I love weddings. The romance, the comedy, the family and friends—it all makes for a wonderful day of celebration. But weddings aren't exactly gentle on the earth.
If you're getting married, chances are you're thinking about green wedding gowns and eco-friendly rings. But as you chose that perfect eco-friendly wedding invitation printed on recycled paper with plant-based inks, think about the other ways you can green your invitations.
Wedding invitations add up to a giant carbon footprint. Between invitation delivery and RSVP responses, there's a lot of transportation and mechanical sorting involved—all of which requires energy, which is probably supplied by an unclean energy source. Then there's the extra set of envelopes and paper associated with those RSVP cards. It all adds up, but thanks to technology, there are ways to minimize the impact—at least when it comes to those RSVPs.
Web developers have successfully tapped into RSVP services for companies hosting large events, but they've only started to recognize the opportunity in smaller personal events. Even though the market is small, there are lots of options out there.
Bwedd.com allows couples to design a wedding website and include a form listing names of people attending, total number of people attending (and not attending) and meal choices. RSVP service is just $12 for a year, so this will be a big money-saver. There are all kinds of other pages you can add to the website, including a photo album ($15/year), a parties and showers page ($6/year) and a gifts and registries page ($10/year).
SurveyMonkey.com is a survey site, but it also works well as an RSVP tool. They have a basic options which is free, but the only drawback is you can only collect 100 responses per survey. Assuming you have more than 100 guests, this could be a problem, but if you group a family into one RSVP, then you might be able to get away with this service. The nice thing about this website is you can collect responses through e-mail or a weblink, which makes it really easy for your guests?you just e-mail them the "survey" and they respond (or RSVP).
While Bwedd offers the frills and SurveyMonkey has live updates, I like Eventbrite.com for its user-friendly steps and its simple, clean look (plus you can't beat the price: free for all non-charging events). You can add a photo and register attendees, create questions, track RSVP responses and look at the status of invitations—plus they have a toll-free number you can call if you have a question.
DIY Option: If you or your fiance knows a little HTML code, you can probably set up your own website for tracking RSVPs. Be sure to include a login page so only your guests have access to the site.
What to Ask
Whether you're using an online service or developing your own site, keep your questions brief and simple. Be sure to include:
-Names of attendees (you'll want this for place cards)
- Number not attending
- Meal choice (if applicable)
Some sites have a comments section, but going through them all could take up a lot of your time. Consider nixing that option in favor of a section for food allergies so you can offer anyone with an allergy an alternative.
Directing Your Guests to Online RSVPing
Once you have an online RSVP service set up, print instructions on a little note card (business card size should suffice) to tuck in with the invitation. Then just sit back and wait for those RSVPs to roll in. Trust me—you'll be glad you used an online service when you don't have to add and re-add all those tallies for who's attending and what they want to eat!
Cara Smusiak writes on behalf of Naturally Savvy.com about how to live a more natural, organic and green lifestyle.