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Invitation Terminology

Gone are the days when a bride's family sent out invitations and invited guests actually wrote a formal correspondence accepting (or declining) the social event.


Today there are a variety of invitations for all themes, budgets and tastes a couple has when choosing their invitation, along with Save-the-Date Card, R.S.V.P. Card, pew, and at-home cards. With the many choices of cards, there are also the various processes and terminology for this special stationery.


Below is a list of terminology used when discussing invitations and stationery:

Accommodation Cards These cards are enclosed with the wedding invitation sent only to out-of-town guests who may need to make hotel reservations. These cards list the name and phone numbers of nearby hotels.


Announcement Announcement cards announce your wedding to those not invited to your wedding. These cards are usually mailed on your wedding day or immediately after.


At-Home Cards These cards inform your friends and family of your new address. At-Home cards sent after the wedding can include the date (usually the date the couple return from the honeymoon) and the couples' name or names if the bride chooses to retain her maiden name or the groom is taking the bride's last name. At-Home cards enclosed with the wedding invitation don't include the couples' name(s) since the wedding has not yet taken place.


Blind-embossing A printing process that uses a die to make colorless letters and images with a raised surface.

Calligraphy The perfected art of handwriting/penmanship, often related with fancy, curlicue script.

Ceremony Cards For large receptions with small ceremonies. Reception invitations are sent out to guests. Those guests also invited to the ceremony have a ceremony card enclosed with their reception invitation.


Coasters/Cocktail Napkins These can match the wedding invitation. They create a cohesive look throughout your wedding day.

Cotton fiber A type of paper made from 100 percent cotton- possibly the most traditional and elegant option for wedding invitations.

Deckle edge The irregular, "torn" edge of handmade paper.

Die An etched metal plate used to create engraved or embossed images and type.

Die-cutting The process of cutting various paper shapes, particularly with envelopes.


Direction Cards See Map Cards

Embossing A printing technique that forms letters and images with a raised surface, conveying added dimension to the invitation design. Usually used for large initials or borders.

Engraving The most formal printing method, through which the letters appear slightly raised. An indentation usually forms on the back of the paper from the pressure.

Engraving plate An etched steel die used to create engraved type or images.


Envelope Seals Elegant envelope seals add a finsihing touch to your invitation ensemble. They are placed on the back of the envelope to appear as if they are holding the flap in place.


Escort Cards For the very formal event, these small cards tell a gentleman which lady he is expected to escort to the reception. The gentleman's name is written on the envelope and the lady's name is written on the enclosed card.


Favor Tags This tag with the couples' name and wedding date is attached to the wedding favors that will be given out at the reception.

Flourishes The ornate calligraphic details that are common on very formal invitations.

Glassine A very thin, waxy paper. Thinner than vellum, its surface is slick and shiny, whereas vellum is more translucent. Glassine is best for envelope use, while vellum is sturdy enough to be printed on for invitation use.

Handmade papers A type of paper made from natural organic materials such as cotton, rag, hemp, or plant fibers- usually uneven or "rough" in texture.

Hands The various (calligraphic) script and lettering styles a talented calligrapher can create.

Industrial papers A paper made from chipboard or newsprint, often from recycled fibers. Industrial papers have a rugged, hip look about them (examples: corrugated cardboard or brown paper bags).

Informal Cards Typically stationery card and envelope matching the wedding theme. These cards have your married name printed on the front of the card and are used to jot a note to be mailed to someone.

Initial Cap A term for the oversized first letter of a word you'll sometimes see in lavish calligraphy or a decorative typeface.

Jacquard A screen-printed paper that creates an illusion of layering (example: paper that looks like it's overlaid with a swatch of lace).

Laid A paper that's similar to vellum, with a rougher, bumpy finish.

Letterpress A beautiful printing alternative to engraving (but more expensive). The images and typeface appear precise- individually stamped into the paper- and are very rich in color. Letterpress is great if you're using unusual paper, motifs, typeface, or different pigments.

Lined Envelopes Many invitations come with two envelopes - an outer and an inner envelope. The wedding invitation and other cards are placed into the inner envelope. The inner envelope is placed into the outer envelope. This inner envelope can be lined with color or color paper to add that special touch to your ensemble.

Linen Finish A paper type with a surface that's grainier than pure cotton stocks- another traditional choice for wedding invitations.

Map Cards This card provides directions for guests to the location of the ceremony and/or reception. This card is enclosed with the wedding invitation.

Marbled Paper A decorative paper marked by swirling, abstract patterns that resemble the surface of marble.

Matte A paper with an opaque, non-reflective finish.


Menu Cards These cards are placed on reception tables at each place setting listing the dinner courses to be served.

