A wedding invitation is the formal letter, which is sent to various guests to attend a wedding. A wedding invitation is sent four to six weeks prior to the wedding date, to intimate the guests about the ceremony schedule so that they can make arrangements to be present at the occasion. Invitations can be printed with the help of a number of different methods such as engraving, lithography, thermography, letterpress printing and sometimes blind embossing. However, the history and origin of wedding invitation is closely related with the invention of printing press.
Interesting Information on Background of Wedding Invitation
During the middle ages, weddings in England were announced by word of mouth. A Town crier, used to walk through the streets loudly announcing the wedding. Moreover, due to widespread illiteracy, the practice of sending invitation originated amongst noble class. Able families used to summon monks, who were skilled in the art of Calligraphy, to prepare their invites. These invitations were sealed with wax and often carried the Coat of arms or personal crest.
Even after the invention of the Printing press by Johannes Gutenberg in 1447, ordinary printing technique was in use. In this technique, ink was simply stamped onto the paper, providing a poor quality invitation. Moreover, the tradition of announcing weddings via newspaper also became popular during this time. In 1642, the invention of metal-plate engraving by Ludwig von Siegen introduced higher-quality wedding invitations, making them accessible to the emerging middle class.
The technique of Engraving required an artisan to 'hand write' the text in reverse onto a metal plate, using a carving tool. Then the plate was used to print the invitation. The engraved invitations were protected from smudging by a sheet of tissue paper placed on top. This tradition is still followed to this day. During that time, the content of the wedding invitations was more convoluted. In fact, the name of each guest was individually printed on the invitation.
In 1798, Lithography was invented by Alois Senefelder. With the help of newly-found technique, it became possible to produce very sharp and distinctive inking without using engraving. In effect, this paved the way for the emergence of a genuine mass-market in wedding invitations. However, due to the unreliability of the budding postal system, wedding invitations were still delivered by hand and on horseback. To protect the invitation from damage, a ‘double envelope’ was used en route to its recipient.
This tradition is even followed till date. Nevertheless, the genesis of commercially printed 'fine wedding stationery' dates back to the period immediately following World War II. During this time, a combination of democracy and rapid industrial growth provided the masses an ability to imitate the life-styles and materialism of society's elite. Moreover, prominent society figures, such as Amy Vanderbilt and Emily Post started advising the ordinary man and woman on appropriate etiquette.
In addition, the usage of wedding stationery was further escalated by the development of thermography. Though thermography lacks the fineness and distinctiveness of engraving, it is a less expensive method of achieving raised type. In effect, this technique is often called poor man's engraving. Unlike traditional engraving, it produces shiny, raised lettering without impressing the surface of the paper. With this, the wedding invitations both printed and engraved have finally become affordable for all.