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Invitation Glossary

Accessory card:
A 4-inch x 5-inch, 18-point card used for reception information, maps, and announcements.
A way to organize text to create visual tension, whereas symmetry is a way to organize text so it is visually pleasing and easy to read.
At-home cards
Note cards that provide the newly married couple's address, or when they plan to return from their honeymoon. Using such a card also presents the opportunity to designate what name the bride will be using. At-home cards usually are mailed with the wedding announcement, or separately after the ceremony. It is advisable to design and order at-home cards concurrently with wedding announcements or wedding invitations.
Bold face
A heavy type, frequently used in contrast with types of ordinary weight or color. Many typefaces have their own bold face–i.e., type of the same design, but in a heavier version.
Bride's stationery
This is personalized stationery engraved with the bride's maiden name or initials, perfect for sending thank-you notes for shower, engagement, or wedding gifts received before the wedding. Naturally, it the bride keeps her maiden name, this stationery can be used after the wedding to write these notes as well.
Derived from Greek words meaning "beautiful writing," this handwriting/penmanship often is associated with artful curlicue script, and a wealth of fancy genres. The technique is performed by experts trained in the process, using special pens and inks. Calligraphers are highly sought after for wedding stationery purposes because the writing technique emits a formal tone for engagement announcements, invitations of all kinds, place cards, programs, and thank you notes. Today there also are calligraphy machines available to create or address such stationery products, but brides often hire expert writers to accomplish the timely task.
Camera-ready art
A precise black image on white paper in the actual size desired. Also known as custom art.
Card announcement
A 6.25-inch x 4.5-inch, 18-point card stock used for wedding invitations, rehearsal dinners, open houses, or corporate events.
Card invitation
A 5-7/8-inch x 7-7/8-inch, 18-point card stock used for wedding invitations, rehearsal dinners, open houses, or corporate events.
Center alignment
When lines of text are centered.
Any matter to be set in type. Also known as image.
Couple's stationery
This constitutes letter sheets, personalized notes and cards that the bride and groom will use for thank you notes and more general correspondence after they are first married. It usually contains either full names of first names, or a combined monogram.
Thick paper stock with wrinkles, ridges, and grooves.
Cotton fiber
This is paper that is 100-percent cotton. It is most often used for traditional wedding invitations.
Deckle edge
An irregular edge of handmade paper that appears torn.
A metal or plastic tool that is designed to make another material conform to it.
A means of cutting paper by pressing sharp blades against the paper. The principle is similar to cutting dough with a cookie cutter.
Direction card
Often included in all types of invitations, this card provides specific directions to where the event will take place. It is advisable to include a map card with directions in the initial invitation mailing. It is also a good idea to request a card print overrun so you may hand out the direction cards after the ceremony.
Printing on both sides of a card or fold-over.
A printing process using no ink. Metal dies are used to stamp paper so what is left behind is the imprint of the design. Embossing is popular on the borders of many invitations, accessory cards, and personalized stationery.
A printing process where the invitation copy is etched on a copper plate.
Envelope lining
A coordinating or contrasting sheet inserted in an envelope to add a finishing touch to the presentation of the invitation.
Escort Cards
For use on a table outside the reception hall, these cards will direct your guests to assigned tables.
Calligraphic and ornate details found in very formal invitations.
Flush left text alignment
When text lines up vertically to the left.
Flush right text alignment
When text lines up vertically to the right.
Foil stamping
A specialized technique involving thin metallic foil pressed onto paper.
Fold-over announcement
A 6.25-inch x 4.5-inch, 7.2-point card layout used for wedding invitations, rehearsal dinner cards, open house announcements, or corporate missives. The fold-over is scored, allowing the card to be folded in half.
Fold-over invitation
A 5-7/8-inch x 7-7/8-inch, 18-point card stock used for wedding invitations, rehearsal dinner cards, open house announcements, or corporate missives. The fold-over is scored, allowing the card to be folded in half.
A complete set of characters, numbers, and symbols in any one design, size, or type style.
Notes at the foot of the page, but still contained within the type area, and set in a size smaller than the main text size. A line of white usually separates the text from the footnotes. Also called corner copy, or corner cut.
This thin waxy paper has a slick and shiny surface, and is suitable for envelope use, or storing photos.
Handmade papers
Usually comprised of natural organic materials such as cotton, rag, and hemp, as well as plant fibers. Normally the paper is uneven with a somewhat rough texture.
The calligraphic script and lettering styles created by an expert in handwriting art and handwriting techniques.
