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Save The Date Email Etiquette

Nov28

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Maybe you can talk me down or tell me if I am right to be a little bit irritated by this saga.
This involves a group of friends from college. Several of us live in the same state we went to school in, a few live three hours away, and another few live three hours away in the opposite direction. The last one lives out East. By default a lot of our reunions tend to be where we went to school, close to where I live (driving distance for most, family close by, central location, etc). And usually my little apartment tends to be the place where everyone stays (I really need to get a house……it’s too bad because the people that live far away and are married have the nice houses!)
Anyway, the friend out East is having a baby! Yay! And she is coming back the week of Thanksgiving. So I offered to throw her a baby shower. As this is kind of last minute, I sent out an email telling our friends the date we had decided as a kind of save the date. I also said that we realized that this was close to Thanksgiving, so it wouldn’t be a big deal if people couldn’t attend, but this would be our only shot to have a shower. Frankly, I figured that it would just be those of us in this state. And I said that real invitations would be on the way.
Surprisingly, I have gotten a lot of interest in this from people that will have to make a real effort to get here! Which is great…..I love seeing my friends and Nicole (the mom) will be really happy.
But the email has been treated as an invitation to change the plans. I have gotten replies that Saturday won’t work, Sunday would be better, why don’t we do brunch, why are we doing it in November when the baby is due in March, etc. As a group, we usually can’t make a decision on where to go out to eat without spending 20 minutes discussing how no one has an opinion, but yet everyone has an opinion on the baby shower that I am hosting and paying for?!?
The email that I sent out was in no way asking for opinions, just an FYI. But now I am having some doubts because I love my friends and I hate for anyone to miss this, if they want to come, and I certainly don’t want anyone to be mad at me. :) But all of these conditions and suggestions are being replied to all, so I should probably make some sort of definitive declaration.
I am leaning towards leaving it the way I had originally set it up for. There are several reasons, I have already cleared it with guest of honor, if I was driving from three hours away, I would want the choice of being able to only spend one day here or stay over and I don’t think brunch would allow that. But to be honest, a big reason, is because I am little be irritated that I am kind of being walked all over. I probably should have just sent out the stupid invitations!
Obviously this will have happened before you maybe even have a chance to read it, but I would be curious about how you would have handled this.
-J

Hey look! It’s time for Sleep Deprivation Related Listing! Hooray!
1) Don’t you love how things always seem to turn into a Big Honking Hassle when all you wanted was to do something nice for a friend? I can totally sympathize with your “OMGWTFUGUYS” response to all the unasked-for “suggestions” on how to improve your already-set-in-stone plans.
1a) THAT SAID…
2) An email “save the date” is entirely too casual. You can use a mass email to debate plans for happy hour or dinner on Friday night, but for an event like a birthday party or baby shower, always always always use an eVite, even for a preliminary head count or a last-minute save the date. (Pingg has the most beautiful e-invitations in the world. The end.) Don’t give people the option to “reply all.” Give them the option to say YES, NO or MAYBE and that’s it. By sending the shower details via regular old email, you did sort of send the impression that this was a casual, early seed of an idea that was open for a little discussion.
2a) THAT SAID…
3) Once those replies started coming in, with the suggestions and the “but I have to clean the dryer vent that daaaaay! accommodate meeeee!” excuses, I would have immediately responded with my own very firm reply to all. Sorry guys, this is the date and time that works best for Nicole, so we’re going to go with that. The end, really. Obviously you don’t want to blame the guest of honor or paint her as inflexible, so avoid a lot of extra apologizing and talking. Just a simple and to-the-point reply to gently let them know that this is what you and the mother-to-be have planned and that, ahem, it’s no longer up for discussion.
4) Then I might immediately send out that slightly-more-formal eVite, with some verbiage about needing to keep the head count slightly more organized, wouldn’t want to lose anyone’s RSVP in the spam folder, blah blah blah. That should effectively put an end to the time and venue discussion.
5) And lastly, I’m wondering if your friends really wanted to be part of the baby-shower planning? Maybe the replies and suggestions were more about them getting caught up in the excitement and trying to get in on the fun of planning, or expressing a little passive-aggressiveness about not being consulted or not being able to plan and host it themselves? Like you still get to be the cool friend near school who hosts everything while they’re all out in the deep suburbs? Obviously, I have NO IDEA what your friends are like, or if this really IS anything more than a simple email etiquette misunderstanding. But if you haven’t had the shower yet…I’d keep this idea in mind and maybe try to make sure you let other people get involved in some capacity. (Celebrations.com has an invitation and party planning platform specifically made for events like these.) Give out some of the more fun duties, like getting them to brainstorm game ideas or make the gift lists or something to let them feel like they’re really a part of the shower, despite living hours away.


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About the author

Amalah

http://www.amalah.com
Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy's daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it's pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to amyadvice@gmail.com.

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.


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2 Responses to “Save The Date Email Etiquette”

  1. Sabrina Nov 30 at 2:36 pm Reply Reply

    It does sound like your friends want to be more involved–maybe you could ask them to come up with a theme for the gifts (like everyone brings a book to start baby’s library)–if they collaborate on what to bring and do a sort of “group gift” thing, they’ll feel even more connected to this new little being. You are a kind and thoughtful friend;throwing a shower is such a lovely gift to give your pregnant friend. Good luck with it!

  2. Jenny Dec 01 at 10:34 am Reply Reply

    This was my question! Thanks for answering. The shower has come and gone and it was a success. 8 of the 9 invited friends (plus the mom) were able to attend, which is a very good turnout for us.
    You brought up a very good point at the end. I am not sure if this applies to them or not. My idea was that since 5 of the 8 had to travel 2+ hours, I wanted them to be able to enjoy the day, but I could have thought more about that. And I agree that the original email was a HUGE mistake. But live and learn!
    But, in the end, we were able to spend a day together and have a great time. On a slightly sentimental note, a few of us were discussing how we never realize how much we miss day-to-day interaction with each other until we are together. One of our friends died 2 years ago, so we all tend to really value our time together. And I know that is part of the reason why everyone wanted to come for the shower, I was just kind of suprised since there is usually not that much discussion for a girls’ weekend or anything else. And I just kind of wanted to know how I had handled things wrong and what I should have done. And there is another baby due in May, but I will NOT be in charge of that shower. So I can be the perfect guest and just focus on a great present!

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