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Quill

How do we feel about Save-the-Date notices when not for a wedding?

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I’m planning both a graduation party this summer and an anniversary party for my parents in late summer. Because it’s summer, a Save the Date card seems wise, at least for the anniversary party, if not also for the grad party. It might be getting late for a StD for the grad party now? Not sure. But I think the Ann party needs one. 

I worry a little that these cards seem a little like, “this party matters SO much, you must be notified so your summer plans revolve around my parties.” I don’t want it to be interpreted that way. But also - it’s summer and people make plans. I wouldn’t want people kicking themselves because they made plans and then received an invitation for a 55th Anniversary party. 

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How about seeing it as, "You matter to us so much that we really don't want you to miss the party if you can manage!" So the focus is on loving the people, not idolizing the party.

FWIW, my parents sent save-the-date cards (or emails?) to people for their 40th anniversary party and I thought it was fine. They ended up with 116/120 RSVPing yes, so I think people were not offended! :-)

Emily

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I don’t know, I sent a save the date email to my daughter’s entire former class. I wouldn’t for a normal bday party but we have been travelling and she really and unexpectedly missed her friends (and according to her teacher they missed her) so this is their chance to get together (she won’t be returning to school this school year even though we are home now).

i guess I think of it as a nice courtesy/advance notice. If people can’t make it, they can’t. 

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Could you just pop off a casual email?   Or set up a fb event?   I’ve received some informal save the dates this way lately. 

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12 minutes ago, regentrude said:

Why not send out the actual invitations early? 

I’m a little worried (I worry a lot, see?) the event gets forgotten that way. They say, “oh, August, that’s ages away!” And then I don’t get RSVPs.

ETA: I could do this for the grad party, though. 

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4 minutes ago, FuzzyCatz said:

Could you just pop off a casual email?   Or set up a fb event?   I’ve received some informal save the dates this way lately. 

No, I don’t think it’s the best for the average age of invitees. Elderly people who will most likely do much better with familiar posted mail. 

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2 minutes ago, Quill said:

No, I don’t think it’s the best for the average age of invitees. Elderly people who will most likely do much better with familiar posted mail. 

Oh if you have people offline, I can seeing traditional  mailing or calling to let them know.   Especially if these are close relatives.   

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18 minutes ago, Quill said:

I’m a little worried (I worry a lot, see?) the event gets forgotten that way. They say, “oh, August, that’s ages away!” And then I don’t get RSVPs.

ETA: I could do this for the grad party, though. 

They might equally well forgot the "save the date" since it's so far away.

You can always send a reminder closer to the date. But I never understood the "save the date" thing - invite me already!

 

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I think StD cards are fine, especially for people who are not very techy. We did them for my mom's 80th birthday party and they were helpful.

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I'm on Team Save-the-Date.

I love getting a save-the-date card way in advance so I can put the event on my calendar and start the process for determining if I can go (for example, if travel is required) without committing myself at that point.  Then, when the actual invitation comes, I'm ready to commit more quickly because I already have the basic information I need. 

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I interpret save-the-date cards the way Emily does:  like you care about me enough to give me sufficient notice to actually attend.  Maybe I plan farther ahead than most people, idk, but if I get invite less than a month away, it’s unlikely that I will able to attend without jostling things around.  Sometimes final details can’t be worked out that far ahead, but you still know the day.  I appreciate being let in on the secret rather than kept in the dark until formal invites are ready.

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I appreciate s-t-d. I will actually call you and tell you if I can't come, saving you the need to send an invite.  

The only thing I do not care for  is when I am at an occasion and someone starts passing them out...it shows disrespect to the host and the guest(s) of honor. 

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I think a s-t-d for something really special like a wedding or the anniversary party for your parents is fine, and even helpful.  Now, I might not send a s-t-d to everyone for the wedding, but at least to families members and best friends.  We did that for my our ds and dd when they got married.  We didn't actually send out notices but we emailed families members several months ahead of time to let them know.

When I get a s-t-d, I write it down on my calendar right away.

A s-t-d for a child's graduation seems different to me though.  It just seems a little over-the-top.  But, I'd probably email family members ahead of time.

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I appreciated the save the date when my grandparents celebrated their 60th anniversary. We were coming from out of state and they chose to celebrate a couple months before their actual anniversary to help accommodate schedules. I guess they could have sent the invitation early instead but they let us know 6-8 months before the event and plans hadn’t been formalized yet. 