Image area
The specified amount of space on a page to be filled with type. Also known as copy.
To begin a line with a blank space, thus setting the line back a little. For example, the first line of a paragraph usually is indented.
Industrial paper
Usually made from chipboard or newsprint that is comprised of recycled fibers, this type of paper is quite rugged looking. Examples include corrugated cardboard and grocery bag material, known as brown kraft paper.
Inner invitation envelope
Envelopes that are enclosed in the larger envelope and do not have glue on the closure, often used to protect an invitation, and especially formal invitation designs. Each inner invitation envelope should carry the last name and title(s) of the invited guest(s). Example: Mr. Rogers; Ms. Green; or Mr. and Mrs. Albertson.
Informal note
A 4-inch x 5-inch, top-folded, 7.2-point note, used for writing thank you messages or brief correspondence.
Initial cap
An oversized first letter of a word that appears one time in a layout.
Insert Cards
Also called accessory cards, these are smaller cards to be included with wedding invitations. wedding invitations to provide additional information. Examples include reception cards that provide details for reception location; reserved section or pew cards that hold information about special seating at the ceremony; response cards used for RSVP purposes; and map cards, also called direction cards or travel cards.
Paper that is screen-printed to create a layering effect, as if being overlaid with lace or some other type of design.
Inner envelope
Holds the essential parts of the invitation and its accessories. The inner envelope has a decorative lining, and does not contain gum on the flap for sealing. An outer envelope is required for proper mailing.
Color also known as cream, ecru, or eggshell.
Justification of text
The manner of aligning text to the left, right, centered, or both left and right.
Adjusting the space between two letters.
Laid paper
A pattern showing parallel wire marks that emerge on the paper surface during manufacture. This pattern appears as a fine striated or corduroy effect on the paper surface.
Orientation of an invitation referring to a horizontal layout–i.e., 7 inches long x 5 inches high.
The amount of white space between the lines of text.
Letter spacing
The amount of space between letters.
An alternative to engraving, letterpress is a costly and labor-intensive method dating back to the 15th century that involves inking an image to produce an impression, which is then transferred by placing paper against the image and manually applying pressure. The images and typeface appear to be individually "stamped into" the paper. Letterpress often is used with unusual papers, typefaces, and pigment experimentations.
Lined envelopes
Glossy, colored or patterned designs found in inner or outer envelopes.
Linen Finish
Paper with a surface that appears grainy, normally used for elegant, traditional wedding invitations.
A dry printing process whereby ink and water repel each other and a flat printing image is achieved.
Marbled paper
Paper marked by swirling, abstract patterns resembling a marble surface.
Paper with a flat, non-reflective finish.
Paper that resembles shiny foil, with a non-crinkling, mirror-like finish.
Offset printing
A process whereby an image is transferred from a lithographic plate to a rubber roller, which is pressed on to the printing paper. This method is so generally used today that offset, as a term, has become a synonym for lithography.
Outer invitation envelope
The outer envelope encompasses the inner envelope and all of its contents. If the inner envelope is lined, then the outer envelope cannot be lined. The outer envelope should be handwritten with the full name and address of the invited guest(s), and postage is affixed. The outer envelope normally holds an inner envelope that contains the invitation, the response card, the response card envelope, and map card, if desired.
Strong, tough, and often somewhat translucent paper.
This process applies a luminous finish to an invitation, usually to an embossed design or border.
Pew cards/Reserved seat sections
Useful for events whereby the ceremony location has limited seating, reserved seating cards ensure that families of the bride and groom are seated accordingly. Pew cards sometimes indicate exactly which pew the guest should sit, while others may say "within the ribbon," meaning anywhere a ribbon is placed along the aisle.
Place card
A 3 1/2-inch x 2-inch, 7.2-point, top-folded note, a place card is designed to help guests find their proper table, and usually are numbered, blank, or printed with the guest's name. Another option is the tent card design, which is placed directly above the table settings at the 12:00 position, or flat cards, which can be placed atop napkins; or flat cards that can be placed in frames that serve as wedding favors.
Used in measuring the thickness of paper, a point is approximately equal to 18/1000th of an inch thick.
Point size
The standard of typographical measurement in use today in England and America, 72 points measure 0.9962"–approximately 1 inch.
The orientation of an invitation referring to a vertical layout.
A fold-over invitation used for printing a schedule of events.
Reception Card
A card used when the ceremony and reception are at different locations, or all of the information will not fit on the invitation. These cards are included in the wedding invitation's inner envelope.
