Two of my very favorite things in the whole world are etiquette and paper. This is a big part of why I love my job in magazine publishing so much and why – despite the fact that I also love the Internet and actually managed my company’s Web site for some time – I really, really hope paper-and-ink magazines never go away. I can see many benefits to a Kindle or something similar (especially since I’m a fast reader and generally have to pack approximately 50 pounds of books to sustain me over, say, a week-long vacation), but I just don’t think I could ever get the same kind of comfort from a computer screen that I get from the feel and smell of a paper book.
As for etiquette, I think this probably started in high school when my best friend and I became obsessed with Miss Manners. This is an obsession, I found to my surprise and delight, that my father shares, and all through college, he would clip out Miss Manners columns and mail them to me in my dorm rooms or basement apartments.
Where paper and etiquette overlap, you find stationery, and that’s when I truly go crazy. (Oh, one other thing I love: stupid mnemonic devices, which is why I am happy to tell you that you can always remember the difference between “stationery,” the paper, and “stationary,” as in “does not move,” because stationery-with-an-e goes in an envelope-with-an-e. God, I’m a nerd.)
In general, I am sensible about money. I wouldn’t say I’m frugal by any means, but I’m also definitely not a spendthrift. In other words, I don’t clip coupons and I eat lunch out far too often, but I buy most of my clothes at Target and most of my beauty products at Rite Aid. But when it comes to stationery, I just can’t help myself. I love personalized stationery. I love thick, buttery-feeling ivory-colored envelopes. I love engraving, vellum, sophisticated fonts. I spend way too much money on paper. Even Ruby has her own personalized stationery for thank-you notes – and she can’t really write much yet beyond her own name.
So when I was throwing things together for my wedding last Friday (it all went very well, thanks), I had a brief twinge of regret that a guest list of 10 requires neither invitations nor wedding programs.
Miss Manners, of course, would say that this is just the circumstance for a wedding announcement, and I was ready to wholeheartedly agree and order up a couple hundred beautiful announcements on 110-pound paper.
But then, in doing a bit of Googling to try to find the right wording, I realized that there seems to be a huge backlash against wedding announcements by people – not avid readers of Miss Manners, clearly – who see them as a way to rub people’s faces into the fact that they weren’t invited to the ceremony while simultaneously soliciting a gift. (FYI: Gifts are generally required when you receive an invitation to someone’s wedding, even if you can’t attend, but are never required or expected for just a wedding announcement. Upon receipt of a wedding announcement, however, you can send a note – on fancy paper! – of well wishes to the new couple.)
I certainly don’t want to make anyone feel left out – this was an incredibly small ceremony consisting of our parents, our kids, my best friend who flew down from Chicago and the family who was generous enough to let us use their lovely home as a venue. I also really super don’t want to make anyone feel like we want gifts or even, necessarily, notes of well wishes. I just want 1. a chance to let family and friends know we were married and 2. an excuse to buy lots of thick, pretty paper.
What do you think? Would you be offended by a wedding announcement?
P.S. Miss Manners says I only have about two weeks after the wedding to send them out, so the clock is ticking here, folks.