Friday, January 9, 2015

Argument for Emailing Invitations

For some reason, whenever I bring up the idea of emailed invitations, people respond with a grimace and a "That seems tacky."  But why is it tacky?  I have yet to hear a sound, logical reason for this.  And even worse, I haven't found anyone truly arguing FOR email.

The main argument for paper invitations is etiquette.  That's what Emily Post says we have to do, and besides, it's tradition!  I understand some traditions come from culture, but this one seems to have stuck around because the wedding industry makes a lot of money off people who think they have to have double-enveloped invitations addressed with the finest calligraphy.

This reminds me of a story I heard several years ago.
Every time Sarah made pot roast, she would cut off both ends before putting it in the oven.  One night, her husband John asked why.  Sarah replied, "I don't know.  That's just the way my mom always did it."  So the next time Sarah and John visited her parents, John asked her mother why she always cut off the ends of the roast.  Her mother thought about it and said, "I don't know.  That's just the way my mom always did it."  John, really wanting to get to the bottom of the mystery, then called Sarah's grandmother to ask her why, and she replied, "So it would fit in the pan."
Tradition can sometimes force us into doing wasteful things for essentially no reason.

Another argument I've heard is "Not everyone is technologically savvy."  It's 2015 and all of my grandparents have computers and email addresses, so this reasoning's relevancy is fading fast.  But even if there are a few people on your invite list who don't have email addresses, this doesn't mean that everyone needs a paper invitation.  You could even use this opportunity to encourage them to get an email account.  "Grandpa, until you get an email address, you are grounded from all family events, including but not limited to weddings, showers, christenings, birthday parties, and funerals."

And the most ridiculous and infuriating argument:  "Compiling all of your guests' current email addresses can be a daunting task."  I'm sorry, but how is this any different than having to compile a list of their mailing addresses?  Actually, gathering email addresses is easier because people move way more frequently than they change email addresses.  Anytime I am about to get a formal invitation, my friends end up texting or EMAILING me to ask for my address, which I sometimes don't know, depending on how far in the future they plan on sending me something.

So now that I've dismissed all the half-baked arguments against emailing invitations, here are the reasons FOR email.
  1. The most obvious:  It's less expensive.  Whether you just send a regular email or use a service, paper invitations cannot compete.  Between envelopes, RSVP cards, stamps (don't forget the one on the reply card), other inserts, and then the actual invitation, the costs can really add up.
  2. Keeping track of RSVPs has never been easier.  Instead of asking your guests to mail back RSVP cards, which could get lost in the mail or be illegible, you can provide links or embedded RSVP forms which automatically populate all the responses in a spreadsheet.
  3. It's a lot easier to individualize each invitation.  Each potential guest can be sent a separate invite with their own RSVP card so it's obvious exactly who they can bring.  When using paper invitations, people tend to make a generic one and then count on the recipient understanding some ancient addressing rule that you can only RSVP for the exact names on the envelope and up to the number of guests indicated (see:  John Doe vs John Does and guest).  How are you supposed to learn this rule if you've only ever seen it addressed without a guest?  Most movies imply that you always get a guest so it's not crazy to assume that!
  4. You waste less.  Most guests will probably end up throwing the invitation away.  With emailed invitations, there's no trash and you don't have to worry about your identity being stolen because one of your relatives didn't shred the invitation (i.e., the piece of paper which has your full name, mother's maiden name, father's middle name, and town where you grew up).
  5. Speaking of which, you don't have to worry about your identity being stolen.  See above.
  6. If you have a typo, you find out right away.  If you make a mistake with the email address, the server should kick it back to you in seconds.  If you make a mistake with a mailing address, it'll take a couple days if at all.
  7. You can get notified when they've received/opened/read/clicked the link.  With paper invitations, you basically have to call or EMAIL each person to make sure they got it.
To me, this really doesn't even seem like a fair fight, but somehow, I'm in the minority.  Can someone please explain this to me?  Or give me more ammo to fight off the haters?

UPDATE:  So another argument on the paper side is that they are sometimes kept as keepsakes, which you obviously can't do with an electronic version.  While I can understand some people will actually do this, I think hosts tend to overvalue the sentimentality of the invitation.  The people most-likely to want the keepsake are the hosts.  Plus, if somebody REALLY wanted a keepsake, party favors can serve the same purpose and emailed invitations can always be printed out.

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