Wedding Invitations Over Time

If you think the art of sending wedding invitations is complicated now, take a peek at some ancient and cultural rituals surrounding the practice.

Beginning in the 12th century, there were no written wedding invitations, so people had to get creative. Town criers functioned as olden day news reporters, orally broadcasting the joyful news of a couple’s engagement to anyone in earshot. Those in hearing range were all lucky guests – at least the bride and groom saved money on RSVP cards!

The first written wedding invitations emerged in the Middle Ages of Europe. The fancy lettering and inscriptions we now outsource to skilled calligraphers was done during this era by holy monks. Though it may seem these men might have had their mind on loftier matters, the outbreak of the Plague in Europe led to such low literacy rates that only religious figures and other elite knew how to read and write. Ergo, these men of the cloth became beautiful calligraphers and artfully inscribed the wedding invitations of noble families. After that, the invitations were “shipped off” via courier on horseback. Also due to low literacy, this was the era in which monks began crafting the gorgeous illuminations known as coat of arms, or family crests. These beautiful insignias functioned in much the same way we use wax seals now, as an aesthetic accent and identifying symbol.

The modern metal plate engraving method we use today was actually invented as far back as the 1600’s! This is also when the concept of wedding invitation tissue paper came into play-delicate sheets of tissue were placed over the wedding invitation so that the ink wouldn’t smudge. This important machinery is what took wedding invitations from elite to mainstream, though there were still a few developments along the way.

The wedding invitation business grew rapidly during the 18th and 19th century, as the Age of Enlightenment led to more egalitarian reading and writing practices, while the Industrial Age led to more machinery and the mass production of paper products. This was also the time when the postal system was created, making sending wedding invitations much more organized than the original word-of-mouth party train method employed in the early Middle Ages.

A few other unorthodox rituals for sending wedding invitations included printing them in the newspaper, or the Native American ritual of sending out smoke signals coupled with a birch bark inscription.

But if whittling your wedding invites doesn’t sound like much fun, you might try looking at an online wedding invitation store. Infinitely easier than all these primitive methods, today’s wedding invitation sites are a marvel of modern technology, offering hundreds of mix and match invites in a whole spectrum of colors, fonts and cardstock. These sites make it easy to guarantee gorgeous invitations, no town crier or monks necessary. Check out a few stylish modern wedding invitations and see what we mean.

Some information taken from:

Wedding Invitations History by Karen E. Martin

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