Weddings are one of a just a handful of times in your life when tradition matters; after all, can you imagine receiving wedding invitations or thank you cards via text? In this age of emails and emojis, Facebook and Twitter, your wedding is an event worthy of more than a digital e-vite. There’s a certain elegance to a hand calligraphed or custom-designed matte card in an actual envelope with a personalised touch. From save the date to invitations to thank you cards, here’s a quick look at the etiquette and tradition of wedding paper goods, and the elements you need to follow.
It’s all about the font
We’ve come a long way since the first wedding ‘invitations’ were called out by a town crier back in England in the Middle Ages. Before the invention of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg in the 1400s, anyone within earshot could attend (which typically meant the entire village). Luckily these days, just like royalty back then, we can choose who we’d like to have witness our big day. With Australian guest lists typically averaging 100 or so people (those relatives really do add up!) most people type and print their stack of paper goods and the good news is it’s perfectly fine to do so, whereas not so long ago it was considered a massive faux pas. Some choose the boutique approach and hire a calligrapher, but the modern, popular option is to simply use a lavish script font for the important details (like names) – it all depends how traditional you want to be.
Whether you opt for a unique custom-designed wedding invitation or an exquisite pre-designed template, look for one that captures the theme of your wedding. Consider how the different fonts convey different tones; a cursive font like Edwardian Script denotes a classic, conventional ceremony (think grand church, indoor reception, sit-down dinner), or a clean sans serif font like Frutiger offers a fresh, modern look – perfect for a beach or outdoor event.
Spell out dates and times in full regardless of your choice, and be clear about the details and what’s to be expected on the day.
For a special touch consider including a handwritten element, be it your guests’ names or yours – it adds a spark of originality.
The paper elements of a wedding are endless, and each gives you the opportunity to be creative.
A few things; if you don’t like your handwriting, it’s completely acceptable to enlist the help of an artistic friend or relative (or fiancé, perhaps?); check, check and triple-check your spelling before that ink touches the paper; and for the ultimate refined touch consider hiring a calligrapher for those other little paper elements of your event – think wedding place cards, chalk boards, wedding menus and wedding favours.
Along with letterpress, calligraphy offers old-world sophistication and brings an artisan touch to accompany the paper goods available on the Internet. In past eras, wealthy families would commission skilled monks to craft their text – a romantic idea if ever there was one. These days calligraphers, who are most often artists and designers, learn their skills via design colleges (no need to visit a monastery).
The only product that traditionally should be written by one of the happy couple is the thank you card. Which leads us to…
The importance of the thank you card
Anna Wintour sends them for all sorts of reasons which is enough said, really. The thank you card is, in fact, one of the most important tasks of the wedding process. Sure, it’s not up there with the dress or the destination, but it is essential and often overlooked. Tradition is to write it by hand, mention the gift by name (unless it’s monetary – then don’t state the amount!) and sign off with a thanks. A modern, popular alternative is to send a photograph of the two of you and include a printed thank you. If choosing this option, try to include a small handwritten element, such as signing your name or writing a custom message on a standard designed card.
As the last task of the wedding process it’s understandable to want to put it off. You’ve been through the bridal shower, the hen’s night, the ceremony, reception and honeymoon, but it’s of utmost importance to graciously acknowledge your gifts and the presence of friends and family. Don’t worry if your handwriting isn’t the best for this one; it just needs to come from the heart.