Rehearsal dinner invitations
These invitations are optional, depending on the formality of the event and whether or not the hosts–traditionally the groom's parents–wish to send them. Normal practice is to include members of the wedding party and their significant others, any children in the wedding, and the parents of the bride and groom. Out-of-town guests and friends that couldn't be fit into the wedding party also may be invited.
Response card with envelope
Included with the wedding invitation, the response card with envelope comprises a method for helping the wedding couple keep track of the number of guests planning to attend the wedding. Note that the response envelope always should be pre-addressed and postage-paid.
Rice paper
This is thin, soft paper is made from the pith of a small Asian tree or shrub of the ginseng family. It is used for letterpress printing only, and is most commonly found in shades of cream and ivory.
Derived from the French phrase "Répondez s'il vous plaît," translated in English, meaning "Please reply." R.s.v.p. and R.S.V.P. are the only two acceptable ways to list this phrase.
Rain card
An accessory card used for outdoor weddings, it informs guests where to go in case of bad weather.
Reception card
An accessory card usually mailed with invitations, announcing where the reception will take place.
Response set
Refers to an accessory card and its corresponding envelope. The response card usually has the R.S.V.P. information, and the envelopes are self-addressed and stamped.
Ruled line
Lines that are solid, dotted, or elaborate with dots and dashes, depending on the type of occasion.
San serif
A class of types characterized by the absence of serifs and the construction of the letters from strokes of equal thickness.
Save The Date card
An accessory card that is sent out months prior to a big event, allowing guests to plan ahead and out-of-town guests to make any flight or accommodation arrangements.
An impression made into a piece of paper, as in a line where paper is going to be folded or creased.
A decorative lettering style used to resemble handwriting.
The finishing strokes at the top and bottom of a letter.
A term for the paper component of a printing project that is used to describe the thickness and heaviness of paper. For example, hardy card stock is preferred for formal wedding invitations, which often are accompanied by a square of delicate stock, such as tissue or parchment.
An assortment of ornaments designed for a lettering style, used for decoration purposes, or to separate lines or paragraphs of text. Also known as dingbats.
Thank you note
A 4-inch x 5-inch, top-folded, 7.2-point note used to relay a handwritten expression of gratitude for gifts received.
A printing process where powder is melted over ink, creating the illusion that the printed ink is raised.
Type families
Classifying families within the type style by their letter weight and width–i.e. regular, bold, and italic.
Type size
A measurement system used to determine the size of type. Also known as point size.
Characteristics of letters unified by consistent visual properties.
Having discrete markings of different colors.
In modern usage, the term represents a strong, cream-colored paper. Originally, in ancient times, vellum was the treated skin of a calf, used as a writing material. This type of paper appears translucent with a smooth, frosted finish.
A small illustration or decoration that is not squared up or enclosed by a border.
A marking in paper resulting from differences in thickness. A watermark usually is achieved by pressure of a projecting design in the mold, or on a processing roll and visible when the paper is held up to the light. This translucent "beauty mark" denotes the finest in quality.
Wedding announcements
After the intimate wedding is held with all the desired people in attendance, there will be many other people to notify going forward. Wedding announcement cards are considered quite proper for making acquaintances, business associates, and colleagues aware of your marital status–especially if the bride is assuming the married name. Wedding announcements should be mailed on the morning of the wedding day.
Wedding engagement announcements
These are announcement cards used by the engaged couple to send to people whom the couple will ultimately invite to the wedding. Normally the engagement is announced by parents, or some other close relative or family friend who accepts the honor. In any event, the wedding engagement card should, in effect, indicate who will be hosting the wedding.
Wedding invitation
An invitation contains the names of the bride and groom, the time, the date, and the location of the wedding. A traditional wedding invitation wording is written in the third person, printed on folded paper or heavy card stock in black or gray ink, and mailed in two envelopes (see listings found for "Outer envelope" and "Inner envelope"). Many other color options are available for today's couples.
Wedding program
A wedding program sets the tone and functions as a basic guide to the ceremony. Normally it includes a cover page with the couple's name and wedding date. Also contained is the list order of the service, such as the seating of family members, attendants processional, bride processional, greeting and declaration of intention, candle lighting, invocation, Scripture readings, prayer, pronouncement and benediction, presentation of husband and wife, and recessional–as well as all the corresponding music selections.
The thickness of the strokes in letters, this determines how heavy or light a type style will appear.
This refers to how condensed or expanded a typeface appears.
Word spacing
The spaces between words in a line of text.