Efficiency And Etiquette

Your close friends and related peers are tech-savvy and used to living in a tweet-a-minute, constantly plugged in electronic world. They’re used to even the most elaborate plans for a group ski getaway or cruise being shared via email or even a vacation planning website. That doughty anachronism known as the post office is for delivery of junk mail and annual birthday gift cards from that distant great aunt Elsie. So, with the big event coming later this year, why not send out your wedding invitations via email and save both a tree and some money simultaneously?

Indeed, some couples will jump at the electronic option, either for the savings, the simplicity or for the green hipster cred. And email invitations are certainly increasingly common and have steadily improved to offer potential consumers a spectacular array of tools to create impressive multimedia extravaganzas. But time-honored traditions don’t fade easily, framing the question as efficiency versus etiquette.

It is that efficiency and improved quality that have buoyed recent use of email wedding invitations. Cost is part of that efficiency. The owner of www.emailweddinginvitations.net told Columbia News Service last year that the company could provide the same quality email invitations as it could printed versions for as low as $48.99 – and that business had gained steam the past two years. Numerous service providers can now craft for couples complete multi-media e-invites, complete with video, photo montage, music and much more – improving dramatically on earlier invitation versions with which many people are familiar. Efficiency of delivery is another factor couples consider since email invitations are far less time consuming, eliminating the need for much of the process including calligraphy, stamps, reply cards, postage, etc. Most service providers include a response option so keeping a tally of guests is considerably easier.

Combined with the environmental benefits, email invitations’ appeal is obvious. But it also isn’t universal, with such institutions as Bridal Guide Magazine opposing the trend, manners maven Anna Post having strong reservations and even Crane & Co. moving only slowly in exploring electronic applications.

Chief arguments against the e-trend are tradition. Emails tend to be informative or informal, not the bearer of formal symbolic gestures such as the wedding invitation, which is often saved as a keepsake.

“To many people, an electronic invitation just does not convey the same sense of importance as a paper-and-ink invitation received in the mail,” wrote Peggy Post, director of the Emily Post Institute and the great-granddaughter-in-law of its namesake, in a New York Times column in 2011.

Many weddings will also include guests who aren’t entirely technologically savvy, who don’t live their lives online, pay attention to email or routinely check their spam folder. The result is an inevitable two-tiered invitation process that makes it unlikely that all guests will receive their invitation simultaneously – another tradition – and complicates the entire process.

There are a number of ways technology can ease the wedding planning process without affecting tradition, such as a wedding website for disseminating information, sharing plans, collecting replies and requests, etc. A wedding Twitter account can be fun and festive. However, when it comes to determining whether to go with electronic or paper invitations, there are a number of factors to carefully consider and weigh against the vision you have of the special occasion.

“A wedding is considered one of life’s most important occasions, and the invitation that heralds it sets the overall tone of the event to come,” Peggy Post opined in the Times.