Welcome to our third installment of the Inhabitat Green Wedding Guide column. So far we’ve covered eco-friendly rings and locations in our Green Wedding Guide. In our third installment of our series, we are talking eco-friendly wedding invitations. Invitations set the mood for the wedding – simple and casual, fancy and elegant, quirky and fun, the possibilities are endless. Your guests will gather information on what to wear and what type of wedding it will be from your wedding invitation. And by sending out an eco-friendly invite, you’re setting the bar for the rest of your gorgeously green and eco-conscious wedding.
Invitations are exciting to receive for the guests — it’s like getting a gift in the mail; a chance to celebrate with you. Just like your rings, your invitations say a lot about you as a couple. In years past, it was customary to send out Save The Dates for weddings not in your home town 4-7 months before the wedding date. Then you would send out the wedding invitation, which would include the announcement, directions, RSVP card, and more all stuffed inside multiple lined envelopes. That’s a lot of paper, not to mention a lot of work! Fortunately, couples are becoming savvy to how wasteful and time-consuming these type of invitations are. Here are our suggestions on how to send out classy and eco-friendly wedding invitations.
First, start a website to post information about the location, date, time, etc., so guests will be able to find what they need. Naturally you could build your own, but unless you are a web designer or programmer, don’t add more things to your to do list. There are a number of good websites that will host a wedding site for you. Ones worth looking into are eWedding, Wedsite, and The Knot. All of them also have planning tools, RSVP tracking, upload/download capability with various monthly fees.
GO CYBER WITH SAVE THE DATES!
If you are sending out Save The Dates, try opting for an email or Evite (also try MyPunchBowl or Pingg). These online invitation sites can track your guests responses so you can get a better idea of who will be coming. If your friends and family aren’t very email savvy and you still want to go for paper, remember, less is more. Send a little postcard with your picture or a picture of the wedding location printed on 100% recycled paper, seeded paper, or other eco-worthy materials.
Many wedding etiquette experts (and non web-savvy parents and grandparents) think that sending out paper invitations is still the way to go. You can let your heart be the guide on this one, because there is no doubt that a digital invite is much greener. If you go the digital route, try fancy – have a graphic designer create something or try Paperless Post, which sends out custom online invitations and tracks responses. You could also make a video like this couple did here.
PAPER INVITATIONS – Try to keep things simple and minimize unnecessary paper
For paper invitations, try to minimize the amount of paper (this also helps to keep postage down), find tree-free paper like hemp or organic cotton, use 100% recycled content paper, and if possible, a local company. Many traditional invitation companies now offer a recycled content line. Here are our favorite invitation designers using recycled or alternative papers and inks: NYC-based Greenwich Letterpress, New Jersey-based Shindig, Portland-based Cardgirl Invitations as well as Oblation Papers & Press, handmade, tree-free invitations from InviteSite, or tree-free Sheep Poo Paper. Another interesting option is Seal and Send Invitations, which use no envelope and has a tear-off RSVP card. Wedivations can make handmade seal and send invitations on 100% recycled paper. Etsy.com also hosts many artisans handcrafting custom wedding invites.
From the start, I was totally against traditional invitations, thinking it was a waste of paper and money, which is why I sent out Evites for the Save The Dates. I searched and scoured the internet for simple, but fun wedding invitations that didn’t cost much and were made from 100% recycled content paper. There are definitely some great options out there, but none that called out to me, so I ended up designing our wedding invitations myself. Since we were having a destination wedding right outside of Zion National Park, we used it as the theme for our entire wedding. I modeled our invitation graphic after the famous WPA National Park Posters, and went for a simple, 4×6″ card with printing on the front and back.
I contracted Portland-based Environmental Paper & Print, who prints on recycled paper with vegetable inks. Naturally, I would have liked to use a local printing company, but I couldn’t find anyone in my area who uses vegetable inks, and I had already had a relationship with EPP from some other work. They did a fantastic job, and the final invitation was stunning and received many compliments. We ended up using the graphic as a theme throughout the wedding. For the calligraphy on the envelopes, we used this idea for faux-fancy handwriting from With This Ring.
As you may, or may not know, I am a (green) graphic and web designer, and because of this I was adamant about designing my own wedding website and wedding invitations. For all the eco reasons mentioned above, I wanted to go digital all the way and completely do away with paper invitations. However, when my mother got wind of this plan, she was not pleased at all, stating ‘None of my friends or your grandparents use email – we need to send traditional printed invitations’.
To compromise we decided to try to make most of the wedding communication digital (including email Save-The-Dates, and everything else, like directions, schedule, etc on our website), while still sending out one round of traditionally printed paper invitations. We sourced a local eco printer in the San Francisco Bay Area called Greener Printer that could use 100% recycled paper cardstock and non-toxic soy and vegetable based inks in their printing. We also tried to keep the wedding invitations simple and minimize the use of paper (so many wedding invitations are so complicated with lots of different folds and envelopes). For example, we had an RSVP card, but our RSVP card was a self-addressed, stamped postcard so that we didn’t use unnecessary paper, and that guests didn’t need to go to unnecessary trouble. We only sent paper invitations to guests over 50 years old – and sent e-invitations to all of our web-savvy younger friends.
All in all, I am pleased with the way we did things and would do it the same way again. Our guests seemed to like our invitations and many of them commented on our website— which now it is a lasting memento of the wedding for my husband and me to enjoy.