Wedding Invitation Glossary
Your invitations are more than just the written word requesting the presence of each guest. They are an introduction to the day's events, and should make a statement about the bride and groom. They convey to the invitees the general character of the wedding whether it is formal, intimate, whimsical, spectacular, or low-key. Their most important function however is delivering information about the day's proceedings. You should be clear in both language and meaning about times, locations, attire, activities, or anything else that may or may not be involved in your special day. Please peruse our glossary of invitation terms below to familiarize yourself with the different components of your stationery.
100% Cotton Paper: Paper that is smooth and pure. It is the most desirable and used for the most formal invitations. And yes, it costs more.
Accordion Fold: Also known as a Z-Fold. Sheet of paper folded twice in accordion fashion to create a three-paneled invitation.
Announcements: Sometimes announcements can be sent out if you aren't having a large wedding or party that can accommodate everyone, but you want to let people know about your special event. Visit our etiquette section to learn more about the proper wording and timing of announcements if you need help creating announcements for your special event.
At-Home Cards: This card allows you to tell friends and family of your new address.
Baby Albums and Books: Create a book of special remembrances of your baby's first events. This can include pictures, letters, cards, footprints, handprints and birth announcements.
Birth Announcements: Let people know about the birth of your baby with a special announcement card. This can include a picture and information about your little bundle of joy.
Blind Embossing: Printing process using no ink. Metal plates that are etched with letters are stamped into paper so what is left behind is the imprint of the letter. Popular on the borders of many invitations, addresses, and monograms.
Borders: Borders will usually be some kind of design that decorates the edges of an invitation. A formal border is typically an embossed panel that looks like a frame around your wording.
Business Invitations: Invitations for business events may be printed for a more formal event.
Calligraphy: Elegant, gorgeous handwriting often used with special pens and ink. Usually performed by a calligrapher to address envelopes or very formal invitations.
Computerized Calligraphy: Similar in look to traditional calligraphy, but produced with a computer and laser printer. Many printers offer the ability to match typestyles for both envelopes and invitations.
Copy: Also known as body copy. All wording that composes the text of an invitation. Copy includes names, dates, locations and verses.
Corner Copy: This is copy printed on the corner of your invitation usually letting people know the reception will immediately follow the ceremony. It is also used on reception cards to inform people of the dress attire, or as a reminder to R.S.V.P.
Corrugated Paper: This resembles the ridged, wavy cardboard sometimes found in boxes. It is thick and usually found in contemporary, edgier invitations.
Custom Imprints: This printing option allows you to have your photos or your own camera-ready artwork placed onto the invitation. Enlarging or reducing the image can be done to fit in the invitation space.
Deckle Edge: An uneven, feathery, sometimes jagged edge found on some invitations. These edges are mostly found on parchment invitations.
Die-Cut: The process of using sharp metal rules to cut special shapes and designs into paper. It can include cut-out shapes and sculpted edges adding unique dimension to your invitation.
Direction Cards: Often included in all types of invitations, giving specific directions to where the event will take place.
Ecru: Color also known as cream or eggshell. Much richer than ivory.
Embossed Design on Envelope Flap: Another way to embellish your envelope is to add an embossed design on the envelope flap. Embossing is a classic and elegant choice offered by select brands.
Enclosures: All cards that are included with an invitation: Response or RSVP card, Direction card, Reception card, At-home card etc. They are usually much smaller than the invitation.
Engagement Announcements: A written formal way of telling people that you have become engaged and that you are in the process of making plans for your marriage.
Engraving: Dates back to the seventeenth century and is the oldest form of printing. It is the most prestigious of all printing processes. It begins by etching the design and word copy into a copper plate from a negative. The paper is placed on the press face down above the inked plate. It is then printed by pressure coming down on the back of the sheet while the front of the sheet meets with the plate. This "sandwich" effect creates the raised lettering and bruise on the back of the printed paper that are both classic features of engraved paper.
Envelope Lining: A coordinating lining to your envelope is a nice finishing touch to the presentation of your invitation. Linings are generally in a solid color which highlights a color in the invitation. For traditional invitations with double envelopes, the inner envelope is lined. For more contemporary invitations that have single envelopes, linings are available for the single envelope.
