The traditional formal wedding invitation is a true work of art and will certainly stand out from the bulk of your normal mail. Often bearing a distinctive franking or special stamps, the outer postal envelope opens to reveal a creamy white inner envelope elegantly address and invariably penned in calligraphy. This inner envelope in turn contains, wrapped in tissue, the beautifully printed and hand written invitation card displaying a style of wording that has been used for generations.
The traditional wedding invitation is said to date back to the Middle Ages when the only people who were schooled in reading and writing were monks. Their principal task at that time was to produce bibles and other religious books and documents in an age before printing had been invented and they had developed expert skills in calligraphy for this work. It became common practice therefore for members of European royal families and the aristocracy to engage the services of monks to provide the first written wedding invitations.
By the seventeenth century metal plate engraving had been developed and it was possible to print invitations. The inks used at that time were however prone to smudge and so a sheet of tissue paper was placed on top of each engraving as it was made and this practice remains today with traditional invitation cards still being wrapped in tissue.
Although it was now possible to print invitation cards, there was still no postal service or indeed stationery and these would not become available until the nineteenth century. Once fine stationery arrived during the Victorian era printed invitation cards could be wrapped in tissue and enclosed in an envelope which was then hand addressed. As, however, the postal service would almost certainly soil this envelope, a second outer envelope would then be used and, despite considerable improvements in the carriage of today’s mail, this practice still continues.
It was also during the Victorian era that the wording of wedding invitation was defined and this too is still in use today. Invitations in general today might, for example, “Request the pleasure of your company…" while a wedding invitation will “Request the honour of your presence…" with the word “honour" retaining the English form of spelling.
Printing methods have of course changed today but the most formal of weddings will still use tradition engraving in which the invitation is pressed onto a metal plate raising the letters on the paper. It is also now common for invitations to be printed using thermography, which is an imitation of the engraving process using a mixture of ink and powder to create a raised effect similar to engraving.
For less formal invitations normal offset printing can be used and increasingly couples are choosing to print their own wedding invitation using a home computer. With the huge range of fonts that are now available for home computers and, with the development of relatively inexpensive and very high quality computer printers, printing your own wedding invitations has become a reasonable simple and very cost effective option.
For more information on modern wedding invitations please visit Talking Weddings