Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

25 Sivan 5766 - June 21, 2006 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Home and Family

Printed Invitation Do's and Don'ts
by Tzvia Ehrlich-Klein

Well, it appears that I once again have another friend who has hit the age of grandchildren getting engaged and married. It's a little unnerving, but, Boruch HaShem, a happiness nonetheless. My friend, however, turned to me with a tale of woe, which prompted this article.

Soon after the "mazal tov," the young couple-to-be went to a respected local printer to look at and choose wedding invitations. The invitation they chose cost a fortune, but the parents agreed to it because, after all, it was the wedding of their first daughter, and the boy and his family were very fine people.

When the couple got their beautiful invitations (with matching envelopes, of course) from the printer, they were very pleased.

Several people who were close to the mother had offered to give 'wedding advice hints,' but both the mother and her bride-to-be daughter were too busy and excited to take up any of those offers.

Though some friends felt sorry that their offers of "educated- informational help" weren't taken up, those closest to the family felt even worse when they saw the invitations. So much money had been spent for something that would only hang on a refrigerator door for a week or two, and would then be thrown into the garbage by everyone except the couple and their parents! But that wasn't the half of it.

Somehow, in all of the excitement, no one had thought to check the size of the mailing envelopes when they were ordered. Which meant that when the happy bride-to-be brought her boxes of stuffed, already-addressed envelopes to the post office to mail, the entire family was in for a shock.

In addition to the extra expense of the very expensive paper that had been chosen for the wedding invitations, each envelope that was to be sent also needed an additional stamp on it because it was both too heavy and classified as "outsized" — i.e., each invitation needed two stamps instead of only one.

This turned out to be a very big, and a very unnecessary, extra expense (do the math for 360 envelopes!), especially since that extra centimeter or two on the invitation wasn't essential by any means. In fact, the only one who benefited from those extra few centimeters/inches was the post office!

Recognizing that invitations are a necessary, but easily inflated, expense, I offer these suggestions for

Things to Look Out for When Ordering Invitations:

1.The Paper:

As the paper is the most expensive part of the printing process, it is important not to start looking through the printer's Paper Catalogue blindly — because once the young couple have found a paper they 'love,' it may be hard to change their minds. Begin by asking to see the cheapest paper, and then work your way up the price scale.

Very often there are cheaper papers with the same visual effect as the more expensive paper. In addition, many of the colors available in expensive varieties of paper have very similar counterparts at much less the price. In fact, sometimes the color of the cheaper paper is almost indistinguishable from the more expensive variety! And, since most invitations soon end up in the garbage pail, a slight difference in hue is really an unnecessary additional expense.

If you do just 'jump in' and immediately begin looking through the printer's Paper Catalogue, at least do not choose the paper you like and then immediately order it for your invitations. First ask the printer if there are any other varieties of paper that are similar to the one that you like, but cheaper. Then spend a few minutes looking at the various papers, and honestly comparing them — remembering that money saved here can be better spent elsewhere. In fact, even if there is a noticeable difference between the two types of paper, it is wise to keep in mind that the wedding guests will remember the simchah — not the invitation. If the invitation is remembered at all, it will only be in passing. Therefore, money is better spent on a nice bencher or other giveaway favor that might remain as a keepsake, or not being spent at all.

2. The Text:

Arrive at the printer with an already agreed upon text for the invitation. This text should also have already been proofread a few times. Pay particular attention to the spelling of everybody's name, and double check the correct time and date of the wedding, particularly if the Hebrew states "Ohr le . . . " This has created many a confusion, with guests at one Bar Mitzva celebration showing up at the hall on the wrong day of the week! It is therefore most prudent to also include the day of the week as well as the correct date!

