Invitation Anatomy 101 - Optional Components II - Part 3 of 3

Almost there! This is the third lesson of my "Invitation Anatomy 101" list of articles. Remember, this article continues the listing of common Optional Components typically seen in invitations. While many examples are directly relevant to wedding invitations, I've tried to be broader to include the general invitation and corporate invitation components as well.

If you haven't already done so, I highly encourage reading my article "Invitation Anatomy 101 ? Typical Components" first. This article continues from "Invitation Anatomy 101 ? Optional Components I":

Optional (or Additional Components) CONTINUED:

6) Seating Cards

  • Seating cards may be used to identify the proper spaces each guest should be seated at. These cards may be made for both the ceremony/formal event and reception. For weddings, ceremony cards are also known as 'pew cards', whereas reception cards are considered 'place cards'.
  • There are many variations of seating cards. Some seating cards are simply number cards, while others may only discern 'bride's side' and 'groom's side', or main auditorium, balcony level (for annual meetings), etc. Some seating cards can even state each guest's full name.
  • Seating cards are usually small in size and may be folded horizontally. They usually match the invitation style exactly or coordinate with the theme and colours of the event or company logo (for corporate events). There are countless style options and variations available.

7) Thank You Cards

  • With respect to weddings, it is not only proper etiquette, but an expectation that the newlywed couple sends out Thank You cards. Your guests' wedding or shower gifts should be acknowledged in this form (even in addition to other personalized expressions of gratitude).
  • Thank You cards have evolved over the years. The traditional card used to be a small book-fold card no bigger than 3"x 5" containing a small handwritten expression of gratitude on one side, and a wallet-size wedding picture on the other side.
  • Some modern alternatives include: Postcards that features a collage of wedding pictures on one side and a gratitude expression on the reverse; Cards that emulate the style and format of the invitation but contain the gratitude expression instead (picture may or may not be included); or the utilization of digital picture printing or even electronic Thank You cards.
    • Note: Electronic Thank You cards should always follow in conjunction with printed cards.

  • Nowadays, less couples are opting for the inclusion of photographs in their Thank You cards. Since the trend is towards smaller more intimate weddings, supplying photographs has become a permissible omission.
  • Companies may also wish to send out "Acknowledgement cards" to express appreciation to their guests for attending their event. I have seen the use of Acknowledgement cards/Thank You cards for smaller, more elite VIP events where guest lists may include diplomats, industry leaders, top company executives, politicians, and other dignitaries. Besides being a great reminder and advertising opportunity, it's also proper etiquette. Oftentimes, an appropriate gift accompanies the Acknowledgement/Thank You cards.

8) Residence Cards (or Change of Address Cards)

  • For the post-wedding couple: Residence cards (also called "At Home Cards") are an elegant way to communicate your new home or residence together to all your friends and family.
  • These are small cards that may be sent with invitations or shortly after the wedding. They should include your names, your new home or residence address, phone number, and move-in date.
  • For companies: Change of Address cards are critical to companies planning a major location change. Change of Address cards can stylishly inform your key business partners and clients of your new location. Address Cards have a better chance of getting noticed and acknowledged over common email, faxes, etc. They can easily save a lot of aggravation, time, and money - not to mention added exposure to clients and potential clients.

9) Website Cards

  • First, a bit of background: Many companies offer 'free web space' on the internet where you can design a website using some generic templates. Some companies are wedding-themed and offer couples an easy and 'low-tech' way of constructing a "wedding website." The advantages of a "wed site" are numerous. You can personalize a space on the internet that is accessible by anyone in the world. You can update it with pictures, wedding details, gift registry information, quotations, letters, stories, and even solicit creative contributions from family and friends.
  • Website cards are physical cards that can be included with your invitations directing your guests to your "wed site". Essentially the cards contain your names, the website address (http://www.) and your email address(es).
  • For companies: By now, most companies have websites (those that don't will surely get one to stay competitive). However, when companies first launch websites, a lot of money often gets thrown towards creative ways to market the website to the desired audience. Website cards ? created much like miniature Announcement cards could be elegant and stylish and like Change of Address cards, they would get noticed. Nowadays, since most companies have a website and plaster it everywhere all over their letterheads, promotional items, and literatures, website cards have a role as a revived nostalgic marketing tool from the past.

10) Electronic Cards

  • Theoretically, any of these components ? including invitations ? can be created and sent electronically. While the possibility of exploring electronic alternatives to physical cards is a tempting one, it is not recommended. The dreams of a "paperless society" remain just that. What I mean is that nothing appropriately replaces stationery and physical invitations.
  • Also, the proliferation of spam, unsolicited emails, virus email attachments, ad-ware, and spy-ware poses problems for the future of Electronic cards: 1) Filtering software may inadvertently delete an electronic card attachment or notice before its received, 2) Email is still not accepted as a 'formal' alternative to traditional invitations, 3) Given the 'cyber-battle' with spammers, email invitations suffer credibility and image problems, 4) Email screams frugality which undermines the nature of formal invitations.
  • Weddings are still considered formal and traditional events. Even if every one of your guests is an active user of the internet, electronic cards and greetings (if sent) should always be sent in conjunction with traditional invitations.
  • Acceptance of electronic cards as substitutes for invitations or invitation components is not yet a reality and will likely remain so for the foreseeable future.

11) Registry Cards

  • Not just for weddings anymore ? gift registries can be made for baby showers, graduations, retirements, anniversaries, house-warming parties, etc.
  • Many retail companies accustomed to registries print and offer their own special 'registry cards' that displays their logo. A registry card announces an active registry with a retailer.
    • NOTE OF INTEREST: There is still some controversy over whether information regarding gift registries is better communicated through word-of-mouth rather than through invitations. At present, gift registry cards are quite normal and ubiquitous in the wedding invitation world. Ultimately, it is a personal choice to make.

Again, the list could truly fill several more pages easily. New components are being created all the time to fill the need to communicate specific messages through an invitation method. Also, other factors such as religious and cultural traditions may be incorporated into these or additional component of your invitation. Remember, part of the uniqueness of custom invitations is the personalized elements that make your invitation ? uniquely yours!

Laura Paladino's work has been featured locally and nationally across print and television. Her public and commercial clients range from brides to wedding and event planners to celebrities in Canada and the United States. For additional articles and resources, information on Laura Paladino, her invitation design collections, or her select bridal boutique products and studio services, visit http://www.laurapaladino.com

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