Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Stamp of approval

So far, I have made no plans for my wedding-day hair. I'm not planning to wear any jewelry on the big day, aside from my engagement ring. I'm not sure I'll bother with bouquets, for myself or anybody else. We're not having favors or custom-embossed cocktail napkins, and we're very happy using the toasting glasses the venue provides (if we have a champagne toast at all). I've decided none of this stuff is important, and I'm a little afraid of what will happen if I let myself start thinking it is important. I want to keep the number of details I need to stress about down to a minimum. But when it comes to stationery, I care. I want everything to be just right. To me, how we express ourselves on paper matters much more than the flowers or the jewelry or the hair ever will. "You're not a bridezilla," the fiance once said. "You're just a stationeryzilla."

You may have already figured this out, because some time ago I complained about the inconveniently timed release of the USPS's new "wedding" stamps. To catch you up: the rate for a one-ounce letter increased from 39 to 41 cents just before we sent out our save-the-dates, meaning I couldn't use the old "wedding" design, and the new one didn't come out until just after our big mailing.

I liked the old design, and I loved that the two-ounce "invitation" stamp was a soft green that more or less matched our color scheme. Pretty, right? I also liked that the two-ounce rate actually decreased, from 63 to 58 cents, meaning we save 5 cents on every invitation. But then I saw the new stamps, and now I wish they'd kept the old ones in stock, because I would gladly have paid that extra 5 cents to avoid using this design:I hate it. First of all, I hate the way Valentine hearts are always trying to creep into wedding stuff; it feels so very cheesy, and not at all reflective of the kind of "love" our wedding (or any wedding) should be about. I much preferred the birds. The worst part of this design isn't the overall heart shape, though -- it's the cutesy little cartoon heart that sneaked its way into the center of the design. Ugh. But more than that, I hate the color. I could have lived with the stamp in purple (the color of the 41-cent version), but I hate pink, and I especially hate this cotton-candy shade of pink. Does it say "wedding" to you? To me it says "13th-birthday sleepover party." And I hate the girliness of it. This isn't a bachelorette party, it's a wedding, and to me that bright pink implies that the celebration is really all about the bride (and that the decisions are being made by and for her). It says, "My future husband has not seen these invitations, because I don't want to bother his big important male brain with silly frilly things like our wedding."

Am I overthinking this? Probably. But I wanted to put a lot of thought into this aspect of our planning. And no matter how much I thought about it, I simply couldn't get past the hideousness of that stamp. So I spent some time weighing my alternatives. Personalized stamps -- the kinds that you can order online, where you supply the image and the stamps are printed with a bar code -- didn't seem right; we're not really a "personalized stamps" kind of couple, and we're definitely not a "let's spend extra money for no reason" kind of couple. If the invitations would cost us 58 cents to send, I wanted to spend 58 cents and no more. I didn't want to combine multiple stamps, for the same reason (plus, it would be more effort to put two or three stamps on every envelope, and I decided it would make us look disorganized and/or extravagant). So that left me with only two options: The "wedding" design shown above, and this. I am sure you all recognize Margaret Chase Smith, who, in 1948, became the first Republican* woman elected to the U.S. Senate and the first woman to serve in both houses of Congress in 1948 (having already served in the House). She will have the honor of guiding our invitations through the mail, because nothing says "come celebrate our union" like a black-and-white portrait of a pioneering stateswoman.

At least there were lots of good 41-cent options to choose from for our response-card envelopes, so I abandoned the "wedding" design entirely and went with the festive Celebrate! design, although I did consider sustaining our civic-pride theme with the exciting new Jury Duty stamp. Maybe it would be right for your next party?

* I am loath to politicize our wedding invitations, and I wondered if perhaps the "Republican" thing should give me pause. But my quick research led me to Smith's 1950 "Declaration of Conscience" speech (an achievement not mentioned by the USPS), in which she said: "I don't want to see the Republican Party ride to political victory on the Four Horsemen of Calumny -- Fear, Ignorance, Bigotry and Smear." And I decided I could be comfortable with her credentials. (Of course, she went on, "I doubt if the Republican Party could -- simply because I don't believe the American people will uphold any political party that puts political exploitation above national interest." ...No comment.)


Marla said...

If you truly feel you're lacking custom embossed cocktail napkins, I have about nine boxes of Marla & Josh napkins from my wedding that you're more than welcome to take. My mother ordered them in an electric blue (not represented anywhere else in our color scheme) and Stage Deli–type font (not represented anywhere else in our printed matter), and the hotel forgot to put them out. This is reminiscent of my bat mitzvah, where the hotel forgot to put out the red Marla napkins (in the same font as the wedding ones ... I sense a theme ... a theme that was never mine), so my parents used them at every party they had at their home for the next seven years or so just to get rid of them. I was going to use ours this Thanksgiving, but if you want them for your wedding, I'm happy to switch over to Plan B.

Think of the conversation at your reception! "Look! What delicous appetizers! I shall devour them! [Guest finishes chewing, then looks down] Marla and Josh? I thought I was at Mollie and Tim's wedding! Who ARE these people?!? And what an ugly blue! Who am I supposed to toast?!? Where ARE we?!? The only thing I truly understand in this world is why nobody has used this font since 1987!"

I think you made the perfect choice for your stamps. Not only is Margaret Chase Smith far more sightly than the barfy pink hearts, she has proven to get things done, to make things happen — something the barfy pink hearts have yet to prove of themselves. Your invitations are in safe, capable hands.

Mollie said...

That would be pretty hilarious. Our guests would be so disoriented. We'd probably even lose a few.

I think these hotels in your past have been doing you a favor.

Maybe we should embrace our stamps and do a whole Margaret Chase Smith-themed wedding. Have her face stamped on our napkins. Print out a timeline of her legislative achievements and include it in our ceremony programs. Lord knows it wouldn't be the dumbest wedding theme anyone ever thought of.