Should You Ever Go Paperless For Your Wedding Invite?

illustrated by Abbie Winters.

When an envelope made of fancy paper stock shows up in your mailbox, you know what's coming your way. Mailing out wedding invites is an essential stage of wedding prep, serving as a prelude to the ceremony and all the festivities that will ensue.

However, like the many other things that are going the paperless route, email wedding invitations are gaining popularity. Economically, we can understand the shift; sending digital invites is a much cheaper and convenient way to notify people of your big day. But, according to Lizzie Post, an etiquette author, co-president of The Emily Post Institute, and host of the Awesome Etiquette Podcast, going paperless is still not appropriate for a wedding. Ahead, the etiquette expert breaks the reasoning down for us, along with other important rules of thumb you should commit to memory.

Digital Is Less Sentimental

"Weddings are such an important event in a person's life. For many people, this might be the only formal event thrown in their honor," says Post. "A mailed invitation carries clout and sentimentality for such a revered event." Plus, many guests keep their invites as keepsakes, especially if they are close family members.

Amid all the digital invites and emails you receive on a daily basis, a wedding evite can easily be lost. "The formality of the invitation reflects the formality of the event," says Post. "A physical representation of this event in the communication stage is still important, even if it's a small wedding."

Consider Your Older Guests

"If you're throwing a wedding for multiple generations of people, you want to communicate in a way that's clear for the most senior generation," says Post. While there are many folks in their 70s who are remarkably tech-savvy, don't assume that all of your older guests will know what to do with their digital invitation — or will even be aware of them.

Save The Dates Are Different

Couples have a bit more freedom when it comes to save-the-dates. These notifications are usually made when a couple first gets engaged: They will send a card out so people who are a going to be invited can note the date on their calendar. Post says this type of communication can be fun, informal, and digital. Save-the-dates here should be sent out four to six months prior to the wedding date. Anyone who received save-the-date must also receive a wedding invitation.

The Few Exceptions

If you're exceedingly environmentally-minded and the thought of adding to the world's carbon footprint is just unbearable to you, then you may skip the physical invitation. However, any reason that doesn't come from a deep, personal belief can run the risk of looking sloppy.

Another exception, according to Post, is when you're putting together a last-minute wedding, and there's not enough time to mail out paper invitations and have them returned. In that case, the next best alternative is to pick up the phone and leave a voicemail. But, by all means, you should stay away from a wedding invite done on Facebook.

Do's and Don'ts

Certain things should never appear on your invite. Don't ever put registry information or "adults only" on an invitation. The only time a dress code should be listed is when it's a black tie affair.

Who is getting married, the hosts of the event, location, and time, are the information people look for on an invite. If you're confused about the order for the names to appear, Post suggests sticking to this sequence: the bride's mother and her spouse, followed by bride's father and his spouse. Then come the groom's mother and her spouse and groom's father and his spouse. As for same-sex couples? It's entirely up to you to decide what works.

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