Usually the letters I receive have questions for me, and I answer the questions. Yesterday though, I got an email from my husband’s um, let me see if I have this right, second cousin, once removed about my husband’s third cousin, who I don’t believe I’ve ever met. Names have been removed to protect the innocent.
We have family news. [our son] and [UM] are planning to be married. The news is so new that plans are a bit vague right now but they are looking at November. So spread the word and start making plans to come. The weather here in November is usually one of the nicer autumn months. We'll see how all of this comes together and we'll start working on what is available in the area as well.
Please keep them in your prayers that this is the right choice and time. She is a very sweet young lady and we are very fond of her.
I don’t want to seem ungrateful, because it’s always nice to be included in good news, and to be considered part of the family, but this letter has left me with some questions of my own.
1) Do the bride and groom know that you’re announcing their wedding and pre-inviting random, barely related cousins to it before they’ve even set a date?
Save the Date cards are wonderful, especially for out-of-town guests. For an informal wedding there’s no reason they can’t be sent via email, but they should only be sent once a wedding date is set (so that guests can actually save a date) and only to those close relatives and friends whom you absolutely, positively know you want to invite. My family and I would be THRILLED to be invited to this wedding, but this bride shouldn't have to invite people she's never met because her future in-laws got trigger happy. As plans develop, your guest numbers may change and once you’ve sent a save-the-date, you’re obligated to invite the person. This is why they should only be sent out by the bride and groom, or with their approval.
2 )Does the last sentence of the email mean that this might NOT be the right choice and time? And if so, is your son the problem? She’s a sweet young lady that you like. Him? Not so much.
As you start your wedding planning, it’s great if you can get friends and family to help you spread the word. BUT, it’s probably for the best if you make sure you know what they’re going to say, before they say it.
If your friends and family have doubts about your choice, you should hear them out. Listen to what they say, and thank them for caring enough about you to be honest with you. If they can’t get behind you, then do not ask them to send out announcements, handle information, or give a toast at the wedding!
It’s much better to set up your wedding website and wedding pre-party page than to risk having your mom answer registry questions with an explanation of what a horrible husband you’ll be.
If you or your parents (or your second cousins once removed) are considering a similar communication, here’s what I would suggest:
Dear Friends and Family,
We have family news! Our son Paul and Eleanor Rigby have just announced their engagement. The news is very fresh, so no details have been set.
We’re excited to welcome Eleanor into our family, and we hope you’ll join us in wishing the happy couple all the best as they embark on this exciting new phase of life.
Your second cousin (once removed)-in-law
Now please join me in hoping that these relatives are in fact far enough removed that they never see this article!
The Wedding Maven
Do you have a question about wedding related etiquette, traditions, or relationships? Write the Wedding Maven at firstname.lastname@example.org