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Cardstock 101: A Guide to Choosing the Perfect Paper for Wedding Invitations

When it comes to planning a wedding, one of the most common questions you'll encounter is, "What's the best paper for wedding invitations?" As someone who runs an invitation company, I can tell you that...

When it comes to planning a wedding, one of the most common questions you'll encounter is, "What's the best paper for wedding invitations?" As someone who runs an invitation company, I can tell you that cardstock is a topic I'm passionate about. But here's the thing: there's no one-size-fits-all answer. Different printers, inks, and template designs all play a role in determining the best cardstock for your specific needs. So, let's dive in and explore how you can choose the right paper for your wedding invitations.

Where to Buy Paper for Wedding Invitations

Before we delve into the details, let's talk about where to buy the perfect paper for your invitations. While my favorite paper shop, Paper and More, sadly went out of business in 2021, there are still plenty of great places to find high-quality cardstock. Some of my favorite sources include Amazon, Cards and Pockets, and Paper Source. Don't be afraid to explore different retailers to find the finishes that will make your wedding invitations truly pop.

Choose the Right Paper for Your Printer

The first thing you need to consider is how you'll be printing your invites. This decision will impact the final print quality and the type of cardstock you can use. Many brides opt for home printing because it's quick, easy, and affordable. However, if you want to outsource the printing or achieve higher quality, I recommend consulting a local print shop.

Home Printing Tips

If you decide to print at home, here are a few tips to ensure the best results:

  1. Experiment with print quality: Each printer has different settings for print quality. Play around with the settings to find the sharpest prints.
  2. Use textured cardstock: Inkjet printing can sometimes result in a "fuzzy" appearance. Textured cardstock can help hide imperfections. I highly recommend using linen cardstock for a beautiful textured look.
  3. Start with a low weight and work your way up: The weight of the cardstock affects the professional appearance of your invitations. Start with 80# cardstock and gradually increase the weight until you find the ideal balance.

Printing at a Local Print Shop

If you choose to go to a local print shop, keep the following in mind:

  1. Print quality may vary: Different printers and locations can produce varying print qualities, even when using the same paper and printers.
  2. Consider the type of printer: Laser printers apply a layer of ink (toner) on top of the paper. While this is usually not an issue, certain paper types may cause the ink to flake off.
  3. Size limitations: Most print shops require printing on standard 8.5"x11" sheets and may refuse to print on small or oddly-sized cardstock or envelopes.

When printing at a local print shop, save your invitations on a thumb drive, use smooth-textured cardstock, and select a weight of 100# or higher for the best results.

Choose a Paper Type

Now that we've covered the basics of printing, let's talk about the different types of cardstock available:

  • Solid White Cardstock: This is the go-to choice for many. It's medium to heavy weight with a smooth, matte finish. It's affordable and ideal for home printing.
  • Linen Cardstock: Mimicking the look of linen fabric, this cardstock has a delicate woven texture that adds interest to your invitations.
  • Cotton Cardstock: Smooth and highly absorbent, cotton cardstock gives your invites a clean, modern look. It's suitable for both laser and inkjet printing.
  • Parchment: With its thin, semi-translucent appearance and marbled look, parchment adds a touch of uniqueness. It works well in combination with other cardstock types.
  • Felt Cardstock: Somewhere between cotton and canvas in texture, felt cardstock exudes sophistication and elegance. It pairs well with heavyweight paper for a luxurious feel.
  • Kraft: This recycled cardstock offers a rustic, on-trend look. Its fibrous texture is perfect for vintage or outdoorsy weddings.
  • Vellum: Translucent vellum adds a touch of elegance and can be used alone or layered over other designs. Experiment with printing directly on vellum or using it as an overlay.
  • Colored Cardstock: Ideal for creating a cohesive look with colored envelopes, colored cardstock comes in various colors and weights.
  • Wood Grain Cardstock: Embossed with a subtle wood grain texture, this cardstock is perfect for creating accents and adding depth to your invitations.
  • Laid Cardstock: With its vertical ridges, laid cardstock provides a unique and romantic touch to your wedding invitations.

Consider your desired style, budget, and printing preferences when selecting the right paper type.

Choosing a Paper Weight

Once you've chosen your paper type, it's time to consider the weight or thickness of the cardstock. In the U.S., cardstock is measured in pounds (#), while in Europe, it's measured in grams per square meter (gsm). In the U.S., the higher the weight in pounds, the thicker the cardstock. Here are some weight options and their characteristics:

  • 80 - 90#: Ideal for most home printers, this weight is budget-friendly and suitable for most purposes.
  • 100#: Offers a professional look but may cause issues with some home printers. Still, it's a good option if you want to mail your invitations with a single stamp.
  • 110 - 130#: The heaviest weight you can likely print yourself. It provides a highly professional look and is ideal if your printer can handle it.
  • 150# and up: Reserved for professional printers, embossers, and letterpress printing.

Remember, the weight you choose ultimately depends on your budget, preferences, and the overall tone you want to set for your wedding invitations.

FAQs about Cardstock

Q: What kind of cardstock is best for wedding invitations?
A: Cotton cardstock is a popular choice due to its smooth texture, wide range of weights and colors, and universal appeal.

Q: Is 110 lb cardstock good for wedding invitations?
A: Yes, 110 lb cardstock is considered "heavy weight" and is perfect for creating invitations with a luxurious feel.

Q: Is 65 lb or 110 lb cardstock heavier?
A: The higher the number, the heavier the cardstock. Therefore, 110 lb cardstock is heavier than 65 lb cardstock.

Q: Can cardstock get wet?
A: While cardstock can absorb more water than regular paper, it's best to avoid exposing it to moisture to prevent warping. If you plan to use watercolor paint, conduct a trial run to assess how the paper handles water.

Q: What is the difference between cardstock and text weight paper?
A: Cardstock is thicker and has a cardboard-like feel, making it ideal for covers or sturdy invitations. Text weight paper is similar to standard printer paper and is used for the inner text of printed materials.

Q: What is the heaviest cardstock you can buy?
A: Triple thick cardstock, weighing around 360 lb, is the thickest and most rigid option available, often used for purposes like letterpress printing.

Remember, the information provided here is for educational and informational purposes only. Everyone's experiences may vary, so I cannot guarantee identical results. Now that you have an understanding of cardstock, go forth and select the perfect paper for your wedding invitations!