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Sorry! Your Wedding Invite Went Into Spam.

Next time you hear of a friend or family member’s upcoming wedding, be sure to check your email inbox, in case the invitation has gone there.

Digital wedding invitations, like this one, save couples money but are widely considered improper etiquette. (Image courtesy of emailweddinginvitations.net)

Richard Israelite of San Francisco said he saved more than $1,000 when he chose to pay around $80 for email invitations before he married his wife, Katherine, last year.

“To me it makes more sense,” he said. “I think it’s much more convenient in reaching people.” The quick RSVP function provided by digital, he said, made the process smooth.

There are good reasons a growing number of couples go digital when they send wedding invitations: It saves money, reduces your carbon footprint and can efficiently reach friends scattered around the world.

But old traditions die hard. And traditionalists say it is not considered proper etiquette to send out email invitations when many people are accustomed to fancy paper invites, wrapped in tissue paper and delivered to a physical mailbox by a human being.

Diane Forden, editor-in-chief of Bridal Guide Magazine, said that although the practice of sending digital invitations for the big day is gaining momentum, she and her magazine have taken a stance against the trend.

“The snail mail invite is still the way to go,” she said. “It’s such a momentous and special occasion. It makes it that much more special to send out traditional invitations.”

Forden said shooting out email cheapens the event and sets the tone for a really casual wedding.

“This is a type of occasion where you’re getting dressed like you’ve never been dressed before and hopefully never will be again,” Forden said.

Anna Post, the author of several wedding etiquette books and a great-great-granddaughter of Emily Post, the 20th century authority on decorum, agreed.

“It just doesn’t have the gravitas,” Post said, calling digital invites deletable and ephemeral. “Marriage is a substantial thing. I think it can feel a little too much like a dinner party” traditional invitations are skipped.

Forden and Post said older family members may be offended if you toss the tradition of elegant printed invitations out the window. Un-tech-savvy grandparents may not see or receive the email and, Post said, many folks treasure the invitations as keepsakes.

But going digital can sometimes shave thousands of dollars off the nuptial bill.

Israelite, 30, said trimming costs of his $25,000 formal-attire wedding was the main reason behind his decision to send digital invitations. He said he felt the stigma, but heard no direct complaints.

Andrew Wilson, owner and developer of emailweddinginvitations.net, said he provides a product as high quality as printed invitations, for as low as $48.99. He said his business has picked up dramatically in the past two years.

“Saving money doesn’t necessarily mean a compromise in quality,” Wilson said, adding that cost-effectiveness is one of the biggest draws. “Some people like the environment-friendly nature of digital. Some appreciate that our invitation service can contain much more information than a single sheeted printed invitation.”

Wilson said people considering digital invitations improper likely have not seen how sophisticated they have become.

“If you were to just send a one page email with a graphic attached, it wouldn’t look that great,” he said. “We created a graphical way to emulate the printed invitation without losing any sense of the personal touch.”

Crane & Co., one of the largest suppliers of traditional wedding invitations, is currently developing ideas for more tech-savvy invitations.

“We are very aware that sending a digital invitation is becoming very mainstream,” said Jessica Sick, digital marketing manager at Crane’s. “We understand that’s the way the market is going, so we try to embrace it the best we can.”

Sick said that by late this year, Crane’s will offer printed invitations that have quick response codes on the back that, when scanned, will take the tech-savvy guests to a website with more information on the celebration.

“Every bride is different,” Sick said. “Some value a really beautiful wedding invitation. Others might want to spend that money on a really good photographer, band or on their honeymoon. I guess if I got a digital invitation from a friend, I would just expect a really good band.”

Etiquette rules change over time, and digital wedding invitations may at some point in time become widely accepted, Forden said.

“Now, when babies are looking at computer screens, I don’t know,” she said. “I mean, you can walk into a restaurant and see a toddler on an iPad. When these kids are adults and everything around them is digital, it may change. It’s hard to say.”

Israelite sees the trend taking over before long, no matter what etiquette writers preach.

“The postal service is not exactly on the incline,” he said.

Email: wis2105@columbia.edu

April 9, 2012