Why do we have wedding invitations? What is the history of wedding invitations? Wedding stationery is now a must have part of every wedding – the colours available are unimaginable, the designs, styles, techniques and shapes are that of a stationery marvel. However it hasn’t always been that way. We decided to do a little research of our own to find out how wedding invitations, and therefore our little company, have come about. We also thought we’d let you in on how we started Ivy Ellen Wedding Invitations and how we’ve grown since.
So the history of wedding invitations all started at the turn of the 18th century when reading and writing was a sign of eductaion. Therefore only the elite could actually use this form of correspondance and send invitations. Usually a monk, who had the skills of calligraphy, would hand write each elaborate and luxury invitation for the family. The invite was often closed with a wax seal of the family crest – another sign of status. Before this, in the middle ages, a town crier would simply announce the wedding in the square and whoever was in ear shot was essentailly invited to the celebrations. Unless of course you had been shunned by the family – oh the despair!
By 1447 Johann Gutenberg of Mainz, Germany, craftsman and inventor, created letterpress printing. He invented the moveable type and by combining it with exisiting technologies he was able to compete with the handwritten invites created by Monks. His method of printing from lead moveable type, a novel letterpress, and oil based inks allowed for the first time the mass production of books. Letterpress printing is done by inking type, or an engraving, and pressing that form into paper with the use of a letterpress.
Traditionally, there would always be a layer of tissue paper in with the letterpressed invite as the ink would not always dry quickly and may run/smudge. This invite and tissue paper layer would then be placed inside a pristine envelope and then inside another larger one. The larger envelope would have instructions for the courier as to how to deliver it and would keep the main invite clean and dry. Each wedding invitation was delivered by hand, often by servants. At this stage the outer envelope was thrown away and the recipients’ butler would deliver the pristine invitation to the family on a silver tray.