Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Will online replace printed wedding invitations?

A digital wedding invitation with green bow and envelopewidth=
A digital wedding invitation from Paperlesspost.com
By Victoria DeCarmine

In this era of online communication, will the age-old tradition of sending paper wedding invitations disappear?

"No way," said one recently engaged 19-year-old from Long Island, NY, who asked for her name to be withheld. "A wedding invitation should be classier than something like a Facebook invitation."

Although the idea of sending out a quick e-mail invitation (colloquially referred to as an evite since the trendsetting 1998 launch of the Evite invitation Web site) to friends and loved ones for a wedding may seem strange to some, using the Web during the wedding planning process is becoming more popular due to its cost-effectiveness and convenience.

According to the Bridal Association of America, the average couple spends $659 on printing invitations and reply-cards. But online, better deals can be found.

On the invitation Web site, MyInvitationLink.com, for example, subscribers can have their invitations and announcements hosted for three, six, or 12 months, for $39, $59 or $75, respectively. And there are numerous sites to create free stylish digital invitations like Evite, pingg, Paperless Post and Socializr, from the founder of Friendster (see list of some online invitation Web sites below).

"Online invitations are a fraction of the cost of printed ones and come with the added benefit of being green and saving you tons of time," said Ashley Hobbs of Paperless Post. "Users can send them out in minutes and easily track guests’ receipts and responses."

But while it’s no secret that sending out an evite saves time and money, are digital invitations to a wedding appropriate?

Since the wedding invitation sets the tone for your wedding, sending an evite might make your wedding seem shabbily planned to your guests and make them think twice about giving a nice gift or even attending.

"The printed wedding invitation is still expected," said Joseph Todd St. Cyr, director of Joseph Todd Events, a wedding consultation business.

Sending out evites as a primary wedding invitation also has a larger margin of error than postmarked invitations since older guests may not be computer literate or even have e-mail addresses. Those people will then have to be contacted individually to ensure they know about the event. Additionally, since the bride and groom will most likely be using an outside Web site to send out the evites, the digital invitation may end up in the recipients’ spam folder -- causing more headaches and awkward obligatory explanation phone calls about why an invitation wasn’t received.

“Most guests also keep hard copies of things like direction cards to be utilized on the wedding day,” said Lisa Green of Anderson Green Events, a boutique wedding planning firm. “That would be hard to do if everything was done electronically and you weren’t able to fit your smartphone into a tiny purse on the wedding day.”

The truth is, guests are expecting a paper invitation and the tradition of mailing an invitation with beautiful details and calligraphy is still appreciated.

"Online invites should in no way replace your traditional formal means of communicating like sending out beautiful wedding invitations with response card," said Candice Benson, founder of the Finishing Touch, a wedding and event planning company.

However, using modern forms of communication can help assuage some of the anxiety felt by some obsessive-compulsive brides.

"The number of orders for electronic wedding-related announcements, save-the-dates, and invitations has definitely increased in the past couple of months as spring and summer approach," said Hobbs of Paperless Post.

Web sites like Evite and pingg, founded in 2007, are useful because party hosts can easily track RSVPs and send out thank-you notes. They also let the brides communicate with guests via social networking services and text messaging as well as set up an accompanying Web site.

Additionally, pingg also offers a service that will address, stamp, and mail a postmarked version of online invitations for $1.50 each, plus postage, so a bride can enjoy the convenience of modern communication while keeping with the age-old tradition of postmarked paper invites.

But at the end of the day, many wedding planners say the online medium should not replace the print invitation, just supplement it.

"The technology should just be a fun way to count down to the big day and to answer some specific questions with your bridal party, families and friends," Benson said.

With additional reporting by Lauren Elkies

list of online invitation websites

4 comments:

Chris said...

Good read. I also don't think printed wedding invitations are going away any time soon, but I do think they can be well complimented with current technology. Add to your list of "online invitation web sites" hybrid solutions like mightyvites.com which look to strike a balance between print & web invitations.

funny koozies said...

Couldn't be written any better. Reading this post reminds me of my old room mate! He always kept talking about this. I will forward this article to him. Pretty sure he will have a good read. Thanks for sharing!

Taryn said...

Email wedding invitations are definitely here to stay! We sent them for our own wedding - guests loved them and they totally saved us time and sanity. Have a look at Glö on glosite.com which combines email invitations (that mimic paper invitations) with a full wedding website and customizable RSVPs

Anonymous said...

My wife and I used www.ourwedvite.com and loved it! Very easy to use and it was the least expensive we could find with all of the features we needed.

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