Printing Styles and Process

Nico and LaLa offer Lithography, Thermography, Foil Stamping, Letterpress and Engraving.  See full descriptions and sample photos below.
Lithography or flat printing is a wonderful option if you’re on a budget, as it is less expensive than thermography and faster to print.  Lithography is a photographic printing method, where negatives are transferred to a thin metal plate which is wrapped around the cylinder of a sheet-fed press.  The ink lies flat on the paper, and it is best shown on smooth paper. Ink color options are basically limitless, for lithography. We most often use  130# white or natural white paper, for flat printing. 
Thermography is a popular "middle of the road" printing technique for invitations.  Thermographic printing feels similar to engraving, in that it produces raised lettering on the printed side of the paper, but it has a "glossy" look  rather than engraving's matte look. Thermography uses a special ink mixed with a powder compound that, when exposed to heat, raises up off the paper. The detail of thermographic lettering is not as fine as with engraving, but because of the lower price point, it is a savvy alternative. 
Foil Stamping is done using a copper plate , and is a bit different from most other types of printing in that it uses foil, heat, and pressure to "stamp" the image onto the paper. This is our favorite form of printing right now because of the awesome use of metallics, and the detail foil stamping gives. It looks as nice as engraving, and is a bit less expensive. This is also a great option if you are looking for white text on a colored paper. Because there is no such thing as white ink, the two options for white text are engraving or foil stamping. Also, other printing styles do not give off a true metallic, so if you are wanting gold or silver, we recommend foil stamping! It is simply stunning!
Letterpress printing is a very classic form of printing and has recently had a bit of a renaissance in popularity. Letterpress can be considered to be the opposite of engraving, in that a die is made with raised lettering, which is then pressed into the paper during the printing process. Also please keep in mind that a die must be made for each color, on each piece of your wedding ensemble, so we recommend no more than 3 colors on the wedding invitations, and 2 colors on all insert cards and envelopes.  Letterpressing is especially suited for luxurious handmade papers , made from 100% cotton. 
Engraving is the most traditional printing method, as well as the oldest. Created in the 1600's, engraving involves etching lettering and imagery into a metal die, then inking the etched die, and pressing it against the paper. The result is extremely detailed text and images that  are raised on the printed side of the paper and indented on the opposite side.  Engraving is used primarily on traditional, formal invitations and provides sharp, intricate lettering, but because of the craftsmanship, is more costly. Engraving is traditionally done in black on ivory card stock, but at Nico and Lala we like to do things a bit out of the box. We suggest engraving in metallics on neutral papers, or in white onto a colored stock...the result? Absolute elegance and sophistication, with a twist.

Add ons

At Nico and Lala, we believe that when it comes to wedding invitations, it is all in the details. We always have a way of, as we like to call it, "swanking up" a wedding ensemble. A one color letterpressed invitation is classic and beautiful. But, when it is paired with a coordinating patterned hand-lined envelope or it is die cut into a shape, it strikes a chord of perfection. We are all about balance when it comes to design, and are experts of knowing what works and what doesn't. Another popular add on is edge painting, which is when a colored ink is painted on the outside edge of the ensemble. This is only offered on thicker papers,  but is a great way to incorporate a second color, minimally. 

We also offer gilded edges, which is edge painting with foil rather than ink. Another way to add elegance to your ensemble is by combining a beveled and gilded edge. Beveling is when the edge of the paper is trimmed at an angle. As a result, the gilded edges are much more pronounced, as they can be seen when looking directly at your invitation. If you have multiple insert cards we suggest perhaps adding on a belly band to help contain all of your ensemble pieces. Since everything we do is custom, you tell us what you had in mind, and we can run with it. We love to let our creative juices flow! 


Quotes & Estimates:

All of our work is custom, so sometimes it is difficult to get an exact cost, especially when it comes to wedding invitations. We need information from you, in order to provide the most accurate quote. Wedding invitation pricing varies greatly depending on what printing process you choose, your quantity, how many ink colors on each piece you envisioned, how many insert cards you need, and what add ons you had in mind. It is also very helpful for us to know what is MOST important to you, (ie super thick paper, must have letterpress) and what your estimated budget is. We can then guide you in a direction based upon that, and get an estimate from there. If budget is a big factor, we are happy to quote out 2 different printing processes for you to compare, before we get this design party started!


Timeline & Proof Process:

Our proofing timeline varies, depending on our workload. We do not outsource any of our work to other designers, and you can be assured that your wedding invitations and coordinating goods will all be designed in house. That being said, we normally have a 2 week turn around time for wedding invitation proofs, and proof changes run approximately 5 business days. We can of course do our best to accommodate any bride's timeline, and will do what we can on our end to make things happen. If you are in an "extreme" rush, rush fees would be incurred, but we very rarely turn away brides.

Our process begins with you contacting us and letting us know what you need our help with. If none of our Wedding Design Packages fit your particular needs, we can always create a custom package for you. Most brides we work with favor the Couture Collection, as it encompasses so many different elements for your wedding. This package is for the bride that wants us to "do it all," and it allows us to design and brand everything cohesively, and elegantly. 

We normally begin with an in-studio consultation, or for brides that are not located in Chicago, a phone consultation. We work with brides all over the country, so do not let distance come between us! We love our long distance brides, and are experts at interpreting your loose words and ideas into a tailored and to die for wedding. If you are lucky enough to be in the Windy City, we meet one on one and talk about your vision, share samples of our previous work and get a feel for what you had in mind! We want to know YOU, so Pinterest boards, binders full of photos and articles, or emails of ideas are all welcomed! Then, depending on your design package, we ideally start by creating your custom wedding logo/monogram. This helps us narrow your vision, and allows us to effectively move into your save the dates, invitations, and fun flair, or "swag" as we like to call it! At Nico and Lala, we offer menu cards, place cards/escort cards, event signage, cups, napkins, and the list goes on! We love a good logo and a good monogram. Remember, we are from the South, y'all. 

Printing timelines vary on how the item is being printed. Most save the dates we print, are printed digitally, and once approved, are printed and shipped within 5 to 7 business. Wedding invitations are not printed in house, and depending on the process chosen, could vary from 2 weeks, to 4 or 5 weeks. We do require all design fees to be paid upfront, but invoice your printing goods in stages, as they are completed. Wedding invitations do require 50% payment upon approval, and the remaining 50% upon completion. 

We work with several calligraphers nationwide, who are all fabulous, so please allow us to handle this for you, if you prefer. We are happy to share samples of their work and each calligrapher's pricing as well. We charge a minimal fee to ship your envelopes to your preferred calligrapher, and arrange the process. Keep in mind that calligraphy jobs must be booked in advance and usually takes about 2 weeks. Once the calligraphy is finished, we also offer stamping, stuffing and sealing of your invitations, for an additional fee. Please also allow 3 business days for this service IN ADDITION to the production days custom stamps take to be delivered. We do not estimate postage, but are happy to ship a completed wedding ensemble to you, for you to take to your local post office and have weighed. Every post office weighs and measures invitations differently. Once we have completed the stamping, stuffing, and sealing, we can then ship them on to you, to mail from your local post office. Please also keep in mind that we recommend "hand canceling" all wedding invitations, to prevent any damage or distress to the contents of your invitations.