Is It Okay To Email My Wedding Invitations?

steven petrowQuestion for Steven: I do everything on email these days and don’t see any reason not to use email for my wedding invitations. It’s fast; it’s green; and it makes it so much easier for guests to RSVP. However, my mom tells me this is “wrong!” She’s of course the same mom who told me it was “wrong” for me to be a lesbian when I first came out fifteen years ago. What’s your advice?

Steven Answers: A: I could be snarky about your mother – and suggest she expand her vocabulary – but let’s stay with your invitation issue today. It is true that old-school manners experts proclaim that using e-mail for your wedding invitations is inappropriate although they would never be as judgmental as your mom and say “wrong”. (Sorry, I couldn’t hold back!) They say it would be akin to picking up the phone to invite your guests to the most important event of your life: too informal.

But the truth is that wedding etiquette is rapidly changing – especially with younger folks, the techno-minded, and those that care about the environment.

The most important thing is that your form of invitation “represent” the wedding to come. If you were planning a formal, churchy type of affair, I would say “no way” to email invitations. But if it’s a more casual, laid back event, then I would put it on the table for discussion.

Another crucial consideration is the digital savviness of your guests. If they are a bit more traditional, less addicted to e-mail, or multigenerational, again, I would suggest choosing some form of printed invitation. (A laser printer can do a wonderful job these days, especially with pre-printed invitation templates.) But if all your guests already use e-mail for a range of things, including invitations of other kinds, then, again, I think it’s okay to consider going electronic for this special occasion.

Once you’ve given some thought to the questions above, consider these other contemporary guidelines when it comes to techno-weddings:

Save-the-date notices: Email announcements that a wedding is being planned are more and more common and completely acceptable.

RSVPs: If you want to give your guests the option of replying to a printed invitation by e-mail, go ahead. Ditto if you plan to use a wedding website, which can also collect and organize RSVPs very efficiently.

Casual or last minute invitations: This is okay if you’re inviting computer-savvy people to an intimate shower, informal reception, or a very hastily put-together wedding. You may be tempted to do a group blast (“Hey Friends: Jodie and I have decided to get married before the Supreme Court rules on the validity of same-sex marriage . . .”), but it’s better to think of them as electronic, handwritten notes—so use a personal salutation (“Dear Letisha, Jodie and I . . .”) instead.

Detailed logistical information: Maps or hotel listings are often too bulky to fit inside your wedding invitation envelope. They’re much more useful e-mailed or posted online anyway.

When to send electronic invitations: Be ready with them at the same time you’d mail any printed ones.

I hope this helps you with your planning. And maybe your mom needs some advice on how to coordinate her outfit with the other mother of the bride? Tell her I am here for her, too!



Steven Petrow is the go-to source on contemporary etiquette, as cited by The New York Times, People, Time, and NPR. His sometimes gentle, sometimes snarky, always insightful advice has made him a nationally recognized expert on modern manners. In addition to his three prize-winning etiquette books, Steven writes the “Civil Behavior” column for The New York Times and is a sought-after speaker on all matters of civilized living in the 21st century.