My roommate and I have gotten into the habit of sticking invitations we receive on our refrigerator and then taking them down as the events occur. Between the two of us, at one point earlier this year, we had four save-the-date cards, several bridal showers, I think six wedding invitations, a birthday party invite and at least one baby shower. A few of them are still there. Our fridge (and I'm not talking just the front, but parts of each side, as well) was, and is, crowded.
Once the events are over with, though, we have different ways of handling these little bits of formality. My roommate tends to throw the invitations away. But I don't do that...at least not with the wedding invitations. This may sound completely ridiculous to you, but I put mine in what I've come to call The Wedding File.
I've had it for years now, stretching back to college. It's a blue accordion folder and it's filled (although not completely), with invitations I've received to the weddings of friends and family members over the years, along with some of the wedding programs. If I think a bridal shower invite is particularly neat, I might save it, too. A few good friend's baby announcements have also found a home there.
For example, my friend Marie sent out a pre-wedding events invitation for out-of-town guests that included a bowling night, and the invitation itself is a round bowling ball card. Liz's wedding program, in addition to listing members of the wedding party and the Mass parts, includes quotes about marriage and love from such disparate sources as Dr. Seuss and Pope John Paul II. Joe and Mary had a fall wedding, and their invitation is covered in bronze-colored leaves. The border on Amy's invitation are graceful raised calla lilies, the same flowers she carried as her bouquet. Some are very formal, printed on heavy cream-colored card stock. One or two, printed on home printers, reflect brides and grooms on a budget. Others are riots of colorful creativity. My friend Sabrina even printed her own postcard wedding invitations on the letterpress she stores in her garage.
I've saved them because, one day, if it's God's will, I might need to refer to them for ideas to help me put my own wedding invitation together. In fact, several friends have borrowed the file for reference purposes while planning their own weddings (in fact, after loaning The Wedding File to my best friend while she was planning her nuptials several years ago, I got it back with some extras: she'd inserted several invitations to weddings she'd been to).
A few days ago, though, after calling in my regrets to a bridal shower I can't attend (ironically, because it's the same day as a wedding I've already committed to) and almost immediately after mentally reminding myself to put the invitation into the file, I found myself thinking "You know, maybe I should just throw all those invitations out. I haven't needed them yet. Maybe I never will."
Later that night in talking to a friend (herself finalizing plans for her own wedding in the new year), I told her about my random thought. And she quickly said, "Oh, no, keep it! It will come in so handy." She went on to say she wished she'd had something like it. "Although, you know, if you do toss it, you might find you need it not too long afterwards." Laughing, I joked that I should put it in the garbage immediately, and maybe I'd meet someone sooner.
After a little bit of thought, though, I decided to keep it. Yes, I'm a bit of a pack rat (I'll admit, it runs in my family), and some people would probably tease me if they found out I had such a thing. And yes, at some point, possibly during a move, I will get rid of the file and it's contents. But in the mean time, the file is also a time capsule; a reminder of good times and friendships, some of very long standing. There's a little bit of regret, mixed in, for some of the friendships that have faded, but overall, the file is a representation of so much love. Keeping it appeals to my romantic, hopeful nature, and I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing.