Wedding Wednesday – Save The Date Disaster

by admin on January 3, 2018

My nephew Dale is getting married this August. Dutifully, he and his fiancé, Jen have sent out their save the date cards. I don’t really remember what month but it was early and it was probably sometime last fall. I wasn’t sure who they intended to invite and wasn’t privy to the guest list. My Aunt Poppy & Uncle Ellis have lived out of town Dale’s entire life and has had very limited contact with them. So I found out later that Dale & Jen did, in fact, send save the date cards to all of my mother’s sisters, including my Aunt Poppy and all her children. My Aunt Poppy lives in Minnesota and her 2 sons live around there with their families and her daughter Erica lives in Chicago with her husband. Erica had said that she was thinking of coming in for the wedding and to visit and my Aunt Poppy and Uncle Ellis already bought their tickets to fly in for the occasion. I wasn’t sure and didn’t hear if their sons were thinking of coming.

It is now April and Dale & Jen are getting ready to send out the invitations soon. They announced that they have too many guests and wanted to cut my Aunt & Uncle and their children from the guest list, including my other Aunt’s adult children who live in the city. They said that if my mother (Dale’s grandmother) wanted to turn their wedding into a family reunion then she can shell out the extra money for their plates. My mother was flabbergasted. She wasn’t consulted on who they sent their save the dates to and would have been fine if they all weren’t included but now she said she would pay for them all to attend because it is the right thing to do. When I heard of this I was floored. To me, a save the date card is essentially an invitation. Am I wrong about this? The time to finalize their guest list had already come and gone and the decision was out of their hands once the save the dates were put in the mail. They are also living under the assumption that all of their guest are going to agree to come, which is highly unlikely.

My mother likes to keep the peace and will probably pay the money and say very little. I think my nephew needs a stern lecture on proper etiquette. What’s next, invite everyone to the shower but not to the wedding? 0412-17

{ 83 comments… read them below or add one }

Kat January 3, 2018 at 6:15 am

I was indeed perplexed in 2017 when I received a Save The Date card and then didn’t get invitations to the bridal shower or wedding. Are they supposed to be like souvenirs or announcements now? ¯\_(?)_/¯


Aleko January 3, 2018 at 7:26 am

I wouldn’t call this a disaster at all: a disaster is by definition an accident, and this is no accident. Either this couple just blithely sent save-the-dates to more people than they ever intended to invite (presumably in the hope of scoring presents, otherwise why bother?), or they subsequently decided that if they trimmed the guest list they could go for a more lavish do without spending more. Either way, it is not merely inconsiderate – given that by definition people will have been saving the date and turning down other possible activities – but also crass rudeness.

Of course a save-the-date is a promise that an invitation will follow, so this amounts to disinviting a whole branch of the family. And as at least some of these people have already sensibly booked their flights to avoid paying last-minute high ticket prices, they have been put to serious financial inconvenience as well. As for telling his appalled grandmother, who wants this not to happen, that “if she wants to turn their wedding into a family reunion” then it’s up to her to pay for their plates, they should have their bottoms smacked.

“Stern lecture on proper etiquette”? In OP’s place I would give them both barrels. On receipt of my invitation I would tell them that their behaviour is disrespectful, inconsiderate, and boorish in the extreme: that I have no desire to attend their wedding, so they can “allocate” my place to one of the unfortunates who have already committed financially to the event. (And I would let my mother know, so they don’t make her pay for it.)


Celestia January 3, 2018 at 7:52 am

So, serious question….what IS the point of a save-the-date if it’s a preliminary invitation? Why not just send the invitation as soon as you know your date? I think I’ve seen people talk about needing the time to check the calendar and all but…don’t you still need that time if what you get is a save-the-date card? Why spend postage twice on the same list of people?

I agree that I’d be hurt to get a save-the-date and then not actually be invited. I just don’t understand why the standard protocol is to send basically the same thing twice.


Shoegal January 3, 2018 at 5:15 pm

It’s a good question. There is a reason for a save the date card and that is to give out of town people and others with difficult schedules to free up their time and make arrangements but it is not absolutely necessary. I didn’t send out a save the date token – I just sent out my invites. Just another way to spend money. A good way to show off your engagement photos if you bothered to do that. But – this is definitely an invitation. I think this couple got overly excited and sent their save the dates to everyone in the English speaking world who they had an acquaintance with because The Knot dictated to this naive young couple that this was what they should be doing. They didn’t give a thought to later when reality set in that they couldn’t possibly afford to host all of these people and were desperately trying to find a way out.


Nicole January 3, 2018 at 5:17 pm

Save the dates are usually sent before the menu is set so people can not RSVP with their menu selections.

Also, they often don’t have blocks of rooms at local hotels set aside and other ‘closer to the date’ items secured so they wait to send the formal invite until they have all the information for people.


Karen January 3, 2018 at 5:29 pm

“Save the dates” are often sent before the details of the wedding are completely worked out, at least in my experience. They are usually vague on details; they give you the date, for example, but not the place or time.

Also, it gives recipients a heads-up but doesn’t commit them to a formal RSVP, as an invitation would. (though people who get these cards but know right away that they will not be able to attend can contact the bridal couple and let them know, giving them an opportunity to add other guests.)


EchoGirl January 3, 2018 at 6:01 pm

Maybe they don’t have the information they need for an invitation (like where, or what time)? That’s the only thing I can think of.


