Why Is Letterpress So Expensive?

So you’ve scoured the internet, Pinterest, and Etsy and you’ve finally found them. Your dream wedding invitations. So you reach out to the shop or supplier and get a quote on those gorgeous cotton letterpress or gold foiled invites. You cannot wait to start mailing out those beauties.

But there’s a problem. You get the quote back but you just stare blankly at the total and think... “That can’t be right… there must have been a mistake. An extra ‘0’ got added perhaps? Maybe they quoted way too many? Isn’t it just paper? PAPER. How can a piece of paper cost that much!? Whyyyy!?!?”

And then disappointment and confusion hits full force. You feel bait and switched. I get it and I’m here to help explain why.

"Fancy" forms of printing (like letterpress, metallic foiling, screen printing, engraving, etc) are much more complicated and require large, and often old and vintage, forms of machinery. Letterpress, for example, is an old printing method where metal plates are created with the words/design and paper is hand-fed so the metal plate “presses” into the paper, creating the indentation that looks so romantic and pretty. And if you’re doing a foil? It’s the same process but now the foil needs to be transferred onto the paper as well adding costs in materials and time.

If color is to be incorporated into the letterpress, a new metal plate will have to be created for EACH color and layered, one pass at a time for each plate/color, until the final product is complete.

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So why is it so expensive?

  1. Well for one, that metal plate that needs to be created for each color is not cheap or easy to do. 

  2. It can be a very time consuming process for the printer

  3. Materials needed to operate and upkeep the vintage machinery

  4. Special paper that will show off the indentation of the press

  5. If you have multiple colors, you will need a plate for each color/design (hence why adding additional colors gets much more expensive in comparison to only 1 color)

  6. The printer may have to hand-feed the paper for each color applied

This isn’t your standard, load the paper and hit “print” device. But that’s what makes it so special and provides a vintage and old-world feel. Totally worth the splurge if you can find it in your budget! You only get married once and your invites completely set the tone of your wedding as they are the first glimpse your guest gets into your big day. Sending out invites and paper products have become a special surprise in our mailboxes, especially in this new digital age. Don't lose the art of crafted invitations! If there's ever a reason to do it - it's your wedding day!

Lettepressing/Foiling a Large vs Small Area

I often get asked the question, "What if we gold foil only our monogram at the top? Will that cut costs?" Sadly, no it's not cheaper. It's the same cost whether your foiling or letterpressing a large area versus a small area on your invite (there are exceptions of course where large areas may be more expensive due to the cost of the foil). However, typically, the area size does not matter due to the reasons listed above. The cost isn't in the amount of space being letterpressed, but the entire process and the fact that a metal plate has to be create regardless if it's only a monogram or a whole paragraph of text. 

So, now you know!

Hopefully this post helped ease some confusion over the extreme price difference between print options and paper. And now you know why letterpressing and foiling are much more expensive than your standard “flat” print option. If you have any questions or would like a sample, please don’t hesitate in reaching out to me.

And if it turns out that letterpress or gold/silver/copper foil are indeed out of your price range - not to worry! I offer two different flat print options based on quality and paper type. If you're interested in a custom quote, just click the button below!