All About Card

Hello! I’m starting a new section on my blog today, all about making life a little simpler by explaining some of the terminology used around wedding stationery- not about the stationery itself

 (I’ve already done a group of blog posts called ‘Wedding Stationery Explained’, go check that out if you have no idea what a Save the Date is or whether you need a table plan or not), this is all about the bits and bobs surrounding that. Like what a pocket fold invitation is, and the difference between organza and satin ribbon, that sort of thing. Basically, anything that gives the lovely brides and grooms I meet that ‘rabbit in the headlights’ look when I mention it because they have no idea what I’m on about

This is going to be an ‘as and when’ mini series, because I have a lot of different ideas for blog posts that I’d like to do as well (like some case studies for past clients, more about how I work with my clients and some general hints and tips for wedding planning, just to mix  it up a bit), but look out for this type of post every 4 or 5 weeks or so

Seeing as most wedding stationery involves card at some stage or other, let’s start there…

Well, you know what card is, right? It’s a very, very broad term that gets applied to everything from thick paper that can’t really support it’s own weight when folded, right up to corrugated cardboard boxes. But when it comes to wedding stationery, you’re generally looking somewhere in the middle of all that

Card comes in all sorts of weights and thicknesses (not necessarily the same, more on that in a mo), with a whole variety of different textures and finishes, and is generally available in a number of standard sizes. Please note that I am based in the UK, so this information is extremely UK-centric and might differ if you’re in another country

Weight: Measured in Grams per Square Meter (gsm). Sometimes when you’re buying card, this will be listed as part of the item specifications, but if you want to find out the gsm of a sheet of A4 card, then weigh 16 sheets as that equates to a square meter of card. When I’m making wedding stationery, I tend to use card with a gsm of between 220 and 300 – any thinner, and it’s a bit flimsy, any thicker and it’s too bulky and doesn’t always fold very well.

Thickness: Officially measured in microns, but pretty easy to tell what the thickness is like when you’ve got it in your hands. You really want something that, when you hold it at one of the short ends, creates a nice gentle curve and holds that shape- avoid anything that flops straight down, or stays completely flat.

Thickness and weight obviously have some correlation, but it also comes down to how much the card pulp has been pressed during the production process. This generally happens with super smooth card – which is beautiful for printing on, by the way. Super smooth card gets pressed a lot and run through rollers (like a giant pasta machine) during the production process to achieve that smooth texture, and therefore may be physically thinner than another sheet of card that doesn’t have such a smooth finish, yet have a higher gsm because all the pulp has been squished together. Sounds strange, but there you go. It’s a funny old world

Sizes: In the UK, we typically work on the ‘A’ sizes of paper- A4 (the stuff you put in your printer at home) measures 210 mm x 297 mm, and is the most commonly available. You get an A5 sheet if you cut A4 in half width ways (148 mm x 210 mm), and A6 if you cut A5 in half width ways (105 mm  x 72 mm). A3 is double A4 (297 x 420) and so on and so forth. ‘B’ sizes are the envelopes in the UK, and ‘C’ is for single fold cards like greetings cards, i.e, it’s called C6 when it’s folded in half it’s A6 size, even though it’s actually and A5 piece of card. Top tip, if you’re making your own card bases from a larger sheet of card, make sure you can get the envelopes to fit first! In fact, find the envelopes, then make the cards to fit inside. Trust me, if you make irregular sized cards, it’s nearly impossible to get the envelopes to fit (and no one wants to make envelopes! One or two isn’t too bad, but more than that and it’s a soul crushing, thankless task)

Finish: Now for the fun stuff! ‘Finish’ in this context means what it looks like, like whether it’s matte, shiny, pearlescent etc. Obviously, there will be different levels of all of these, and some grey areas between the two, but your main types of card finish are:

  • Matte/Unfinished – plain, simple, not shiny. Generally has a slight texture, not too rough nor super smooth
  • Super Smooth – I briefly mentioned this before. Pretty much what it sounds like, a very smooth textured matte card
  • Pearl/Pearlescent – Shimmery, can be anything from that subtle lustre that pearls have, where you can see the sheen but not any sparkle, to having quite a distinct sparkle within the card itself (i.e, not actually glittery, and fairly smooth to the touch, but definitely sparkly) Unfortunately very difficult to photograph, I’d recommend a field trip to your local craft store to see what I mean. Can be single or double sided, meaning that the colour is on one (single) or both (double) sides of the sheet- which you probably guessed, but just in case you didn’t, I thought I’d explain :)
  • There’s also (just to make life even more fun), card that is one colour, with a different coloured finish to it. This is called the ‘cored’  card, although this tends to be for specific  card craft techniques like sanding- yes, exactly what you think, that’s taking the top layer of card off using a piece of sandpaper to reveal the coloured core. Anyway, it’s not really anything to worry about, and most card is the same colour all the way through, and if it’s not any half decent online listing will specify ‘White/black/whatever core’, or if you’ve got the card in your hand it’ll be easy to spot, because you’ll see the different colour on the edge. Sometimes happens with pearly card and very common with patterned card, but more often than not if it’s a coloured card, it’ll be the same colour all the way through
  • Glitter – White or occasionally black card with a layer of glitter on one side, with the back being left plain. Some claim to be ‘shed-free’, meaning that they don’t leave glitter everywhere, and some are pretty good; however, I’m still to find one that is 100% shed free and still has the lovely texture of the glitter, so be warned!
  • Mirri – super shiny, glossy card, almost like a mirror. Has the super glossy coating on one side only (the back is almost alwayss white) and comes in a range of colours. Less is more with this one, and it’s a bit prone to scratching and fingerprints (which are virtually impossible to remove, so handling by the edges like a photograph is recommended)
  • Satin – sister of the mirri card, satin card has a beautiful, almost brushed steel finish on one side of the card (the back being white). Less prone to scratching and fingerprints, and a bit more subtle whilst still having an eye catching lustre
  • Embossed – Has a raised pattern on the front, with the pattern recessed on the back (because the card is gently pressed between two plates, one with the positive version of the pattern and the other with the negative, which creates the raised pattern on the card) Available in lots of different patterns and card finishes
  • Handmade – Normally a paper, but you can sometimes get card. Generally has a very rough surface texture (in the nicest possible way) but is often quite pliable. Sometimes has additions put into the paper pulp during production, such as flower petals or sequins, which are very nice but can cause issues if you’re cutting the card, especially plastic sequins, which is why you’ll often see cards with torn handmade paper rather than it being precisely cut

Other notable mentions are kraft card (that brown card that’s very popular at the moment with vintage and rustic weddings) and comes in a variety of different colours and textures, but mainly brown with dark brown flecks. There’s also specific finishes such as hammered (looks like those handbeaten metal pots, generally the texture is on one side only), linen (texture of coarse linen, again only on one side), leather (surprise surprise, texture like thick leather), and parchment or vellum (bit less straightforward, technically, parchment or vellum is treated animal skins, but the terms can apply to both card and paper that has a mottled colour to it, like the old parchment pages, or to a translucent sheet like thick tracing paper- which is available in a number of different colours, including mottled like old parchment, although that is quite hard to find. The translucent parchment is also sometimes called vellum, so if you’re looking for that kind of thing, try both terms. Vellum tends to be quite thin, so is best suited to inserts or wraps around a stronger card. It also shows any form of glue through, so is best affixed using a ribbon, tiny split pin- sometimes called a ‘brad’- or eyelet, or find a way of covering the adhesive)

Bet you never knew there was so many different types of card! I’ve probably missed a few too, but hopefully you now feel a little more informed about card :) Any questions, leave me a comment, and definitely go and have a chat with your wedding stationer, as they should be able to show you samples of different types of card, and advise you what would be best for your invitations. Also get yourself down to your local friendly craft shop, who should also be able to help you out :)

Hope that helped! Any questions, please ask :) Next week, I have a colourful case study to share with you- and I promise there’ll be more pictures! xxx

Write a comment

Comments: 2
  • #1

    Danny Kay (Monday, 16 January 2017 16:47)

    Can you recommend what you think is the best glitter paper/card to use please :-)

  • #2

    Little Vixen Designs (Monday, 16 January 2017 18:06)

    Hey, Danny Kay!

    I can't really recommend any particular brand, as a lot of the card is sold unbranded, however, you might come across 'anti-shed' or 'no-shed' glitter card, which promises that the glitter won't go all over the place. In my experience, this either doesn't work very well and you still end up with sparkly freckles, or it's got a plastic coating that completely stops the shedding, but it does make it look more flat and shiny than glittery and, in my opinion, is not as nice. If you're going to use glitter card or paper, accept that you will look like you've been in a glitter blizzard and choose a card based on colour, not on its anti-glitter-shedding properties.

    Needless to say, you won't be able to print on glitter card, so if you're looking for something printable, pearlised or shimmer card/paper is the way to go.

    I'm assuming you're asking because you're thinking of making your own invites..? I'd always, always recommend that you buy a sample of any materials you're thinking of using before buying enough for all your invites and decide if it's right for you. Oh, and of course, if you decide against the DIY route or get fed up halfway through, feel free to get in touch for a quote :)

    All the best,