The fuss over a wedding invitation card
An object lesson
Weddings are one of the most important and highly celebrated transitions in life. It’s said to be the start of a new chapter. Quite famously quoted as embarking on a new journey together. Thus wedding invitation cards become the symbol of this beautiful forthcoming event. This symbol is of importance not only for the couple to be married but the entire community they belong to. The wedding card becomes a trailer to the approaching wedding thus carrying the pressure of being the first impression of the wedding. It raises some expectations in the eyes of the beholder and communicates a lot more than the obvious intention. A simple wedding card design consists of a few elements. Usually a piece of fine quality, decorated paper which contains beautiful engraved words inviting the guests, these words spell out the couple’s names, the date, the venue and a thanking note. It all sounds simple but is it really this simple to design a wedding card? The question is, why do people spend so much money to design exquisite wedding cards? What is it that drives people to spend so much on a piece of paper? What’s all the fuss about a wedding card?
To understand more about this topic let’s take a close look at an Indian wedding card belonging to the wealthy families Gurbani and Vasnani. The minute details of a wedding invitation card can say a lot. At first look, the wedding card feels more like a poster of an epic romantic movie set in the 16th-century India. To compare, on the left is an image of a balcony scene from Jodha Akhbar a historic hindi movie (2008) and on the right is the wedding card.
Thus the wedding card is painting a glimpse of a royal marriage that’s going to be held soon. This royal setting sets in as a mental model for the guests, who now expect the wedding to be glorious, proportional to the wealth of the families. The family sets up a standard in the society for the amount of money that should be spent on a wedding card. The usual trend amongst the wealthy and mighty in India is to compete with each other in terms of the cost of the entire wedding including wedding cards, flowers, dress etc. This is to show their high ranked status in the society. If we think about it from a different perspective, do people feel pressurized to match society’s expectations of the wedding invitation cards to reflect on the amount of money they own? Is this why people spend lakhs of rupees just on a wedding card? The characters on the cover page of the card depict a prince and a princess who are deeply in love. The rose petals being showered on the groom and bride and garland in the hands of the bride suggests it is an action of placing the garland over the groom’s neck which symbolizes an important and auspicious custom of a hindu marriage. The image on the bottom right is from the Ramayan, a hindu mythological book which shows the garland in the hands of the bride symbolizing the occurrence of a marriage.
The intricate gold cut work is the frame of the balcony on which the royal couple are standing. This balcony feels like a part of the dome monument in the background which suggests a royal palace. The golden paper with its delicate regal pattern is enhancing the richness of the wedding card.
The red color, the symbol of the god “Ganesha” on the page inside and the auspicious words “Shri Ganeshay Namaji” at the top all state the religion of the card. Names of the bride and groom are accompanied with the names of the family members. The introduction of the bride and the groom as being the grandson or granddaughter of their respective grandparents display the love, affection and pride in the family name that’s being carried forward. The image on the first page of the card is different from the cover page. This image aligns and depicts a different scene with many people dressed in a traditional attire, in a joyous mood representing the two families and showcasing their excitement and happiness.
How does the process of selecting a wedding card occur in an Indian family? Indian parents feel the need to intervene and be involved in their (adult) child’s life decisions till they are married and have a family of their own. Thus, to agree and come to consensus on the design of the wedding card for all the members of the family is as tough as planning the entire wedding. How does a simple wedding card, a small piece of paper get as much importance and planning as the wedding itself? To answer these questions let’s talk from the Indian family context, first, a meeting is held amongst the family members to align each person’s expectations of the wedding card and narrow down to a few options. This group of members includes the bride, her parents, grandparents, siblings, extended family and maybe even a few close family friends, all gather around to brainstorm over the size, shape, color, font, typeface, style, content, layout, decorative elements, number of invites and so on. Grandfathers have expert opinions on the size of the card. They are usually annoyed with the smaller sizes of cards that do not have enough space to fit names of all the family members onto a single page. Showcasing the strength of their entire family on the card reflects very well on their years of effort to keep the family unified. Grandmother’s see to it that either the symbol of god or at least his name is printed or pasted on the first page of the card to evoke his blessings. Even the god’s cannot deny the persuasive power of Grandmother’s. Next comes the bride, who attempts to reflect her personality on the card. She gets her way with colors, font and decorative elements by bringing an army of siblings and cousins to support her. Mothers take over the content and tend to write the most elaborate (reveal embarrassing details) emotional story of their child’s journey into womanhood. The supporting family members decide the volume of the invites by following the notion of more the merrier and end up inviting more than required. Fathers recon the style of the card to indicate the family’s financial strength.
The wedding card becomes a different symbol and holds a different value for all the people involved that is for the couple, the family and the society. The beautifully engraved names on a piece of paper is a symbol of relief and freedom for the couple as they can meet each other openly without being judged by society. Whereas the same piece of paper is a symbol of celebration and pride for the parents. Looking over a wedding card probably gives them a sense of satisfaction towards fulfilling their parental duties. Society becomes more accepting towards the couple and reframe from judging their public displays of affection. Thus apart from their core intention of invitation, wedding invitation cards signify freedom, pride, celebration, relief, status symbol, medium to convey an emotional story, reflection of personality, symbol to project religious beliefs and maybe definitive way to receive blessings from god.