The Invitation Blog PSA: What Are Your Invitations Saying About Your Wedding?
March 15, 2011 § 3 Comments
Before we begin – allow me to say the following, lest anyone misunderstand what I’m getting at here: There is no shame in having a modest budget for your wedding. None. This post isn’t about convincing you that you need to spend more – it is about convincing you that you need to allocate your budget to stationery accordingly, to avoid confusing your guests. I may be unpopular for putting this in print, but it doesn’t make it less true.
So, you’ve all probably heard it before…your invitation is the first impression your guests will have of your wedding. Stationers, designers, wedding planners – we throw that out there all the time, but what does it really mean?
Straight up? What it means is that your guests will make assumptions, come to conclusions, and judge your wedding based on the invitations you send out . It will affect the decisions they make – how to dress, what kind of gift to give, and sometimes whether or not to actually attend. I’d love to tell you that everyone is just so thrilled for you that your invitations don’t matter – but it just isn’t true.
Before everyone gets all defensive – be honest, and admit to yourself that you’ve been there. Everyone has done it, because it’s human nature – you receive an invitation and you automatically make assumptions about the kind of event it is going to be, about how much fun you think you are going to have, and sometimes about whether or not you really even want to go. If your invitation is inexpensive, the impression your guests will receive is that your wedding will be modest. Send out an expensive invitation and you set the expectation of an all-out event. If your invitation is casual, guests won’t be expecting a reception in a ballroom – and conversely, a formal invitation would be out-of-place for a barn reception. A fun, colourful invite suggests a party-type atmosphere, while a subdued monochromatic invite suggests a more serene and reserved affair. I could go on, but I won’t (for once).
First, the overall quality (which in most cases means price) of your invites – think about the message you are sending to your guests. I’ve said before that you should budget according to how important stationery is to you; however, the caveat is that if you are having a full-on formal wedding, but send out print-your-own invites from Big Box Craft-o-rama, it creates a disconnect between your guests expectations and your event. That’s just one example, but the lesson here is that you need to match the overall budget for your stationery to the overall budget of your wedding to some degree, or else risk your guests having lowered expectations about the type of event you are hosting, and having issues with everything from dress code to rsvps. The opposite is true – you may feel that stationery is a very important part of your wedding, but be having a more modest affair – make sure that your invitations don’t make promises that your event can’t live up to.
Next up, the tone or feeling of your invitations. Seems pretty straightforward: simple event=simple invitation, casual event=casual invitation, off-beat event=off-beat invitation, formal event=formal invitation etc. As obvious as it seems, I’ve definitely received invitations that, in hindsight, did not match the event itself. Remember that the invitation is sent out to your guests not only for you to request the pleasure of their company, but also to inform them – providing them with an invite that doesn’t match the style or tone of your event is just as bad as giving them the wrong address or the wrong date – it makes your guests uncomfortable on your wedding day. How would you feel if you received a very casual invitation to a wedding? You would likely assume it was a simple affair – you’d probably plan on wearing a less formal outfit. Would you feel really uncomfortable if you showed up in a sundress and everyone else was wearing a ballgown? It’s an extreme example, but it is the sort of thing that absolutely can happen.
Now, on to a very touchy subject…DIY. Yes, I know DIY is all the rage, and you know that I love my DIYers, but…what does a do-it-yourself invitation say about your wedding? If it’s well executed, it says that you care enough to do something personal to invite your guests, to share a part of you with them, to have a hand (literally) in creating their invitation. If it’s poorly executed…well…it says you’re cheap. I wish there was a kindler, gentler way to put it, but unfortunately, there really isn’t.
Don’t believe me? If you cooked your own wedding meal and it was terrible, would your guests think you were trying to personalize the experience for them, or just trying to save money on catering? If you decided to strictly play music from your 13-year-old cousin’s iPod at your reception and it was nothing but gangsta rap, would your guests think you were trying to be cutting edge, or you were trying to save money on a DJ? If you made your own wedding dress and it was falling apart as you walked down the aisle, would your guests think that you were trying to be unique, or that you were trying to save money on your attire? Exactly – so you see where I’m going here. DIY can be great – if you can make it look like you either know what you’re doing, or you didn’t do it yourself. Lookin’ handmade=personal, lookin’ homemade=cheap.
Here’s my best tip: When you are thinking about invitations – whether purchasing from a stationery store, a custom designer or creating your own, imagine what you want your guest to feel and think when they open that envelope. Write it down. Then put your invitation to the test – send it to yourself, put yourself in your guests’ shoes and write down your initial reactions, feelings, assumptions etc. Do they match what you originally wrote down? Then you’re golden. If not, it may be time to re-evaluate your choice.
It’s not strictly about how much you spend – it’s about making sure you choose an invitation that is a true reflection of your big day. A well-chosen invitation is always bound to make the right impression.