Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Wedding Basics

Photo courtesy Flickr user Profzucker
Originally the bride chose a dress that could be worn later for other special occasions.

Years of freelancing social graphics left me familiar with etiquette books. I asked the bride (terminology obsolete) to choose one to use as a reference. It’s not cool to admit consulting an etiquette book: the assumption is that correct practice is a matter of course. Web sites related to print references seem to be the most conservative.

The ceremony is peripheral: the couple perform the actual marriage. A home wedding followed by a simple collation is simple, dignified, and can be very elegant. I vote for pure beeswax or white candles. Flowers from a home garden are choice.

A handwritten invitation rendered in black or dark blue fountain pen on first quality paper (think Whooper brand) posted with a thoughtfully chosen stamp is an invitation for the ages. Inexpensive pens write as well as the top of the line. Use an archival quality artist’s marker if you just can’t face liquid ink. All forms of graphic reproduction are shortcuts. 

Be meticulous about wording and the forms of address.  The wording has been worked out over centuries and is intended to respect the various nuances of social relationships. This is an opportunity to rectify your address book, so that any volunteer can help with a mailing and get the wording and punctuation right. Respect the hand at your command-just slow down when you write numbers. Cut cheap paper the same size and color as the final stock to practice spacing. Buy an extra ten percent to cushion errors. Ask a friend to proof read. Place the stamp carefully.

The practice of sending an invitation in double envelopes, aka “cabinet”, was designed to protect the invitation proper, the inner one with only the guests’ names on it, from the grubby fingers of postal workers. Before postal services were established, a footman presented the invitation with a gloved hand at the guests’ door. Hand delivery is still a viable option. The invitations for one major event were delivered in FedEx priority envelopes, an especially effective variant of an outer envelope. The envelope itself evolved from a simple extra sheet of writing paper that was folded around the message.

My favorite wedding critic is Miss Manners, who has a black belt in psychodrama.


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