Planning an Ethical Wedding - Part Two: Invites and Registries
Part 2: Invites and Registries
The invites were one of the elements of wedding planning that gave me some anxiety. I didn't want to send a bunch of wasteful paper mail that was going to pile up in a landfill. I considered using only electronic invites and web-site based RSVP utilities, but it really didn't feel like the right fit for our wedding. We also had too many people on our guest-list who we knew wouldn't use the online tools. So we decided to go with paper save-the-dates and invitations, and tried to be as thoughtful as possible about them.
We used Minted.com to print our save-the-dates, opting for postcards in order to skip the extra paper waste that comes from envelopes or folded cards. I especially loved that Minted offers post-consumer recycled paper! They can even print names and addresses on the postcards (or envelopes) for you. My mother also used Minted to print invites for one of my bridal showers, and they turned out great too. Click here to get $25 off your first order!
For the wedding invitation suites, I worked with an AMAZING local designer (who also did an absolutely incredible job as our day-of coordinator) to create a custom design. I was adamant about making sure everything was printed on recycled, eco-friendly paper and card stock. Our choice of colors was slightly limited, but not so much that we couldn't find the perfect paper for our invitations. I expected that the recycled paper stock would increase our cost somewhat, but actually the difference was so negligible that we didn't pay any extra for our invitations to be printed on the more eco-friendly option.
After the wedding, we were going to use Minted again for Thank You postcards, but we actually found a local print shop that was able to design and print similar postcards on recycled card stock for an even better price. If you have similar printers in your area, it's wonderful to support small local businesses. If you live somewhere more remote, or don't have similar businesses nearby, Minted.com is a wonderful option.
What I would do differently: My original plan was to only print and send RSVP cards to people who I knew would not use the RSVP page of our website. I figured it would reduce the paper and ink waste, and save some $ on stamps too. I let myself get talked out of it, because "that's not how it's done," and I ended up regretting it. We did go with postcards (printed on recycled paper stock) to eliminate the need for envelopes and get cheaper postage, but I wish I had gone with my gut on this one. A large portion of the RSVPs did come in through our wedding website, and I still cringe a little when I think of all the postcards (with unused stamps adhered to them) that wound up in recycling bins, or worse, garbage cans. If you're planning a wedding, you'll read and hear plenty of advice about how to do things. The best advice I can give is to ignore any advice, including mine, that doesn't feel right for you or your wedding.
When you start planning a wedding, everyone tells you that one of the first things you should do is set up a registry. I suppose the theory is that people are going to start sending you engagement gifts right away, or bring gifts to an engagement party. I rushed to get a registry set up but found that really, I could have waited. You have no way to tell people about your registry until shower and wedding invitations go out, so you can probably wait until then! In any event, I did lots of research early on and found some wonderful online registries. Pretty much every website has a registry option, and that's great. If you have one website where you like to do all of your shopping for ethical products, go ahead and set up a registry. I was looking for something a little more versatile. I wanted to add items from various online merchants and boutiques, along with a few unorthodox items to my registry. So I searched for a website that would aggregate items from all over the web as well as custom "items" I could create on the registry.
ThankfulRegistry.com was absolutely perfect. Adding items could not have been easier. I installed the "Bookmarklet" into my browser, and anytime I came across an item online that I wanted to add to the registry, I just clicked the "Add to Thankful" browser button. For more custom items, I could upload my own photo and add a web address to link it to. We used that for items like donations to our favorite charities, hand made gifts, or memberships to local cultural organizations.
The versatility of the Thankful Registry allowed us to add items from Etsy shops, totally obscure online retailers, and even suggestions for items from garage sales! Trey and I had an absolute blast curating a beautiful selection of items that we knew we would really love to have for the rest of our lives. I especially appreciated that we could be specific about the kinds of companies we wanted to support and what products we wanted to bring into our home. We selected things that we knew were made ethically, under fair and eco-friendly manufacturing practices. Some of my favorite items that we registered for were:
- Donations to the Malala Fund
- Kapok-filled bed pillows
- Green Chef Meal Delivery Service (still unfulfilled, in case you want to get us a gift! hint hint)
- Hand-Knit Blanket that provides another blanket to a local homeless shelter, and
- The Cooking Workshop we got to experience on our honeymoon in Barcelona!
ThankfulRegistry keeps track of gift givers for you, so after the wedding you can log in and use the already-prepared list to start writing thank you notes. Givers can even opt to have you send them a paperless thank you note. How great is that?! And the template is so customizable and easy-to-use that it's perfect for baby registries, birthday wish lists, or whatever else you might need to create a registry for!
What I Would Do Differently: In addition to Thankful, we also created a Target registry. We thought some of our more "traditional" wedding guests would prefer a more traditional registry option. We also liked the clean aesthetic of Thankful, and wanted to keep the smaller, less personal items on the separate Target registry. I ended up wishing we had combined the two. It seemed that most people went with Target because it was familiar, so the Thankful registry was largely overlooked, along with many of our favorite gift items. It would have been just as easy to add the items from Target right onto the Thankful registry page.