Cheryl January 3, 2018 at 6:02 pm

I’m not sure when save-the-date cards became a “thing”; I’m not sure anyone in my mother’s rather large extended family has ever sent her one. I have never gotten one before. When we got married in 1988, we just sent out the invitations early enough that people were informed of the date in enough time not to have (hopefully) already made plans. We sent them just to the people we wanted to come, not to score gifts. I can’t imagine telling someone by phone, card, email or whatever that this is the date we are getting married and formal invites will come later and then not inviting them, especially when it involves significant travel for some of them. It simply boggles my mind and I hope karma catches up with this couple. I’m sure it will.


Jared Bascomb January 3, 2018 at 6:06 pm

I just got a Save the Date card from my niece but it had no info on the exact time or location, just the city. This was six months out from the June wedding. I’m assuming that is exactly what it’s meant to be: an opportunity for people to put the date on their calendars and presumably to prepare for any travel arrangements. All the real details will be on the formal invitation, to follow.


Jelaza January 3, 2018 at 7:28 pm

The invitation also includes times and addresses, and often info on if and where the couple has negotiated a block of rooms (for out of towners) and, if there is a choice of dishes.

If the couple hasn’t finalized one or more of those things early enough, it makes sense to send a Save The Date card followed by the actual invitation.


Claire January 3, 2018 at 9:27 pm

I thought the save-the-date cards were an(other) invention of the wedding industry to make more money.


FunkyMunky January 3, 2018 at 9:54 pm

I didn’t have my reception venue finalised or travel arrangements for guests when I sent my Save-the-Date.

My Save-the-Dates were hand-made and gave the city of the wedding and the date – this allowed people to make their travel arrangements if necessary. The invitations then included details about the venues and the travel options I’d made (a ferry from the ceremony to the reception and a double-decker bus from the reception back to the city). The invitations also matched the other paperwork (order of service, table numbers, placecards etc).


FunkyMunky January 3, 2018 at 9:59 pm

I also sent my Save-the-Dates a year prior to the wedding as it was an interstate and international trip for many and at a peak time of year.

Sending the invite separately prevented the actual details getting lost in the year that followed (actual invitations went our 8 weeks prior)


LizaJane January 3, 2018 at 10:41 pm

Good question. I will say that the save-the-dates I’ve received haven’t always included all the particulars, like time and sometimes only the city/town not the venues.

Or maybe they’re sticking with traditional (US) etiquette that says wedding invitations should go out 6 weeks before the ceremony.


Junglewife January 4, 2018 at 7:25 am

I didn’t do a Save the Date, but my guess would be that the couple knows the date of their wedding but haven’t made firm plans as to the other arrangements – venue, etc.


Ria January 4, 2018 at 1:00 pm

I sent save the dates 8 months out. Most of our guests were from out of town; that gave them lots of time to figure out vacation time at work, travel plans, etc. For our local guests, it meant that they knew not to throw a party of their own that day. At that point we had a venue, but no catering / menu, no hotel blocks, and hadn’t figured out the rehearsal dinner.


NicoleDSK January 6, 2018 at 1:21 pm

Sometimes the time and location have not been picked yet. Invitations contain that information


Violet January 8, 2018 at 10:20 pm

Save-the-dates were originally for destination weddings (in which everyone would be traveling long distances at great expense), weddings that either had a lot of out-of-town guests, and/or weddings that were held during peak travel times (like holiday weekends). They’re a heads-up to guests that may need to spend more money to get there to allow them to save up money and book flights (and maybe a hotel, if there is no hotel block) for the weekend ahead of time. Regular wedding invitations are only sent out six to eight weeks ahead of the wedding itself, which isn’t enough time for guests traveling far to book things.

I’ve received a save-the-date for several weddings, all weddings I’d have to travel far for, and I’ve appreciated the notice. Helps me plan my vacation time at work and appropriately allocate the money for flights and lodging ahead of time. (I’ve got one on my fridge right now, for a cousin’s wedding in June.)

I think that as the wedding industry snowballed websites and vendors started encouraging couples to get save-the-dates even if they didn’t really need them. Although there’s also the fact that more people have more friends flung to the far corners of the earth, so the increase of save-the-date cards could simply be because more couples need that heads up.


Tan January 3, 2018 at 8:06 am

This is clearly very rude. Rescinding an invite, even if only in the form of a save the date. If the couple were unsure on their numbers they should have not have sent a save the date to “non-critical” guest and waited to see if they made the “final list”. Save the dates should only be sent to people who will get a formal invite.
Unless there’s a drastic change in circumstances (someone losing a job, becoming critically ill etc) and the wedding plans change, or it become clear that a guest would be a hindrance to the wedding then you can’t rescind an invite.I have only ever heard of it happening once. An uncle and aunt (non blood relative) were going through a messy divorce (20+ years together with lots of fights/ arguments the children left home and so did the Uncle) after the save the dates were issued. The niece wrote to them both and said that as he was the blood relative he would be invited not her. Thanks to some police reports (that were later shown to be fabricated) the Aunt had a restraining order on the Uncle. Thankful the ceremony and reception were on a private estate which was entirely booked out for the wedding as Aunt did show up and tried to get the police to evict the uncle. Thankfully the police showed some common sense and arrested her for trespassing.


Zhaleh January 3, 2018 at 8:35 am

I can’t wait to see all the replies! I’m so confused about save the dates.

From what I gather from conversations in this website is that save the dates are usually for people who live a long distance away, so that they may make travel plans.

Other forums and websites I’ve been to are against save the dates altogether and suggest invitations go out six to eight weeks ahead of time (with the idea that the people closest to you will have known the date already through conversation.

But a save the date is not actually an invitation by definition. But how cruel is it to ask someone to save the date and then not invite them?

They should instead make it an announcement. We’ve sent out our announcements that we are getting married on this day.
That way the HC isn’t actually asking someone to keep their calendars free.

It’s just an announcement, you may get an invitation, you may not.

To all of you who have used saved the dates, did any of you not have a final quest list when you sent them?


EchoGirl January 3, 2018 at 6:16 pm

For some people, 6-8 weeks would feel like cutting it a little close. Maybe it’s a family idiosyncrasy, but by the time the six-week mark rolled around, my mother would want to have the plans made already (to save on travel/hotel, if nothing else). There was *one* time she decided to change her plans right about when the invitation for a cousin’s wedding showed up (she’d planned to go alone to save on airfare, but a sudden death in the family made her realize that sometimes it’s worth spending the money to bring everyone together because there won’t always be a “next time”, so she ended up taking me and my brother), she just about lost her mind worrying about the cost of airfare and if we had enough time to plan. Unfortunately, it would seem I’ve inherited that trait; I also like to nail down plans for big events well in advance. I’ve been…not really burned, but maybe a little singed, by waiting before.


staceyizme January 3, 2018 at 10:19 pm

Announcing an impending celebration to which you may or may not be invited is bad form, I think. Announcements are supposed to be issued after the fact, if memory serves me correctly, and in the guise of updating acquaintances and interested parties of the new address (if applicable) and the new status of the couple (now married, ergo a social unit). I don’t think they serve an important function in the modern era due to the instantaneous nature of texting, emailing,video calls and social media. But if they are used, it should probably be in the traditional sense.


NicoleDSK January 6, 2018 at 1:29 pm

6-8 weeks is not enough for international travel. Also most people get married in the summer, and if they wait until 6-8 weeks before, peoples smer vacations are booked up


Rod January 8, 2018 at 1:06 pm

I got married about 10 years ago. Half of the guest list, almost exactly, came from abroad traveling 3500 km+. My best friend did from an ocean away!

If we had waited until details were finalized (say 8 weeks), only about a third would have been able to plan it, and maybe 1/4 of them actually show up. As it was it was a fun wedding and they turned the rest of their trip into a sightseeing vacation. Double win. However, all of the “save the date” recipients were intended guest, the opposite is idiotic and inconsiderate.

Triple win – many of the “save the date” recipients immediately informed of their regrets so we could figure out better the size of the venue required. For example, the aforementioned best friend’s spouse couldn’t come due to work issues. More information = better planning.


Violet January 8, 2018 at 10:24 pm

You don’t send wedding announcements out before the wedding; those get sent out afterwards (if at all).

The idea that those closest to you will already know the date through conversation, I think, is a throwback to the days in which young couples got married shortly after high school in the same small town where they grew up and their mothers and aunts are all friends or something. If you’ve got 150 guests the best way to make sure they all know the date early enough to book travel is simply send them a notice! You just gotta make sure that it’s set in stone that you’re inviting all 150 of them.


Lerah99 January 3, 2018 at 9:09 am

I would be really upset if one of my cousins sent me a save the date card, I shuffled my calendar, requested time off from work, bought plane tickets, started saving for the trip and wedding gift etc…

Only to find out months later “We just wanted you to save the date so you’d know when to send the gift. You’re not, like, actually invited. OMG! Stalker much?”

If I receive a save the date card, I assume it’s so I have the time to clear my calendar and save the money for the trip when I’m invited to the actual wedding.

I’m really horrified that not only did your nephew send save the date cards to these relatives and now plans not to invite them. But also that when he realized the wedding was going to be too big he tried to extort your mother, his grandmother, to pay for the family members he already sent save the date cards.

It sounds like he and his bride should be finding a larger and cheaper location for this wedding since they were overly ambitious with their guest list.


NicoleDSK January 6, 2018 at 1:31 pm

I was thinking he was bullied into sending too many invitations by the grandma, but chose the wrong moment, too late, to put his foot down


Ryuugan80 January 3, 2018 at 9:23 am

I was under the impression that a save the date was more of an “FYI, we’re getting married, it’ll probably be around this date and you may or may not be invited.”

Otherwise, it’s just an invitation and there wouldn’t be a separate name for it, right?

(I haven’t been married nor been to any weddings, so YMMV.


lakey January 3, 2018 at 6:02 pm

The HC wouldn’t be asking you to “save the date” if they weren’t going to invite you. It is not a formal invitation, but it is a heads up that you will be invited to an event on that date. The purpose of doing this in addition to the wedding invitation is so that the invitee can buy airline tickets that are considerably cheaper if bought ahead of time. It is also so that, if you want to attend the wedding, you don’t go ahead and plan a cruise, trip, or make other plans that would prevent you from attending the wedding.


Barbara Foster January 3, 2018 at 9:57 pm

I’m afraid your impression is incorrect.