Mylar A foil-like paper, with a shiny finish. It's best for envelopes, and not appropriate for the invitation (ink doesn't take to it well).

Offset Printing The flat printing used on everyday fliers, letterheads, stickers, and more. It's a nice choice if you want to save money, use highly textured paper, or use several different colors of ink.


Outer Envelope Placed inside the outer envelope is the inner envelope, which is holding the wedding invitation and other enclosure cards. It is the outer envelope that is addressed to guest(s) and full address - including city, state and zip code.

Parchment A cloudy, translucent paper that creates a dreamy effect.


Pew Cards These cards let special guests and family members know they are to be seated in a reserved section for the wedding ceremony. These cards are typically used for very large, formal ceremonies. At the ceremony, a guest with a pew card hands the card to the usher who will escort them to their seat(s).


Place Cards Also known as Seating Cards These cards are placed on reception tables to specify seating arrangements.

Point Size A unit of measure indicating the size of an individual letter or character.


Printed Wedding Invitation Envelope Flaps A printed envelope flap is printed with a return address on the outer envelope. This will save you time while making sure undeliverable invitations are returned to you

Program This card - single sheet or half-fold or tri-fold paper (or fan) lets your guests know the order of the ceremony, who is in your bridal party and understand some traditions you choose to incorporate in your ceremony.


Rain Cards If the ceremony or reception is outdoors, these cards inform the guests the alternate location if there is rain. These card are enclosed with the wedding invitation.


Reception Cards These cards are used to inform guests of the location of the reception if this information doesn't fit on your invitation. This card is enclosed with the wedding invitaiton.


Rehearsal Dinner Invitations These invitations are sent out to those involved in your ceremony (i.e., bridal party) and letting them know the location, date and time of the rehearsal and/or dinner.


Response Cards This smaller card with matching envelope makes it easy for your guests to fill out and send back, letting you know if they will be attending the wedding. Many response cards also include meal choice (if you are providing a meal choice).

Rice Paper A thin, soft paper that is actually not made from rice. It's non-traditional, but beautiful and elegant. It can only accept the letterpress printing mode.


Save the Date Cards or Magnets Save the Date cards give your guests (especially those who might have to travel) advance notice of your wedding date.

Seal n Send Wedding Invitation A single-folded piece without an envelope that has the response postcard attached tothe invitation by a perforation for easy removal.


Seating Cards See Place Cards

Stock The term used to describe the thickness and heaviness of paper. Hardy card stock is ideal for formal wedding invitations. They'll often come accompanied by a square of tissue or parchment (delicate stocks) for elegant contrast.


Table Numbers These cards have a large number printed on them. Each table is assigned a number so your guests can find their table. Couples have opted to "name" the tables according to their wedding theme or meaningful words, phrases, songs or places.

Thank You Cards These cards are a hand-written "thank you" to each guest who has given you a gift - for your bridal shower, engagement party, and/or wedding.

Thermography A heat-based process fuses ink and powder to create raised lettering. Possibly the most popular print method (it's less expensive than engraving). Thermographed text is slightly shiny and the back of the invitation remains smooth (no impression).

Transportation Cards Transportation is occasionally provided if you have a large number of out-of-town guests attending the wedding. Transportation cards, enclosed with the wedding invitation, let guests know that their transportation has been provided to/from ceremony and reception.

Typeface The style/appearance of a letter or numeral. With the arrival of desktop publishing, the term is synonymous with the word "font."

Variegated A term you might hear used to describe the look of certain paper or ribbon, meaning that it has hints of different colors.

Vellum A paper made from a cotton blend with a translucent, frosted appearance and a smooth finish.

Watermark The translucent emblem or "beauty mark" buried in fine paper that becomes visible when the paper is held up to light. A watermark denotes superb quality, signifying the exclusivity of the paper company or boutique.


Wedding Invitation This is THE CARD which invites your guests to your wedding. This card typicall has the host(s) name(s), date, time and location of the ceremony.


Welcome Letters/Notes This letter or note is included in welcome baskets for your out-of-town guests staying at the hotel(s).


Within-the-Ribbon Cards Pews or rows of seating may be cordoned off with white ribbon to indicate a special seating section. Small cards stating "Within the ribbon" are enclosed with the wedding invitation to those guests who will be seated in that section. The guest(s) present the card to the usher who will escort them.

Sacramento Wedding Invitation Boutique Creme de la Creme Paperie offers Affordable Custom Wedding Invitations, Wedding Favors and Wedding Accessories ~ Call to Schedule your Personal Consultation · Phone 916.996.4020 · Fax 916.241.9757