April 18, 2013 at 8:19 AM ET
Chic paperless wedding invitations from online companies like Evite and Paperless Post are a draw to tech-savvy 20 and 30-something couples who find the electronic process streamlined, cost-efficient and eco-friendly.
But receiving a digital invite makes some feel as if the milestone event has been stripped of its formality. Older invitees may also not have email accounts or be as comfortable replying to an electronic invitation.
“I think there were a couple of people who raised an eyebrow,” Mariko Fritz-Krockow told TODAY.com of her guests' reaction to the electronic invitations she sent through Eventbrite for her September 2011 nuptials. “No one vocalized any disapproval to me, but I have no doubt some people thought it.” Her husband hails from a large, traditional family, and a few older members were left baffled.
“There were a couple of people who were incredibly confused,” she said. “They didn’t understand that the email was an invitation. They had no idea what we were trying to do. We had to call them and ask them if they were coming and they said, ‘yes,' but then asked where their invitation was. Even my mother, who is tech-savvy, didn't know she had to had to RSVP electronically.”
Beverly Hills-based event planner Mindy Weiss echoed concerns for older guests. “I have never done an email invite for a client and I do about 60 weddings a year," she said. "A lot of older generations are not on email or not computer-savvy and a lot of the electronic invitations get stuck in spam. So, you have a lot of different obstacles.”
Despite the perplexed relatives, Fritz-Krockow — who works for a tech startup in San Francisco — stands by her decision. “The under-40 tech-savvy crowd loved the digital invite. They said it was the easiest wedding invite they had to deal with. Plus, I had my RSVP list done in three weeks.”
Los Angeles bride-to-be Natalie Alcala is hitting a happy medium by sending digital save-the-dates and hard-copy invites for her upcoming May wedding.
“Although we'd definitely prefer to go the more tech-savvy, eco-friendly route with digital wedding invites, we're sending hard invites to appease old-school family members,” Alcala, a writer, told TODAY.com. “We figured that, since this is (hopefully) a one-time event, it might be nice for our moms, dads, uncles and aunts to have a tangible keepsake to frame or scrapbook...I think it’s a great way to meet in the middle; this way you can save both trees and unnecessary arguments.”
“I don’t think email is a place for a wedding invite," said Brooklyn, N.Y. wedding planner Tammy Golson. "A rehearsal (dinner) or shower is OK, but paper is important for a wedding. It shows the seriousness you put into the wedding and that you’re treating the occasion with respect.”
Even Paperless Post now offers an offline option: "Paper" is a service where you can order a printed version of your digital invite. User growth on Paperless Post is up 3.5 times what it was last year, and the company's overall revenue has more than doubled since they launched Paper in October of 2012 as a way to meet customer’s growing requests.
“The reality is that we live in a hybrid world of print and digital. No one lives their life totally online or totally offline, so it’s important for us to serve digital and paper needs,” said Paperless Post co-founder James Hirschfeld.
Though the company still sells more digital than printed wedding cards, they have seen a sharp increase in wedding clients since launching the option for physical cards.
“The line is different for everyone," said Hirschfeld. "Some never want to touch paper again, but for others, paper is more appropriate."
There is no minimum for a Paper order, so a bride can order just one copy of her invitation for her personal scrapbook or dozens to give to relatives as keepsakes or as the actual invite.
“People are using us for very important events in our lives,” Hirschfeld said. “Some need to print 15 matching cards for an older generation of invitees or for people who believe it’s improper to send the invitation digitally.”
Latha Youngren, an event planner who lives in New York City, chose to send her invitations through Paperless Post for her October 2009 wedding to cut down on costs, but made a couple of exceptions, including for her father, who was in his 70s and not on email.
Youngren's solution was decidedly low-tech.
“I called and gave him details," she said. "And we did the same for my husband’s mom."