Wedding Invitations, a small history

Imagine, you are walking around the town center. All of a sudden, you hear someone yelling. Then you realize it’s the town crier! He’s announcing a wedding!

Hear Ye, Hear Ye, Hear Ye! Joyous news for all the town! Be it known to all hearers that Abigayle Mey Wickersham and Johnathan Elsworth Merriweather are to be married at three-o’clock on Saturday the eighteenth of May. Hear Ye, Hear Ye, Hear Ye!

           Congratulations! You are now invited to Abby and John’s wedding. The year is 1418. The printing press hasn’t been invented yet, and the majority of your town is illiterate.

This is the way (pre-Guttenberg press) that you were invited to a wedding. Anyone that heard the town crier announce this marriage would be invited to the celebration. (Unless of course, you were already shunned by the family. Like the Montague’s were to the Capulet’s )

           Preceding Gutenberg’s invention of the moveable-type printing press in 1447, the tumultuous tradition of oral wedding invitations was the norm for most commoners, continuing until the 1600’s and beyond. However, for those who were found to be among the nobility and aristocracy had begun commissioning monks during the Middle Ages to apply their expertise in calligraphy to elaborate hand-written invitations.

            Beginning in the early 1600s the other popular and more common way to get the word out about your wedding would be to put it in the newspaper. (People putting their engagement announcements or announcing that they have already been married in newspapers comes from this).  From the mid-1600s and on, engraved wedding invitations became more and more popular, and are the most traditional form of wedding invitations. You’ll actually notice that the pieces of tissue paper that are in most engraved, or thermography wedding invitations stem from when the process was first rolled out. The tissue paper prevented the ink from smudging. It wasn’t always dry.

           In the Victorian-age, Americans fully embraced engraved wedding invitations, but had concerns about the unreliable mail system. Nearly all invitations were hand-delivered until the dawn of the 1900’s. To prevent spoiling the envelope en route, the double-envelope came into favor. A courier on horseback would hand the invitation to the butler, who would discard the outer envelope and present the pristine inner envelope to the recipient on a silver tray. Even though the U.S. postal system is somewhat more reliable today, the double envelope is still often chosen to ensure cleanliness and a lovely, formal presentation of the invitation upon arrival.

            By the 1950’s, commercially-printed wedding stationery and technology such as thermography, with its raised lettering, brought appealing, affordable wedding invitations to everyone. Now letterpress is becoming more popular and that is also another option for invitations as well. Many digital printing options are out there now too. Which are the most affordable for the couple on a budget!

I hope this brought you some useful knowledge!