The “Save The Date” came about because nowadays people’s family and friends scatter widely, and few of us live lives of idle wealth, able to fly half-way across the country with a few weeks notice. The Save the Date notice is a preliminary invitation, sent when the date has been set, but other details (time, location, etc.) have not. This allows people from out of town to plan a trip, search for the best deals on flights and hotels, and make arrangements for time off. (For example, at my workplace, this would normally have to be done each January, so having a heads up months in advance would be essential). Many people will have to adjust their spending plans for such a new expense as well.

It would *never* be considered polite to send a notice that “we’re getting married and you may or may not be invited.” Please don’t do this if you do intend to marry some day. It’s little better than sending an actual invitation that says “we’re getting married and you may or may not be allowed in the door when you arrive.”


staceyizme January 3, 2018 at 10:24 pm

Save the date cards are weird in my view, but they are an announcement of an event with a specific date, time and location and they should be viewed as having weight almost equal to that of a formal invitation from the hosts’ perspective, conferring an obligation of forthcoming hospitality, since you’re literally being asked to clear your calendar and allow no other commitments to “crowd out” the occasion to which you will be formally invited.


Aleko January 4, 2018 at 2:20 am

The (relatively recent) idea of save the date cards is to give the people WHO YOU WILL DEFINITELY BE INVITING a heads-up as soon as you have fixed the date but not necessarily the venue, timings etc. It does not call for an RSVP. This allows the formal invitation, which must include all the details of venue/timings/dress codes etc that the guests will need, to be sent out much nearer the date without any danger that close friends and family will have committed themselves to be somewhere else on the day.

I notice that many “plan your wedding” sites are now confidently stating that wedding invitations “ought not” to be sent out more than 6-8 weeks before the wedding. This is absurd; if you have your plans nailed down to the extent that you can send out invitations with full details earlier than that, there is no earthly reason not to – except, I suspect, that the wedding industry want to sell you another set of fancy cards.


Tan January 4, 2018 at 6:35 am

I save the date burdens the host to send out the invite. The idea is that you give people plenty of notice of the wedding date so they are not busy. You should send out more invitations than save the dates not the other way round.


Pat January 3, 2018 at 10:06 am

I agree, when you send someone a “save the date” card you are obligated to send an invitation. The only exception would be something totally unforeseen like a serious illness in the bride or groom’s immediate family resulting a drastically curtailed wedding. It’s kind of your mother to step in to prevent hurt feelings, but it seems there is a potential for your nephew to take further advantage of her. She should make it clear that she is not further subsidizing the wedding.


Pat January 3, 2018 at 11:07 am

I think I also would treat the funds advanced as Bride and Groom’s wedding present. If they are crass enough to ask after the wedding why there was no gift, I would say, “Don’t you remember, I gave you $XXX to help pay for your wedding.”


Teapot January 3, 2018 at 10:19 am

Save the date means we’re going to be sending you an actual invitation to our wedding. Period. You don’t send them until you have your budget, venue and guest list set. Period. With Dale and Jen’s attitude, I think I’d free up the date to do something else entirely.


LadyV January 3, 2018 at 10:23 am

NO. No, no, no. You do NOT send save the date cards to people unless they are actually going to be invited to the wedding. The idea is “Please put this on your calendar, because it would break our hearts if you couldn’t attend”, NOT “Please put this on your calendar, in case we decide you’re worthy of an invitation.” Even if there wasn’t an etiquette rule, common courtesy and consideration would say that you don’t let someone think they’re going to be invited to the wedding and then NOT invite them. OP’s nephew and niece-to-be definitely need some etiquette lessons.


Cat2 January 3, 2018 at 10:48 am

“If you didn’t want to turn it into a family reunion, you should not have sent people you didn’t want there a notice to save the date in expectation of getting an invitation. One that I neither sent nor asked to have sent.

If what you would really like is some help with the wedding costs, you can ask me for that politely and we’ll see what we can work out.”


Barbara Foster January 3, 2018 at 10:55 am

I agree with you and your mom. Telling people to “save the date” and not inviting them is rude. Particularly because they may have made a lot of preparations – saving money for travel, arranging holiday time, booking flights – that were for nothing. If they didn’t want people there, they shouldn’t have sent the save the dates.

I’d be like your mother. To prevent my grandchild from looking as if he’d been raised by wolves, I’d happily shell out enough to cover the costs of the plates. I know it’s not your mother’s fault, but this sort of thing could blow an extended family apart.

I can only hope that in later years your nephew will look back on this and go “What was I *thinking*?”


DGS January 3, 2018 at 11:18 am

You are right in that save-the-dates are a pre-invitation. Dale and Jen probably got caught up in the engagement excitement and sent them too soon, before figuring out their budget, but that is not an excuse. Now, they ought to scale back their nuptials to accommodate their guests rather than asking Grandma to pay. That is inappropriate.


PJ January 3, 2018 at 11:22 am

I checked out what TheKnot says about Save The Dates: “This pre-invitation officially announces your wedding date and lets guests know they will, in fact, be invited to the celebration” It was to give people a warning so they can make travel and work plans. Why bother telling someone to save the date if there’s no need to actually ‘save the date’?

