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Choosing the right invitations for your Jewish event

invites

When a member of the Toronto Jewish community organizes a simcha (celebration), the party is not just for the celebrant themselves; it’s for their friends, family and other acquaintances. That is the reason why everything from bar and bat mitzvahs, weddings, brit milahs (circumcisions) and other Jewish lifestyle events don’t happen in isolation, but rather in a social and celebratory atmosphere.

And when it comes time to invite friends, family, acquaintances and (perhaps) members of the wider Toronto Jewish community to your simcha, sending out the proper invitations is of utmost importance, for a number of reasons. But sending out invitations isn’t necessarily as simple as licking a stamp and sending out a postcard with a date and location; invitations are as integral to a celebration as the music, food and photographers, so before settling on the first option that you come across, factor in these six considerations, and help make your event a smash success for both the hosts and all the guests.

The first consideration is, of course, financial. Depending on the style, materials used, size and even type of text, the price per invitation could be as inexpensive as $2.50 for the invitation itself and $1.75 for the reply card, according to Toronto Life magazine. And of course, for those who can afford it, the sky is the limit. But even for relatively inexpensive invitations and reply cards, $4.50 is a very competitive price (plus HST, of course). In addition, those figures do not take into account postage, either, which includes the initial invitation plus the reply card, which will add about two dollars to each invite. So for 200 invites sent at a total cost of $6.50 each, the grand total would amount to $1,300 plus taxes, or about $1,500 in total. Add in a couple minor frills such as decorative paper or text, and the price can easily skyrocket to close to $10 per invitation and reply card. And that doesn’t even include physical ‘Save the Date’ or Thank You cards.
So unless you are working with a nearly unlimited budget, it is well worth your time to evaluate other options for finding invitation options which are right for your simchas.

One increasingly popular option is simply to make your own invitations, whether it’s for a bar or bat mitzvah, wedding, or any other kind of celebration. Plenty of websites offer handy tips and strategies for hosts to make their own invitations, and many of these options may work for you, but consider the time involved may be extensive, the finished product may not ultimately be professional or even clean looking (depending on your artistic abilities), and ultimately, the stress may not be worth the financial savings. So while making your own invitations and reply cards may work for many people, it won’t work for everyone, so keep your mind – and your options – open.

Another creative option is to create electronic cards, either for some or for all guests. This is a risky proposition for many hosts, as sending out physical cards has been a consistent practice for weddings and bar/bat mitzvahs for many years, and it may be seen by prospective guests – especially older ones – as a severe breach of etiquette. Nonetheless, as a cost consideration, it may be worth sending out invitations by e-mail, at least to some guests, and for those guests who will be offended if they don’t receive a physical card (or if they don’t use computers or e-mail), you can opt to send the majority of your invitees e-mail invitations, and only a select few physical invitations, sent in the mail. With that route, there is both financial savings as well as saving face from friends and family who would expect nothing less than a physical invitation in the mail.

There are also a number of factors which can affect the price of the invitations and reply cards themselves. For example, if your son or daughter is celebrating their bar or bat mitzvah with a Toronto Maple Leafs theme, it’s likely that the centre pieces and decorations (and maybe even the food and music) will reflect their tastes and interests. And if you opt for that theme, it only makes sense to have the invitations reflect it, as well. But copyrighted symbols and logos such as those used by the Toronto Maple Leafs will serve to dramatically increase the cost of the invitations. So while it would be a creative and clever way to continue the bar or bat mitzvah theme, it is well worth considering avoiding a copyrighted logo or symbol on your invitations to help keep prices at a minimum, whenever possible.

Another way to keep invitation prices low is to consider the cost of postage, and to keep the size of the invitations (and as a result, the envelopes) small. For example, Canada Post charges standard rates for standard sized envelopes, but as soon as the letter sizes increase to ‘Oversized,’ the prices for stamps can double in price, or more. So for 300 invitations, just the postage will increase from about $150 to more than $300 if oversized envelopes are required, and even more if you are planning to send mail outside of Ontario. And while using regular sized invitations will certainly limit some of your creative options, it may be a small price to pay in order to save potentially hundreds of dollars as a result.

To help save money on postage, consider eliminating reply cards altogether. Instead of sending a postage-paid envelope to a prospective guest, where they will fill in their name, desired meal options, and then mail back to you their reply, consider simplifying the entire process. Instead, offer an e-mail address (it’s a good idea to register an e-mail specific for the celebration) where respondents can contact you directly, and where they can tell you if they are able to attend or not, what they would like to eat for dinner, and whether they will be bringing any guests with them.

Hosting a wedding or a bar or bat mitzvah in Toronto doesn’t have to break the bank. A few minor changes to invitations – changes that most guests probably won’t even recognize – and you could save yourself a few hundred dollars. It’s not for everyone, but it just might be right for you.