Eco-Chic Invitations: Recycled Paper, Evites, and More

Calligraphy Wedding Invitation, Letterpress

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Once upon a time, a letterpress stamped our crests into rich paper, ecru or eggshell. We wrote in calligraphy, each letter a work of art. A wedding required a forest of trees that were felled, ground to a pulp, pressed on a screen, and dried in the sun. Today, the paper making process is industrial and includes cutting machines, duplex board machines, hydraulic head boxes, and pressurized screens. Smoke billows from tall chimneys and from the exhaust pipes of tractor-trailer delivery trucks bound to all four corners of the lower 48. We drive to buy the paper, choosing boxes from piles of boxes stacked to the ceilings of office supply superstores. Then we send it back out on another truck, to another destination. All of this energy—the fossil fuels, the man-hours—turns a wedding into a giant carbon footprint.

Letterpress Wedding Invitation

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On the other hand, electronic invitations don’t carry the same gravitas as an ink and paper artifact. We still think of emails and websites as  informal. We’re happy to announce a backyard barbeque in an email, but not a fancy event, certainly not the most important event of our lives. Still, there must be a happy medium—a way to save the forest while making an impression.  A combination of methods works best.

Email Save the Date

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Evites are marvelous tools for save-the-dates. These are the notifications you send out first—the little cards that announce your plans to marry. Sometimes they include details about the venue, but most often they simply share the day and time of the event, so friends can clear their calendars. There is no reason these cards need to be physical objects. You’ll still be sending a physical invitation so why double up? Choose a template that reflects your theme or colors, or simply upload a digital picture. Save your energy for the invitation—the wedding memento that makes the greatest impression.

Recycled Paper Wedding Invitations

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Recycled paper is an excellent option for eco-friendly invitations, but you may also consider minimizing your impact by sticking to a single envelope. Often wedding invitations get elaborate: a large envelope contains an invitation card, a card with directions, a card detailing accommodations, an RSVP, a small envelope for the RSVP, etc. Use a single card that contains all of your information, or direct guests to a wedding website where you can post details about accommodations, attire, themes, and gift registries. You can even ask guests to RSVP electronically.  A wedding website can help you keep your information in one place, and it provides a forum for guests to communicate before the big event.

My favorite eco-friendly invitation idea is the plantable card. These are invitations with seeds embedded in the paper. The paper and ink is biodegradable so the recipient can simply stick the invitation in a hole, water it, and watch the flowers bloom, a constant reminder of your love.