Dale messed up, and someone in a position to do so (his mother, maybe?) should set him straight on how to handle the guests he pre-invited. I wonder if LW’s mother / Dale’s grandmother fostered his childish behavior over the years by quietly going along and cleaning up & paying for his thoughtlessness. I wonder what Dale’s mother / LW’s sister things of this? (or is it Dale’s father/LW’s brother?)

The comment about ‘if [she] wanted to turn their wedding into a family reunion then she can shell out the extra money for their plates’ is very classy, isn’t it? How convenient: they’re getting someone else to pay for their guests, who will still probably be expected to bring gifts.

If I were the grandmother and treated this way, I’d probably attend the ceremony, then bow out to have a family reunion with the un-invited family that came to town. If I’m going to ‘shell out the money for their plates’ after all, it will be at a venue of my choosing rather than a party in honor of a couple that doesn’t even want that family present. — and if she’s worried about ‘the right thing to do’ I think this is actually a better choice. It ‘hosts’ the family from out of town and spares them the awkwardness of attending an event where they weren’t really wanted.


Tan January 4, 2018 at 6:48 am

I’m suddenly reminded of an instance with my in laws family. When my brother in law married they sent out invites and a group of 8 of his future wife’s relatives that live ~3 hours away replied saying they couldn’t come. Then a week before the wedding his wife’s grandma announces shes hired a coach and nearby lodge and they will be coming… Except the catering had been finalise and the room couldn’t accommodate 8 extra people. So grandma and the +8 turn up for the ceremony. Went and had their own lunch (i.e. his wife’s grandma elected to not turn up to her wedding) then formed a sour group at the back of the hall for the “night party”- moaning that they weren’t allowed in for the meal to anyone who would listen. Took the shine off the brides day even though it wasn’t at all the couple’s fault.


staceyizme January 4, 2018 at 1:16 pm

With anyone other than near family and a granny, I’d absolutely not worry about it. As it’s a significant part of the bride’s relatives, nothing short of a fire code violation should have prevented their attendance, in my view. I know, it’s REALLY bad precedent to accommodate idiotic family members, but this is one case of “if I have to shove a table into a corner and have 8 meals ordered a la carte, I will”. That said, if it couldn’t be done, it couldn’t be done and they should have been dealt with firmly and immediately by their own offspring. (And probably banned from future gatherings for at least a period of time…)


Girlie January 5, 2018 at 2:56 pm

Ah, but then, we also don’t know the bride’s connection to these people other than the biological factor.
I know I have relatives who are close by blood but who I wouldn’t bother jumping through hoops for.


Rod January 8, 2018 at 1:14 pm

My dad tried that – as mentioned before, a large contingent traveled internationally to my wedding. Hired a party bus to take them to the wedding and reception venues as well as for sightseeing. Pretty cool and a great idea, but apparently was too much of a good idea and got more takers than spots.

A week before the wedding (aka stress explosion period) my dad called me and said he needed three more places. Didn’t happen – the place was at capacity for fire code specs and the venue and caterer wouldn’t do it. To this day I have no idea who exactly were these three people and whether they made the trip at all and just skipped the wedding parts 🙂 .


Tan January 8, 2018 at 8:08 am

Essentially there was a “meal deal” where say 50 got a meal for the price x. When the relatives declined the bride and groom invited other people to fill the venue and make the “deal” better value. When the relatives re-invited themselves those seat were gone and the venue was full. (I think for safety you may have been allowed 52 people in the room but not 58.) The bride and grandma were close but these people were three hours away in spirit as well as geographically (although Grandma “holidayed” with them regularly)


Outdoor Girl January 3, 2018 at 11:42 am

A Save the Date isn’t an invitation; it’s letting people know early so they can make plans – time off work, booking hotel rooms, booking travel, etc.

However, you don’t send a Save the Date unless it is someone that will be invited to the wedding. You can send an invitation to someone who didn’t get a Save the Date but not the other way around.

What if people have already booked non-refundable plane tickets and then you decide ‘Oops, we don’t have room for you after all.’ Yeah, I’d be ticked.

OP, in your mother’s place, I’d very likely do the same thing: pay for the people great nephew is planning on not inviting after all. And my future relationship with said nephew would very likely be less close than it was previously.


Skaramouche January 3, 2018 at 12:06 pm

Is it at all possible that there were conservations you were not privy to which included some discussion about including these people or a suggestion that they should be included? Because otherwise, I’m at a complete loss. What a terrible example of bratty behaviour! Dale deserves a sound slap on his bum-bum 😛


NicoleDSK January 6, 2018 at 1:36 pm

Yes his comment about how if grandma wants a family reunion she should pay for it suggests he was pressured into inviting them but didn’t want to


lakey January 3, 2018 at 12:11 pm

I was under the impression that one of the main purposes of save the date cards was so that people who live out of town can make transportation and hotel arrangements. Allowing people to make arrangements based on a save the date card, then changing your mind is out of line.
Your nephew created this problem, then he dumped the cost of his mistake on his grandmother. Have his parents spoken to him about this? It’s their job to straighten him out.


Dee January 3, 2018 at 12:46 pm

A Save The Date is not an invitation. It’s a heads-up that you will be receiving an invitation. It’s quite useless, actually, since the hosts could just send an invitation in the first place, but then weddings have to be such grand productions nowadays, don’t they?

