I worked in colleges and universities directly with hundreds of students for about eleven years. During this time, I met engaged leaders in the residence hall community and was an advisor to clubs and organizations. Because of this wide network of former students, I receive between twenty to thirty wedding invitations every summer. Many are the traditional envelope enveloped in an envelope. The thick packets arrive at my mailbox with careful calligraphy on the return cards, instructions on where the bride and groom are registered, and a host of lodging options. The paper is high quality, usually 110 lb cardstock with the color-coded envelope to give us a preview of the colors at the wedding. The weight of the full invitation is a testament to the gravity and importance of marriage itself, like a small physical reminder of how special this event will be.
Sometimes there is glitter involved. Or bows. Or plaid. Or a note on the sustainability of the paper used. Some are handcrafted while others ornately printed by a professional. One can imagine a gaggle of bridesmaids and family members gather around a kitchen table, armed with stamps and a check list, inserting the many pieces into the outer envelope. I myself have been one of those participants many times and until you have been on the other side, you just have no idea what it takes to assemble a nine-piece invitation into the bundle that arrives at your mailbox. Most brides and grooms fret over each person lucky enough to receive one; they hem and haw over whether they should invite their college roommate or their second cousin once removed. Once the list is finalized, it is revisited regularly--sometimes until the day of the event.
Invitations, both grand and simple, are delightful reminders that the wedding they are announcing is an occasion and as such deserves attention. I am extraordinarily impressed by the sheer variety that is offered to brides. From tree-free options to metal customized pieces, wedding invitations are an entire economy-stimulus of their own.
However, I must confess that once I met a woman who does letterpress printing, I fell in love with this style of invitation. The solemnity of the paper, the embossed printing, the creative coloration process all lend themselves to some of the most tactile-y pleasing invitations I have ever laid my hands on. Original designer fees plus letterpress costs can be fairly expensive; however, there are several great customization options for pre-designed letterpress invitations already out there. Check out some of these designers: