Have you ever wondered what weddings were like hundreds of years ago? Were venues decked out with flowers, was there a first dance and a big dinner for all guests? And how on earth did they handle making and sending out all those invitations? The wedding invitations end-to-end process in Brisbane is tough today even with all our technology.
Before The Printing Press!
In western cultures there was no mass printing before the wonderful Mr Gutenburg gave the world his moveable-type printing press in 1447. Eek, what is a bride to do! She paid the town crier, that’s what she did. A town crier was a person who was solely employed to make public announcements.
Here’s the catch: anyone who heard the announcement was welcome to attend the ceremony. The challenge was that our ancestors were largely illiterate in the 1400s. But yes, written wedding invitations did exist but ONLY by nobility. And as all nobility do, they went big.
Those nobles would employ monks who were highly specialised and skilled in the art of calligraphy. Each heavily decorated, gilded wedding invitation was hand-crafted. Each masterpiece was then closed with a wax seal and hand delivered to specific invitees.
After The Printing Press
The printing press was not a silver bullet because it needed development and refinement. It was a long time before the printing press could do a quality document suitable for an elegant wedding invitation. It was also some time before the general public was able to ready and even then newspapers and gazettes were the main production items.
People saw the opportunity and started wedding announcements in newspapers. Things started getting exciting in 1642 when Mezzotint was introduced by the German amateur artist Ludwig von Siegen, using a drypoint method. As the first tonal method ever, it allowed for half-tones to be produced. This opened up the world of specific wedding invitations.
The formal text from the proud families was reverse engraved onto a metal plate firstly. Next it was inked and stamped onto paper. Smudging was an issue so a solution was to put a piece of tissue paper on top of the invitation. And that is why we have tissue paper in invitations to this very day.
When the 1800s trundled in, it brought lithography, introduced in 1796 by German author and actor Alois Senefelder as a cheap method of publishing theatrical works. It was a huge leap forward for wedding invitations. It was simpler, faster and therefore cheaper for the middle class. Mail was carried in large sacks by mailmen on horseback, not carried carefully by footmen as the nobility did. The outside envelope would look worse for wear and stained at the final destination. This brought about the use of double envelopes to protect the beautiful invitation and inner envelope. And that now explains why we have that traditional practice today. It is not a bad idea as the outer envelopes do still get quite a bashing.
After World War II, commercially available elegant wedding stationary made invitations even more accessible. Beautiful wedding invitations were no longer the privilege of society’s elite. Letterpress printing is still used today for some wedding stationery.
Contact My Bridal Centre, for exclusive wedding invitation designs and production in Brisbane in the style of your choice. They will be as special as your wedding day.