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I like them...I'm rather disorganized and could use two announcements!  I actually think of them as invites with the second one being the RSVP request.  I commit to so many things, I would hate a date for something important, like a 50th wedding anniversary, to be missed because I committed to something inconsequential and can't find anyone to replace me (where if I declined from the start they WOULD have found someone else.)

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I don't think the type of event matters, as long as you remember that "save the date" is not a command, lol. I'm happy to get them but it doesn't mean I can actually save the date. It's more like "mark your calendar." 

1 hour ago, regentrude said:

They might equally well forgot the "save the date" since it's so far away.

You can always send a reminder closer to the date. But I never understood the "save the date" thing - invite me already!

 

1

 

But you are expected to respond to an invitation, which is hard to do so far in advance. STD then invitation is much easier on guests; I can't commit to attending a party several months in advance, there are a million things that might come up. Other than that, there's no practical difference, so I don't know why a guest would prefer invite/reminder over STD/invite. 

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27 minutes ago, katilac said:

But you are expected to respond to an invitation, which is hard to do so far in advance. STD then invitation is much easier on guests; I can't commit to attending a party several months in advance, there are a million things that might come up. Other than that, there's no practical difference, so I don't know why a guest would prefer invite/reminder over STD/invite. 

But then isn't the STD pointless?

I thought the whole point of it is to plan for the event with plenty of notice; once it's on the calendar, you simply don't have stuff "come up" - save illness and death. prior commitment and all that. If that is not the purpose of the STD, I don't understand the whole idea.

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2 hours ago, Quill said:

I’m planning both a graduation party this summer and an anniversary party for my parents in late summer. Because it’s summer, a Save the Date card seems wise, at least for the anniversary party, if not also for the grad party. It might be getting late for a StD for the grad party now? Not sure. But I think the Ann party needs one. 

I worry a little that these cards seem a little like, “this party matters SO much, you must be notified so your summer plans revolve around my parties.” I don’t want it to be interpreted that way. But also - it’s summer and people make plans. I wouldn’t want people kicking themselves because they made plans and then received an invitation for a 55th Anniversary party. 

Definitely do it for the anniversary party. You might even want to for the grad party. Around here most people hold these over the top Open House parties for graduation. These things easily cost in the thousands once all is said and done.  It's always a pain to figure out the date. "Oh, no, Mom, we can't do it then, so-and-so's is that day." It seems people have to coordinate with all the moms in their kids social group so as not to coincide. It's crazy. It's one of the bonuses for me to homeschool high school - I feel zero obligation to hold the major shindig. 

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1 minute ago, regentrude said:

But then isn't the STD pointless?

I thought the whole point of it is to plan for the event with plenty of notice; once it's on the calendar, you simply don't have stuff "come up" - save illness and death. prior commitment and all that. If that is not the purpose of the STD, I don't understand the whole idea.

I don't think of it the same way.

StD is not asking for a commitment. It's just telling you that the event is planned, details to follow.

So, I might receive one for an event, say, 6 months out.  I can put it on my calendar with intention to go. But a lot of things can come up in that time.  We might be in a new semester then and my college kids might not be free to go (I'm assuming they are invited). Some work travel might come up.  I'm sure there are other things.  Or, I can start looking for airfare and hotel deals and find that no matter what, I still can't afford to go. Or, that I can! And so I book something well in advance.

Then, when the actual invitation with instructions for responding arrives, I can respond promptly.  I don't have to take time to research airfares and hotels. I don't have to figure out what the school schedule might be.  I can say "yes" or "no" with as much confidence as possible.  Of course, illness, death, or other emergencies (work travel that wasn't planned but is necessary) may still come up. But I've given it my best shot.

 

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3 minutes ago, regentrude said:

But then isn't the STD pointless?

I thought the whole point of it is to plan for the event with plenty of notice; once it's on the calendar, you simply don't have stuff "come up" - save illness and death. prior commitment and all that. If that is not the purpose of the STD, I don't understand the whole idea.

No, it’s not pointless because when I get a StD a few months in advance, I know not to plan some arbitrary thing of lesser importance. Like if I was trying to pick a weekend to hold a yard sale, or picking one for a movie sleepover for my younger son. You have your non-negotiable fixed dates - college move-in weekend, county fair weekend - and your things you plan for a free weekend. So knowing well in advance that that Saturday is already tabbed for something is helpful. 

