LOVE/HATE: The “You Are Virtually Invited” Edition

In the past year, various online enterprises have spent at least some of their PR dollars trying to convince me that online invitations and email invitations are just what brides- and grooms-to-be have been searching for. They’re the green option for today’s conscious couples! They cost less than letterpress! Everyone will flip over your choice of one of 10 cool designs! And so on, and so forth. I thought that, after offering up my own opinion, I’d leave it up to you to decide whether I’ve been somehow remiss in ignoring those press releases.


Um, HATE. As much potential as online wedding invitations from companies like Pingg should have, being that they’re kind of environmentally friendly and easy and cheap to send out, the fact is that it’s still nice to get a good heavy piece of printed cardstock in the mail when it’s nuptials we’re talking about. Perhaps the only time one should receive a virtual wedding invitation is if one is invited to a virtual wedding… at which time (as some anonymous so-and-so once said) I suppose it would be wholly appropriate to send a virtual gift.

What say you?

21 Responses to “LOVE/HATE: The “You Are Virtually Invited” Edition”

  1. Leah says:

    MftB has put forth the idea that the invitation should be as formal or informal as the wedding itself. It sets the tone in the guest’s mind and goes along with an overall design theme. I completely agree with that sentiment. So if I were to have an informal beech/backyard/school lunch room wedding, evites would be totally appropriate. If I were having a cathedral wedding with a 7 course meal, cocktail hour, & petitfours at Hotel Fancy Schmancy, I’d probably go with the heavy cardstock, embossing, and three or four extranious envelopes (why do they have an envelope *in* an envelope??)

  2. Twistie says:


    Even if the event is extremely informal (including a simple backyard ceremony in blue jeans/barbeque), Miss Manners and I agree that there are appropriate invitations…hand written notes on regular note paper. If it is also extremely last minute, then a telephone call is perfectly acceptable as well as eco-friendly.

    And let’s not forget that even in these plugged in days there are a great many people who have no email or regular internet access. If one or more of them are on your guest list, you’d have to arrange for more than one form of invitation.

    I’m holding out on this one, folks. No evites for weddings.

    Heck, I hate to get them for other parties.

  3. Melissa B. says:

    Honestly? I’m on the fence. I *love* paper invitations, but for a truly casual reception, I’m OK with the Evite. Last week, two friends of ours tied the knot on very little notice (visa situation), and they let their friends know via Evite that there would be a celebration for them following their courthouse ceremony. It was quick, low-maintenance, and worked really well in that particular situation, where they simply did not have time to even print and mail paper invites.

    But, if you go the Evite route, you need to be sure you’ll be OK with the level of casualness an Evite implies. People who are invited via e-mail will probably consider it a “drop in if you feel like it” affair, and may not RSVP in a timely manner, or at all. If you’re not doing a full meal and don’t care if the guest list is 30 people or 50 people, that’s fine. If you need people to select meal options so you can give an exact count to a caterer and set the appropriate number of tables, an Evite is probably not a good idea.

  4. Nariya says:

    I wouldn’t use THAT example.

    Get a great graphic designer (or be one), and put together something really elegant, thoughtful and personal for a small, youthful, forward-minded wedding, call your guests (which I’d do for paper invites too) and I wouldn’t object. Manners vary from group to group, and while paper is nice many people see it as unnecessary. EVERY element in a wedding is only as important as you think it should be, except for the joy of the event and the commitment itself.

    Also, if you’re going to scribble something on some paper anyway, why not do it online and have it look nicer in as short a time period?

  5. LPC says:

    I disgree completely. In fact I would go so far as to predict that in 5 years 50% of all invitations will be electronic. They aren’t virtual, they just aren’t paper.

  6. angela, I have to say that if I got an e-invite like that, I would most certainly not complain. That was adorable!

  7. MaryOfDoom says:

    Friends are getting married in October, two weeks after my own nuptials. They plan to hold their event at a local modern-art museum, are demanding that my future husband’s band play at the event (without compensation), and are presumably going to feed their guests dinner. So the sequence of events is pretty normal wedding-y type stuff, right?

