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The tradition of wedding invitations past, present and future

23 Mar 2022 —
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Wedding Invitation Design by Martha Camuti

Weddings are among the most momentous occasions we know in life. Thus, it makes sense that the invitations should rise to the occasion, delighting those lucky enough to be invited to such a joyous event in the life of a couple. Nowadays, couples can make their invites as unique and beautiful as they like, and millions of wedding invitations are delivered every year, to mailboxes all around the world. But spreading the word of upcoming nuptials was not always so easy!

Weddings are among the most momentous occasions we know in life. Thus, it makes sense that the invitations should rise to the occasion, delighting those lucky enough to be invited to such a joyous event in the life of a couple. Nowadays, couples can make their invites as unique and beautiful as they like, and millions of wedding invitations are delivered every year, to mailboxes all around the world. But spreading the word of upcoming nuptials was not always so easy!

Centuries ago, the town crier shouted out at the top of his voice, inviting anyone within earshot to attend the celebration. It wasn’t until the invention of the printing press contributed to more widespread literacy that wedding invitations began to take paper form. At first however, they weren’t invitations at all, but rather announcements for marriages that had already taken place.

In the 18th century, these traditions evolved and announcements became invitations summoning friends and family to attend wedding events. They often varied from region to region, and where the postal service was unreliable or non-existent, it was common for the couple’s family or servants to hand deliver them. To prevent them from being damaged along the route, a second envelope was added to be removed upon arrival.

At the start of the 19th century, wedding invitations began to resemble those we know today. They were most commonly used among nobility, with handwritten calligraphy and a wax seal of the family crest as a sign of the status. Lithography soon made mass printing more accessible, democratising wedding invitations and making them widespread social etiquette. With letterpress printing, ink often took too long to dry, so a layer of tissue paper was added over the invite ensuring it wouldn’t smudge.

Throughout history, technology has evolved, and along with it, the use and style of wedding invitations. At one time, it was even popular to send wedding invites via telegraph! The 20th century saw an era of colourful invitations. Digitalisation made design accessible at the click of a mouse, and laser printing offered new shapes. Couples can create invitations as unique they desire, but many traditions like calligraphy, double envelopes, wax seals, and an added layer of tissue paper are still often used in recent times.

Knowledge of the origin of these traditions creates intrigue around what we can expect to come in the world of wedding invitations. To unveil some insight, we interviewed three experts about their work in the invitation industry.

RAQUEL FITZGERALD

 

Specialising in luxury printing and stationery, Raquel has been Head of Sales at Mount Street Printers, London, for over 15 years.

 

 

Raquel Fitzgerald

 

What are the traditions and uses of wedding invitations in the United Kingdom?

Wedding Invite Designs by Mount Street PrintersA selection of designs by Mount Street Printers

The joy of creating a wedding invite depends on the client. Some prefer a very traditional and classic invitation written in a beautiful calligraphic script, or indeed a well typeset classic font. The invitation is then engraved on the front of a quality folded card, while the inside remains blank. The reason the text is on the front is because in Victorian times, invitations were placed on a mantelpiece.

What are the current trends?

Thick coloured cards with a mixture of different printing processes create an invitation that ‘pops’ when you take it out of the envelope. Invitations involving full-colour illustrations are also very popular at the moment.

 

What is your vision for 2022 trends?

The trend is for the unusual and the breathtakingly unexpected. The invitation lives forever so it must have the "wow" factor.
 

Floral wedding invitation design by Mount Street PrintersFloral wedding invitation design by Mount Street Printers

 

What is the trend for envelopes?

The envelope is most important as it is the first thing you see before opening your invitation. Engraving the diamond flap with a monogram or motif is very popular, together with tissue or printed paper lining to harmonise with the invitation. Bespoke coloured envelopes are also very popular.
 

How do you combine tradition and creativity? What are your sources of inspiration?

We try to read the mood the client wants to create and using our traditional methods of printing combined with our contemporary handwriting, we’re able to produce the desired effect. Often our clients are our source of inspiration.

 

Traditional Wedding Invitation design by Mount Street PrintersTraditional wedding invitation designs by Mount Street Printers

 

IDEA INSIDE DESIGN
AUSTE VIEDERIENE AND LAURA MATACIUTE

Idea Inside Design are a graphic design duo based in Lithuania and specialising in invitations and wedding stationery for over six years.

Auste Viederiene and Laura Mataciute

What are the current trends?

Everyone seems to be returning to nature - kraft or handmade paper, torn edges, minimal, boho, rustic style, greenery and seaside motifs. For example, if the wedding is to take place in the woods, then the colours and elements of the forest will be reflected in the invitation. The most predominant colours are natural and earthy tones (e.g. Keaykolour, Biscuit, Matcha, Tea, Old Rose), warm, and creamy shades.

 

Nature Inspired Wedding Invite Design by Idea Inside DesignA selection of nature inspired designs created by Idea Inside Design on Keaykolour Holly, Navy Blue and Snow White

 

For wedding stationery, this season we had more freedom to play with geometric shapes. For example, round menus have been quite popular. Also paired with various accessories such as chiffon, ribbons or tassels.

Wedding Menu Design on KeaykolourA chiffon ribbon completes a wedding menu design on Keaykolour Snow White
Wedding Menu on Keaykolour BlueA wedding menu with rounded edges on Keaykolour Navy Blue

Lastly, what never goes out of style, and this season was no exception, are wax seals. They add authenticity, sophistication and charm. In addition, wax seals can be made custom and personalised with the couple’s initials or an element from their wedding invitation. It can also be combined with a dried flower, like lavender twig or a bunny tail. A great first impression, guaranteed!
 

Wedding Invites on Curious Translucents and KeaykolourWax seals and flora elements of lavender and bunny tail add finishing touches to these invitations on Curious Translucents and Keaykolour

What is your vision for 2022 trends?

The main new trend we are currently seeing is hand drawn custom illustrations that reflect a couple's engagement story or other meaningful details of their lives.
 

Wedding invites with original illustrations on Keaykolour Snow WhiteOriginal illustrations by Idea Inside Design on Keaykolour Snow White

 

How do you combine tradition and creativity? What are your sources of inspiration?

Tradition and creativity can be combined by choosing a non-traditional printing method or format. For example, choosing natural cotton paper and embossing it with the national motif using blind letterpress. The invitation will look modern, yet traditional details will not be forgotten. 

 

What are the essential steps to designing an invitation?  

It helps if clients can see and touch live samples and explore paper palettes. This makes it much easier to refine their vision. During the process, our clients make decisions on their preferred style including paper, colours, format, printing method, envelopes and lastly additional elements, such as wax seals, ribbons and tassels.

MARTHA CAMUTI

 

Martha Camuti is an esteemed wedding invitation designer working out of her atelier in Switzerland for the last 20 years.

Martha Camuti

What are the current trends?

The bohemian trend has been popular for several years, and I don’t see it going away anytime soon. Eucalyptus and other botanicals are also popular themes. Also, I often get requests around the theme of travel to create something in the style of a boarding pass, or around planes, trains and boats.

 

Bohemian Style Wedding Invitations by Martha CamutiBohemian style invitations by Martha Camuti, photography by Jessica Amber

What is your vision for 2022 trends?

Right now it’s really all about arched invitations, where the top corners are rounded off to create a half moon. Personally, I really like this new trend in the shape of invitations. As we’re surrounded by mountains in Switzerland, we also see forest and mountain themes trending more and more.
 

What papers are the most popular? What are your recommendations and why?

For digital printing, I tend to recommend paper that is pearlescent or satin in the finish because the result has a shimmer, and is more chic. For digital printing, we also get an excellent result with paper with a very light satin finish. It’s almost unnoticeable, but if you look closely in the light you can see the delicate sheen. It gives a different aspect for the final result than if we used matte finish paper. If our clients choose recycled papers I also recommend digital printing as it gives the best result. For more chic styles I prefer satin papers, while for a more casual event I would be more inclined to recommend matte paper.

 

Wedding invite design for an Elopement by Martha Camuti

Invitation design for an elopement in Italy by Martha Camuti,
photography by Cécilia Hofer

 

 

What is the trend for envelopes?

We’re seeing a trend towards envelopes with a lining, giving them a more luxurious feel. Some couples also ask for handwritten envelopes, and I have calligraphers that I work with for these sorts of requests. Some couples even like to hand address the envelopes for a very personal touch.

 

Mexican Destination Wedding Invite by Martha Camuti
Wedding invitation and stationery for a destination wedding in Mexico by Martha Camuti,
photography by Jessica Amber

Is there a particular demand for more eco-responsible invitations

I’ve really captured a clientele that asks for plantable or recycled paper. They are less interested in complex designs with gold detailing for example but rather something simple yet beautiful that is eco-friendly.

 

What are the essential steps to designing an invitation?

I love listening to my clients. They are the key to helping me create my designs. They are my main inspiration. How they describe the style of their event is the main indicator for me: the location, the decor, the florals and more. I also love asking them to create a mood board.

 

To see more, you can visit:
Mount Street Printers
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Idea Inside Design