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23 minutes ago, marbel said:

I don't think of it the same way.

StD is not asking for a commitment. It's just telling you that the event is planned, details to follow.

So, I might receive one for an event, say, 6 months out.  I can put it on my calendar with intention to go. But a lot of things can come up in that time.  We might be in a new semester then and my college kids might not be free to go (I'm assuming they are invited). Some work travel might come up.  I'm sure there are other things.  Or, I can start looking for airfare and hotel deals and find that no matter what, I still can't afford to go. Or, that I can! And so I book something well in advance.

Then, when the actual invitation with instructions for responding arrives, I can respond promptly.  I don't have to take time to research airfares and hotels. I don't have to figure out what the school schedule might be.  I can say "yes" or "no" with as much confidence as possible.  Of course, illness, death, or other emergencies (work travel that wasn't planned but is necessary) may still come up. But I've given it my best shot.

 

 

It's not that way here if one is an extended family member. An s-t-d is prioritizing it on the calendar of the extended fam.  It can also be used very passively agressively, by booking events on other people's expected occasions, for ex, the weekends around someone's bday or wedding anniversary or grad will be taken for a shower or an adult birthday or even just a bbq.  The next one I have is an extended family clean out the elder's house/ yard sale on my son's birthday...and no, the one who wants to do it isn't planning a cake...btdt.

I've got one now that is way over the top...I've a neighbor who is sending s - t -d s on every holiday (valentine's, st pats, etc) for a 4th of July bbq.  She doesn't understand we have a standing extended family invite on the same day if dh is not traveling for work or  taking vacation.  We simply can't be in two places at once, and I"ve got a Parade committment that means we can't split the parties should dh be home. 

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If the venue etc is set then I'd rather get an invitation.  

I thought s-t-d cards were sent when the date was the only firm detail and sort of functioned as "we finally set a date!" especially in the case of long engagements.

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55 minutes ago, marbel said:

I don't think of it the same way.

StD is not asking for a commitment. It's just telling you that the event is planned, details to follow.

So, I might receive one for an event, say, 6 months out.  I can put it on my calendar with intention to go. But a lot of things can come up in that time.  We might be in a new semester then and my college kids might not be free to go (I'm assuming they are invited). Some work travel might come up.  I'm sure there are other things.  Or, I can start looking for airfare and hotel deals and find that no matter what, I still can't afford to go. Or, that I can! And so I book something well in advance.

Then, when the actual invitation with instructions for responding arrives, I can respond promptly.  I don't have to take time to research airfares and hotels. I don't have to figure out what the school schedule might be.  I can say "yes" or "no" with as much confidence as possible.  Of course, illness, death, or other emergencies (work travel that wasn't planned but is necessary) may still come up. But I've given it my best shot.

 

I think the whole concept of "save the date" is very localized to the US. I've never heard of it other than on US tv.  The rest of the world just sends out the one invitation and people manage to do all that planning and decision making upon receiving the invite. 

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15 minutes ago, wintermom said:

I think the whole concept of "save the date" is very localized to the US. I've never heard of it other than on US tv.  The rest of the world just sends out the one invitation and people manage to do all that planning and decision making upon receiving the invite. 

 

Well, sure. I've done it many time - use of save-the-date cards is not universal and as far as I know, it's pretty new. But in my experience it makes planning easier.  I've had to decline events that I'd have been able (and would have liked) to attend, if I'd known about them sooner.   

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1 hour ago, regentrude said:

But then isn't the STD pointless?

I thought the whole point of it is to plan for the event with plenty of notice; once it's on the calendar, you simply don't have stuff "come up" - save illness and death. prior commitment and all that. If that is not the purpose of the STD, I don't understand the whole idea.

 

No, the point is to be aware of it so that you don't plan other things that could be done on a different date. If I know my cousin is having a party on a certain date, I won't invite friends to my camp for that weekend, I won't plan to visit relatives out of state, I won't commit to volunteering for an event. I will do my best to save the date, but there are quite a few things in most people's lives that do indeed just come up and can't be changed. For us, this spring was full of college interviews, and we would have had to cancel any events that conflicted. The particulars are different but everyone has obligations that can't be pinned down far in advance, so very early RSVPs are not that helpful. 

Once I commit to an event, yes, I take that seriously. That's why I couldn't RSVP positively to Quill's late summer event if she invited me in April. 