Flat Printing: Also known as lithography or offset. See Lithography.
Foil Stamping: A specialized production technique involving thin metallic foil pressed onto paper.
Font: Also known as a typestyle. A lettering style chosen for your wording. Many typestyles are available for you to choose from. Different brands may have the same styles under different names.
Formal Invitations: Formal wedding invitations typically include following components: the invitation, an outside envelope, a reception card, an RSVP card, an RSVP envelope, a direction card, information on accommodations for out-of-town guests and thank you cards. Formal invitations or other events may include some of the same components.
French-Fold: Sheet of paper folded twice to create a four-paneled invitation. This fold is most common in parchment invitations.Guest Book: A guest book may be purchased for your special event to remember who attended. Have your guestbook placed in a location so each guest can sign when they arrive at your wedding or special event. Make sure to provide a pen!
Holiday Cards: Sometimes a generic season's greetings may be sent instead of addressing one particular holiday to encompass a wide variety of holidays and beliefs.
Informal Card: Most commonly used as a Thank You card. Usually printed with "Thank You", a monogram or the names of a couple. The card is blank on the inside allowing you to hand write a small message of thanks to your guests who attended your special event.
Invitation: A formal request to be present at an event.
Invitation Proof: If you choose to have your invitations printed by a professional printer you may request to have a proof of your invitations. A proof will be an example of what the final invitation text will look like when printed so you can review and make sure the formatting, text and spelling is exactly what you want before your invitations are printed.
Jacquard Paper: Paper that looks like it has been layered. It is screen-printed to achieve the layer appearance.
Laid Paper: Similar to vellum, but with a rougher "bumpy" finish.
Landscape: Orientation of an invitation referring to a horizontal layout (i.e. 7" long by 5" high)
Letterpress: This type of printing utilizes a movable type machine. The inked raised type is stamped onto the paper. It's not easy to find printers that will provide this type of printing but if you find one that will, the effect will look best on handmade paper.
Lined Envelopes: See Envelope lining.
Linen Paper: An invitation favorite. It is lightly textured similar to the look of linen in comparison to the pure smooth cotton stock, and gives a very elegant subtle look to paper.
Lithography: Also known as offset or flat print. You're probably most familiar with this type of printing where an inked impression is made on a rubber cylinder and transferred to paper. The printing appears as a flat image.
Map Cards: Often included with all types of invitations, giving specific directions to where the event will take place. Maps may also be printed on the back side of a direction card.
Monograms: Monograms include a person's or a couple's initials and personalize any invitation, enclosure or thank you card they are printed upon. If the monogram is for an individual the initial (first letter) of the first name appears first, the last name initial is usually larger in the middle, and the middle name initial appears last. If the monogram is for a couple the woman's initial from her first name appears first, the initial of the man's last name is the middle initial (sometimes in a larger type style), and the first letter of the man's first name appears last.
Motifs: With the advent of computerized clip art, a motif or what the printers call ornaments/logo, can be used on all your stationery items. Each supplier carriers different motifs for you to choose from or you can design your own. They can be used whenever you wish, generally they appear below the bride and groom's name.
Mylar: You've probably seen this type of material as a balloon somewhere. It's very shiny and mirror-like in appearance. It is popular for casual events like birthday parties.No-Fold: See Panel card.
Offset: See Lithography.
Panel Cards: Also known as a "no-fold". Single sheet of paper, usually of thicker stock.
Parchment: Translucent, cloudy paper creating a dreamy, airy effect.
Pearlize: This process applies a luminous pearl-like finish to an invitation, usually to an embossed design or border.
Pew Cards: See Within-the-Ribbon card.
Photo Cards: Photo cards allow you to put a picture of your loved ones right on your card. MyGatsby.com offers a wide assortment of customizable photo cards for birth announcements and holiday greeting cards.
Place Cards: Place cards help guests find which table they are seated at and are usually numbered, blank or printed with your name.
Portrait: Orientation of an invitation referring to a vertical layout (i.e. 5" wide by 7" high)
Printable Invitations: Printable invitations are those which you can create the text and print out using your own computer printer.
Printed Invitations: Printed invitations and announcements are those which you send your text and printing options to a professional printer to be printed.
