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Don’t Save the Date

Dear Prudence had a note last week from a person who had received a “Don’t Save the Date” card for a wedding — in other words, she received a formal announcement that she was not invited to the upcoming wedding.  On one hand, it’s the most bizarre thing I’ve ever heard of.  I assume that if someone directly tells me about an upcoming event and gives me the date (wedding, birthday party, barbecue), they are planning to invite me when they send out invitations so I save the date.  If I hear indirectly about the upcoming event, I personally don’t save the date.  If I’m still available when/if the invitation rolls around, great.  If I’m not, well, we weren’t close enough to warrant a conversation about the date so I’m going to assume that my presence isn’t a make-or-break deal.  And if the invitation doesn’t roll around at all, I go on with my life and they go on with their life and with few exceptions, there are no hard feelings.

Except when they post all the pictures and details on Facebook.

Because THAT is where the other hand comes in.  Prudence touches on it with the idea that posting all about your upcoming nuptials on Twitter or Facebook creates an assumption (perhaps) that the people you are speaking to will be invited.  If my cousin posted about her engagement, wrote about dress shopping, told us about the cute place she picked for the ceremony, I would sure as hell assume as someone who is close family that I’m invited unless she also tells all of us that it’s going to be a tiny ceremony with just immediate family.  After all, why is she telling all of us unless we’re going to get to witness the event?  On the other hand, there are plenty of people I am not close to that I happen to be connected with on Facebook, and when they post about their wedding, I don’t assume I’m invited.  So… I also know that this doesn’t totally hold.

Social media certainly complicates things.

Which is why I don’t really know how I feel about people posting party pictures afterward on Facebook.  If I was there, it rocks to be able to see the pictures everyone took and snag a few.  If I couldn’t be there, it rocks to be able to see the happy event and feel as if I got to experience it visually from afar.  If there was no chance for being invited, such as when a blogger I’m friends with on Facebook got married recently, I get to feel as if I was included a little bit in their happy moment and congratulate them as I would have if I had been there.


If I wasn’t invited and I have no clue why I wasn’t invited, it totally sucks to see all the fun I missed out on.  Or that the kids missed out on when parents post pictures from their child’s birthday party, and I awkwardly hit “like” even though I am looking at pictures of their classmates having fun without my kid.  This knowledge comes even without social media*.  Back when I was a kid, we always knew when other people were having their birthday because we sang to them in school, and if we didn’t know the details of their party, we knew that we weren’t invited (and that hurt).  But once the party was over, unless the kids who were invited came to school crowing about what a great time they had (as they did when someone’s parents did something really unusual such as the time when Courtney’s parents rented out a whole arcade and we could play any game we wanted as many times as we liked), no one really gave much thought to the party after the fact.

But now, people post all the pictures from the party on Facebook, and you have this photographic evidence of everyone having fun.  Without you.  It’s like watching the Sneeches have their wiener roasts.  And that sort of sucks.  Especially when the function exists on Facebook to SHARE ONLY WITH A SMALL GROUP.  If you’ve excluded me from the shindig, also exclude me from the photos.  Exclude me from all the updates beforehand and after.  It’s easy to share only with the people you’ve invited (or are planning on inviting) and leave the rest out.

So when people don’t take advantage of that option, they kind of sort of suck a little bit.

I feel differently about posting on a blog because you don’t always know who is reading.  Yes, it’s public, so therefore anyone can read.  But at the same time, there isn’t a clear list that you can pick-and-choose to send your news or images to such as on Facebook.  If I knew someone had just had a party that I wasn’t invited to, I would skip their blog post about it.  Whereas I can’t really skip it (unless I hide their updates) in a general Facebook news feed.

Party pictures on Facebook sent out to your entire feed or just the people invited — yay or nay?

* Having twins, we also sometimes run into the fact that one is invited to a party while the other is not.  When it’s an all-boy or all-girl party, that makes total sense.  But one of them (and not the other) was once invited to a mixed-sex party.  That was awkward.  They discussed it together, and it was decided that the invited kid would go to the party without any hurt feelings directed at them from the twin.  I took the non-invited kid out for the night in a total hedonistic frenzy of all of their favourite things to assuage the hurt feelings that were there and directed at the birthday kid.  It was both a thoughtless gesture (invite both to your boy-girl party or invite none, but don’t invite one) and a realistic one (while they share a lot of friends now, as they age, I expect that this will happen more and more often).


1 Jo { 01.14.13 at 8:18 am }

I heartily wish I could extend this thought to ultrasound photos, bump pictures, and newborn pics. Share with close friends and family for sure. But I really don’t want to see it — and since I am very publicly infertile on FB and everywhere else, if you are friends with me, you know it.

My only way of solving this has been to “hide” each of my friends the second I get a pg announcement. This is counter-productive, however, since I have to click over to their page to read any non-baby updates. In which case I see all their baby updates at once. Which is, in a way, better — kind of like ripping off the band-aid at one time while knowing in advance its going to hurt — versus someone pulling it off unexpectedly over and over again.

All that said to get to this — I don’t think MOST people think about whose feelings are going to be hurt by what they post. Yes, some people do. (You do, for instance, and I do, and probably most people who suffer at the hands of FB in one way or another). But most people? I think they post the way they speak in our current society — saying whatever comes to mind or whatever they are photographing — without ever thinking about the reactions of the person on the other side. It has become a “if you don’t like it, don’t read it” society so to speak. And while that is very true of blogs — like you said, I don’t have to read your blog if I don’t want to — it becomes much more complicated in the world of social media, where you are expected to be friends with a wide assortment of people, from colleagues to distant family to old high school friends. In short, I have no answers, but I agree — it bites.

2 a { 01.14.13 at 9:11 am }

I don’t put a lot on Facebook, but when I do, I generally consider the consequences. (And then I usually do it anyway). My conflict usually comes when I’m up visiting my family – I feel guilty for blowing off opportunities for visiting friends and then posting pictures of being at the beach. And then I realize that I’ve told people when I’ll be there and they expect me to do all the work to come and see them…even though I’ve already driven 300 miles. So then I stop feeling guilty. 🙂

I do, however, use the blocking aspect of FB pictures. Ever since a SIL (who is not even on FB) sent me an email asking me to take down a picture of her because she was laughing with her eyes closed, none of my SILs are permitted to see my pictures. I don’t take that talking-about-me-behind-my-back stuff very well.

3 Esperanza { 01.14.13 at 9:31 am }

This reminds me of the time I went on to Facebook to see almost my entire staff had gone rafting without me. I just hadn’t been invited. I couldn’t believe it. We are a close knit group and the fact that no one had even remembered to invite me hurt in ways I cannot express. I liked a couple of the pictures and then I think I even commented on one with something to the effect of “I wish I had been there.” And after a while it was obvious that people checked with each other and it was realized that I had not been invited and most seemed to think this was an honest mistake (and felt horrible about it) though some seemed to suspect the group organizers knew what they were doing. I couldn’t decide which was worse. It was definitely the most humiliating and hurtful thing (socially) that has ever happened to me and my connection to my colleagues at work was never the same. Even now, years later, the scars remain. So yeah, social media really can complicate things.

4 Chickenpig { 01.14.13 at 10:16 am }

I have very few FB friends, and almost all of them are very close friends and family, as in geographically close AND socially close, so they have been invited to any shindig I post about. I actually use FB to invite people to things. You are one of my rare FB foods who would be too far away to attend a birthday party 🙂 A wedding is a totally different affair, naturally, with it’s own complex rules.

My boys used to get piles of birthday invitations, but I always declined. They are in separate classes, so only one gets invited, and NB has autism so it is almost impossible to explain why his brother would be going to something w/o him, and even harder to get him to go to a function without his brother. I used to take the boys on one on one outings, and NB would always cry the entire time. Also, we don’t do classmate parties, we do family birthday parties, and I feel guilty going to elaborate parties when I don’t plan on reciprocating…ever.

5 Wolfers { 01.14.13 at 10:41 am }

I’m same with Jo- I hide friends with pg announcements, which is not easy when *other* friends would leave comments on their pages and I’d see the comments. That sucks! Many folks now I’m open about my infertility/childless not by choice; however many folks still expresses confusion when I’d go “snarkly” at ’em if they’d share baby photos on my page. Obviously a lose-lose situation here.
For “Don’t save the date”, IMO, that’s rude and cold. There’s no reason to rub one’s nose in the fact that she’s not invited.

6 Kimberly { 01.14.13 at 11:01 am }

I tend to limit my interactions on Facebook. When they removed the unsubscribe feature (which I loved) I started distancing myself from it. I play my stupid flash games on there, I occasionally post pictures on there and give minor updates but its more to keep the aunts and family living away a feeling of inclusion in our life. I use the email/message feature on there to talk with family and friends I truly want to talk to if they are not on any other social media. Everyday that I’m on fb now, I find myself more and more easily frustrated with people and their need to share and/or over share everything in their life (which then makes me feel like a hypocrite because I post about my life on my blog). So yeah, while years ago, I was that over sharer on fb, I now distance myself from Facebook and only keep it to keep some family in the loop and because it would be more of a hinderence to remove it and have to answer unending questions from “the aunts” than to just keep it and keep up with appearances.

