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Planning made easy with free event invitation services

By Laura Powell

Today, hundreds of marketing channels help churches spread the word. Some of them, like creating a HTML-designed email, can be quite technical. If you do not have a designer, HTML experience or a good email service provider, then creating these emails may seem daunting. Fortunately, some great free or low-cost services will help you send beautiful email event invitations and capture RSVPs.

Email invitation services help you:

  • Set up the event with date, time and location
  • Send reminders or updates notifying guests of changes in plans
  • Repost the number of RSVPs or guest comments
  • Send special messages to select groups
  • Link to a map and provide directions

Some email invite services even offer features to help with organization of food sign-up, budget or sharing photos and videos of the event.

Here are some of our favorite email invitation services:

Celebrations - Free for up to 75 recipients for email invitations.
In an effort to make the process quick and simple, Celebrations has all the steps on one page to build your invitation. One cool feature Celebrations offers is the ability to share pictures from the event after it ends. This service can also share via Facebook and Twitter with an efficient RSVP tracker. Celebrations also offers a service to print and stamp paper invitations if you want to go the traditional route for your event and save time. Celebrations can also create paper invitations, if you prefer.

Punchbowl – Free for up to 100 guests via email.
This full party-planning service has some extra features that some other services lack. One useful feature is the ability to send a “Save the date” before the actual invitation. If you want input from guests on scheduling, Punchbowl gives you an option to let guests suggest a better time. Punchbowl charges nothing to collect donations via PayPal, which makes this service especially appealing for churches and community service events. It also has tools such as a venue finder or online potluck list and gift registry. Like Celebrations, Punchbowl can also be a service for paper invitations. After the event, you can use Flickr or YouTube to share photos or video through Punchbowl.

Evite – Free:
When you think of online invitations, this might be the first service that comes to mind because it is the most established. Evite has a huge selection of designs from which to choose, and it will allow you to customize the invitation. It can collect RSVPs, send automatic reminders, has a tool to figure a food budget and allows you to share photos after the event. Evite was behind other services in offering Facebook integration but has recently started offering this feature for help with reaching guests.

Google Calendar – Free:
While Google calendar does not make the invite pretty or have the features of the other services, it can be a simple and quick way to spread the word. If the event is for a small group like a Bible class or Bible study group, you could even use the simple Google calendar to set up an event. Just set up the event in the calendar, fill out the time and description and add contacts. All you need are guests’ email addresses. They do not have to be part of a service or have a Google account. It is a piece of cake!

For physical invitations, check out these free and low-cost Rethink Church advertising resources.