Wedding Question: RSVP by Email?

One of my college friends is getting married in the Virgin Islands this summer. She sent out a Save the Date and I already know I wont be able to make it. Is it inappropriate for me to email her and let her know now that I wont be able to make it? I say email rather than phone call because we mostly stay in touch via email and pretty much never talk on the phone. 

photo from The Wedding Lens!

Interesting question! Well, there are two aspects to this question. First, there’s the idea that no invitation has been sent. Second, there’s the email communication question. Let’s take ’em one at a time….

It sounds like you’re reasonably close with this person, but not close enough that you would drop everything to be at her wedding in the Virgin Islands. (To be fair, I tend to think that most people who get married a long distance away (have a destination wedding, if you will) don’t really want or expect everyone they invite to be there. So don’t feel bad if you can’t make it. It’s a long way away and they can’t expect everyone to be able to travel so far.)

Ok, so no invitation was sent yet. It’s a little odd to send an RSVP when you haven’t been invited yet. On the other hand, I’m sure that your friends would appreciate knowing as early as possible that you can’t make it (and that they might be able to invite someone else in your stead…. not that anyone can replace you!) I think it boils down to how close you are and your relationship with your friend. You know her better than I do. If you think she’d appreciate knowing now, go for it.

As for email communication, I also firmly believe that you and your friend are FRIENDS. Etiquette aside, you are friends who communicate via email. So yes, go ahead and email her. Better to let her know via email than not at all, right?

In sum: Go ahead and let your friend know that you can’t make it via email, even though they haven’t sent out an invite yet. I’m certain some of my readers will disagree…. comment below! I’m curious to see what you all have to say.

Good luck!

~ Natasha

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How to Plan Your Wedding: When To Do What! (Part I)

So you’re engaged… now what? That’s the beginning of the wedding planning process! A friend of The Wedding Lens recently got engaged and was asking questions about time frames. So here we go!

Because engagements take place for different lengths of time, I’m not going to specify how long before the wedding date you should do each action. But this is generally the ORDER of things. Where possible, I’ve linked to other related blog posts on the topic! (And here’s just a list of things to do for wedding planning, if you just want that) Also, be sure to check out our Cheap Wedding Tips and our Green Wedding Tips, both of which have great ideas to help you out during different stages of the planning process!

First Steps

  1. Create a budget! This means taking a list of everything that you know you’ll have to spend money on and deciding how much you can dedicate to each portion. Check out our Guide to Creating a Wedding Budget — which specifies which costs are fixed and which depend on the number of guests.
  2. Pick the wedding party. This seems early in the process right? True! But the wedding party can help you with the tasks that you’ll have to do. Pick early, they’ll help early!
  3. Divide tasks! After reading the rest of this blog post, you’ll get a full picture of everything there is to do: from marriage license to centerpieces.  Once you have that list, divide up the tasks however you see fit.

Things That Shouldn’t Wait

  1. Marriage license.  Every state has different rules on the time frame needed to apply for a license and to get married. Make sure you know what you need to do before you get too close to your wedding date!
  2. Find a venue, date, and officiant. This is sort of circular because you need the venue and the officiant to be available on the same date. But keep in mind that you may have to pick two venues — one for the ceremony and one for the reception. Just be sure they’re both available on the same date! Here’s how to pick a wedding date. Also, make sure you look at how to find a venue AND the questions you need to ask each venue. With officiants, think about whether you will have a religious officiant or a friend. Find out any state requirements if you want a friend or family member to officiate.
  3. Create the guest list. Sometimes it’s hard to limit the guest list, so consider having A lists, B lists, and C lists. Here are our tips for the guest list. Also, be sure to decide whether you want kids to attend or not.
  4. Themes/Styles/Colors. The earlier you select any themes, styles, or colors, the earlier you can get started with some of the other aspects of planning. After all those three aspects will impact the dress selections, the flowers selections, etc. Here’s some help on how to pick your color scheme.
  5. Wedding dress. The wedding dress should be purchased earlier in the planning process because it might need to be fitted several times. Depending on how long your engagement lasts, this should be done ASAP. Plus the bride will want her dress before the bridesmaids get theirs! Here’s how to choose  the right wedding dress and some ideas for colorful wedding dresses.
  6. Save the Date.  The save-the-date (or STD) should tell guests when & where you’re getting married. When should you send the save-the-dates? It depends on when you’re getting married, but generally, send them as soon as possible. If you are ordering save-the-dates that you want to look similar to your invitations, there are companies that give you package deals. Here is a timeline of when to send save-the-dates and when to send invitations. Here are some creative save the date ideas and how to address the save-the-dates.
  7. Order your online photo album from The Wedding Lens. By ordering your online photo album from The Wedding Lens early, you can start telling your guests where to upload photos AND you can include your engagement photos in the album or any other older photos to share your memories with your guests.
  8. Wedding website. Obviously put as much information on here as you can, but here’s what to include on your wedding website.
  9. Find vendors. This means finding vendors for everything you might want. Here is how to find the right vendors for you (and each category that follows links to a blog post that will help you narrow down what will be best for you in that area). Photographer (engagement photos and day of), videographer, florist (selecting flowers), caterer, DJ/band/music, bakery, wedding planner or day-of coordinator. Any other kind of vendors you might want (eg if you want to have wedding entertainment such as a photo booth, cigar bar, or silhouette artist) can usually wait a bit longer in the planning process.

