“Every online wedding invite is tacky!” Say some.
“No it’s not,” I say.
I was shocked to read recently in this Q&A by TheKnot.com – the site which has revolutionized weddings and more or less delivered the whole $40 billion wedding industry to the internet — that online wedding invitations are “tacky.”
Come on, The Knot! No way.
Online wedding invitations don’t have to be tacky. Some of them can be super classy. Anyway, many of the paper invites out there are incredibly tacky. It’s not about the medium you deliver the announcement of your love. It’s about the message you deliver. Let’s set the record straight with a little history lesson:
How We Arrived at Era of the Online Wedding Invite
Back in the Dark Ages, before the Enlightenment, wedding announcements were always made by the Town Crier. This guy’s job was to yell stuff all day long in the streets. Think about this announcement format for a second. The news was coming out and if you weren’t there to hear it, you missed it all together. What’s worse, everyone in the street was illiterate. How would they ever hope to remember to attend the wedding they heard about if they couldn’t write it down? It’s no surprise that the written invitation emerged with widespread literacy.
By the Middle Ages, the nobility began exchanging written wedding invitations. They’d hire monks who knew how to write in calligraphy to pen each one by hand. Paper was incredibly expensive, because the paper was actually parchment, which is made of animal skin. During this period, even a simple note card announcing a wedding was considered incredibly elegant. Throw your family crest on there and you have a card some guests would keep for the rest of their lives.
Here’s when wedding invitations went sideways.
By 1642, the town crier had become the newspaper. The printing press was in full swing. And the written invitation was evolving as well. A guy named Ludwig von Siegen brought higher-quality wedding invitations to the emerging European middle class when he invented metal-plate engraving. This process was prone to smudging, so a small sheet of tissue paper was included on top of each invitation, a terrible practice that became the precursor for the gaudy, self-important wedding invitations that are thought to be “classy” today.
These days, it’s not uncommon to get two cards, an envelope, two or three sheets of tissue paper, ribbons, decorative blank paper, beads, directions, explanations and long and short notes in a wedding invitation. This is insane, people! There are even contrived rules about how it should all be packed up in the envelope.
Let’s get something straight. This is not an expression of your love, or even a true art form. It’s time to take the wedding invite into the 21st Century, even if that means dragging your mother or your friends kicking and screaming into it. It’s time for the online wedding invite to come into popularity.
Creating a Great Online Wedding Invite
The Internet is a wonderful thing. It allows you to deliver video, whole web pages, and arrays of beautifully presented photos to people via email. And by the way, almost 4 billion people have email today, so don’t worry. Your friends and family are used to getting communication this way. Just as the printing press delivered a better medium for exchanging information than quill and parchment, the internet has brought us a better medium than the printing press. So let’s embrace this technological revolution, and not be medieval about how we send out wedding invites.
Take advantage of the internet and make an online wedding invite that truly represents you.
Build a website, Photoshop some images of you and your partner to make them look great. Get stylish. Deploy some designs you love. Write something elegant. Or steal things you love from other websites for your wedding site, if you have to. Ask a friend who knows more about the web than you to help. (Most of us will be happy to celebrate with you by working on a project like this some evening.) Most of all, do this:
Be truly inspired and create something original to share the news of your love with the world.
That’s what YouTube user and pilot Daviator358 did. While traveling the world with his girlfriend over six years, the couple took photos with letters in them — all of which together spelled out “We Always Knew.” Only, he took the romantic project over the top when he turned the last photo into a proposal. A few days later, millions had seen the video on YouTube. See for yourself just how romantic and powerful a non-paper announcement of love can be:
What do you think about paper invitations? Can online ones be as good or better? Is one more tacky than the other? Share your thoughts below.