Choosing Your Invitation Paper: Textures, Weights, Colors, and More!

Category: Personalizing Your Stationery, Stationery DIY and How Tos | Published on: December 2, 2015

Editor's Note: This post was originally published on October 30, 2013, but it’s been updated with awesome new tips and helpful links!

Choosing your invitation paper by CharmCat

You’ve spent weeks searching for the perfect invitation design. (Maybe months. Hopefully not years!) After figuring out the look, the fonts, the colors, and what you want your invites to say, you’re ready to order, right? You’ve forgot one super-important detail… the paper!

Whether you’re ordering printed invitations or doing them at home, the right paper can make or break a great invitation design, so don't overlook the importance of your surface when creating and printing your stationery. There are a lot of invitation paper options available with modern printing techniques, so you’ve got your work cut out for you.

So many invitation paper options, so little aspirin.

Smooth stock

At least, that’s what I call it at CharmCat. You’ll see it called standard white or opaque sometimes, too. It’s pretty much how it sounds: a neutral white smooth surface. Nothing fancy, but a great economical choice.

White, cream, ivory. What’s the difference?

Pale whites get mixed up a lot, but there’s actually a real difference between them. White is neutral and bright, like the color of your printer paper. Cream has a slight yellowish tint to it; it’s very subtle and just adds a hint of warmth. Cream is what most people mean when they say Ivory. True Ivory is much yellower, more like the color of butter.

Felt stock

Example of smooth and felt tooth papers and the difference in texture.
The roughness or smoothness of paper is referred to as “tooth.” The more tooth, the more rough the surface is. Handmade papers usually have a lot of tooth. Felt is a mid-level of tooth. It’s got some roughness to it but you only notice it up close. It’s the same texture that most drawing and mixed media papers have, making it the perfect choice for watercolor or artsy invitations.

Pearl (metallic)

Metallic paper goes by a few names, including pearl and shimmer, depending on who named it. There are some differences in metallic papers but they all have one thing in common: reflective flecks in the paper.

This image shows how the metallic flecks shine through the ink color.

Pearl papers are ideal when you want to add some classy sparkle to your invites. They shimmer through the ink and catch the light. I love seeing pearl paper with my snowflake and champagne designs!

Recycled

Yep, recycled paper costs a hair more than regular paper. Why’s that? It actually takes a lot of refinement and extra work to beat the paper pulp back into a smooth sheet.

Recycled paper will have a duller color than new paper with some flecks of color here and there.

Kraft

Kraft paper is what most people think of as rustic or eco-friendly. While it’s certainly rustic with it’s light brown color and visible fibers, it’s not always eco-friendly. Most kraft papers (including mine) are not recycled, so be sure to check before you buy!

Cotton

If you really want to be eco-friendly, cotton paper is a better choice anyway. There’s no tree in it at all, just cotton fibers. That makes the paper extra soft and a pleasure to touch. It has a very fine tooth (somewhere between the smooth and the felt). It’s pricey but oh-so-luxurious.

What’s in a weight?

One of the most common measures of paper is its basis weight, which is measured in lbs. The paper in your printer is somewhere between 20 and 28 lbs. Basic card stock is 65 lbs. But for invitations, pick a heavier weight for more impact, durability, and style. The best weight is at least 90 lbs. If you’re printing at home, your printer may not be able to print on heaver stock. (It’s a better bet if your printer prints feeds in the back and prints out the front, since the pages don’t get flipped or rolled.)

How do they get the weight of a sheet of paper? It’s how much a ream weighs (that’s 500 sheets of full-size paper). The weight of a paper is related to how thick it is, but exactly how thick depends on the type of paper.

To make things more complicated, there’s two kinds of weights: text and cover stock. Even if they’re the same weight, text paper is thinner than cover weight paper!

If your stationery needs include postcards, you'll need to choose the right stock to comply with postal regulations. The postal service measures their thicknesses in inches, 0.007 to be exact. (That’s called the caliper, FYI.) If you’re like me, that number is meaningless…. but you’re pretty safe if you stick with 100lb cover.

More crazy paper fun!

Double thick paper

One way to jazz up your invites is to go with double thick (or even triple thick!) cards. Double thick cards are just that… double the weight, double the awesome.

More color!

Dozens of invitation paper colors are available online.

If you're going to go with plain white invitation paper, make sure it's a deliberate choice, and not one of convenience. Papers are available in every color you can think of (and some you can't). Of course, if you're printing at home, you can probably rule out the darker half of the spectrum (since you can't print white without special equipment). But that doesn't mean you can't defy expectations by printing on ivory, light blue, pink, silver, yellow, teal, or any other pale color.

Feel the difference

 

We’ve already been over smooth and felt tooth, but there’s a lot more out there if you’re looking for a specialty invitation paper.

Eggshell, deckle edge, linen, vellum, specialty textures abound. What's more, you can get paper that feels like plastic, looks like silk, or is textured like woodgrain. Don't confine yourself to smooth stock if you don't want to.

metallic and woodgrain paper textures

Check out my other blogs on personalizing your stationery and Stationery DIY for similar tips!

What's your favorite kind of paper?
— Ashleigh

See other posts about: I didn't know I could do that, embellish, embellishments, how tos, picking paper, print at home, wedding invitations

14 thoughts on Choosing Your Invitation Paper: Textures, Weights, Colors, and More!

  • I recently got engaged and while the wedding is a couple years off yet, I’m already thinking about details like this. So many lovely options! I’ve bookmarked this page to return to when it’s time to create the invitation. Looking forward to looking through the rest of your website!

    • Congrats! Wedding stuff can be pretty overwhelming but it’s great that you’ve got some breathing room. If you’ve got any questions you’d like to bounce off me, let me know!

  • LOL you’re right! In your first paragraph!!

    With all of the invitation designing, I would completely forget about paper options! I would have just gone with normal plain white!

    And Oh My Gosh I never knew there were so many paper options! Love the varieties you point out and the descriptions. You really bring them to life which really helps when making a choice.

    Thank you so much for being so descriptive and detailed! It’s exciting 🙂

  • All I can say is I’m glad that I don’t have to worry about this! There are too many choices for me, so I’m really glad that there are resources like this, and people like you who can guide the confused people (like me) through these things!

  • Brilliant resource for selecting paper. I never knew there were so many choices to be honest. Its great to read up on them and have an educational experience. Now I know how to choice paper for my next invitation or choosing paper for any writing project like sending a letter or card to friends and family. I can see some of those paper options would make a superb choice for this.

    • Definitely! All of these types of paper come ready to go in your home printer, so you can apply it to almost anything you want!

  • What a fun and educational post! I’m actually in the middle of planning a destination wedding and wasn’t sure where to start with invitations. Save The Dates went out digitally and now onto formal invitations. Thank you for this awesome resource!

    • Congrats on your upcoming wedding! There’s so many options with invitations it can be hard to know where to start. I always recommend making a Pinterest board to save your ideas so you can sort through them later :).

  • I work as a Comms officer so have to order quite a number of brochures. You wouldn’t believe how important choosing the right paper is. Thanks for pointing out the different types – it’s great to have a post I can refer back to!

  • It’s funny, I don’t have a project at the moment that requires pretty paper but now I Really want one… One with an excuse to use vellum because I just love it for some reason. I’ve never seen wood grain textured paper but that sounds awesome. I love coming here and learning about things I never knew existed! 🙂

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