At any rate, the nephew is not obligated to invite those who were sent Save The Dates. He can do anything he wants; it’s his wedding. If he wants to snub those family members who took him at his promise and who have paid dearly to attend the wedding they are now NOT invited to, then that’s his business. This is between the nephew (and his bride) and those who are being snubbed. Other family members should back off and let this play out among the involved parties only. Getting involved will only result in an extended version of the drama. That’s a messy complication that’s unnecessary.

But surely the chosen invited can act on their own consciences, and consider the consequences of attending an event so riddled with greed? The likely possibility that this event may involve yet more examples of poor decisions on the part of the groom/bridezilla? And whether these chosen invited want to get involved in such an affair? Maybe the invited want to consider a different plan of action from the one they previously were going to take – as in, a terse “not attending” on the RSVP? No gift sent? Plans with the snubbed family for that date, a family reunion of those who are more interested in the company of generous relatives than of spoiled ones? Nothing needs to be said to Dale and co.; actions will speak louder than words.

This is a chance to rise above the greed and make the day a good one for all, despite Dale’s intent. Nothing need be said to him and Dale will be able to make amends, if he chooses to, if he matures over the years. For family members to try to cover for Dale will only assure lasting bitterness and division. I know which option I would choose, but then I don’t do unnecessary drama.


Violet January 8, 2018 at 10:30 pm

It’s not useless. Invitations are sent when people have full details nailed down – venue, time, menu so you can select your meal, etc. Save-the-dates are send out in a time period when couples may not know the exact time or menu – or even the venue – but they do have the date selected, and they want their out-of-town guests to start planning to make the trip out.


staceyizme January 3, 2018 at 1:17 pm

Your mom is right to pay the money and move on. These two are really clueless, but that isn’t uncommon for Happy Couples, unfortunately. Save the date cards can be a way of allowing people who need advance notice to plan travel, get time off and book any babysitting arrangements that are needed. But the exact same thing could be accomplished by dint of a little direct contact from the bride-or-groom-to-be or a designated family member. It would force an early realization of those duties that accompany hosting guests and possibly forestall carelessly issued invitations that are basically a gift grab. It sounds here as if the HC didn’t really expect out of town relatives to attend but they would presumably have welcomed their well wishes in the form of a gift and congratulations. I’m definitely an old fogie, but if you aren’t going to welcome, feed and reasonably attend to your guests with goodwill and good grace, you have no business inviting them at all. They might mistake your invitation for an ACTUAL desire for their presence instead of their presents…


Dyan January 3, 2018 at 1:18 pm

NO that is not right, they should call the people they sent the save the date cards to and explain to them..this has nothing to do with his gran..
it is like they KNOW they did something wrong and don’t want to take the blame for it


Miss Jagger January 3, 2018 at 1:18 pm

I am reading this correctly? They send save the dates to a large group and then have the nerve to cut said guests from the list and accuse them of turning it into a family reunion?! That is incredibly rude and quite confusing.

OP,you can bet that there will be shower invitations to those not invited to the wedding!


Calli Arcale January 3, 2018 at 1:46 pm

Your instincts are spot on. You absolutely NEVER send someone a “save the date” card without sending them an invite. In fact, you generally send more invites than “save the date” cards — “Save the date” is for the sake of the people you really really really want to make sure can be there.

Your nephew needs to think carefully what he asked of them when he told them to save the date if he thinks he doesn’t have to invite them.


kingsrings January 3, 2018 at 1:56 pm

That is incredibly rude and tacky. Once you invite someone to a wedding, you can’t uninvite them! This couple is going to understandably have a lot of people hurt and upset with them. And they’ll probably just brush it off with, “Its our day and we’ll do what we want!”. My mother had that happen twice with her with the same person. She was verbally invited to both the woman’s daughter’s wedding and then years later the woman’s wedding. Then both times she never heard anything after the verbal invite.


Lyn January 3, 2018 at 3:15 pm

I think if you asked someone to “save the date” to attend your wedding, then you owe them an invitation to your wedding. I agree that the guest list should have been finished when the save the dates were mailed.


JeanLouiseFinch January 3, 2018 at 3:59 pm

This sounds like a really sleazy bait and switch. Your grandmother should not have to pay for her family to attend. Your grandmother should allow the others to individually handle this. Instead, you or she should tell the people planning to attend that they are expected to pay for the “honor” of attending this wedding. You should tell them that they could pay for their plates in lieu of buying a wedding present for the greedy couple. If they choose to attend, they should send the check with a note spelling this out so they are not dunned for further contributions. If anyone has changed their position (I.E., made plane reservations, etc., in anticipation of the wedding, they should send a very small gift and explain that they would have sent a larger gift but: (a) they knew they had no invitation to the wedding, and (b) explain that they would have given more, but chose instead to deduct the cancellation fee they incurred because of the receipt of “save the date” card. Ideally, everyone should stay home and change their plans to actually have a family reunion, including your grandmother, on the weekend of the wedding. Do not send presents, although a small, inexpensive card would be appropriate. If your cousin asks why nobody is coming to the wedding, tell them that their suggestion about the family reunion was good so you decided to throw one. In all future parties held in cousin’s city to which they are invited, tell them there is a per plate charge for attending, even if nobody else is charged.