I believe it is the Malbim who says that a person should not number the months according to the non-Jewish date. It is therefore preferable that all months should be spelled out using their names. In fact, writing out the entire name of the secular month on the invitation (i.e., September or April) actually even looks more elegant than a hyphenated listing of numbers! In addition, since it is unlikely that anyone would be sending out a wedding invitation more than a year ahead of time, there is no reason to write the secular year that the wedding is taking place. That is a truly unnecessary way of marking off the period of time, particularly since our Sages do caution against numbering according to the birth of a foreign deity.

Be sure that both sides proofread the text again, very carefully, after your printer has given you his typed text for the invitation. Although you must still recheck again that no names are misspelled and that all of the dates are correct, be sure this time to also pay close attention to any extra spaces or commas. If the Hebrew date is "ohr le . . . " be sure to double and triple check the secular date, since, as stated above, it happens too often that the secular date is wrong.

It is important to remember that, if a posuk is used, most hold that the invitation needs to be put into geniza, or, at the minimum, doubled-bagged in plastic bags and placed respectfully in the garbage pail. Check with your Rabbi, but it is much kinder to all if you simply try to avoid such inadvertent problems for the community.

3. Quantity:

Though the best advice is probably to ask your knowledgeable friends how they figured it out, a good rule of thumb is to take the number of your guests, divide by two (most are probably couples), and add 50. If it is usual to send separate, individual invitations to each of the unmarried friends of the young couple (rather than include the friend in his/her family's invitation), remember to also add that additional amount of invitations to the total as well.

Order your invitations in increments of 50, as most printers will charge the same amount of money for 325 invitations as for 350. However, clarify before ordering where your individual printer changes the price. No matter what the amount of invitations you are ordering, remember that it is always a good idea to have several extra ones printed. (I actually know several people who had to go to the expense of completely reprinting their invitations because they didn't order enough, and the families involved did not want to send out invitations that were merely photocopied!)

Always carry three or four unaddressed invitations with you wherever you are going until the actual time of the wedding, since, invariably, you will meet someone whom you forgot to invite. With the extra invitations in your purse, you will be able to simply whip one out and hand it to them personally.

Save any extra, unused invitations to include in the couple's wedding album, to give as a nice, framed "first anniversary gift," and even to give to their children, for their own albums. These extra invitations also make a cute "place card" at the head tables for the couple at their first bris, pidyon haben etc.

4. Extras:

Print dinner cards, RSVPs and thank-you notes (if you want them) at the same time as the invitations. There are several reasons for doing this: first, it will be cheaper than doing each thing separately; second, all printed material to do with your affair will thus be completely coordinated in terms of paper, color, and style; and, third, you won't have to worry about doing it later — a big plus.

It is usually cheapest to print in black lettering. If your couple has their hearts set on gold printing, ask the printer to show you maize or mustard-yellow. This often looks just like gold printing, but is much, much cheaper.

5. Thank you notes:

Keep the printed text of these as simple as possible, perhaps merely the names of the couple, and print a lot of them. Your newlywed couple will thus be able to use the cards later on as notes and/or greeting cards, and even be able to attach them to wedding and/or Bar Mitzva gifts that they will be giving to others in the future. Remember that printing on two sides of the paper will increase the price considerably.

6. Timing:

The printing process can take at least a week or so, but things can always happen such as slowdowns in deliveries of the particular paper that was ordered, the sudden need to order additional envelopes, and/or problems with proofreading or the computers, so try not to leave your visit to the printer to the last minute.

After you receive your finished invitations, remember that you still need to address the envelopes and send them out, all of which takes time, and you want your guests to receive the invitations about 4-6 weeks before the event (in Israel, 1-2 weeks beforehand). It is therefore wise to go to see the printer as early as you can after setting the wedding date and finalizing the hall (at least 6-8 weeks before the date). Give yourself enough leeway so that if something does go wrong, you will not have to send apology notices as well, chas vesholom. (Note: if your wedding coincides with a national or a religious holiday, leave an extra week or two for delivery of the mail.)

May all of Am Yisroel have only Happy Events.

[Appreciation to Talya Shachar-Albocher, of The Mazel Tov Studio, Jerusalem, who contributed some information for this article.]


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