#107: The Wedding Invitation

A common object leading to a unique day

At the beginning of July I received this wedding invitation in the mail. If you’ve read any of my previous posts about postcards and greetings cards, then you’ll know how excited I was to be receiving what looked like a letter. Then I opened it to discover that, even better (and slightly scarier), it was a wedding invitation.

Why better? Because I was being invited to join friends on a very special day, and I felt very grateful to have been thought of and included. Why scary? Because I have now reached that age. The age when the wedding invitations will probably continue for the foreseeable future — I already have a save-the-date for a wedding in August 2018. The wedding train has begun.

But this is the first wedding invitation which I, and not my mom, have received. It is a very classic and traditional invite, embracing the formality of this well-known ceremony steeped in history. It is not written by the bride and groom, but by the selected hosts of the wedding, most traditionally the bride’s parents. They invite you to ‘celebrate the marriage of their daughter’, and you are even asked to RSVP to those parents, not the happy couple. In today’s day and age, this can seem archaic, outdated. For some, it is a tradition they do not wish to continue. For others, it is a traditional formality not to be lost.

Yet amongst all this formality there is a touch of the modern. I had two options for RSVP’ing to this invitation: write by post to the parents of the bride, or register my RSVP online, on a special web page specifically for this wedding. What a contrasting pair of options.

A ‘wedding website’ is a long way from the original form of wedding invitation: a town crier. In the past, when the majority of people couldn’t read, there was no need for a written note. As time moved on and printing inventions continued, wedding invitations as we know them today started to appear. Yet I enjoy the fact that wedding invitations are often still carefully packaged or ‘double-enveloped’ because the postal system used to be so unreliable so many years ago.

I also enjoy this combination of two extremes, the formal card invitation, tied with ribbon, and the modern wedding website. The Knot is a personal wedding planner “in your pocket”, available online on your computer and your phone. Allowing you to create checklists, budget, find a venue, offer hints and tips, create a wedding website, and organise a wedding gift list, this website offers it all, for free. It even has a post giving you ‘9 Tips for Including Your Dog in Your Engagement Photos’. Seemingly ridiculous information for some, and vital for others.

And that is the thing about weddings: they are so very, very personal, yet so many people have them. Each step of the engagement-to-wedding process is steeped in decisions. What design do you choose for the save-the-dates and the invitations? Who do you invite? Where do you hold the service, and the reception? What colour scheme do you choose? Veil or no veil? Formal vows, or write your own? Who gives the speeches? Chicken or fish? The questions continue, the options multiply, and weddings, particularly in this age of the internet and shared ideas, diversify massively.

Every decision made leads to that unique wedding day. Weddings are controversial events, carrying some interesting and questionable traditions, but also some love-filled ones. This invitation was for a wedding I attended just two days ago, and it was a wedding made for that unique and loving couple. On that same day, or even on that same bank holiday weekend, there will have been many many other couples getting married as well. Yet for each and every one of them that day would been uniquely special. Each couple will have their own memories of the choices they made, and each couple, just 8 weeks before, would have sent out their own individual wedding invitations, painstakingly chosen and decoratively detailed, a traditional invite to a one-time event.

Katie writes a weekly blog post about random objects that she finds in her everyday life. If you’re interested in reading more, check out her blog Object, a collaboration with fellow Medium blogger Eleanor, and sign up for the monthly newsletter below.
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