Aleko January 4, 2018 at 2:38 am

I like the idea that the disinvited people should send a copy of their cancellation fee invoice inside a congratulations card as a wedding present. “Dear Jen and Dave, congratulations on your marriage. Enclosed is what we have shelled out for your wedding. Best wishes for your future together, love X”


NostalgicGal January 5, 2018 at 12:16 am

My snarkasm streak loves this.


Mrsclaus January 3, 2018 at 4:26 pm

Yes, all “save the dates” get an invite.

But I’m guessing it’s really deeper than it appears. it almost could be that none of these family members really had been planning on coming ( op says they weren’t close) until they got the idea in their head to make a family reunion out of it, which would cost the bride/groom. I can see how that would make the bride/ groom kind of upset.

But it’s still the bride and groom’s problem because they already sent the save-the-dates, they can’t back out of it now.


Zhaleh January 3, 2018 at 4:54 pm

Yes. I don’t think you can really fault a distant relative when they receive what seems to be a pre-invitation to a wedding and they think, oh great! I get to see everyone!
It’s how some families function. Really, every wedding is a family reunion.


Dee January 3, 2018 at 6:58 pm

Mrsclaus – How is family attending a wedding at the invite of the bride and groom going to cost the bride and groom more than they already budgeted for these guests? A wedding IS a family reunion for those family members who attend. If the bride and groom don’t like that then they shouldn’t have invited ANY family members, or eloped and saved everyone a lot of money and fuss.

There is not a single guest who has not considered who else is attending when making the decision of whether to go to a wedding. Guests are more likely to attend if they know, and are fond of, other people who are also attending. Pretending that the only reason a guest attends a wedding is to celebrate the bride and groom is ridiculous. Also, the event is more to celebrate the guests at a milestone event, so every decision should be made with the guests’ comfort in mind. That means playing up the family reunion aspect of the event, rather than trying to keep it from being just that.


Maybe January 3, 2018 at 9:37 pm

Weddings are often a form of a family reunion, Dale and Jen are pretty clueless if they don’t realize that many family members wouldn’t have seen each other recently and will use the opportunity to catch up. Honestly I’ve attended a couple of weddings to see family as much (or more) than seeing the ceremony.

Since the only ‘cost’ D & J will incur is hosting the relatives at the reception–pretty sure these two aren’t planning on paying for a hotel or flights–I think it’s foolish for them to be offended (thought I think it’s less offended than cheap).


staceyizme January 3, 2018 at 10:33 pm

Exactly! The “calculus” of who is likely to attend and under what circumstances can be tricky, but it’s no excuse for reneging on an offer of hospitality.


Aleko January 4, 2018 at 2:34 am

But, for all the modern braying of “It’s our day!!! It’s all about us!!!”, a family reunion is one of the things a wedding *is*, and traditionally always was (just as a funeral is, and always was). If you invite distant relatives and they come, they surely will take the opportunity to catch up with the family, and why on earth shouldn’t they?

It all comes down to: if you don’t want someone at your wedding, don’t send them a card. Not even if you would really like them to give you cash or gifts.


staceyizme January 4, 2018 at 1:21 pm

It does bring up an interesting question about guests who aren’t wanted for the sake of emotional attachment but are tolerated because they are partnered with one of your close friends or relatives or otherwise an “obligatory” guest (such as the cousins, perhaps, whose parents included you in their chidrens’ weddings and will now expect the same courtesy in return or the old gang at the office that you used to hang out with on a near-daily basis but haven’t even texted regularly for months…). I don’t know where the cut-off for that category IS, exactly, but it’s based at least in part on precedent and reasonable reciprocity of prior hospitality and invitations to similar events, is it not?


Gena January 3, 2018 at 6:25 pm

Aren’t all weddings a family reunion? After all, it’s not like you are going to socialize with the HC. The last 2 weddings I went to I sat at a table with relatives I hadn’t seen in a while and had a nice visit. I barely saw the bride and the groom not at all. And what is wrong with me decided to attend a wedding, where I barely know the HC, because lots of my other relatives will be there?


Wendy January 3, 2018 at 6:48 pm

I’m woundering if it Mum or Dad said grandma will be hurt if you don’t invite all these people. The idea that the grandmother wanted all these people there had to come from someone.


BagLady January 3, 2018 at 8:36 pm

The whole concept of “save the date” missives rubs me the wrong way. To me they give off a vibe that is part arrogant and part desperate. “We are getting married on the 32nd of Julember, so don’t you dare schedule anything else on that date! Our wedding is the most important event ever to be scheduled on Julember 32, and you HAVE to be there!”

If the HC has a date, then they most likely have a venue as well — because who sets a date without knowing if the venue is available? So they have all the pieces in place to send an actual invitation. Why not just do that? Personally I would rather receive an invitation to a wedding six or eight months away than a save-the-date 10 months beforehand followed by an invitation three months out.

If (general) you must do save-the-dates, do *not* send them to anyone you aren’t planning to invite to the wedding. Otherwise, what are they saving the date *for*?


Ria January 4, 2018 at 1:12 pm

I certainly didn’t think my wedding was the most important thing ever – but I wanted to make sure my guests who would be traveling several thousand miles across the country had enough time to plan! I had a venue 9 months out, but didn’t have a catering company, or a final schedule for the day with the time for everyone to show up, or the rehearsal dinner information for the out of town guests. That said, everyone who got a save the date got an invitation 7 weeks before the wedding with those details.