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33 minutes ago, wintermom said:

I think the whole concept of "save the date" is very localized to the US. I've never heard of it other than on US tv.  The rest of the world just sends out the one invitation and people manage to do all that planning and decision making upon receiving the invite. 

 

And that's perfectly fine, but there's nothing wrong with STDs either.  I'd be sad to miss a loved one's important event because I committed myself to a fundraiser when that fundraiser could just as easily been scheduled for a different date. 

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4 hours ago, Quill said:

I’m planning both a graduation party this summer and an anniversary party for my parents in late summer. Because it’s summer, a Save the Date card seems wise, at least for the anniversary party, if not also for the grad party. It might be getting late for a StD for the grad party now? Not sure. But I think the Ann party needs one. 

I worry a little that these cards seem a little like, “this party matters SO much, you must be notified so your summer plans revolve around my parties.” I don’t want it to be interpreted that way. But also - it’s summer and people make plans. I wouldn’t want people kicking themselves because they made plans and then received an invitation for a 55th Anniversary party. 

I don't believe in save-the-date cards for anything.

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My calendar fills up very fast, so I would personally appreciate a “save the date”. It would ensure my planning around it. I would assume later the invite would provide more details about the time, place, need to know info, etc. 

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I don’t really mind ‘save the date’ cards.  I’ve got a cute magnet one on my fridge now for a wedding in the fall.   I wouldn’t send one for a grad party.  I might consider it for a momentous anniversary party, though.    

I want to add that ‘save the date’ seriously needs a better way to be shortened than ‘std’.   O_o  :-P

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OK, I didn't want to read the thread before replying bc I can not imagine how it can be viewed as a bad thing.  I am sure reading replies will enlighten me.  But I would see it as a wonderful gesture.  

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2 hours ago, Ellie said:

I don't believe in save-the-date cards for anything.

I did assume our own Hive Emily Post would have input about this, but I confess it did not occur to me that this would be your position. And I’m probably going to regret asking but - why ever not? Do you think it is somehow ill-mannered, or simply unnecessary? 

I can’t even think of a time when I have received one that I haven’t been grateful for the advanced notice (except the one time that someone I don’t get along with so well sent one for a Christmas party, but I allow I already find her irritating and I view the things she does with b!tch-colored glasses.):tongue:

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2 hours ago, onelittlemonkey said:

I don’t really mind ‘save the date’ cards.  I’ve got a cute magnet one on my fridge now for a wedding in the fall.   I wouldn’t send one for a grad party.  I might consider it for a momentous anniversary party, though.    

I want to add that ‘save the date’ seriously needs a better way to be shortened than ‘std’.   O_o  :-P

Yes, I hate it when I get an STD before a party! :biggrin:

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I wish they were more common for all kinds of things. My DH works about 50% of weekends and holidays, and everyone seems to think that just because something will take place on a holiday, they don't have to plan ahead.

We get invited to about 95% of the social things we do a few days after the deadline DH's work has for asking for time off. It's beyond frustrating. 

My current scheduling frustration is that unless they need workers for an event, our church doesn't publish their calendar very far in advance even when the event has been planned for months. We miss everything.

 

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18 minutes ago, itsheresomewhere said:

I like them. Send them.

Awesome! Where should I send yours? :biggrin:

I did just learn today that there is a simmered offense between my mom and one of her best friends for 40+ years. I am not sure exactly what to do about this, either, except I feel it is better to “innocently” send the lady and invitation and hope she comes, whatever kurfuffle happened notwithstanding. (I have a feeling my mom holds a grudge about The Thing, which the lady actually doesn’t know. Maybe she’s getting that “chilly” feeling but I have a hunch my mom never spelled it out where the offense was taken.) 

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5 hours ago, regentrude said:

But then isn't the STD pointless?

I thought the whole point of it is to plan for the event with plenty of notice; once it's on the calendar, you simply don't have stuff "come up" - save illness and death. prior commitment and all that. If that is not the purpose of the STD, I don't understand the whole idea.

Another purpose of STD cards is to give people an opportunity to plan/budget for travel for an event they might want to attend but could be a burden on guests to find out about only weeks in advance.  My cousin is getting married in a very popular vacation destination this summer; it also happens to be where our grandparents retired, so has a great deal of meaning for the family. STD cards allowed her to let guests know the date and location and book travel and rooms before prices became outrageous or flat out unavailable.      The invitation will include all the details which hadn’t been worked out before the STD went out.