    I got a “Save the Date” through Facebook, and they’re apparently collecting RSVPs through a web form on their wedding website. I may be a stickler for tradition in some respects, but I think that if you’re planning a wedding in anything more than, say, about a month, and you’re inviting people who may not be well versed in technology (like elderly relatives), you should send a paper invitation.

    It doesn’t have to be expensive, but if I’m going to be invited to your wedding (and presumably, also be expected to give you a gift) you can spend $0.44 and the time and materials that it would take to write to me.

    In short: HATE. And this kind of thing really grinds my gears.

  8. Kai Jones says:

    I think that like anything else it can be used appropriately or inappropriately.

    Appropriate? The situation described above–basically an elopement that you invite friends to celebrate.

    Inappropriate? The invitation I saw recently, nicely printed on buff paper, with a pearl embedded at the top and wrapped in tulle, but with “RSFP to _________@hotmail or to evite” printed at the bottom. What were they thinking?

  9. Roxie says:

    It’s being cheap in the name of eco-friendly. Hate. I hate Facebook groups announcing weddings even more.

  10. Ashley says:

    How do you feel about online RSVP? It just seems silly to send out stamped cards with every invitation. Kai seems unhappy with the “RSVP to evite” but it seems like a good option to me. I would prefer it if I were receiving an invitation. I never remember to mail things.

    Our wedding is going to be really low key, and game themed with DDR & Rock Band and the sort. Our invitations are puzzles that you put together to get the invitation. Would it be that rude to have “Please RSVP at or at ?

  11. Melissa B. says:

    Kai, that’s actually becoming a lot more common, as couples who don’t want to forgo paper invitations look for other ways to cut back on invitation costs and environmental impact. I saw that kind of thing suggested on a couple of websites when I was looking for my invitations. In a way, it’s a throwback to the days before RSVP cards, when people responded to an invitation by contacting the hosts directly and saying “yes” or “no,” or hand-writing a note on their own stationery to accept or decline the invitation. (Miss Manners, much to my surprise, hates RSVP cards and considers them to be a concession to bad manners! I prefer to think of them as a concession to reality … six of one, half a dozen of the other I suppose.)

    Maryof Doom, could they be planning to send paper invitations in August or September? It might just be the save-the-dates and RSVPs that are electronic. That said … Facebook? Really? Yeesh. I’m OK with electronic invitations but I draw the line at Facebook.

  12. AmazonPrincess says:

    I’ve played around in photoshop to do mock invites for friends, mainly as a means to figure out what the heck they want the invites to look like. (And also because I’ve seen too many overprices invites and went ‘I CAN DO THAT’)

    Perhaps it is just because I’m part of the plugged in generation, but if the pretty invite was embedded in the email and not an evite stock photo mess, I’d be ok with it. If Grandma doesn’t have email, then print one out for her on some nice cardstock from OFfice Despot or something.

    ^That is a sample b-day invite just to see what I’d be sending in lieu of a paper invite.

  13. Audrey says:

    The down-side to virtual invitations, of course, are:

    1: Oops! Grandma doesn’t have a computer.

    2: Oops! Your invitation was caught in my spam filter so I’m going to spend the rest of the year mad at you for not inviting me to your wedding and you’re going to spend the rest of the year mad at me for not coming.

    3: Oops! I didn’t have something to stick to my refrigerator so I forgot your wedding. My bad.

    4: Oops! A computer virus caused your invitation to go out to everyone on your email list. Including your ex-boy/girlfriend who’s address you had “forgotten” to delete.

    5: Oops! Your cousin Franklin forwarded the invitation to some of his friends and now your modest outdoor wedding is going to be more like an Alpha Beta party.

  14. KTB says:

    I definitely say “FAIL” for evite and Facebook wedding invites. I mean, for a number of reasons that Audrey outlined, but also because I feel like there are very few occasions for true formality, and a wedding really should be one.

    Before my own wedding, I polled friends on online RSVPs, and the overwhelming majority cited relatives/other guests with little online savvy, and said it took forever to call everyone to find out who was coming. I’m big on environmental sustainability, and we still decided to enclose reply postcards for our guests in order to cut down on our stress levels. We sent out three pieces: invite, reply card and envelope. We’re recycling most of the reply cards, and keeping the ones with fun comments or pictures. We had some artistic guests!

