Before there were typewriters and email, wedding invitations had to handwritten; there was no other way. It was a laborious undertaking to individually address each invitation and that, in a sense, spoke volumes.

Through the years, competition arose, as the more elegant the invitation, the more “ahs” one would receive. The wedding notices soon became a source of pride. Fancier and grander presentations evolved. Printed on select paper stock with prestigious watermarks (think Crane), over time, they became synonymous with status or “good taste”. After all, the first clue or glimpse into the wedding was the invitation itself. To type the names and addresses, or to shortcut the effort, in many minds, meant that the wedding couple had cheapened the wedding affair.  

There was almost this unwritten rule that said: Please show me, the guest, that you appreciate me and have expended a fair amount of energy into personalizing, in your own writing, my invitation, especially if I am going to be required to buy you a gift. 

Okay – that’s a bit exaggerated, but you get the point.

But, there was always a concern. If the invitations had to be handwritten, what happened if there was no one around with perfect penmanship? Brides quickly addressed this issue and began to create more clever ways of drawing attention to the outside of the invitation by using calligraphy.  

Writing in calligraphy meant that a bride or family member had to literally learn how to write in this style, again a source of pride for the couple. So now, there was this beautiful handwriting on the outside of the envelope (that still adhered to traditional wedding protocol) that was equally as lovely as the professionally printed words inside. Pure class!

As time went on, brides (and grooms) began hiring calligraphers to address the envelopes for them. But . . . this deed was forgiven as still the invitations were handwritten and that was all that mattered. The great powers of wedding protocol that be, gave their resounding stamps of approval. Calligraphy had made its mark and was accepted.  

Through time, wedding protocol, like anything else, evolves and morphs and wedding invitations are no exception. I see a trend developing with online email wedding invitations, some quite lovely, and while it may be difficult for older generations to grasp, and to some this may seem classless and substandard, I do foresee this method gaining in popularity in much the same way as have party and shower invitations.

What do you say?  Do you think it’s bad manners to send an email or online wedding invitation? 


©2012 Sherry Thomas. May be reproduced or shared with copyright attribution.