Stuff That Can Wait a Little Bit

  1. Invitations! What goes inside, when to send, how to tell your guests that no kids can come, RSVP cards. Remember, there are specific rules on how to address invitations, so make sure you check those out (yes, there will be a blog post coming!)
  2. Attire: Groom, bridesmaids, groomsmen. Here’s everything related to helping you select wedding attire!
  3. Hair & makeup for the bride and bridesmaids, if you would like.
  4. Rings! Dont forget you both need to exchange rings on the day of the wedding. Here are some green tips on picking the rings.
  5. Decorating: flower arrangement (or alternatives to flower bouquets), centerpieces, plates/napkins/glassware, guestbook, favors, place cards, menu cards, cake toppers, chair rentals/chair covers, other entertainment)
  6. Guest-related: Accomodations, transportation, and out of town bags!
  7. Get your online wedding photo album from The Wedding Lens. If you haven’t done it yet, now is the perfect time in the planning process to get your online wedding photo album from The Wedding Lens! When you share the information on accomodations & transporation with your guests, you can also share the link to the album and remind people to bring their digital cameras to your wedding. Plus people can start uploading old and new memories of you & your fiance(e)!
  8. Menu planning: buffet vs sit-down meal; alcohol – open bar, soft bar, signature drinks. Here are all things food & drink related to help guide you through this!

Final Steps

  1. RSVPs
  2. Ceremony planning: walking down the aisle, vows, readings — and whatever else you want to take place.
  3. Seating chart: who will sit where during the reception? Here’s how to create a seating chart!
  4. Music (song) selections for band or DJ, both during the ceremony and reception.
  5. Remind your guests to bring their cameras to your wedding day so they can capture memories for your online photo album.
  6. Planning the timeline: This means planning the timeline of who arrives where at what time, what order things occur, and who transports what where. It’s meant to be distributed so that everyone is on the same page about what’s going on.
  7. Programs: This lets your guests know what is going to happen & when! Here’s the information on writing your programs.

So that’s everything you have to do…. Next blog post will cover what comes up on the day of and any other last minute things and miscellaneous things you should be aware of! (Like gift registry, thank you cards, wedding insurance, things people forget, staying calm…. all coming up!) 

Good luck! Remember, if you have questions – email me! natasha@theweddinglens.com.

~ Natasha

Creative RSVP Cards!

An invitation photo (from The Wedding Lens) that came with an RSVP card!

I just received a wedding invitation in the mail that came with an RSVP card – that also asked what we wanted to eat at the wedding. That’s a pretty typical RSVP card these days, right? Right.

So how about trying something a little bit different?

1. The traditional (very traditional) RSVP to a wedding involved a person handwriting a note that indicated whether they would be able to attend or not. In other words, there was NO RSVP card. RSVP cards developed in response to people’s laziness in writing a note!

For example, ask guests to RSVP with a postcard from the location where they are from. Not just that, our friendly blogger & wedding planner Zoe Lingard suggests asking the guests to write a brief note (it has to be brief anyway since it’s a postcard!) saying how they know the couple or telling a nice story about them. Then, you can hang those postcards with clothespins on a clothing line at the wedding. It’s a nice way to reflect where people are from and to gather stories.

2. You send the postcards for people to fill out. One clever couple decided to send out beautiful post cards (antique ones from the location where they were getting married) and on the back simple had them reply with a M_________  ___will attend ___ will not attend. When the couple got the postcards back, they put a sticker over the return address with the table number of the couple. That way, they didn’t have to use MORE paper and they were able to recycle the cards!

3. Use an RSVP card, but leave room for something else. Like what? Like song requests or advice to the couple.

4. In an effort to be green: Don’t use an RSVP card and ask people to reply via email or your website. If you do this, please please please remember Grandma and/or other folks who may or may not have access to (or know how to use) this technology. For those folks, consider one of the paper forms of RSVPs OR ask them to RSVP via telephone.

5. Include a larger envelope with the RSVP card and ask guests to enclose a photo from their wedding day. You can use those photos to display at the wedding too! Note: this might alienate any singles you are inviting!

Do you have creative RSVP card ideas? Share ’em!

~ Natasha