Jewish Journal

Save the date, save the world

by Elyse Glickman

Posted on Oct. 10, 2008 at 4:21 pm

Wedding invitations have traditionally gone beyond telling friends and family about the whens and wheres of a couple's big day. Through use of color, typefaces and embellishments, they made a statement about a couple's personality and tastes.

As the environment and economy play roles in changing tradition, today's couples are compelled to think beyond the surface of their invitations, as well as R.S.V.P. cards, thank-you notes and programs.

Stationery purveyors, many thriving online, are not only up on "surface detail" trends, but also environmentally sound alternatives to traditional wedding stationery. Savvy couples are realizing -- in increasing numbers -- that when they send out invites, they are also sending out a message about their own sustainability practices. Some are turning away from paper and ink altogether and looking to cyberspace for their wedding communication needs, from the invites to thank-you notes, as well as albums and scrapbooks.

Stacy Broff, a Los Angeles event publicist/planner and bride-to-be, is well versed on current trends professionally and personally. Her wedding is planned as "a simple but classy event," and she stresses the importance of striking a balance between creating the "fairy tale," staying within budget and doing her part for the environment.

Broff researched a company selling eco-friendly invitations. While she acknowledges the ultimate way to invite green is to use e-mail, she and the client felt paper invites were necessary for the audience they wanted to reach. Westside green Realtor/broker Pence Hathorn Silver served as her invite inspiration.

"Some brides seek out luxury because, after all, this is their big day," Broff said. "However, Pence Hathorn Silver gave me thank-you notes that can be planted in the garden instead of tossed in the trash -- what a perfect way to say thank you and do something good for the Earth. Meanwhile, I combed through dozens of wedding sites and wedding magazines, and found many companies offering eco-friendly goods and services. I advise brides to take the time to pick and choose what solutions are most important to them. You can't do everything -- but you can do a lot."

WeddingSolutions.com is one such site that offers all things green, including invites. Alex Lluch, the author of 40 wedding books who runs the site with his wife, Elizabeth, said he has seen his business grow because of the increase in demand for green wedding elements.

In the past, more extravagant weddings often meant they were better, Lluch said: "Right now, we're seeing invitations move away from traditional and towards more colorful, bold and do-it-yourself. Many couples feel this makes their invitations more personal, as well as enable them to save money and paper. Other green options include using organic or soy ink, choosing paper alternatives -- bamboo, hemp, banana stalks and cotton -- and using postcards instead of multienvelope invitations."

Lluch said that plantable papers are catching on and recommended checking out sites like www.botanicalpaperworks.com, which offers invitations made with wildflower seeds. He also notices that Web site addresses are showing up more often on invites, which offers couples a paper-free way to create elaborate wedding sites that incorporate details of the wedding and all events (bachelor/bachelorette parties, rehearsal dinner, bridal shower), along with ceremony site, restaurants and accommodations.

Jonathan Abrams, who founded social networking Web site Friendster, has capitalized on the paperless movement with Socializr.com, offering free online event invitations and other innovative ways to share event and party information with guests. Professionally designed templates for all related events (bachelor/bachelorette parties, engagements and rehearsals), user-generated design options, deluxe fonts and customization with music, videos and photos are among the bells and whistles the site offers to creative couples. Abrams also says Socializr has the capability to make guest lists private.

"No one should be afraid of sending or receiving an online invitation, especially as many people's grandparents are now using the Internet," Abrams said. "Once someone gets over the idea of using online invitations instead of paper, they should focus on the fun advantages and benefits of online invitations, such as customizing their invitations with art, music, and other features. The biggest selling point is being able to conveniently collect R.S.V.P.s and seeing the guest list grow online."

Even with the wonders of technology, paper invites will still be the choice of some couples, as many of their guests may not own or regularly use a computer.

Tarzana's Art of Paper keeps up with the times by offering brides several green stationery lines, including Crane & Co. (100 percent recovered cotton fibers), C'est Papier and Checkerboard (which is Jewish owned).

Manager Sheryl Cohen said that green stationery is not a passing trend, but something bound to continue for years to come.

"Some people will use the Internet for invitations for casual gatherings, but our customers are still traditionalists and want something that can be stuck into an album," Cohen said. "I advise brides, especially with all the new papers and inks on the market, to find a retailer that will spend a generous amount of time with them."

While some brides will want to be able to touch and examine their options, the Internet is still a useful research tool and many online stationery sites focus on environmentally conscious communication.

"Younger brides are specifically seeking out eco-friendly invitations, so our goal is to provide eco-friendly choices without sacrificing style or paper/printing quality," said Mariam Naficy, CEO/founder of Minted.com, which launched in April and exclusively offers green stationery from Oblation and Wiley.

She recommended that brides visit Mohawkpaper.com and use the environmental calculator to see the environmental savings benefits of using papers with high recycled content that are manufactured with alternative energy sources.

"Brides should be aware of how their choices make a difference," Naficy said.

Even with the wonders of technology, paper invites will still be the choice of some couples, as many of their guests may not own or regularly use a computer.

GoGreen.com offers insight into how eco-friendly invites help the planet:
  • Use post-consumer waste or recycled paper products, or "paper" made from grasses, cotton, flax, hemp, straw, silk and silk blends.
  • When you use these products, know that you are reducing chlorine pollution!
  • Do something unique like using pretty postcards as your invitation.
  • If postcards are not your thing, try to reduce the amount of paper used overall. Reconsider the use of paper and tissue inserts.
  • Think about your ink! If you print your invites at home, refill your ink cartridges. When you get rid of cartridges, donate them to a cause or drop in a recycling box. Also, seek online companies that print with earth friendly inks, and others sell similar inks for home use.
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