Should I send paper or digital invitations?
Congratulations on your recent engagement! You’re probably excited to get planning! There are so many fun decisions you are likely looking forward to making… venue, food, attire, honeymoon.
One aspect that may not be QUITE as exciting is the process of addressing, sending and tracking invitations and RSVPs. In fact, creation of the “guest list” can often be one of the first high stress wedding planning experiences a couple has.
The great news is…once you decide WHO you are going to invite, there are print, digital and hybrid options for spreading your good news. So let’s break down a few routes you can take when it’s time to talk invitations…
Completely Digital - Your ultra hip, technology savvy self may be jumping for joy that this is now a completely acceptable way to invite and communicate with your guests.
Start by creating a wedding website for your guests. There are many FREE reputable wedding website options as long as you don’t mind having their company name in the website title. For a small investment you can also upgrade the site to a completely customized url.
It’s important to have the date (of course), location, venue, time of wedding clearly displayed on the website. Make sure you’ve chosen a website template with RSVP capabilities. It can also be fun to share stories and pictures of you as a couple and your wedding party.
But how are you going to share the online invite that points to your wedding website? You may find that gathering the email addresses of all your friends and family (especially distant relatives) is actually harder than gathering mailing addresses. Imagine asking your mom for Aunt Suzie’s email address…even if she has one, is it something she would be checking often?
So although the world is going paperless, some pros and cons to this all digital approach.
· Start tracking your RSVPs right away as real time responses roll in
· You will definitely save some money – the average couple spends around $450 between paper save the dates and invitation suites
· It is common practice to create a wedding website, so why not put it to work?
· As mentioned, gathering emails may prove frustrating
· Those helpful junk folders may hide a mass email from your guests
· This new process may confuse some of your invitees
Traditional Mail Method - This process typically starts between 6-12 months by sending Save the Dates. Save the Dates are usually simple - an engagement photo with only date and geographic location. A postcard format is a popular option for many couples.
Approximately 3 months before the wedding date, you will be mailing “invitation suites” to each household you are inviting. An invitation suite consists of a formal invitation and a separate response card (often asking guests to choose their entrée) and a pre-addressed return envelope with stamp. Some couples also include a weekend itinerary and hotel information. You can also opt to direct your guests to a wedding website for more details at this point.
· Guests have a comfort level with this traditional method
· The paper goods are great momentos for your guests
· Can be incorporated into detail shots by your photographer on your wedding day
· Couples should budget at least $100 for Save the Dates and $250 for Invitation Suites (based on 100 guests)
· No way to easily contact guests for changes
· You will receive incomplete RSVPs that will require you to track guests down individually
Hybrid Approach - Mail out Save the Dates when and only when your wedding website is up and ready to go, complete with a digital RSVP process. This means you will have the date, location AND url listed on your paper Save the Date. Include the verbiage “visit our website to RSVP”
Once they visit the website, they will be reminded to RSVP online. Pro Tip: You can customize the required fields for your digital RSVPs. Make sure you create a required box for their email address. This will easily collect the email addresses in case to you need follow up or communicate changes. In this scenario, we suggest sending the Save the Dates no more than 6 months in advance AND following up with an email blast to update their attendance about a month prior.
But still…what about our less technology savvy guests? And does this mean no beautiful flatlays featuring my invitation suite? Not necessarily…consider mailing a handful of paper invitation suites to a small collection of guests and keeping a set to be photographed.
If you are only doing a small set of paper invitation suites, it will be wise to use a local stationary service that has better pricing for “small batches”. The big websites do not have good prices for small quantities.
· Less printing and shipping cost
· Definitely less trips to the post office AND your mailbox
· Online RSVP tracking through your website
· Requiring an email to RSVP will provide another route of communication to your guests
· Sending a few paper invites will make your traditional guests happy
· Two forms of RSVPs to track and may get confusing
As you can see, there are many happy paths you can take in the Invitation and RSVP process. Go with the option that makes the most sense for your event and your guests. OR cut and paste these ideas to make a process all your own.
If you'd like to see this information presented in a different way, go check out our "Animated Advice" playlist on our YouTube channel HERE.