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.
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.
FTSL: How far in advance should people arrange their printing?
TP: Before COVID19, I would’ve said that 12-16 weeks would be ideal if there are no overseas guests, 6 months if there are but we’ve all been working with so much uncertainty with changing restrictions around weddings that lead-times have become much tighter. My advice is to lock in your stationery vendor and get the design done as soon as possible. Once you’ve got your design, it can be held for printing until you’re able to finalise the details and then rushed to print if need be. It’s much harder to rush an entire job through without sacrificing something along the way.
‘Save the Date’ cards are also a great option to buy you time to sort out the details, especially when they direct your guests to a wedding website. COVID19 has definitely bought about a resurgence in wedding websites – we’ve been working with web designers to minimise the need for reprints without removing the print element altogether.
FTSL: How can people save money on their printing?
AP: There are a lot of opportunities to save money without cutting corners on what’s important:
· Work out what you need – if you’ve spent a lot of time on Pinterest, you can be overwhelmed by all the printed elements you’re often told you need. Take the time to work out if you actually need it all. For example, if you already have everything booked and locked in, do you need a ‘Save the Date’ card?; can you combine your Table Number with Menu Card or your Menu Card with Place Holder?; can your Welcome Sign double as a Seating Chart? Working out these efficiencies can not only save you money but also cut back on table clutter and waste.
· Prioritise select items for letterpressing – Letterpressing is a more expensive and time consuming process than digital printing so ask what elements of your package actually need to be letterpressed, if any. We offer a range of packages to meet different needs. You can save yourself time and money if, for example, you only want your invitation letterpressed. We can digitally print everything else using the same colours and design on our beautiful paper stock so you still have a premium product without the letterpress price tag.
· Focus on design – At the top end of our range, we offer a fully bespoke design package but we also offer a range of templates for people who are tighter on time and money. Of course these are fully customisable as well. We update our templates monthly to make sure they’re setting and meeting current trends.
· Streamline the process – Find a stationery vendor that can manage your printing from start to finish so you’re not running around between designers, small format printers, large format printers, web designers and so on, trying to translate specs and go between suppliers who seem to speak a language all their own. Every touch point comes with the potential for a blowout in budget and time. It’s far better to deal with one supplier who can manage it all and leverage their industry partnerships (thanks Dad!) to save you time and money.
Terrace Press is all about consistency and cohesion – it’s fundamental to who we are to be able to simplify the process for our couples and just deliver what they need without giving them the runaround.
FTSL: What’s on trend in wedding stationery at the moment?
TP: There’s definitely a move towards more earthy tones – creams, sands, natural greens and away from boho, pinks and greys. What’s interesting is that the shift seems to be another impact of COVID19. It’s always a good idea to match your stationery to your venue