Programs: Helps guests understand the direction a formal ceremony is going in, what is being done next, and the explanation of any special rites that are unfamiliar to people of a different religion. They can also be used for tributes to special people in your lives.
R.S.V.P. Cards: Derived from the French phrase "Repondez S'il Vous Plait". Translated in English, meaning "please reply." See Respond card.
Rain Cards: Used for outdoor weddings. Informs guest where to go in case of bad weather.
Reception Cards: Usually mailed with a formal invitation. A separate card announcing where a formal reception will take place. Usually used when the reception is at a different location than the ceremony or event.
Respond Cards / Respond Set: Also known as response card. Mailed with a formal invitation. This card allows your guests to inform you if they will be attending your event, and how many people they will be bringing with them. A return address is printed on the envelope or card to make it easier for invited guests to respond. Traditionally, sender provides postage.
Return Address: A return address is printed on the flap of the invitation's outer envelope. It can also be printed on the front of the envelope of the respond card so your guests can easily "return" the respond card.Save The Date Cards: These are announcements that are sent out months prior a big event. This allows guest to plan ahead, and for out-of-town guests to make any flight or accommodation arrangements.
Seal: Seals are a perfect way to give your envelopes personality. Wax seals were once the only kind of seal to add a finishing touch, but they can be very difficult to work with. The seals available through most brands today are self-adhesive and are attached to the outer flap of the envelope to "seal" it shut.
Self-Stick Bows: Self-adhesive bows make it easy to add elegance and a handmade touch to your invitations. They are always optional and priced separate from the invitation, so you always have a choice!
Sheer Inner Envelope: A sheer inner envelope gives a contemporary and feminine look to an invitation. The design of your invitation shows through a delicate vellum envelope.
Sheer Outer Envelope: A sheer outer envelope is similar to a sheer inner envelope. Both give the entire presentation a translucent and delicate touch.
Short-Fold: Sheet of paper folded once, but not exactly in half. This creates an invitation with a short front panel and longer back panel so that color or wording will show before the invitation has been opened.
Thank You Cards: See Informal card.
Thermography: Type of printing process, similar in look to engraving. The process involves heat that joins ink and a resin-like powder together. The fusion of the materials results in the appearance of raised letters. This printing process if fast-becoming the most popular choice for invitations, because of its value and quality.
Translucent Vellum: Sometimes referred to as "vellum". This is a translucent paper that is transparent in color and smooth in finish. You'll see a lot of this used as overlays or sometimes invitations.
Tri-fold: Sheet of paper folded twice to create a three-paneled invitation. Both outside panels are folded inward to cover the center panel.
Typestyle: Also known as a font. A lettering style chosen for your wording. Many typestyles are available for you to choose from. Different printing companies may have the same styles under different names.
Vellum Paper: Vellum was originally known only as a cream cotton blend paper with a smooth finish, less expensive than 100% cotton. There is another type of paper, translucent vellum, which is transparent and very different than a cream cotton blend. People often shorten translucent vellum to just "vellum".
Verse: A verse is the text you put on your invitation or announcement.
Vertical Envelope: A vertical envelope is an envelope that is designed for the invitation to slide in vertically through the narrow end of the envelope. Using traditional envelopes, you generally need to turn the invitation horizontally to put it in the envelope. A vertical envelope lends a nice, subtle touch to the presentation of your invitation as recipients can fully view the invitation without having to turn it.
Wedding Announcements: A written announcement of your actual nuptial date. There may be people whom you want to inform of your big day, but for reasons like space limitation cannot invite. It is usually mailed the day after the wedding.
Within-the-Ribbon Card: Also known as a "pew card". A card sent to guests you want to honor by having them seated in reserved pews closest to the altar or "within the ribbon".
Wording: All copy or text that makes up words inviting your guests to your special event. Wording includes the verses and text you put on your invitation. You can create whatever wording suits your needs, but you may choose to create traditional wording (sometimes referred to as Proper Wording) based on etiquette and customs for weddings.
Wrap: A delicate layer of tissue or vellum is "wrapped" around your invitation to add an additional layer of beauty and elegance.
Z-fold: Also known as an accordion fold. Sheet of paper folded twice in accordion fashion to create a three-paneled invitation.