7 Nikki P { 01.14.13 at 11:31 am }

Oooh. Yes sometimes I feel like I am in high school all over again thanks to Facebook. The hurt of not being included or even feeling outright rejected at times. Now I wonder why I do it.

I am guilty of a “Don’t save the date”. It wasn’t formal but there were a lot of issues with my husbands family and his brothers girlfriend. She flat out didn’t like the family or us. She made some public comments about the family on twitter that we were made aware of. My husband sent an email to her and his brother explaining why she was not allowed at the wedding. To this day almost 4 years later she still won’t speak to us and my BIL insists it is my fault. In reality it was all my husband that made the choice.

8 Heather { 01.14.13 at 12:06 pm }

Thanks to a blogger friend of mine I have groups within my Facebook friends. With this piece of awesome-ness I can post pictures only to those that I think want to see them or wouldn’t care either way. It also allows me to post status updates without my coworkers, in-laws, etc seeing.

9 Alexicographer { 01.14.13 at 1:26 pm }

I’m horrified by the thought of “don’t save the date.” The only way I can imagine accepting such a thing (as OK) would be were it sent as a hand-written note (or other similarly personalized communication): “Dear Joan, It was wonderful to see you last Thursday. I’m writing because Tom and I are finalizing the plans for our wedding and I deeply regret needing to let you know that we’ve decided we simply cannot include anyone except our immediate families. We so appreciate the good wishes you have expressed about our upcoming union and feel great sorrow that we will not be able to see you on the day of our nuptials…” Yargh.

As for FB etc., I mostly blame us the users for not knowing how to use the technology appropriately (e.g. when not to use it, how to incorporate small groups). That said, clearly there are some technological shortcomings as well, and of course anyone can accidentally hit “reply all” or whatever from time to time. But in general, if we insisted that technology serve our needs (e.g. to communicate information selectively) rather than succumbing to its structures, then we’d get better technology (i.e. developers would respond to our expressed preferences).

I use FB very little, would you guess?

10 Denver Laura { 01.14.13 at 4:38 pm }

So would a “don’t expect a present” card be appropriate in return?

11 Battynurse { 01.14.13 at 5:23 pm }

I can so see how this is annoying and hurtful. I know lately I’ve been getting more irritated with the whole FB thing and the stuff people share. I know I’ve felt hurt before by a much delayed FB pregnancy announcement from someone who had at one point been what I considered a close friend. Yet I still haven’t went and removed various people from my friends list.
If I received an announcement for a wedding in the mail though but it was clear I wasn’t invited? That’s just crappy. The announcers might get a congratulations card but there would be no present.

12 Pam { 01.14.13 at 6:14 pm }

How about when you are very good friends with a family, have heard all about the upcoming wedding, even get asked if you will make the cake, and when you respond positively with some questions of details, hear nothing further, and then do not get receive an invite to the wedding. And after the event, all pictures are posted on FB, they have you over and talk to you about the event and then gloss over the cake and volunteer (when you don’t say anything about the cake) is “she didn’t have enough money for the cake”. We found this to be completely odd behaviour for them, and in some way it’s changed the dynamics of our relationship with them.

13 Mali { 01.14.13 at 6:15 pm }

LOL at Denver Laura. That was exactly my interpretation – a “don’t save the date” card is outrageous, and seems to be a blatant attempt at hinting “but we’d still like a present.”

I think most people don’t realise they can limit who sees what on Facebook. And seem to forget that not everyone wants/needs to know everything they’re doing.

The whole party thing is difficult. Fortunately for me, most of my Facebook friends are out of town/country, and I use it to keep in touch because we can’t see each other. So I don’t have to deal with that.

I’m appalled that one of your twins was invited to a party and not the other. I wonder if it was just a simple mistake? Or if they decided one invitation included both but didn’t make it clear? I can’t believe someone was so tacky as to do that deliberately! I think I’d have phoned the parent/party host and checked that it was intentional rather than a mistake (without making a big deal of it to the host – hopefully they’d realise what they’d done on their own).

14 Cristy { 01.14.13 at 6:27 pm }

I saw this Dear Prudence letter, started shaking my head and then realized how complicated this situation is. I truly believe that thanks to Facebook and Twitter, many people have trouble distinguishing the difference between being included vs. not being included. Mainly because everyone knows how to add “Friends” to their account, but very few take the time to learn about the different privacy functions.

The other issue is lack of empathy. Sure, it’s hard to do everything perfectly so no one gets hurt, but a lot of the time common sense is missing.

The thing is, I don’t know what the answer is. The “Don’t Save the Date,” cards seem really unnecessary and I would hope that people could instead follow already established social rules, but you bring up a good point with people needing to be more aware of their actions/what they post.

