Is there 'Save the Date' invitation etiquette?

The Wedding Helper explains the proper etiquette when

The Wedding Helper explains the proper etiquette when it comes to sending out "Save the Date" invitations. (Credit: Fotolia)

If a person has already informed you that they won't be able to attend a destination wedding, should you still send a "Save the Date" invitation? If they can't "Save the Date," can you still send the bridal shower invitation? And should you still send a wedding invitation considering you already know their answer? -- Lauren, West Hempstead

"Save the Dates" are an excellent way of making sure your guests get a heads-up in marking their calendar for the big day. This is especially true with destination weddings! However, even if you already know certain guests won't be able to attend, etiquette dictates that sending a "Save the Date" is necessary regardless of their answer.

I reached out to Patricia Fitzpatrick, founder and director of The Etiquette School of New York, to get her advice on handling the situation with proper etiquette.

Fitzpatrick says: "Even if a person -- especially a close friend or relative -- has already informed you that they will not be able to attend your destination wedding, sending a 'Save the Date' -- along with a note expressing that you understand they can't attend but will certainly be missed -- is an excellent way to go about it." 

If someone won't be receiving a "Save the Date," sending a bridal shower invitation isn't necessary. "A bridal shower is intended to be a celebration with the bride's closest friends and family who would, of course, also be invited to the wedding," Fitzpatrick says. "To invite someone to your bridal shower and not your wedding would be in very poor taste." 

The right thing to do when it comes to sending a wedding invitation -- even though you're already aware the person cannot attend -- depends on the relationship. "Although one is not obligated to buy a wedding gift if he or she is not attending the wedding, an invitation comes with the expectation of a gift," Fitzpatrick says. "If you know a person cannot attend your wedding, and they aren't a close friend or relative, I would not send an invitation."

If you have a wedding question, email The Wedding Helper at karen.ruffini@newsday.com and your question could be featured!

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