The lovely Rebekah wrote to ask this somewhat complicated question about wedding stationery:
My fiancé and I are eloping later this month. He wanted to get married sooner rather than later, but we’d still like to have a big wedding sometime next year. (Have your cake and eat it too, anyone?) I was thinking that perhaps we could send out wedding announcements combined with a “save-the-date” announcement for a vow renewal and reception. So, how would one word a “We got married and you weren’t there, but you can be at the next one” card without sounding tacky?
First, I’ll tell you what not to do, which is go with the flippant phrasing you used in your question. Not that I think you would, mind, but there are people reading who might just think it’s a good idea because it sounds just a little cheeky. Usually, engagement announcements and save-the-date cards are the place to get a little silly or sarcastic, and wedding invitations are the place to convey the main deets in an elegant and dignified way. Usually.
But your stationery will probably be a little different. First, it won’t exactly be a marriage announcement (since it’s also a save-the-date for your reception) or a wedding save-the-date (since you already said your vows). Second, while you want to convey the information in most save-the-date cards, you may want to make it more solemn or serious than not since elopements can cause hurt feelings among those people who reeeaaallly wanted you to have a “proper” wedding. And third, there’s the vow renewal complicating matters. Some couples will have a reception to celebrate an earlier wedding ceremony, but you’ll be throwing a second ceremony in there, too. (As an aside, this stymied The Beard, who wondered why you wouldn’t either keep the elopement a secret and just get married or just have the reception without the vow renewal.)
So to recap, you need wording for a marriage announcement combined with a not-quite save-the-date for a vow renewal with a reception to follow. For those who don’t know, a marriage announcement or wedding announcement announces that a couple is now married and includes details like the bride and groom’s names and the date of the marriage. Maybe a photo of the wedding, too. They are most often sent out when a couple has had a very small wedding or eloped, but they’re typically not serving as save-the-dates.
My advice is to make sure that word gets around that you’re married and that you eloped so you’re not fielding confused phone calls from relatives asking why they weren’t invited to your wedding or “What do you mean, vow renewal?” or “You did what?!” It seems to me just a tad iffy to spring your being married already on people on your save-the-dates. Better that as many people as possible already know if you’re truly sold on the idea of combining marriage announcements with save-the-dates. Once the grapevine has been primed, go with simple, straightforward wording on whatever cardstock floats your boat. Something like:
The newly married Mr. and Mrs. So-and-So
invite you to share in their joy as they
renew their vows and celebrate their marriage
on Saturday, April 10, 2010
Save the date!
This is where I’ll freely admit I had trouble coming up with wording that wouldn’t lead to shocked phone calls or hurt feelings or clucking tongues, but frankly you run the risk of fielding all those things (and more) when you plan a plain old regular wedding. If you want to elope first, do it. The Beard and I contemplated doing the very same thing, so I don’t know where his objections are coming from. Now I’ll open the floor — since this is a toughie, I welcome our awesome readers to give their word suggestions. Let’s help a sister out!