  15. Blossom says:

    Hate. I’m making my own invites and sighing and moaning about it but i’m still gonna do it because i recon evites are just plain rude. Also what Audrey said about the evite could be sent to anyone and your wedding turns into a rave.

  16. MaryOfDoom says:

    Melissa B, there will be no paper invitations. The Facebook save-the-date directs the user to a wedding website, with a form to fill out that says, “Let’s all go green! By submitting your RSVP online we are all saving paper and stamps!”

    I sincerely doubt that there will be a paper invitation forthcoming.

  17. Kai Jones says:

    Eh, I’m old-fashioned. I agree with Miss Manners: Responses are the responsibility of the guest, and it’s rude to enclose a pre-printed one with your invitation — after all, it implies that your guest is too rude to respond unless you give them the means.

    What I object to in the example I gave is the mismatch in style. I don’t think a hotmail address goes with a printed, decorated, formal invitation. It would have been fine with a more casual style of printed invitation, or a handwritten or emailed invitation. Although I don’t think I’d go with a hotmail address for any of those, but some other email address (yes, I’m a snob).

  18. Melissa B. says:

    @MaryOfDoom — eep. Am I correct in guessing that this couple isn’t usually quite so obsessed with being environmentally correct, except when it saves them postage fees?

    @KTB: When my maid of honor got married three years ago, her extremely proper parents refused to put RSVP cards in the invitations because they, following Miss Manners, thought those cards were “tacky.” The result: most of the guests buried the bride and groom in a sea of confused phone calls and e-mails — “how do I RSVP?” After that, her advice to me was: “Whatever you do, don’t leave out the RSVP cards. People are lost without them!”

    That said, I think if you explicitly tell people to RSVP by e-mail or by phone, there’s less room for confusion (and giving people the phone option means you don’t automatically exclude less tech-savvy guests). My fiance’s mother has done that for our rehearsal dinner, and it seems to be working pretty well. In fact, some people have RSVP’d to her who haven’t bothered to drop our card in the mail yet!

  19. Valirae says:

    An ecard like that is fine fine for birthday parties, random “just because I feel like it” parties, and all…but for a wedding? Pass.

    If you really wanted to do ecards, you should have them done custom. You could, with very little digging, find an artist on deviantart to make something nice that would fit the feel of your wedding. There are so many amazing artists out there that do freelance online (usually not very expensive either) that it just seems stupid to go premade on something like this.
    I don’t have a problem with ecards themselves, but the fact that these are premade and you’re supposed to just put your text on it seems SO cheap.

  20. Shell says:

    We did our wedding invites by e-mail simply because we have absolutely no clue about the actual physical addresses for most of our friends. We do, however, have e-mail addresses and phone numbers. Therefore: invititations by e-mail.

    If nearly all of your guests are tech-savvy 30-somethings, then it’s just not a problem, because they’ve whitelisted your e-mail address already. And for those half a dozen who aren’t tech savvy, a printout of your e-mail on nice paper will accomplish the task nicely. You tailor your invitations to the people you intend to invite. Remember where Miss Manners said to make your guests feel comfortable at your event? If you’re intending on inviting a bunch of your parents’ friends, most of which don’t use e-mail, then such an approach would be inappropriate.

    We set up a website and asked people to RSVP through the site or by e-mailing one of us, and Google’s Documents and Sites has a lovely free way to handle all of that, with forms that will import directly to spreadsheets, allowing you to send reminder notices for those who don’t reply quickly, without annoying those who do. And yes, our reception is a pool party, and yes, I’m doing most of the cooking, so the only deadline is when I go shopping for reception food. All I need is about a week’s notice, as I’ve been doing parties for this bunch of friends for years now. And this kind of event, even if it is preceeded by a wedding, is perfectly suited to e-mail.

    In short: LOVE (but know your audience)

    In short – e-mail invites are the way of the future, and though Grandma might not be tech savvy, the grandkids are. I haven’t gotten a paper invite for the past ten years, and frankly, haven’t missed them.