Friday, April 12, 2013

The Mysterious Double Envelope... Where did it come from?

Photo by Envelopments

Love a good mystery?
Ever wonder the origin of the mysterious double envelope? Today, it is still standard practice for the use of double envelopes in almost any wedding invitation suite. The outer envelope is used for addressing and mailing of the invitation, while the inner envelope is used to specifically invite those individuals who you would like to attend the ceremony and reception. 

 In order to find the purpose of this old-time tradition, we must go back to some of the earliest examples of wedding invitations. In the Middle Ages, illiteracy was profound among the populations of the world. There were few social classes wealthy enough to afford reading and writing skills. Up until the middle of the 1700’s, most families would employ a town crier to announce the happy wedding day amongst the crowd in the town square. All who were in attendance for the announcement were invited; otherwise the news was merely spread through word of mouth. 

For some of the royal families, who could afford the luxurious matrimony practices, invitations were hand written using calligraphy from trained English monks. This practice was extremely expensive and therefore rarely done, especially considering not many of the population could read them. On many of these invitations the family crest would be present so that the many illiterate individuals would be able to identify who was getting married.
Back in those days, the postal service was still a new idea. Because of the available modes of transportation, items were either sent by horseback, horse and carriage, or even sometimes by foot. This was obviously not the cleanest, nor the most reliable delivery system. The mail would become covered by dirt, roughed up, and many times torn considerably throughout the process. Because of this, the double envelope was born! 

The use of the double envelope was employed to ensure the invitation, which was such a large expense, remained intact. The post would be delivered to the maids or servants of the household. They would then shed the dirty and torn outer envelope to leave the crisp and clean inner envelope, which was then handed to the specified invitees.
Nowadays, the postal service is extremely more reliable {and might I say, cleaner!}. However, this practice of the double envelopes is still used to present the formality of the occasion. Not only are you able to specify your guests on the inner envelope, but the number of envelopes used dictates the formality of your wedding and sets the tone for what the guests should expect. 

So now that you know the origin of the double envelope, you can appreciate the royal tradition, standard, {and cleanliness!} that it brings to your wedding invitation suite.

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