To the OP, I’m pro save the date for the anniversary party.  I love them.

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4 minutes ago, medawyn said:

Another purpose of STD cards is to give people an opportunity to plan/budget for travel for an event they might want to attend but could be a burden on guests to find out about only weeks in advance.  My cousin is getting married in a very popular vacation destination this summer; it also happens to be where our grandparents retired, so has a great deal of meaning for the family. STD cards allowed her to let guests know the date and location and book travel and rooms before prices became outrageous or flat out unavailable.      The invitation will include all the details which hadn’t been worked out before the STD went out.

As i said before, I like advance notice - but the actual invitation would have served the same purpose. Just send it early.

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5 hours ago, regentrude said:

But then isn't the STD pointless?

I thought the whole point of it is to plan for the event with plenty of notice; once it's on the calendar, you simply don't have stuff "come up" - save illness and death. prior commitment and all that. If that is not the purpose of the STD, I don't understand the whole idea.

I'm with you regentrude. It seems like an extra step in the process, probably because our culture has gotten to the point of ignoring invitations and rsvp-ing, so we now have to do something "additional" and "novel" (Save the Date!) to make it stick in people's minds.

I am old and frumpy (:P, and personally find "Save the Date" cards annoying no matter WHAT the event, because they have no info (other than the date) on them, and no way of rsvp-ing or deciding/dealing with the event right then. "What's the point! More paper and postage wasted," I always say I get one. Because I am a scattered person and do better taking care of things the moment they arrive, I prefer to get the invite, make the decision, rsvp, and move on. I hate having to use up what few brain cells I have left with "oh, I have to keep one eye out now for the REAL invitation with all the actual info, and then do something about it at THAT time, rather than get this dealt with right now while it's newly arrived and in my hand." I also have a VERY high likelihood of putting that STD event on my calendar, and then forgetting/ignoring to rsvp when weeks/months later the actual invitation comes, because, hey, it's on my calendar, I must have already rsvp-ed... But, that's just old fuddy-duddy me. ;)

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42 minutes ago, regentrude said:

As i said before, I like advance notice - but the actual invitation would have served the same purpose. Just send it early.

But what if you honestly don’t know enough information to send an invitation early? This wedding is in a location where guests were well served to know a year in advance to book hotels.  My cousin knew that there were venues available her desired weekend but hadn’t booked anything specific when she sent the save the date cards.

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I've received save the date notices for events other than weddings. I appreciate the advance notice. 

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1 minute ago, medawyn said:

But what if you honestly don’t know enough information to send an invitation early? This wedding is in a location where guests were well served to know a year in advance to book hotels.  My cousin knew that there were venues available her desired weekend but hadn’t booked anything specific when she sent the save the date cards.

That's the kind of save the date notice I've received. The final details aren't worked out yet but we want you to know this is happening on this date. Then when the invitation arrives it has details but I've planned ahead to have the date free.

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9 minutes ago, medawyn said:

But what if you honestly don’t know enough information to send an invitation early? This wedding is in a location where guests were well served to know a year in advance to book hotels.  My cousin knew that there were venues available her desired weekend but hadn’t booked anything specific when she sent the save the date cards.

We don't have the finances to do destination weddings, so not a problem here. ;)

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2 hours ago, Quill said:

I did assume our own Hive Emily Post would have input about this, but I confess it did not occur to me that this would be your position. And I’m probably going to regret asking but - why ever not? Do you think it is somehow ill-mannered, or simply unnecessary? 

I can’t even think of a time when I have received one that I haven’t been grateful for the advanced notice (except the one time that someone I don’t get along with so well sent one for a Christmas party, but I allow I already find her irritating and I view the things she does with b!tch-colored glasses.):tongue:

People who are close to you will already know the date in advance, because you'll have chatted with them about it. People who are not that close might or might not be able to make the event. Such is life.

I don't think it's bad manners; I just think it's unnecessary. I also think it's a great way for stationers to make extra money.

I was once not invited to a wedding because I did not RSVP to a SDT card. THAT was bad manners on the bride's part. So, FYI: No RSVP is required for a SDT card.

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12 minutes ago, medawyn said:

But what if you honestly don’t know enough information to send an invitation early? This wedding is in a location where guests were well served to know a year in advance to book hotels.  My cousin knew that there were venues available her desired weekend but hadn’t booked anything specific when she sent the save the date cards.

