When I first started my business, one of the scariest parts was knowing exactly what I wanted the finished product to look like but having absolutely no idea how to get there. Whether you’re a new business owner or a DIY bride, I’m sure you know the feeling.
You’re scrolling through Pinterest. You see this gorgeous paper. But you don’t even know what to type into Google to find a starting point.
Yah, I’ve been there. Here are the basics of what you need to know about stationery paper!
Just like any product, there will always be a company or brand behind it. The mill is essentially the company that produces the paper. In the same way that Nike made your gym shoes and Patagonia made your winter jacket, there will always be a company behind the paper – and there are countless to choose from! Within each mill, there will be different lines of paper in the same way a clothing brand would have a winter line and a summer line.
2. The Weight
When we talk about a paper’s weight, there are two important pieces you need to look for: cover vs. text and the actual weight of the paper itself. Text paper is something you would use for daily writing, standard printer paper, or paper you would find in a notebook. When looking for stationery paper, you always want to use cover weight. This paper is thicker and more luxurious.
The other aspect of a paper’s weight is in the actual weight itself. Paper weight is measured in pounds. Text paper is typically less than 100lb and cover paper is typically over 100lb. For my invitations, I use a minimum of 120lb paper - it’s cost effective while still maintaining that high quality feel! Paper weight can go upwards of 200lb for the most high end and luxurious feel.
Size is fairly simple, and each person can take creative freedom in the sizes they choose to use. Below are the typical sizes used in wedding stationery:
Invitation: A7 - 5”x7”
RSVP Card: 4Bar - 3.5”x5”
Detail Card: A2 - 4.25”x5.5”
One thing to note – make sure your paper fits into your envelopes! When I first started making invitations, I made the mistake of making my invitations the exact same size at the envelopes… that didn’t work out very well for me, haha!
Now, this is the fun part! Choosing your paper finish is what will make the biggest difference in the paper you choose. Below you will see a list of the most common paper finishes used in stationery.
This type of paper is pretty self-explanatory. Smooth paper has little texture. When you run your fingers over it, it feels crisp and seamless. Smooth paper can be glossy or matte, but it typically looks glossier than most finishes because of its lack of texture. I don’t use smooth paper frequently, but I tend to use it for printing photos because it keeps the image clearer!
Eggshell paper is my finish of choice! The texture of eggshell paper photographs beautifully, and its feel adds luxury. This type of paper can easily be compared to watercolor paper; so, if you are regularly printing watercolor designs, this is a wonderful finish option! Depending on the weight of the paper you purchase, eggshell paper can be used for either digital or letterpress printing, and it is friendlier on the budget in comparison to some of the other finishes we will talk about later!
With a linen finish, it’s all about the unique texture! A linen finish is unlike any other with its crosshatch look. It truly mimics the appearance of linen fabric. Linen paper is perfect for clean and simple designs so that the noticeable texture can stand out.
Cotton paper is known as one of the higher quality paper finishes. When we talk about cotton paper, it encompasses both the finish and what the paper is made of. Cotton paper has the perfect texture for stationery design, and it is incredibly soft to the touch. Cotton paper could easily be known as the high-end version of eggshell paper. This finish is commonly used in letterpress and foil printing. Cotton paper is the best of the best!
I’m not going to lie - I think that my love language is handmade paper, haha! Each brand of handmade paper is completely unique. In fact, each piece from the same brand could look different! Handmade paper has delicate deckled edges and typically has a wonderfully unique texture. Handmade paper is particularly wonderful for letterpress and foil printing!
Talk about a lot of information, right? I hope this simple paper guide is a helpful quick reference for you when it comes to choosing paper for your custom stationery!