Invitations fit for a (future) king

With the Royal Wedding just around the corner, we thought we’d take a look at wedding invitations. Kensington Palace made a series of tweets outlining details of the invitations, confirming that they “follow many years of Royal tradition” and feature the Three-Feathered Badge of the Prince of Wales printed in gold ink.

Lottie Small, who recently completed her apprenticeship at Barnard & Westwood, printed all 600 of the invitations over a period of two days by using a die stamping process on a 1930s Waite & Saville press. The terminology used by Kensington Palace points to the card stock being made by James Cropper in Cumbria. The invitations were made using US ink on “English card” and printed in gold and black, then burnished to bring out the shine, and gilded around the edge. 

Barnard & Westwood has held a Royal Warrant from Her Majesty the Queen since 1986 and has held a second Royal Warrant from The Prince of Wales since 2012. The company was established in 1921 by First World War veteran Albert Barnard, who was unable to return to his pre-war print role because of the injuries he suffered in the conflict. His aunt, Miss Westwood, who was a Suffragette, lent him the money to set up his own printing business.

The history of wedding invitations

Imagine not being able to choose who to invite to your wedding! Turn the clock back to the 16th century and beyond and that was exactly what used to happen. Guests invited to a wedding would be anyone who heard the news of a forthcoming marriage, from the local town crier! The printing press hadn’t been invented and most people were illiterate.

Social etiquette

The social etiquette of sending wedding invitations began around the beginning of the 18th century when reading and writing was a sign of education, so it was only the elite who could use this form of correspondence.

Wedding invitations would be written by hand, often using calligraphy, with all guest names, dates and times being spelt out. Wording used on today’s invitations often follow the traditional format of invites from this time. The invitation would be sent in an inner envelope, encased with an outer envelope. With no postal service, it was the duty of the servants to deliver invitations, on horseback, whatever the weather. Here explains the need for the outer envelope – this protected the inner envelope from getting wet or dirty and displayed directions of how the courier must travel to reach his destination. Upon arrival, the outer envelope would be discarded and the courier would present the pristine, inner envelope containing the wedding invitation.

The arrival of the printing press

The printing press arrived in Europe in the 1440’s thanks to Gutenberg, but it wasn’t until the 20th century that the printing of mass-produced wedding invitations really began. Before this time mass production was considered bad taste.

You may have come across wedding invitations with a tissue protector, this dates back to the techniques used for invitations printed using letter press, where the tissue would ensure ink would not transfer as it was not always dry.

Following the Second World War, more affordable wedding invitations were bought to the mass market as new technologies and techniques such as thermography were introduced. This was followed by digital printing which now provides the main form of printing for wedding invitations.

Contact the sales office today on FREEPHONE 0808 178 3378 to discuss your wedding stationery requirements.

With thanks to for the history of wedding invitations.

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