Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Do You Really Need to Send a Paper Invitation?

I had a pretty interesting experience this past weekend. My husband and I were invited to a friend's 40th birthday party. Let's call him "Jack." It was given by his loving and creative wife ("Jill"), who went through a lot of effort and expense to make the birthday bash memorable.

There was delicious catered food, a bar, decorations throughout the house, even a homemade and hilarious "photo booth" where guests could get dressed up and have their pictures taken with an old Polaroid camera. All in all, this should have been a great party.

But something was missing. It was pretty obvious, really.

The guests. There just weren't a lot of them.

Sure, it was nice, but it just didn't have the feel of a lively party. And if I had to venture a guess, I'd guess what went wrong was the way the hostess sent the invitations.

My first clue that we were invited to a party came in the form of a Facebook event invitation, to which I promptly  made a mental note and then moved on to one of the other hundreds of bits of social media information that enter my consciousness every single day. I never responded. Never got out my iPhone and entered the event in my calendar. A few minutes later, I had forgotten all about Jack's birthday party.

Fast-forward a few weeks. I get an e-mail from Jill. "Thank the lord," I think to myself. I would have forgotten all about Jack's party.

Here's what the e-mail said:

It has come to my attention that everyone is not on Facebook as often as I am, or perhaps I screwed something up in trying to set up a Facebook event, so please accept my apology for the late notice but we hope you can join us to celebrate Jack's 40th birthday!

Saturday, March 17
7:00 pm

The Hills

123 Mountain Lane

Short Hills, NJ

No gifts!

Please RSVP to Jill at jillonthehill@yahoo.com or by text to 555-1234

Hope you can make it!


This time I took action. Asked my husband if he wanted to go, got out my iPhone, scheduled the party, got a babysitter. You know the routine.

But apparently, not a lot of the other invitees did as I did. And I'm pretty sure I know why.

Here's what guests think when they receive a virtual invitation:

  • This is a casual party
  • I can stop by if I want to, whether I have Rsvp'd or not
  • I can blow this party off if I want to, because it's a casual party and the hosts aren't all that concerned with whether or not I attend

Here's what guests think when they receive a paper invitation in the mail:

  • Wow, I am important to the hosts of this party. My attendance matters to them
  • This is an important party/event. The hosts have obviously taken a lot of care to make sure that I know about this event
  • I need to respond to the hosts to let them know if I will attend or not (although paper invitations are no guarantee that guests will reply, I'm positive that the response rates rock over virtual invitations)
  • I should attend this party/event even if I don't really feel like it, because it's an important event in the life cycle of my friend or family member

Now poor Jack, he thinks his friends don't love him.

Oh Jill, you should have sent a paper invitation in the mail!

Let this be a lesson. The invitation to a party sets the tone. Make sure that your invitation reflects the seriousness of the event and the level of effort you are putting into it.

Wendy @ L.V.

Have you or anyone you know experienced anything like this? What are your thoughts?


Chatty Kathy said...

I was mentally composing my response while reading the scenario. You hit all my points in your post so I really don't have to say anything-but I will!!

I couldn't agree more. And there is nothing that I love more than getting a hand written note in the mail. This includes invitations, Christmas cards, and any other special occasion paper work.

We all know how easy it is to hit send to a whole list of people and also how easy it is to inadvertently miss a name while typing. It is also easy to accidentally delete something or have it end up in spam. And Facebook for a important event....ok for a save the date maybe.

My kids better not be texting or emailing me any Mother's Day wishes this weekend!

Bonnie said...

Wendy, I love your article! Can I quote you on my blog?
Bonnie Shyer
Invitations and More by Bonnie

Judy at Unique Simchas Invitations said...

I received a Bridal Shower invitation as a mass mailing attachment to a Facebook note. I couldn't open the attachment ... not at work ... not at home ... not on my phone. I decided it couldn't be very important if I can't even open it. I'm not going. I'm not calling. With this form of invitation, I don't believe it really matters if I show up. Stick with paper invitations, folks! They are meaningful and lovely.