I don't go to destination weddings, either, so there you go.

The bride could have talked with the people who were close enough to her that they would travel to a destination for her wedding. Then she wouldn't have to go to the expense and trouble of sending SDT cards. Also, she could have had the wedding locally, and then gone to the destination for her honeymoon.

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I replied upthread about how I think they show consideration for your guests, but now I feel compelled to add to my response.  I have chatted with people about tentative dates for things, but I am usually not the only person they are chatting with.  I assume the hosts aren’t going to let me dictate the date with complete disregard for other important people in their lives.  I also don’t always happen to have a pen and paper in my hand when having casual conversation.  The save-the-date at least makes the date firm.  It is especially important for a family event.  Someone with several kids has to keep several schedules open that day.  If one person is booked for something, it may mean the entire family can’t attend.  I don’t think save the date cards are terribly expensive, and I personally wouldn’t be offended by a simple email or self-printed card.  The potential to save frustration and money (yeah, some people may need childcare) on the part of your guests is a no-brainer compared to saving a few bucks on “unnecessary” save the date cards.  (And I find the idea of saving money on the save the date cards so disgustingly selfish that I had to log back on to write this post.)  I really think most people will be quite grateful for advance notice.  A few may not care, but none will be offended.

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1 hour ago, Syllieann said:

I replied upthread about how I think they show consideration for your guests, but now I feel compelled to add to my response.  I have chatted with people about tentative dates for things, but I am usually not the only person they are chatting with.  I assume the hosts aren’t going to let me dictate the date with complete disregard for other important people in their lives.  I also don’t always happen to have a pen and paper in my hand when having casual conversation.  The save-the-date at least makes the date firm.  It is especially important for a family event.  Someone with several kids has to keep several schedules open that day.  If one person is booked for something, it may mean the entire family can’t attend.  I don’t think save the date cards are terribly expensive, and I personally wouldn’t be offended by a simple email or self-printed card.  The potential to save frustration and money (yeah, some people may need childcare) on the part of your guests is a no-brainer compared to saving a few bucks on “unnecessary” save the date cards.  (And I find the idea of saving money on the save the date cards so disgustingly selfish that I had to log back on to write this post.)  I really think most people will be quite grateful for advance notice.  A few may not care, but none will be offended.

Yes. This is what I think is a problem if you are relying on chats you’ve had. Because then, you might have talked to Great Aunt Mavis and she said her grandkids are planning to come up on the 12th, but then mom’s best friend, Beverly has already planned to travel for the weekend after that. So now you, the planner, are wondering if you should try to find some other date or pick between Aunt Mavis and Beverly because one will not be able to come. 

In any case, for the anniversary party, I am 99% certain I will not see or speak to any of the guests except my sisters (who aren’t really guests, they are co-hosts) prior to the invitation going out. This isn’t Mayberry where we’re all going to see one another at church or down at the diner. Several people live an hour or more away and I don’t see them. Others, I simply have no connection to them in my every day life. They are meaningful to my parents, not so much me. 

The cards themselves are not (necesarily) expensive, especially if I choose the particular style that is the shape of an ordinary #10 envelope. I also thought it would be nice to have one photo on there from their first year of marriage and one recent photo. I think people will enjoy seeing those photos. :) 

I *have* decided not to do one for the grad party, in part because by the time I get the StD cards made and mail them, it would have been better to just send the invitation. Chances are good that some people will not be able to make it, but a grad party is not so earth-shaking anyway; it’s nice if they can make it but not awful if not. 

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3 hours ago, Ellie said:

People who are close to you will already know the date in advance, because you'll have chatted with them about it. People who are not that close might or might not be able to make the event. Such is life.

I don't think it's bad manners; I just think it's unnecessary. I also think it's a great way for stationers to make extra money.

I was once not invited to a wedding because I did not RSVP to a SDT card. THAT was bad manners on the bride's part. So, FYI: No RSVP is required for a SDT card.

I do agree with your last paragraph. The StD card is not for RSVP, though I don’t think it hurts anything to tell the host/bride if you definitely know you will not attend. (My daughter was out of the country and knew she would still be out of the country for a wedding, so she told the bride she would not be able to come. Bride did still send her an invitation, which was probably just as well, but possibly Bride didn’t really “count” DD and bf in her guest total, which was probably nice for her. Perhaps she was able to invite another friend she had pared down earlier, knowing DD and bf would not be able to come.) 

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