Tag Archives: Save the dates

Save-the-dates are stupid

The whole reason we have a crop of anti-[wedding]-establishment blogs is because the stuff that is getting institionalised is growing. More things keep getting added into weddings. I guess this is how cultures evolve and forms get established. We’re certainly dealing with a different set of circumstances than say, a generation ago (how much easier would this entire thing be if most of my people lived in the same city? Jeez). And I’m all about adapting the institution of weddings to reflect the fact that our lives work differently. But sometimes the changes in wedding culture make things worse, instead of better. Like freakin’ save-the-dates.

First off, their acronym in wedding blogdom is STDs. Have you sent out your STDs yet? Snort! Ahem, continuing on…

Did you know that when you invite people to somethng, it’s polite to give them an out? The out is that they have other plans. That is THE acceptable excuse to use if you don’t want to attend something. Oh, except also you can say that you “won’t be able to make it”. Those are your two options. It’s very rude to let on that you just can’t be arsed, yknow? So when you’re inviting someone, you need to spare them the awkwardness of insulting you, and essentially give them an opportunity to say they already have other plans. But also you need to give them notice.

This is why, for a party at your house, you invite people say 10 days before – a nice period of time when most people won’t yet have that night blocked out, but it’s reasonable that they might. Works a treat. But weddings are more important. Plenty of people might want to make sure they can come, so they need more notice than 10 days. And this is why ettiquette guidelines say the guests should receive their invitations 6 weeks prior to the wedding. It’s a concession to the fact that weddings are a big deal.

But these days it’s worse. Damn our freaking international lives (I miss my family). If people want to come, 6 weeks is not nearly enough time! Even 6 months is barely enough when it comes to organising leave, booking flights etc. You don’t want to know how many people are emailing me going, We need to know the date already! (Aaaagh, I know you do! I feel bad I can’t tell you yet! I’m on it! I’ll let you know asap, I promise!)

So when it’s going to involve extensive travel and plan making, you need to give people A LOT of advance notice. Like ideally a year probably. Here’s the delicate part though: it’s too early to actually invite them, because that early on, they don’t have an out. They can’t say they’ve got prior plans. They can’t say that they’d love to be there but can’t make it – because look, you’ve given them a year to save up for it! That’s why we need STDs (heehee!), something that functions less as an invitation, and more as a kind of announcement, that doesn’t require any personal response.

And how do we make announcements these days? Why, with facebook of course. And group emails, so deliciously impersonal. I’m going to go with the email, to make sure the right people, and only the right people, see it. Here’s how announcements about big events in one’s life are not communicated this century: with specially designed little postcards, fridge magnets or other such gimmicky crap, featuring a picture of yourself and a cutesy saying like “Eat, drink and be married”. When someone has a baby, do they specially design and post out little cards? When someone is moving to Singapore, do they send out magnets with their name and new address or do they email relevant people and then write it in their status on facebook?

The conundrum that gives rise to the need for STDs (snigger, it never gets old) is relatively recent, and the issue of how to address it has not yet been fully resolved. It’s interesting to watch how weddings are in a state of flux about this one. STDs are not yet fully institutionalised, lots of people don’t hardly know about them, are confused by them and RSVP to them. The option I’ve seen much more often is to simply send the invitation itself really early on, but as discussed above, that has its issues. The wedding world has enough random crap, and it’s laughably unaffordable already. I feel like we need to fight back against the STDs (zinger!!) whilst we still have the chance to prevent them from becoming non-optional.

No STDs for me! (GOLD.)

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Rethinking Miss Manners: Invitations and formality

I finally got myself a copy of Judith Martin’s Miss Manners’ Guide to a Surprisingly Dignified Wedding, and I devoured that sucker more or less instantaneously. I love her approach to ettiquette: it mostly boils down to making people feel comfortable, and taking care not to offend them. It’s not about rules for the sake of form, and she’s unwavering in rejecting old traditions that make no sense. What I like best is how she applies her general prinicples to modern issues by creating contemporary versions of old forms. Just sometimes, though, she doesn’t get it quite right, like the whole destination wedding thing. Today I’m going to talk about invitations.

The levels of formality in correspondence, according to Miss Manners, go like this:
Third person engraved or calligraphy invitation
First person handwritten letter
Email
Phone call
Word of mouth.

Only Tier 1 is considered formal, Tier 2 is informal, and poor old email is “That most informal of communications”. So if you are sending out wedding invitations, your options are a formal engraved/letterpress/calligraphied invitation in third person, or to handwrite a letter on your supposed personal stationery where you say something like, “Dear Granny, I’d love you to come to our wedding…”

Well, first of all, she needs to get with the program on forms of printing that aren’t engraving or calligraphy (which incidentally, are damn expensive). That’s just not the world we live in. And then secondly, it’s not true that email can’t be formal. I’ve sent and received a billion formal business emails. Roughly, email today fills exactly the same niche that handwritten letters did before internet. It’s how we talk to our friends, it’s how we get business done.

So Miss Manners’ recommendations need to be adjusted down a notch. A handwritten letter is so rare these days, that that stuff is formal. And email is fine for almost anything she would want handwritten.

And as usual, I’m obsessed with the idea that wedding receptions need to reflect more our actual lives and culture, and reflect less our inner fantasy to live inside the world of Pride and Prejudice. Because unless you’re pretty wealthy, it’s not going to be like the Bingleys. And the bridal party will look like they’re at a different event from the guests. That’s a pet peeve.

USA-ian bloggers kind of give a different impression*, but the in the world that I live in, letterpress and calligraphy invitations do not happen even for the big special parties. My Dad is having a biggish 60th birthday bash this weekend – I’m pretty sure he just emailed people. 21st parties generally involve a home-designed, home-printed DIY invitation.

We want to have a beach party reception that maybe includes swimming: NOT FORMAL. So I’m not seeing the need for major *jazz hands* invitations. But, it is our wedding. It’s still very very special. I’m thinking handwritten cards, written in first person in my best cursvive (I’ve been loving this idea since this post on ESB).

And dudes, save-the-dates. Let’s not make that a thing, when it doesn’t need to be. That shit is going to be a group email. Done.

*Americans, seriously, do you guys really give out fancy invitations for birthday parties, or is that just blogdom misleading me? I’d actually love to know.