Hello again, Bitch readers! I fear I’ve been a real mellow-harshing brigade when it comes to wedding traditions. AND we’ve yet to really get into the ways in which couples of all stripes who choose to get married can subvert and/or bypass all the messed up hoopla and soul crushing lack of romanticism that is the real history of weddings.
Within the wedding planning chronology (after the couple’s decision to do it), the “You’re Invited” phase is the first stop along the path.
You’re probably thinking “Oh lord. Is Michael going to ruin my fun associations about wedding invitations, too?” Answer: Yes. But then it’s going to be so much more fun! Michael taketh away, but Michael giveth, too.
Ever wonder why you get so many wedding invitations done in calligraphy? It’s not just because calligraphy is pretty. The practice of written wedding invitations began with the royals and the social/economically elite way back in the early years of the 1700s. They were the only people who were both literate and could afford… a CALLIGRAPHER.
Everybody else got a wedding invitation in the form of a town crier who would wander through the village and countryside yelling the invitation. If you heard him yell about it, you were invited. If you missed his yelling, you couldn’t come. That actually sounds kind of fun, but difficult for planning purposes.
You probably already know that in straight weddings, the tradition of the bride’s family being the hosts on the invitation comes from the fact that the bride’s family traditionally paid for the wedding. This emerged from the history of the bride price and then dowries, which eventually fell out of favor. But even so the bride still needed a dress, cake, decor, etc., all of which were made (paid for) by her family.
Now everyone just does that stuff for us, but because it comes from the bridal half of the tradition, weddings are still thought of as the bride’s deal, not the groom’s. Hence, the bride’s family traditionally hosting (paying for) the wedding and the nasty Hollywood hetero-theme of the bridezilla who plans every aspect of the wedding as the groom sits idly by vaguely dreading marriage.
That’s right! Traditional wedding invitations are another way in which the “under classes” have over time sought to emulate the 1%. Meaning that all of the big elements of weddings have their roots in social elitism, economic disparity, and/or the dehumanization of women.
Oh HAI, DIY!
Want to skip the economically elitist wedding cost expectations? Want to make your wedding actually about your relationship, like everyone says it should be? Well, then throw all the templates out and do it yourself. Forget calligraphy, in straight weddings forget expecting the bride’s family to pay, forget everything you think of when you think of weddings.
The best wedding invites and save the dates I’ve ever received came from couples who designed them (and their weddings) around their relationship’s personality. Nowadays there are all sorts of excellent approaches when it comes to doing your wedding invites yourself.
Below are a few ideas to whet your appetite.
1. The Interactive Invitation
Since we are social animals, everything we do is on some level a social dynamic and therefore participatory. Even weddings and relationships.
By making your guests subtly feel involved and included (as opposed to idle spectators), you’re also pretty much guaranteeing their unabashed excitement and enthusiastic support. It’s also an awesome way to set the tone and aesthetic mood of the actual wedding day.
Beyond that, you can pretty much guarantee that no snooty royal ever used a viewmaster as a wedding invite.
There are all sorts of ways to DIY an interactive invite, which, environmental bonus: upcycling. Also, to cut back on materials and waste, sending an e-save the date rather than a physical one is increasingly popular. If you have older folks who aren’t too tech-savvy being invited, then send them a snail mail version of the e-invite.
2. Letterpress/Screen Printing
Want a less whimsical look? Employ an artist! Or use skills that you already have and get your invites letterpress or screen printed.
3. It’s All About You
Design your invitation elements around your personality or around the sort of wedding you’re having. One of my longstanding hobbies is making archival treasure boxes, so for our wedding we made a series of treasure box invitations that reflected the landscape and location where the ceremony would be. Each cigar box had a theme based on where the guest was staying and contents within each box highlighted the theme. Everything was a found object.
An important part of our plan was to make something that people would keep, rather than send immediately to a landfill.
My personal theory is that the popularity of DIY weddings has spiked during the time that the “marriage equality” debate has been at the forefront of culture and politics. With anti-same-sex marriage folks calling for upholding “tradition” and “sanctity” came the inevitable flip side of people investigating the actual “tradition” and “sanctity” of marital history. Which has a pretty lousy track record.
DIY, then, with its emphasis on indiviuality, economic frugality, and some degree of environmental mindlfulness, is a great way to kick off your wedding season with a stand against traditional wedding elements that perpetuate cultural lineages that sit sour on the palate. Beyond that, though, DIY invitations can facilitate a meaningful process of reflection and thoughtfulness with regard to why and how you’re doing your wedding.
Thoughtfulness never hurt anyone.