Be still my letterpress loving heart!  Today’s post is all about the information you’ll need on how to incorporate this old world printing technique with modern design into your wedding day.  There’s just something about holding a perfectly crafted piece in your hands, especially in this world of instant communication, that can truly enhance your wedding day style.  The Dandelion Patch recently hosted the designers of Spark Letterpress for invitation workshops, and we caught up with founder Valerie Carson for some insight and advice for choosing letterpress designs for the big day!  Take it away, Valerie!

Photo Credit: Sara Harper Photography for Spark Letterpress

What is letterpress printing?
Letterpress is a relief printing method that has been used for centuries.  In our shop we use letterpress to make a nice impression into some of the most beautiful papers around.  We use commercial presses like a Heidelberg Windmill, a Boxcar base and photopolymer plates to create our work.  Each plate and color is printed one at a time.

What does the design process of an invitation suite entail?
We work closely with a client to create a design that reflects their personal style.  It can be a more simple revision of one of our existing designs or it can be a more complex process where we create custom artwork and new designs exclusively for their suite.

How can invitations be customized?
With our designs, we like to look at them as starting points.  Many clients change the colors and fonts and love what they receive.  Others take our artwork and mix and match it between designs or to create something new.  There are so many things we can do with our current designs that do not involve custom fees.  I think this is definitely something that makes our line exciting, because we have the flexibility to customize to the needs of each client.

What is the typical timeline from design consultation to printing?
Since we primarily work through our retailers [like The Dandelion Patch in the DC area], I would say it is about one to two weeks for the design phase and then two to four weeks for production, depending on the complexity of the job.  If you purchase one of our ready-made designs, we can produce something very quickly, but typically the more custom the design, the more time is required.

Where do you begin if a bride comes to you with no design in mind?
We always have them look through our available designs as a starting point.  We try to narrow down a general style, color palette, and help them select key words or phrases to describe their wedding.  If a client can show us images of their wedding day – from the dress to the cake – we can always take those cues as well to help choose a design or create one from scratch to fit their event.

Photo Credit: Sara Harper Photography for Spark Letterpress

For those on a budget, what can be done to keep the price of letterpress printing down?
We recommend doing a reply postcard instead of a reply envelope for the reply card.  Also, if you can find a design that will work well in one color, that is your best bet for saving on cost.  Many of the letterpress stationery vendors are running great specials year round, so just being aware of available specials will help save.  Beyond that, we do show our designs in many sizes and configurations, and by simply asking what we can do to pare down a more expensive design we may be able to make some helpful suggestions.

What does Spark do to keep the design process eco-friendly?
Many consider letterpress printing an eco-friendly printing method.  We use a sparing amount of ink on press and print on beautiful recycled and reclaimed cotton papers.  We recycle our photopolymer plates and also make use of the paper waste (trimmings) as much as possible.  All other paper that cannot be reused by Spark is recycled.  We’re just sensible and responsible about how we run our shop to do our best to be a friend to the environment!

What are some recent trends in invitation design?
Yellow and gray or silver, as well as purples and taupes for colors.  Many couples are choosing from our vintage map collection to personalize their suite, and many more are choosing a fun liner for an added design element or pop of color.

Be mindful of the amount of time you have to produce your invitations.  Many vendors in the world of letterpress cannot pull off a quick turnaround since letterpress isn’t a speedy printing method.  Also, be concerned about the level of quality that is acceptable for you. Within the world of letterpress there is definitely a wide range of quality – in the materials and the printing.

Things to look for include the crispness of the type, the impression depth (this is a personal preference for how deep you want it), the consistency of color across the length of the piece, the consistency of color between the pieces they are showing, and more.  Even if you are not a connoisseur of letterpress printing, by spending some time reviewing their work you will be able to determine if it is the right fit for you!


Thank you so much, Valerie!  Be sure to check out more from Spark Letterpress on their website, or at The Dandelion Patch for their paper products and other goodies. The Dandelion Patch is located in Virginia in Vienna, Reston, Leesburg and in DC in Georgetown.

Looking for more inspiration or local vendors for your wedding?  Be sure to check out our galleries and vendor guide.

For more tips from the top wedding professionals in Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia, visit our advice pages.

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