E-etiquette

By Chandra Orr

October 29, 2010 5 min read

From e-mail invites to blogging about the big day, more and more brides are turning to the Internet to spread the word about their weddings, but even in the digital age, proper etiquette still applies.

Follow these simple do's and don'ts to merge your wedding with the Web and you'll come off looking classy:

*Do Create a Private Wedding Website

Facebook and Twitter are fine for posting news in the moment, but spring for a dedicated website to share official details of the big day.

"A dedicated wedding website allows the couple to control who sees the information and when. Other electronic mediums do not have the same privacy settings," explains etiquette expert Darlene Dennis, author of "Host or Hostage?"

Easily accessible sites can pose safety issues -- strangers can find out when you will be away from home -- and give a false sense of involvement to those who won't be invited to the wedding. A private website ensures that only those who need the information get the information.

*Don't Use the Web for Wedding Invitations

For save-the-date announcements, bridal shower invites and photo sharing, the Web works wonders, but when it comes to the official wedding invitations, snail mail is still a must.

"Wedding websites are a fabulous way to share the details of the engagement, travel information for out-of-town guests and registry information -- but be sure the medium matches the message. A quick reminder is fine by e-mail, but a formal invitation is best sent by mail," says Jodi R.R. Smith, president of Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting.

After all, the invites reveal a lot about the ceremony to come.

"The wedding invitation sets the tone of the wedding. Even though everything is moving to online avenues, a mailed invitation is still the proper way to invite guests," says Curtrise Garner, author of "The New Rules of Etiquette."

*Do Think Twice Before You Post

By openly sharing the details of the wedding planning process, you open yourself up to unsolicited comments, critiques and suggestions.

"There are plenty of people with a multitude of opinions who feel they have a right to weigh in on almost any topic," Smith says. "Cousins or college buddies who may not have made the guest list, the ceremony venue, the celebration menu, the honeymoon location -- as soon as the information is posted, it is open to critique."

*Don't Over-Share

Feel free to share the highlights of the wedding planning process, but save the details for phone calls and face-to-face conversations.

"Weddings are exciting and fun, but nobody is more excited than the bride. Share small tidbits and funny stories briefly and sporadically," Garner says.

Spread the news on finding your dress or a funny story about your fiance's booking the honeymoon. Skip the long rant detailing your struggle to choose between cream or white linens for the reception.

*Do Consider the Impact

Be respectful of your guests -- and yourself -- when sharing anecdotes and photos online.

"Don't be silly or reveal anything of a personal nature that will be an embarrassment to you or your family, either now or at a later date," Dennis says. "Of course, the wedding party and every member of both families need to be included, but toss out pictures of anyone in the act of doing anything socially inappropriate."

Friends and family will appreciate a few short video clips and a tasteful selection of wedding pictures -- but don't go overboard.

"Very few people want to see all 675 pictures. Instead, choose 30 representative ones," Smith says.

*Don't Click Too Soon

Whether sending e-mail invites or posting travel information to a website, edit everything before you hit the send button -- and ask a friend to proofread all communications before you commit. Nothing's worse than giving guests the wrong date for the event or misspelling your future mother-in-law's name, so pay close attention to names, dates, addresses and driving directions.

Also, be sure your mass e-mail list includes only those invited to the wedding.

*Do Send Personal Thank-You's

Avoid using e-mail to show appreciation for all those gifts. Thank-you notes deserve the personal touch -- the kind that comes from handwritten snail mail.

"Some things need to maintain a traditional paper trail," Dennis says. "Handwritten thank-you notes tell how well-mannered and educated you are. Use black or blue ink and your nicest cursive writing. Remember the names of those who sent gifts, exactly which gifts they sent and how you plan to enjoy them -- and mention a bit about how pleased you are with the givers' presence on your big day."

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