How to create your wedding invitations at no cost

Among the many and varied expenses of a typical wedding is the cost of the invitations. This cost is mostly affected by the number of guests you invite (the postage adds up quickly), but you will also find that the cost can be exacerbated by the wide variety of stationary from which to choose, the option to hire a calligrapher, and other elements that add to the elegance of your invitation's appearance. Some of these options are very appealing, but for the budget-conscious, completely unnecessary. Below you will find a variety of services through which you can invite guests to your wedding (or any other event) for free!

This is your most basic option. To compose an elegant invitation, simply put together your invitation text (a.k.a. "Copy") in a Word document or its equivalent. By using a program like Word, you can control what your background looks like (try inserting a photo and setting the transparency so that your copy can be read over it), choose a font that matches your personality, and also use clip art to add some extra decoration. Simply attach the document to your email message and send! Be sure to include a link to Google Maps (or similar online map service) in the body of your email so that your guests can easily look up customized directions to the ceremony and reception locations. For any small number of guests who do not have an email address, it is very easy to simply print out the invitation with a map printout and send by regular mail.

Evite is a simple to use online party invitation service that is very popular for smaller events such as birthday parties and small office celebrations; what you may not know is that it is also a great tool for inviting guests to your wedding ceremony and reception! It has a variety of wedding-themed invitation designs, will track your RSVPs, can link to your gift registry, and can also link to a map of your wedding location. It is a great way to keep things simple and centralized from your guest's point of view.

My Punchbowl
This website offers a wedding-specific invitation service, which will be ideal for anyone who is interested in an invitation that looks traditional. My Punchbowl offers Save the Date mailings, Invitation mailings, and an After Party page, which allows guests to share photos after the wedding. This service also helps you track your RSVP's and also offers several other tools to help make planning your wedding more convenient. Additionally, for those couples who are heavily involved in Facebook, Twitter, and other networking sites, My Punchbowl includes a feature that allows you to connect your event details to your friends on these sites.

WuFoo is a great option for all event invitations; you have a great deal of control over what your invitation will look like, and the RSVP's are tracked by the service. Of all the options, I believe that this offers the most professional looking invitations available online. You can include a Google map of your ceremony and reception's location complete with directions and even collect your guest's dining preferences!

In creating your own online wedding invitations, you may feel at a loss when it comes to putting together the copy for your invitation. What should you say and how should you say it? To a large extent, these choices should be personalized to your (the couple) preferences, but should also convey all the basic information about the event. Include the names of the person's to be wed, the location of the ceremony and reception, the time of the ceremony and reception, and the date of the event. The Wedding Invitation Wording website provides examples of formal invitation copy, however, you should not feel pressured to use formal language if it does not fit your style. A simple, "You're Invited!" will get the job done.

To review, there are a variety of options available to you in order to send invitations to your wedding at little to no cost.  Other benefits to sending invitations online via email, Evite, My Punchbowl, WuFoo, or similar service include:
-Saving time in addressing the invitations (no more afternoons spent addressing dozens of envelopes!)
-Easily track your RSVPs (no more paper cards with checkmarks to compile!)
-Easily send Save the Date notices and reminders to your guests at no additional cost
-Easily add guests at the last minute (if you so choose)
-Easily link or include Google maps showing your event location, allowing each guest to generate customized directions

You may feel that you are losing a few things by going paperless, however.  The things that you will lose include:
-The personalized feel of handwritten invitations
-The feeling of extravagance with paper invitations
-The keepsake of paper invitations

Overall, the benefits of using an online service far outweigh the disadvantages of going paperless.  Remember that the invitations to your wedding are only a means to let your guests know the basic information about your celebration and convey directions on how to get there.  By eliminating the cost of printing paper invitations, you are increasing the amount of money that you can spend on aspects of the wedding that are more important to both yourself and your guests.

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