Letterpress Invitations & Foil Stamping

Over the last couple of years, you may have noticed a huge swing in the wedding industry toward letterpress invitations and even more recently… foil stamping! Not only is this trend on the rise, but it is the #1 request I get from my brides (until they find out how much it costs, but I will address this topic further down).

For letterpress & foil printing on standard sizes, click here for pricing:

Lava Stationery Letterpress Invitation Navy Ink White Crane Lettra Fluoro White Card 600gsm

I remember the very first time I saw a letterpress invitation. It was about 15 years ago and my family had been invited to a very opulent wedding. My eyes spotted the card on the kitchen bench and I was drawn to it immediately. I remember everyone oohing and aahing over the delicate & intricate patterns that were deeply embossed into the paper. They couldn’t help running their fingers over it and experiencing the beauty & sculptural depth of this printing process.

So many of us want our guests to feel the same way when we send them our invitations. However, beautiful printing such as letterpress and foil stamping can come at a cost.

How does letterpress printing work?

Lava Stationery Letterpress Invitations Navy Ink, Black Ink, Warm Grey Ink on White Crane Lettra Fluoro White Card 600gsm

You can’t rush a letterpress job. It takes skill. time, lots of tweaking and a perfectionist’s eye to get it right. Below are the main steps on how to create a letterpress invitation.

  1. Once the artwork is created, it is made into a photopolymer plate using a photographic and wash out process. These plates themselves can cost around $250 to be made.
  2. The plate is then mounted into the chase, which is locked into position in the printing press.
  3. Ink is applied to the rollers – not too heavy, not too light.
  4. Test prints are done and fine adjustments are then made until the ink coverage and depth of the artwork are just right
  5. The machine is then washed up of any ink that may contaminate the next colour.
  6. If more colours are required, repeat steps 1-5
  7. Once printed, a die-cut forme of the finished shape is mounted into another chase on another Heidelberg T Platen Letterpress machine.
  8. Test sheets are once again used to check the precise cutting position before the finished size is crisply trimmed
Why does it cost so much? Cry face!

Lava Stationery Letterpress Invitation Examples

The bulk of the cost in letterpress invitations are the creation of the plate and the machine set-up. The more units you order, the cheaper it is per unit.

For example:

  • 25 invitations will cost you the plate creation + set up + material costs. Divide this by 25.
  • 100 invitations will cost you exactly the same, but instead divide by 100.

Here is a video by Ajalon Printing that shows how they make letterpress plates:

For each colour you want to add, a new plate is created and new set up is done for a second, third, fourth, etc print run. That’s why you will find that invitations with more than one colour really go up in price. Two colours cannot be printed at the same time.

Also letterpress invitations cannot be personalised because a new plate would need to be created for each guest name. Ouch, that’s pricey.

How does foil stamping work?

Lava Stationery Metallic Foil Stamp Options

Instinctively, bright shiny foil means glamour, elegance, luxury & opulence. It is something ingrained in our psyche. The process of foiling is similar to letterpress printing, created on the same type of machine but it uses a heated plate instead of a regular plate, and sheets of foil rather than ink. The cost of the plates are a little more expensive than creating letterpress plates, and the price goes up when you increase the area of foil that needs to be applied.

Passport Gold Foil Invitation

Passport Gold Foil Invitation

Gold foil Save the Date and beautiful gold envelope liner, printed by Peterkin Premium Paper Merchant

Gold foil Save the Date and beautiful gold envelope liner, printed by Peterkin Premium Paper Merchant

Rose Gold foil on Marsala cardstock, printed by Peterkin Premium Paper Merchant

Rose Gold foil on Marsala cardstock, printed by Peterkin Premium Paper Merchant

Is it worth it?

Well that’s a question I can’t answer for you… but a great way to keep the costs down is to digitally print the majority of your invitation in whatever colours you like, and then letterpress a portion of it. This way, you can digitally personalise your invitations as well!

It’s cheaper, because the letterpress plate is smaller and you will only pay for one colour run. You can still wow your guests and entice them to run their fingers over the debossed surface without your invitation looking too plain. Here’s a video by one of our printers (Peterkin Premium Paper) printing letterpress invites on a digitally printed card.

For custom quotes and any other questions, please feel free to contact me!

I hope this information was useful.


2 Comments on Letterpress Invitations & Foil Stamping

  1. Anna
    October 5, 2016 at 3:46 pm (3 years ago)

    Do you recommend any foil stamping/foil printing businesses? I’m in the midst of creating my brand identity for my business and I’ve chosen a colour that’s a mix of burgundy and purple. Really hard to find. May I know the store that had that 4th image? They might have various foil colours to choose from.

    Thank you!

    • admin
      October 5, 2016 at 4:19 pm (3 years ago)

      Hi Anna, I provide foil printing but I haven’t been able to source a burgundy/purple blend. I can however do a burgundy OR a purple foil. If you contact me via the contact form, I will reply and show you a photo once my swatch book comes in end of this week. Cheers, Lava x


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