15 persnickety { 01.14.13 at 8:40 pm }

Hmm, I kind of did this, but not like that. We semi-eloped and then threw a big party afterwards. The semi elopement was getting married in NZ, at the top of a mountain. The heli company had a limited number of seats, so we did the math and then told specific immediate family members (parents, their partners and direct siblings and partners) they were welcome to come, IF they wanted, provided they were willing get themselves to NZ, and cover their share of the heli costs.

The reason behind eloping is that I did not want a big audience, so I was perfectly happy to have them not come. None of my husband’s family showed, but I seriously underestimated my family’s love of NZ and helicopters. I found out later that my step brother was very put out not to have been invited, but he has never said anything to me. But we did not do anything to publicise the wedding prep apart from the invitations to the party later (to which he was invited). To actively send “do not come” cards is rude.

I find the facebook overshare thing a bit frustrating- that was how I found out about the hens night 90 percent of my soccer team were invited to. Most of the reasons I stay on FB are the friends and family overseas, who I would not otherwise stay in contact with.

16 A Passage to Baby { 01.14.13 at 11:09 pm }

Oddly enough, I have been on both sides of this coin. It’s tough because you want to share your joyous life moments with the world, but don’t want to hurt feelings. Additionally it is hard because so many people have “acquaintances” on facebook and sometimes there are more of those than real friends. Then people get mad because you didn’t share even the pics with them, and why the hell is everyone’s profile pic now with the person and you, the bride.
Complicated indeed.

17 Geochick { 01.15.13 at 1:14 am }

“Don’t Save the Date?” It’s so rude it makes me laugh, all complicated social media aside. I whole heartedly agree with your F-B party assessment. It doesn’t take much to just share with a select few.

18 Stinky { 01.15.13 at 1:16 am }

Yeah tacky. Denver Laura: spot on. The party pictures annoy me when there’s like a gazillion blurry badly lit/flash photos of the entire night, mainly because I can just half-picture a night out where everyone has their phone out ‘recording’ for fb rather than actually living it. Not a big party animal here, and haven’t really experienced the ‘left out’ thing, although I remember how much it stung in real life when some weird girl I worked with made a big deal about inviting everyone in the office out on some social night-thing (it was on my first day there), and then yakked on and on about it, like making some sort of point to me? (Illustrating what a strange and ignorant bitch she was, mainly!). Yeah, not nice.

Agree with groups, have separated a few people into groups – locality and closeness, but admittedly don’t really post to them, because I forget whose in which group. If I have something to say to or show someone I either PM then or send it customised to just them

19 Stinky { 01.15.13 at 1:20 am }

Actually, the last wedding I was at, the couple specifically asked in their speeches that none of the photos taken that day be shared on fb (knowing one of the guests is really bad at taking a wad of photos and sharing them instantly, tags and all). Do you think thats out of order? I don’t share many photos on fb, and am really aware of them involving other people apart from Mr Stinky, its like the implicit message seems to be ‘hey, look at me and all my random friends, having such a great life’. I don’t need to push that all over everyone’s minifeeds to convince them that I lead a great life

20 Lollipop Goldstein { 01.15.13 at 8:55 am }

I’ve never thought of asking that, but now that you said that, it will always be in the back of my head. I would love it if no one posted photos from any event we have. We certainly don’t. I’m fairly squeamish about posting images online period. I am happy to send them to people, and if there are a lot of them, I burn a disc and send it to the people who I know would want the photos.

21 Denver Laura { 01.15.13 at 10:56 am }

When we share pictures with family, we explicitly tell them not to post to any social media site. We don’t mind the pics being on the fridge, we just don’t want them online. We also add that if we find out they are online, it will be the last picture we send to them. With all of the changing privacy terms eventually you will no longer have any rights to your own photos. You’ll be going down the road and see a billboard with your child’s picture advertising cereal or diapers or something else banal (or child exploitation) and you won’t have any rights to remove it.

22 Anne { 01.15.13 at 11:42 am }

Yeah. It seems incredibly rude to send out a “don’t save the date”, like so rude that I can’t even imagine anyone I know doing it.
I like the person who said, “Don’t expect a present”. 🙂

As for pictures on facebook of parties that I’m not invited to, it doesn’t bother me in the least. I especially like seeing pictures of my old friends from high school (who I’m not close to but still care about) getting married or new babies, ultrasound photos, etc. I love that about facebook, that you can stay in touch even though you are 3000 miles from home.

23 Cherish { 01.15.13 at 5:51 pm }

The “don’t save the date” just blows my mind. Pictures on FB of events I’m not invited to? That isn’t a problem. I know I’m not included in every single event. That’s just life! I’m more sad about the ones I can’t attend because I’m too far away than the ones close that I wasn’t invited to. Odds are I already knew I’m not in someone’s close circle and wouldn’t expect invites to everything.

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