by Anna Post
During media interviews about tech or wedding etiquette, I'm frequently asked what I think about email invites or services like Evite. The question is straightforward; the answer invariably requires explanation.
Yes and no is the short, unhelpful version. The problems are mostly about RSVPs and the formality of the party. I say yes if: your guests all have email; all use email (not the same thing); and if you know their current addresses. Yes, if your invitation reflects the level of formality of the party you're throwing. But I vote no if RSVPs are crucial, and never if it's a wedding. Email is ephemeral and disposable; you run the risk of making your party the same.
Yesterday's New York Times op-ed by Rand Richards Cooper, "It's My Party, And You Have To Answer," strikes to heart of why technology can actually make your life as a host harder, not easier. He summed it up nicely:
"In requesting people to anchor a plan in the distant future of a month hence, you are demanding a kind of navigation that Americans increasingly do not practice. We prefer to remain flexy, solidifying our plans incrementally as the date approaches. Let’s talk tomorrow. I’ll call you when I’m on the road. Cellphones in hand, we microadjust our schedules as they unfold around us. We’re like the air traffic controllers of our own lives."
Well said. I'm not saying this is right, or polite, but I would say it's very accurate. And if that's the reality you're working with as a host, you might want to try another approach to get the word out, or at least be prepared for a lot of follow-up work. The biggest take away: We are likely to be a guest more often that we are to be a host, so, as the French say, respond, if you please.