When I was a sophomore in college, a girl from my athletic team announced she was getting married after she graduated in a few months. We were never particularly close, so I was not expecting an invitation. Imagine my suprise when I received one–as a Facebook event invitation! This was even tackier than an emailed invitation. The wedding was to take place in Florida; the bride and I went to school in Massachusetts, and she knew I had no way of paying for a plane ticket. Even better, the invitation requested that I bring a dish to pass for the reception. Needless to say, I did not attend. I desperately hope she sent real invitations to her real guests, but no one I know ever received one.
Sadly, since then I’ve received yet another wedding invitation via Facebook. I know this is the technological age, but seriously? Facebook? 0228-10
One of the unfortunate consequences of an electronic culture is the degradation of the personal invitation into mass spamming. There is something deeply troubling about needing to check one’s spam filter for invitations that have gone missing. I just had this happen to me this past week. I knew I was invited to the wedding but no invitation had been forthcoming. So, at the shower, I mentioned to the MOH, who I’ve known for years, that I was unaware of the wedding day particulars since I had not yet received my invitation. It turns out the invitations had been sent by Evite.com and I was not the only person who failed to receive it. Many on the groom’s side had not received it via email either.
So, there is the obvious problem of email invitations not arriving at their intended addresses or getting shuffled off to spam filters never to be seen. It could be argued that snail mail also gets lost but in 18 years of coordinating weddings, I’ve heard of one or two perhaps going missing in the mail but never dozens and dozens of them. One emailed invitation I received required a plug-in app to launch it in order that it could be viewed and I’m just not going to do that. Another required me to click on a link and I’m not doing that either. If you send me an electronic invitation, the odds are quite high I will never see it.
Facebook event invitations have their place. I use the event invitation feature on Facebook quite often for informal functions like picnics, dances, meetings, church functions, etc. I use it for these casual functions precisely because it is the lazy man’s way of informing people of upcoming activities and keep track of who is attending. But when I host my annual fall party, even though it is an informal, get down and have fun event, I still use printed invitations sent through the snail mail for the reason that I want my guests to feel the same level of excitement and anticipation about the party as I do. I want these people there and my invitations reflect that.
Emailed and social network site invitations have an air of technical sterility and bland conformity to them. There is nothing special about receiving one of an unknown quantity of electrons blasted out to guests with the push of a button. This was really driven home for my daughter when she received a lovely hand addressed invitation to a baby shower via snail mail. After receiving numerous electronic invitations for previous showers, this clearly conveyed the message that the hostesses cared about the guest of honor and were expressing that in an invitation that let the guests know as well. The contrast between the two types of invitations was so profound that she vowed that when she had the opportunity to hostess a shower, she would use snail mailed invites. Given a choice, would you really want to put a printed out email invitation in your wedding or baby scrapbook? I didn’t think so.