Taking inspiration from classic book cover designs for your wedding invitations

Classic book covers have been a wonderful example of iconic design since the nineteen-thirties and are have been regarded as classic designs ever since that time. As inspiration for your wedding invitations, they show what can be done with good design and attention to typography.

The classic Penguin book cover is divided into three sections; a bold swathe of solid colour at the top, clear typography on a pale background in the middle and another band of solid colour at the bottom of the design.

If you’re using the classic style for your penguin books wedding invitation design, there is a range of sans serif fonts you can use to replicate the text. Different weights of the font can be used and some covers feature vertical type on either side of the white central band. Copy this idea and use this for the names of the bride and groom. On classic Penguin book covers, the central pale band is slightly larger which means that there is room to add large text; your ‘book title’. If you look at the examples in the pictures you will see how couples have chosen a range of book titles for their weddings, some book names and some things which mean more to them.

Let’s look at these panels in turn. The top panel of solid colour on a Penguin book features an oval which is centrally placed. This is the perfect place to have ‘invitation’ or ‘you are invited’ or in a lot of cases the wedding date. This is the headline of the piece. Traditionally, Penguin used upper case lettering in this section. The classic colour for Penguin covers was a medium orange although you may select the colour of your choice. Penguin varied the colour depending on the series but orange remains the standard. Moving on to the slightly larger central band, this is where the book title would appear so here you can add the basics of the event. Vary the weight of the lettering showing the most important details in larger type. In the lower column, the publisher traditionally placed their logo, a black and white penguin. Sometimes this was contained in an oval. This is the ideal place for a wedding symbol such as a bride and groom, a champagne glass or a pair of rings. Choose this symbol to match the theme of the wedding. If, for example, it is a destination wedding in a tropical location, use a palm tree. Perhaps there is some symbol which has a meaning for the couple. Many couples share a hobby or profession. For instance, if the bride and groom are both artists, this bottom symbol can be a paintbrush. In keeping with the traditional book cover, a small amount of text can be added to this section.

On the reverse of the card, print the details of the event; the location, date and time. By bordering this with your chosen colour, and typeface, you’ll retain the traditional Penguin theme. Over the years, the design of Penguin book covers changed and many designs were used. However, they were still noticeably identified to the publisher. One example is that the bands of colour became vertical instead of horizontal. The columns of colour – usually in the distinctive Penguin orange – moved to the sides of the cover; the white text area being in the center. This still retained the traditional Penguin branding due to the colour and the typeface. As time went on, the font varied but traditionally, they were always sans serif fonts. The logo remained and was usually put in the top right hand side. This style is not as well-known as the typical, early cover but is also easily identifiable as being in the Penguin family. Choosing this style will still have the same impact.

Your invitations should be printed on average-weight card stock, preferably in the same size as a small paperback book. This is 12.9cm x 19.7cm. There is no need to be completely accurate but try to retain the aspect ratio. When you’re mailing out your invitations, choose your envelopes with care. If you have chosen to create your wedding invitations in the traditional orange colour, envelopes in the same shade would be perfect. You can have these printed with your own symbol; the one you selected to replace the publisher’s logo.

Have fun with the wording of your invitations. Because you are emulating a book, use language that reflects this. For example, often the wording in the bottom band of colour read ‘unabridged version’. For your invitation, have it read ‘unabridged celebration or similar. Or, to make your invitation appear to be a book cover, use the largest font to say ‘I do’ or ‘Tying the Knot’ in the place where the book title would normally be. Use your imagination to develop a great ‘book title’ that reflects you.

By choosing this theme for your penguin books wedding invitations, you are creating a look tat is different, interesting and that has a slightly quirky, retro feel. This type of invitation is perfect for couple who are designers, book lovers or writers. The look is easy to emulate as long as you remember to design your invitations using the basic Penguin format and typeface.

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