Wedding Wednesday

What’s Your Take On… Digital Invites?

A Mercer Island college kid is leading the paperless push in wedding stationery.

By Laura Cassidy September 14, 2011

Do not print this email. One of Greenvelope’s digital save-the-dates.

It finally happened this year: I got not one but two digital wedding invites.

Was I surprised? Yes, very. Was I offended? Absolutely not. Both couples are high-tech, super busy, and very practical. They’re both also very stylish. And super tactile; the women in each of the couples are among the biggest paper-, ink-, design-, and art-lovers I know. If this method of information-spreading was most efficient for them, so be it. I did spend a couple of minutes lamenting that they hadn’t gone the old-fashioned way—only because I knew they would have sent excellent invitations, and I like holding on to that kind of thing. I’m a keepsaker. What can I say?

But there are others who are less accepting about new world trends in "stationery." For instance, a co-worker and I were chatting about RSVPs and I mentioned the emailed wedding invites. "WHAT???," she shrieked. I think the guy in the office next to hers is still recovering from the mid-morning sharp-noise startle.

Clearly, however, there are those for whom the progression from analog to digital doesn’t even register. I’m guessing 90 percent of that group is about the same age as Sam Franklin, the Seattle-based founder of Greenvelope, an ad-free electronic invite company that hangs its hat on an environmentally savvy hook. No trees have to die in order for your guests to hear about your celebration, and 10 percent from every package purchased is donated to Mountains to Sound.

The Mercer Island High School grad (class of ’08 in the house?) and current Washington University (St. Louis) student started his company with money from his pressure-washing business and a stint in the pizza delivery industry. Not too shabby. Figuring that a few of you have at least considered paperless invites, and hoping to at least turn you on to a local source if so, I asked Franklin a few questions about formality, expectations, and nostalgia.

WWW: As you started brewing this idea, did you think much about the tradition of paper invites? Do you have any affinity at all to paper communication; do you find value, warmth, or romance in written correspondence, or are you simply of an age where that kind of attachment doesn’t come into play? Did, perhaps, your mother or grandmother or some sensitive uncle have an adverse reaction to your idea early on?
SF: While I can appreciate going to the mailbox and physically opening up a paper invitation, my goal is to generate that same excitement electronically. Traditional paper invitations are expensive, time-consuming, and they sacrifice trees. Greenvelope is the next step to help the tech-savvy generation deliver elegant electronic invitations to their guests with a personalized, advertisement-free, envelope animation. I have worked with many older couples who are equally excited about the idea of saving trees and delivering an exciting experience to their guests.

What would you say to someone who says their wedding is black-tie at the Four Seasons and the bride is wearing Luly Yang and there just is no way they could consider not sending out engraved six-piece invite suites to set the tone for their very upscale event. Invites are, of course, the first impression of an event, and (this hypothetical person is saying), they can’t possibly imagine conveying all that their wedding is going to be with via computer or smart phone screen.
Green is hip and classy. The most formal wedding of our decade stirred up controversy when Kate and Prince William sent the Royal Wedding save the Date via fax. If Kate and William can embrace the convenience and greenness of technology, can’t we all? Times are certainly changing. So, if the Four Seasons couple is looking for the most luxurious online experience to complement a luxurious event, Greenvelope fills this niche. For those couples that are still 100 percent set on paper for the invitation, they often just utilize the electronic save the date functionality that Greenvelope offers. Every little bit helps to reduce paper waste!

Do you save or collect anything? I’m sort of a hopeless romantic, and a very tactile person, and I save a lot of paper goods, including invites and the like. I’m wondering if you are oriented that way at all and also if there is any way that Greenvelopes can be saved—have couples expressed a desire to keep some form of their invitation? Have guests?
I appreciate the value of keeping memorabilia, and I certainly understand why one would want to save an elegant, custom invitation created electronically. In fact, I keep my computer very organized and save many photos, messages, playlists, etc. Now, more and more couples are keeping and sharing many wedding memories electronically through wedding websites, Flickr, Facebook, and other social services. Since I do not want to encourage printing, Greenvelope does not offer this functionality by default. However, I do provide couples the opportunity to save a high-quality version of the invitation to their computer. Most couples take advantage of this option and print an invitation for grandparents and themselves.

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