style of printing that uses a custom plate and ink (or foil) to press on and into paper to create an impression and leave an imprint in single motion – it may sound simple but it’s anything but. Luckily, we’ve come a long way from when my grandfather had to set every character by hand one at a time. Back then you were limited by the typefaces the individual printer used. Nowadays, we use custom plates that can be digitally created from just about any source including handwritten calligraphy, multiple languages, custom designs – anything you can imagine.

Setting up the print is the most time-consuming part by far. Old machines can be temperamental so it takes a lot of skill and knowhow to get that plate in perfect alignment with the paper. Mixing custom inks is the other thing that requires absolute precision – we use pantone ‘recipes’ and scales to make sure we get everything exact before we put ink to paper. It takes so long to get the set up just right so it can be devastating when you get it wrong and have to clean it all down and start again.

The effort is worth it though when you see and feel the finished piece. We use luxurious soft cotton papers that press beautifully – it’s really as much of a tactile experience as it is visual. There’s nothing as satisfying as holding an object of beauty that could only have been made one piece at a time.