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A formal invitation begins with the full, formal name(s) and title(s) of the sponsors of the wedding, who are not necessarily the people paying for the event. While the bride's parents traditionally sponsor a wedding, anyone can be a sponsor, including other relatives, the groom's parents, or the couple themselves.

Next comes the phrase "request the honour of your presence" for a service held in a house of worship, or "request the pleasure of your company" for a wedding held in another location. The next line reads: "at the marriage of their daughter" or whatever the relation is.

The bride's full name follows. Include the bride's last name if it is different from the last name of the sponsors. Personal or professional titles (Ms., Miss, Dr., etc.) are optional, but if you use them, include her last name. The title of "Doctor" should be spelled out on a traditional wedding invitation.

The groom's full name is next. If the bride is using a personal or professional title, so does the groom.

One the next few lines, spell out the day and the date, time and place. If you are not using reception cards, include the reception information. If you are not using reply cards, include and "R.s.v.p." and response address.

The invitation for a religious wedding sponsored by the bride's brother and sister-in-law, using personal titles, would read as follows:

Mr. and Mrs. Frederick Jay Bayer
request the honour of your presence
at the marriage of his sister
Doctor Alice Lucille Bayer
Mr. Robert Wyde Katz
Saturday, the tenth of September
Two thousand and sixteen
at half after two o'clock
First Parish Church
Boston, Massachusetts

A VARIETY OF PRINTING TECHNIQUES ARE AVAILABLE, ranging from traditionally elegant engraving and embossing to the tactile impressions of letterpress, to our strikingly rich, yet budget-friendly thermography and flat printing options. Following are descriptions of each.

ENGRAVING - The image is cut or etched into a copper plate. The plate is inked, then surface is wiped clean, leaving ink only in the depressed (etched) areas of the plate. Each piece of paper is hand-fed into a press where the paper is forced against the plate with tremendous pressure, resulting in a raised ink impression. The faint indentation on the back of the paper is a sign of the fine engraving. The plate or plates are provided with the order and can be reused.

EMBOSSING - Embossing creates a raised image on the paper, but without ink. A variety of embossable Monograms, Motifs and Typestyles to accent your invitation trousseau are offered.

LETTERPRESS - The oldest and most versatile method of printing is done using cast metal type or plates on which the image or printing areas are raised above the non-printing areas of the plate. Ink touches the top surface of the raised areas; the surrounding (non-printed) areas are lower and do not receive ink. The inked image is transferred directly into the paper. Sometimes a slight embossing appears on the reverse side of the paper. The letterpress image is sharp and crisp.

THERMOGRAPHY - Freshly printed inks are dusted with a powder compound. The excess powder on the non-printing areas is removed, and the sheet passes under a heater, fusing the ink and powdered compound, and raising the image to simulate the look of engraving. Thermography is not suitable for images that are screened.

MATTE THERMOGRAPHY - Matte thermography uses an alternative powder compound that is not as shiny as standard thermography, resulting in a dull or "matte" look. Matte Thermography is available for all ink colors except metallic inks (Silver, Gold or Copper).

FLAT PRINTING - Technically known as Offset / Lithography, flat printing is recognized by clean edges and a smooth print. Flat printing is recommended for images that are shaded or screened.

ONCE YOU KNOW THE DATE, time, and place of your wedding, and all your arrangements are firm, it's never too early to order your invitation ensemble and announcements. Most wedding planners will tell you to order your invitations three to six months before the ceremony. It is always a good idea to ask for a proof before your invitations trousseau is printed.

Give yourself at least a month to hand address, assemble, and stamp the invitations and reply envelopes. Even if you have a calligrapher or service to do the addressing, they will need time to get it done right. And you still need time to check the addresses for accuracy.

Mail your invitations at least four weeks before the ceremony; six weeks is better. Eight weeks is best for guests who have to travel a long distance, or if your wedding falls near a major holiday. Your guests have busy lives and other responsibilities, so the sooner you invite them, the more likely they will be able to come. Mail announcements on the day of or the day after your wedding, never before.

WHEN YOUR GUEST AND ANNOUNCEMENTS LISTS are complete, calculate how many invitations and announcements you will need. Count one invitation (or announcement) for each of the following: couple (married or living together), pair of adult siblings who live together, family with children under 18, single guest, fiancé of a guest, and invited boy- or girlfriend of a guest. Add 10 or 12 more for keepsakes, plus extra for last-minute guests (and there will be last-minute guests). Depending on how large your order is, we suggest ordering 25 to 50 additional envelopes in case of addressing mistakes.