Traditional design for wedding invitations making a comeback

The heavy paper, raised ink and elegant type all signal that this piece of mail is something special — a wedding invitation. Modern brides still rely on tradition to design their invitations, experts say, but are adding personal touches with colored inks, ribbons and tinted papers.

“People have been going back to very conservative styles, but they still want to express themselves,” said Micah Chase, president of Checkerboard Ltd., a custom stationery maker in West Boylston, Mass.

Self-expression for an engaged couple can take the form of subtle touches like ink in teals, browns and other muted colors, or calligraphy in unusual styles. Invitations printed in a vertical, “tall” style come in envelopes with long pointed flaps. Details are printed on paper delicately embossed with floral or botanical patterns.

“It has this traditional theme with a modern interpretation,” Chase said. “It’s modern but it still has the feel of Old World craftsmanship.”

With invitations, as with weddings, couples want to blend the traditional and the individual, Chase said. “They want to pay homage to this institution, but brides say, ‘I want mine to be different, as we are.'”

Some new offerings in invitations: Paper with leaves stamped in gold, invitations with delicate parchment jackets and cards embellished with ribbon and watercolor images. Embossed cards feature intricate Victorian motifs or a simple interwoven pattern as a border.

Before designing your invitations, think about the mood of your wedding. Is it formal or casual? Traditional or quirky? Big-budget or on a shoestring? Your invitation should reflect what guests can expect on the big day.

Some style options popular with modern couples:

• Paper: Handmade papers have joined traditional vellum as an option for couples seeking a more distinctive look.

• Type style: Classic typefaces with lots of flourishes remain popular, along with flowery scripts. Just make sure that your typefaces mesh with each other and reflect the tone of your wedding.

• Ink: Quality stationers offer up to 25 colors of ink for invitations, but subtle is best, Chase advises. Bright colors were popular several years ago but have faded with the more traditional mood of the country.

• Envelopes: Heavy paper, longer cuts and pointed flaps add to the impact of your invitation.

• Effects: If you like the engraved look but are on a tight budget, consider thermography for an engraved effect.

• Extras: Ribbons, cutouts and unusually shaped cards are other options for more adventurous couples.

• Innovations in technology have also given couples more flexibility in designs and deadlines. Online stationery sites can deliver printed invitations in as little as three days, and allow you to design every facet of the finished product.

“We’ve seen a tremendous increase in sales of the home product,” said Chase. “[Couples] do love the convenience.”