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My sister got married last week. It was unexpected. It was only a few hours before that I found out. I turned up to meet her because she’d invited me to afternoon tea.  Maybe I would have dressed smarter If I’d known what was in store. At least I wasn’t in jeans. However, what I was wearing didn’t matter; the surprise element gave the event a magic I’ve never experienced at a wedding before.

A surprise wedding is almost like an urban myth. It’s the kind of thing you hear about but never expect to experience. Mobile phones and Facebook broke the news post-ceremony. Congratulations poured in along with requests for photographs as proof!

In times gone by…

It did get me thinking about how such news would have travelled before the arrival of instant communication (when films and novels manage to give the impression that everyone was busy eloping). I imagine writing cases were located and put to use. Doorsteps playing host to the exchange of gossip. Maybe even the sending of a telegram. Imagine the ripples caused by a letter revealing that a wedding had unexpectedly taken place. Parents dutifully informing other relatives and friends. They in their turn passing on the news maybe with a little gleeful disapproval. A third party hearing about the news, not because they knew the couple but because the unauthorised activity was newsworthy in itself.

I’ve tried to describe the day in my diary. However, words struggle to do it justice. The couple, their small daughter and three guests barely outnumbering the officials at the registry office. The empty seats dominating the ceremony room. The photos of the wedding party provoking no comment from passersby on the South Bank (proving that no one pays attention to anything in London). The post-ceremony trip to the pub. The pizza dinner with toasts to the happy couple.

Are weddings analogue?

Despite the involvement of digital communications in weddings, from chat rooms for brides-to-be to wedding blogs to online gift registries to virtual photo albums, analogue still has a hold. Invitations often have a handwritten element. Likewise, RSVPs haven’t completely moved to email. Guest books are popular. Etiquette still insists (and rightly too) that a computer is not used to produce thank you letters and congratulations cards.

Maybe the small truth hidden here is that while the world of emails was once exciting (and big weddings were a novelty), it is now the handwritten letter and the use of snail mail that stand out as different and unexpected.

Have you ever been to a surprise wedding? Should wedding invitations retain an element of the handwritten?

We don’t sell wedding stationery but we do have lots of other lovely paper goods and stationery delights for you to indulge in over at the Ink Drops shop.