The vast array of available digital technologies includes many useful tools for planning and executing a beautiful, well-organized wedding celebration. You’ve got loads of options for contacting vendors, mapping out your ceremony’s program, shopping for essentials and more. With all these handy conveniences, it’s easy to wonder if the paper wedding invite is going the way of the dinosaur. Surprisingly, the paper versus digital wedding invitations debate rages on, with fans on both sides of the aisle emphasizing the benefits of each method.
A Quick History of Written Wedding Invites
During the Middle Ages, only upper-class families issued paper wedding invitations. With a mostly illiterate population in Europe, these major social events would usually be heralded by a town crier. Another common method of notifying a community was the banns, or public announcements within individual churches about upcoming nuptials. Their original purpose was to ensure that canonically or legally invalid marriages did not take place. Remember the “speak now or forever hold your peace” part of the ceremony? According to The Spruce writer Nina Callaway, that phrase is derived from the Christian “Book of Common Prayer,” but this may have been intended as a last-minute catchall for anyone who wanted to raise serious objections to an impending marriage.
While the development of lithography techniques during the late 1700s laid the groundwork for our modern versions, announcements were still delivered by messengers on horseback. It wasn’t until the mid-20th century that printed invitations became standard practice, thanks partially to middle-class families borrowing traditions from the rich as well as the advent of etiquette mavens such as Emily Post. As these took root in American popular practices, they also quickly spread to Canada.
The Pros and Cons of E-Invitations
As engaged couples look for ways to streamline their wedding planning and cut back on their expenses, some eye traditional paper invitations as candidates for the chopping block. Huffington Post contributor Erica Laudon reviewed some of the typical benefits that digital versions offer:
- Low-cost or no-cost invitations
- Reduced paper usage for a “greener” wedding
- Enhanced design options yield beautiful visual layouts
However, Laudon cautions that several factors may necessitate the use of printed stationery instead. Most etiquette experts strongly suggest utilizing paper invites, especially for more formal affairs. Additionally, digital invitations may not be accessible for elderly guests, and the traditional folks in your crowd could consider the practice offensive. Furthermore, you lose the capability to address your invite to specific individuals, which makes situations such as child-free weddings much harder to navigate. Finally, the news of your blessed event might get lost in the almighty spam filter.
The Best Option for Your Wedding
Should you take the plunge and go paperless? That largely depends on the formality level of your event and the type of people on your guest list. If most of your crowd is computer-savvy, you have email addresses for the specific folks you want to invite, and you’re going for a semi-formal or casual feel, it can probably work well. Wedivite advises that you follow the same guidelines for paper invites, sending them at least six to eight weeks prior to your event. For destination nuptials, hit the “send” button at least three months in advance. If you don’t hear from your invitees after about two weeks, follow up with a phone call.
Modern technology has revolutionized many aspects of planning your nuptials. Wedding invitations are a trickier issue, with most etiquette experts promoting the use of traditional paper versions. Nevertheless, digital invites may still be an option if you’re trying to lower costs and make your wedding eco-friendly. For a straightforward, less formal event with a tech-friendly guest list, paperless invites might be a smart move.