More recently, getting a save the date 7 months before my cousin’s wedding halfway across the country means that I can let work know I need the time off, I haven’t made other plans for those days, and I should get in touch with my friends nearby and see who I can visit while I’m out there!


Vicki January 3, 2018 at 9:38 pm

A save the date commits only the person/people who send it. It gives them a heads-up (as others have said) so they can see about getting time off from work, and avoid making conflicting plans, to the extent that’s under their control. You can’t reschedule your high school reunion because it conflicts with Uncle Bob’s wedding, but with that much notice you can take the wedding into account when scheduling a dentist appointment or planning a casual barbecue.

I suspect that the bride and groom forgot one of the basics: never invite more people than you’re prepared to host. It’s rare for everyone invited to a large event to say “yes,” but not unheard of.


Barbara Foster January 3, 2018 at 10:04 pm

They may possibly have mistaken Save The Dates for another wedding tradition, the Wedding Announcement. This is sent out *after* the wedding to alert family and friends not close enough for an invitation that hey, we’re now an official married couple. Possibly this is done so people adjust their address books, possibly it’s done with the hope that some of these people will feel benevolent and send presents. But at least it wouldn’t involve people possibly spending thousands of dollars to travel to a location only to find they are not among the invited guests.


JeanLouiseFinch January 4, 2018 at 4:03 pm

I don’t think there was any mistake at all in sending the additional numbers of “save the date” cards out. This was simply the couples’ crass attempt to milk more gifts/money out of family members they did not want to actually see at their wedding. It wouldn’t surprise me if they discussed having and “A list” and a “B list” for guests not invited to the dinner, or something like that. They might have already gotten some of the presents and decided that they couldn’t milk the family for any additional money. When they got push back from Grandma, they just tried to foist some of the wedding costs onto her. I just hope that grandma doesn’t get sucked in to shelling out money for this travesty. I just hope that Grandma gets a real family reunion out of this, sans Dale and Bridezilla. If they don’t hold it on the wedding weekend, I just hope that if they invite whoever planned this wedding gets and invitation with a per-head advance payment charge included. I also hope that nobody sends these 2 any gifts.


Mustard January 4, 2018 at 9:44 am

We had a save-the-date card from my niece for her wedding in six month’s time so we made a hotel booking to be there, and re-arranged a holiday at some inconvenience. A couple of weeks before the wedding I rang my sister to ask about the invitation, only to be told the wedding was off and had been for weeks. She was put-out when I suggested that it would have been useful to know that the bride and groom had cancelled.


Semperviren January 4, 2018 at 10:52 am

I find it particularly shocking that the HC took it upon themselves to send save-the-date cards to extended family and now it’s the grandmother who is being accused of “wanting a family reunion”.


Miss-E January 4, 2018 at 11:34 am

When my cousin got married she sent out save the dates to about 200 people six months before the wedding. I was in the party and helping to plan the bachelorette and bridal shower. She gave me a guest list and I started contacting people about the bachelorette. Well, three months later she decides she is cutting the guest list and now it is MY responsibility to disinvite a handful of women from the bachelorette…but do it in a way that somehow doesn’t make her culpable (as if I just went crazy and invited random strangers I’d never met to a party). What followed were some of the most awkward and uncomfortable conversations of my life.


staceyizme January 5, 2018 at 9:05 pm

Um, no. That wasn’t nice of her to do to you AT ALL. You shouldn’t have had to be the one to call anyone and hopefully have been able to set the record straight (even if it was after the fact).


Aleko January 6, 2018 at 4:52 am

That’s painful even to imagine. But, looking back, don’t you wonder why you actually felt obligated to do it? You would have been perfectly justified in saying “You asked me to invite these people, so I did: if you now want them disinvited, that’s up to you. I’m not going to do your dirty work for you.” Or “Look, there is no way to make you seem not-culpable for this other than to imply that I fouled up somehow and it’s my fault, and that’s not something I’m prepared to do. OK, as I’m the organiser of this party, if you have disinvited them I’ll just have to let them know. But I’m not going to lie or invent any excuses for you; I’ll just tell them you’ve now trimmed your list and they didn’t make the cut.”


Ciotog January 5, 2018 at 12:46 pm

This happened to me! A friend asked me to save the date and then didn’t send an invitation. I’m not sure what I was supposed to be saving the date for, but glad that I hadn’t bought a plane ticket.


OldMom January 9, 2018 at 4:00 pm

I don’t disagree that it was rude of Dale to send save-the-dates out before the guest list was finalized, but, the phrasing of the story makes me wonder about some things. LW says the cards were sent to Aunt Poppy and all her children….but were they just sent to Aunt Poppy and she assumed it also meant her children? I ask because these children sound like they would be dale’s second cousins and that he has never, or rarely, ever met them. So the reaction of cousin Erica seems strange to me…oh good I will plan a trip to the wedding of these complete strangers, rather than calling her mother to ask who these people are.
Yes, Dale and Jen are still rude. But if you got a save the date from distant relatives you had never met, might you not think it was a mistake, at least before you bought tickets? This is not an etiquette error but it sounds like a logistical one to me.


Calibrate January 9, 2018 at 5:29 pm

I’ve received a few safe the date cards in the last couple of years and then never an invite. Kinda makes me feel like I ended up on the cutting room floor when it came time to dial in the guest list. No bueno


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