Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Wedding Crap: Invitations

(See introduction and disclaimer to this series here, and other posts in the series here.)



What is the tradition? 

According to proper etiquette, wedding invitations should be written in a standard format, using formal language (or, if you want to be casual, you can elect to not write out the date and time in full words), and "proper" addressing of the parties involved. For example:


Mr. and Mrs. Father HerName
and
Mr. and Mrs. Father HisName
Request the pleasure of your company 
at the marriage of their children

Bride Middle HerName
and 
Groom Middle HisName

Sunday, the Twenty-Seventh of July
Two Thousand and Fourteen
Two O'Clock in the afternoon

The Village Ballroom
700 North East Dekum Street
Portland, Oregon

This is usually printed on high quality, thick stationary, often with pretty floral or swoopy designs to accent it. One is also supposed to hand write - nicely, i.e., in calligraphy - the addresses on the envelopes (yes, two envelopes! the outer one for mailing, and a nicer one with the specific addressees written on it).

What is the origin of the tradition?

The format of wedding invitations - stationary, envelopes, wording, etc. - is based on the format that all social correspondence followed once upon a time. When was the last time you sent a hand-calligraphied note on crisp linen stationary to a friend to invite them to your house for a dinner party? Oh, about 100 years ago? Yeah.

Despite all the advances we've made, both in technology and cultural norms, some of these "etiquette" rules have stuck around as etiquette when they were just reflected social norms at the time, and have no bearing on how we otherwise relate to other people today.

Why do people still follow it?

A wedding is one of the largest and most expensive (even if you aren't extravagant, it's expensive because it's so large!) events that most people ever host, therefore it's fairly understandable that they want it to be impressive. Since they don't normally host such events, they're willing to believe what others says they are "supposed to" do, or even things that are "required". 

Why is that crap? 

Of all the things to take issue with in regards to weddings, many people would probably view the invitations as fairly innocuous. I disagree!

At the most surface level, the fanciness of invitations that doesn't show up anywhere else in our modern lives; much like the white dress, it has this bizarre hold on our expectations, one that I think makes us want to be wealthy and privileged - and I don't think that's healthy, whether it's held consciously or unconsciously.

Regardless of the paper it's printed on, the wording, is oh so gross. The formal language, spelling out the date and such, is again like the fanciness issue. It's not a clear reflection of who we are these days. Sure there are different levels of formality, but "Two thousand and fourteen" isn't formal - I would never write that in a business memo - it's merely antique. Even the most casual wedding is probably special even that it warrants more than a mere facebook event to invite guests (although - that would probably be most akin to the town criers who once upon a time issued wedding invitations, so that would make a facebook invite the ultimate in following tradition, would it not?), but you can raise the level of formality without contradicting your normal sense of self.

And, I'm sure you knew where this was ultimately heading. Wives have first names too!!!!!

This wikipedia entry even states that the addressing of the parents in this manner is "as they use them in formal social contexts". Uh, no. First of all, there are virutally no "formal social contexts" in two thousand and fourteen, and even if there were, the majority of women, if they gave it any intelligent thought, would balk at the idea of "formal" = "my husband's identity". IT IS NOT OK TO ERASE A WOMAN'S IDENTITY!

What am I doing with this tradition?


We used this Offbeat Bride post to inspire our invitations (and our programs - "So you've arrived at the..."). I thought the pamphlet style not only allowed best expression of our personalities, but as a bonus was super ridiculously cheap to create - I mean, you can't use anything fancier than copy paper to make this look authentic. :) 

We did splurge for pretty envelopes, but they were addressed via printed white mailing labels.

Absolutely nothing in our invitations mentioned our parents; although they all assisted in various ways with money and/or planning, ultimately it was our - mine and Abe's - event, and we were the hosts. We're almost 30, getting married, we don't need our parents to host this event for us.

We didn't follow any special "wedding" wording, we merely created an invitation that reflected our personality and provided the relevant information about the event to our guests. And more importantly - it gave a sense of the vibe and what to expect at the event itself, which is also an important goal of any invitation.


Inside flap, back, front.

Inside of pamphlet.

How did/will you handle this tradition?

I would love to have a lively debate and conversation in the comments! Please join in!

Dissenting opinions (from the post itself or other commenters) are welcome, but I reserve the right to delete any comments that personally attack me or any other commenter.

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