Hey BABs! Wedding etiquette can sometimes feel overly formal and antiquated, but we’re here to help you navigate the ins and outs. This week’s advice request is about sending wedding announcements:
My fiance and I are planning a wedding in April of 2017. All of his family is in town and most likely all will attend, but most of my family is out of state. I have half of those who are able to travel as a definite, but may not come, some that will come no questions asked, and then there are some who I know will not come but will be very angry if they did not get an invitation. I’m wondering the worth of wedding announcements. I just don’t see the point of sending an invite and keeping them in mind for the budget when I know they won’t come. However, after some googling there are definitely opposing views on these — whether or not they are worth it or even rude to send or when to send. I would appreciate your opinion. Thank you!
Guest List Half Empty
Dear Half Empty,
First, a word about invitations vs. announcements:
Invitations vs. Announcements
Invitations are sent to anyone you would like to attend the wedding, whether or not you expect them to attend. It’s a good idea to send an invitation even if you’re almost 100% sure someone cannot attend — in part because something might change and suddenly your guest can attend, but also because the guest’s response is unrelated to the invitation. Sending the invite just means you’d like them to come.
Announcements are sent as a courtesy to family and friends that you could not invite. Although it’s not traditional to do so, some couples are adding a line stating that they regret not being able to invite everyone they would have liked, and that line can help to ease your guilt as well as to smooth over any hurt feelings from the uninvited. Announcements should be sent after the wedding, sometime between 5 minutes (yep, some people mail them on the way to the reception!) and two weeks following the wedding. Definitely do not send announcements in advance of the wedding.
On that note, some people confuse Save The Dates (aka STDs) with announcements, but they have completely opposite purposes. Announcements are sent after the wedding to those who were not invited, and save the dates are sent before the wedding to anyone you will invite. Sending an announcement before the wedding to someone who will not be invited can create serious awkwardness, as can sending save the dates to anyone you aren’t sure you’ll invite. (Asking someone to save the date for your wedding and then not inviting them is universally understood to be rude.)
Note, too, that many announcement designs assume an elopement. That’s great if you’ve eloped, but if you don’t consider your wedding to be an elopement, look for more general wedding announcements.
Order for Sending Stationery
So getting back to your question, you don’t have to send anything other than invitations, but if you do, the order should be:
- Save The Dates (to invited guests),
- Invitations (to invited guests & their S.O.s), then
- Announcements (to people who were not invited).
Are Announcements Rude?
Announcements might be considered rude by some who don’t know or understand the etiquette, or by those who are miffed they weren’t invited. But sending announcements isn’t a rude gesture — just the opposite. It’s a nod to those who weren’t able to be there with you. But they’re also not essential to send, and you could choose to skip them.
What To Do?
One suggestion is to skip the announcements altogether and only send invitations — to all of your closest family and friends who would otherwise be invited. This saves you some time in designing and mailing stationery, at the very least, although you might end up spending around the same as if you ordered the announcements instead. It’s a safer option for avoiding hurt feelings, though.
If you’re concerned about allocating so much of your budget to the reception, here are a couple of other options:
- Trim that guest list, hard core! Start with plus-ones, coworkers, third cousins thrice removed whom you’ve never met, and dare I say it, possibly even friends you haven’t seen in over a year.
- Consider using an A list and a B list. Don’t worry, you won’t be telling anyone which list they’re on. If you go this route, make sure your RSVP date for the A list is much earlier than you need for your caterer and other counts (rentals, bar, etc.), and then any time you receive a declined invitation from someone on the A list you can immediately extend an invitation to someone on the B list. It’s a bit controversial for obvious reasons (ranking friends and family blows, for sure), but it allows you to cut it closer to your max guest count number.
And to save costs on stationery in other ways:
- Consider leaving out RSVP cards and asking guests to RSVP via your wedding website or by phone. You’ll save on the cost of the RSVP card and also the envelope and postage.
- Choose stationery without bells and whistles. Leave out the envelope liners and belly bands, skip the vellum leaflets, hand calligraphy and even the inner envelopes.
- Skip printed maps and other inserts. Put all that stuff on your wedding website, and include the link at the bottom of your invitation.
Whatever you decide, my recommendation is to find a way to invite your flesh and blood, even if it means cutting expenses elsewhere. And a final word to the wise: Calculate your expenses based on the maximum number of guests, not the minimum, and you’ll always come out ahead!
– Party on!
Planning a wedding in Northeast Ohio? Here’s where you can find me for wedding planning assistance.