4 Steps to the Best Paper Weight for Wedding Invitations

Simple pink and white wedding invitation printed by LCI Paper. How to choose best weight paper for wedding invitations

What is a Good Paper Weight for Wedding Invitations?

This is one of the most common questions we get from customers making invitations. Because every project, print method and preference is different, we cannot give a simple answer as to what the “best” paper weight for invitations is. We can help you find the best paper weight for you, however.

Cardstock weight used for wedding invitations varies considerably, and ranges from a low of 65lb / 176gsm up to double thick duplexed cardstock that weighs 222lb (600gsm) and higher.

To choose the right cardstock for your wedding invitations, take the following factors into consideration:

  1. Printing Process
  2. Invitation Style
  3. Postage
  4. Preference

Each factor is discussed in detail below.

Shop Cardstock for Invitations


1. Printing Process is Important to Determine What Kind of Paper to Use

Whether you are printing your invitations at home or taking them to a professional print shop, printing is one of the most important factors to consider when trying to determine what kind and weight of paper to use for your wedding invitations.

What to Consider when Printing Invitations at Home

One of the most important considerations when printing your invitations at home is the paper weight capabilities of your home printer. Since most people use their home printers only for lightweight copy paper, most are not familiar with the maximum paper weight their printer can handle.

Though most consumer grade home printers can handle 80lb (216gsm) to 100lb (270gsm) cardstock, not all can. All printers are different, so be sure to do your research and consult your printer manual for card stock printing information and recommendations.

Pro Tip: Is 80lb or 100lb Thicker?

This is a complex question. Its answer lies in the scale used to determine paper weight and paper density. For simplicity we strongly recommend using the European Metric Scale of GSM to determine weight. The higher the number the thicker the paper. This is NOT true when using the USA (North American) paper scale. We encourage you to read more on this topic to understand our explanation of the best way to determine paper weight.


What to Consider when Using a Professional Print Shop

Just as all home printers are different, all print shops have different printing equipment and capabilities. Before deciding on an invitation paper, contact various print shops to learn about their equipment, print processes and capabilities. Be sure they can accommodate your paper’s weight, thickness and texture. It’s always a good idea to bring samples to discuss.

Suggested Weights for Popular Professional Printing Methods

If you know you want your invitations printed by pros, here are four popular methods you may consider. Below you will find a description and suggested paper range for each.

Offset Printing

Offset printing uses metal plates to transfer ink to rubber rollers, then onto your paper.

Benefits of Offset Include:

  • Consistent, superb quality prints
  • Ability to print on a variety of paper surfaces and weights
  • Ability to print heavy coverage with no streaks, spotting or banding

Potential Downfall to Offset:

  • Plate/machine setup for each design (which adds time and cost, particularly for small invitation runs)

Best Paper for Offset Printed Invitations

If going with offset printing for your invites, you won’t be limited by much. Most offset presses can handle weights up to 120lb cover (325gsm), papers smooth or textured, coated or non. As always, bring in samples to discuss, as some papers may require specific inks or setup.


Thermography

Often referred to as raised printing, thermography produces prints you can feel. After a simple design or text is printed with slow drying ink (usually by offset), embossing powder is applied while the ink is still wet. Next, excess powder is removed by vacuum or vibration. Finally, the paper is passed through a heating mechanism which causes the powder/design to raise up.

Thermography Benefits

  • Traditional, elegant invitation style printing
  • Unique tactile and visual appeal

Thermography Downfalls

  • Thermography requires machine setup and is a higher cost print method
  • Color and design detail limitations (typically text and simple design only)

Best Paper for Thermography Invitations

Since the pre-powder stage of thermography printing is typically done by offset, the same applies to preferred weight range. Thermography printed invites are usually 80lb cover (216gsm) – 120lb cover (325gsm).


Letterpress Printing

Letterpress printers use plates, hand set type and ink to press a design onto or into paper.

Benefits of Letterpress Include

  • Consistent, superb quality prints
  • Ability to print on a variety of paper surfaces and weights
  • Unique tactile element

Potential Letterpress Downfall

  • Plate creation and extensive machine setup for each design and color
  • Color limitations (each color requires its own plate and setup)

Best Paper for Letterpress Invitations

Though letterpress invites can be printed on a variety of weights, finishes and textures, they are most commonly printed on thick, cotton cardstock 111lb (300gsm) – 222lb (600gsm).

Shop our collection of Letterpress Paper


Digital Printing

Digital printing uses ink or toner to recreate a design on paper – no plates or rollers required. It is quick, economical and the method of printing we use for our Invitation Printing Services.

If you would rather not worry about test prints and trips to the print shop, take advantage of our printing service! We offer hundreds of invitation cards in a variety of weights, colors and sizes.

Digital Benefits

  • Fast, economical print method great for small invitation runs
  • Ability to print on a variety of paper and envelope weights, light and heavy
  • Easily print multiple colors in one design with little setup

Digital Downfalls

  • If printing a large run (1000+ pieces) colors may subtly shift throughout run unlike letterpress or offset
  • Ability to print on very heavy weights and heavily embossed textures may be limited by machinery

Best Paper for Digitally Printed Invites

At LCI, we offer digital printing on a wide range of weights, from lightweight (30lb) vellum printing to 120lb heavyweight cardstock printing. Though our equipment does not work well with heavily textured papers, we can print on subtle textures such as linen, coated metallics and smooth, matte cardstock. We even print dark papers and envelopes in white!


2. Invitation Style: What Kind of Invitation are You Making?

When choosing an invitation paper weight, it is also important to consider the style and composition of your invites. For example:

Flat Invitation Card? Go a Little Heavier

Since flat invitation cards are simply a single sheet of cardstock, they are typically made with a heavy weight cardstock – 80lb cover and up.

Sage green and dusty green pocketfold invitations

Folding Invitation Card? Go a Little Lighter

Folding invitation cards are typically made with lighter stock, as they are twice as thick after folding.

A popular weight range for folding invitation cards is between 65lb-100lb cover.

Layered Card? Whatever You Prefer

Layered invitation cards or those inside of invitation pockets and wraps can be made with a variety of weights, but we recommend keeping these rules in mind.

  • Keep your invitation top layer light (80lb cover and under). Print it, then attach it to a heavier card (80lb cover and up).
  • Your invitation backer or pocket can be as heavy as you like – no printing, no restrictions!
  • Keep bulk in mind. If you have 3 or more layers, you may want to keep the layers light

3. Postage: More Cardstock Weight = More Postage

Any invite weighing over 1 ounce requires additional postage. If you want to keep the cost of invitation postage down, keep the weight of your invitation card stock down.

Tip: Always bring one finished invite to your local post office to determine accurate postage.


4. Preference: Your Invites, Your Choice.

Printing, design and budget considerations aside, some people prefer thick, heavy card stock while some prefer lighter, thinner stock.

Ultimately, it’s your invitations and your choice! The best weight paper for your wedding invitations is the one that works for you, your design and any limitations you are working with.

2 Comments

  1. Donna Manzo says:

    Hi,
    I am trying to make the tags that go on the front of wedding invitations with the brides and grooms name and the date of the wedding at the bottom on the tag and also with a watermark in the backgroun using the symbol & in the center. I am not having any success. Can you walk me through the steps and how do I get a lot on one page so I can cut out a sheet at a time. I tried using labels but then the watermark goes over the entire page and not in one of the squares. I tried using a table and the same thing happens. I would like to make them so I see the outline of each square so I can cut them. I made one but that means then I would have to cut my page stip 2 inches and run it through the printer and do one at a time. Is there any way I can fill the whole page. Any help will be great. Thank you so much.

    Donna Manzo