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Newport Manners & Etiquette: Updated Etiquette for Memorials + Weddings

Wednesday, July 22, 2015


Times are always changing in keeping up with creative ways to memorialize a loved one and the demise of the wedding reply card. The best of the best to Didi Lorillard at NewportManners this week.

Memorial to my sister

Q. My sister died this past spring in Italy, where she had lived for many years. As an artist, I felt I had to create a work in her memory and have cards made up of the image to send to her friends. Is that appropriate? Even though we lived in different countries, we were close and I took care of her as well as I could. I spent a few days with her two weeks before she died when we said our good-byes.

Friends of hers have written their condolences, but since Italian is not my native tongue, I want to send them the image I (her brother) created for my sister that is helping me through my deep feelings of grief. She was buried with her husband who predeceased her, so I feel this is something I can do to commemorate her life. Is it OK? She was always greatly supportive of my work.  –B.J., Westport, CT

A.  What a truly wonderful expression of appreciation for the life of your sister. Through a memorial to your sister in the form of an original work of art printed on a card, you are immortalizing her. You will not have to have too many words in the card following a powerful image. It could be as simple as her name above the years of her life.

Adding a few handwritten words of appreciation before signing your name would be perfect: "With much appreciation, all good wishes, sincerely yours," (sign your name). Don’t give this creative instinct a second thought. In your own time and in your own way, you are stating that your sister will be remembered.  ~Didi

The demise of the wedding reply card

Q.  Do we have to include a reply card with the invitation to our daughter’s wedding? That invitation to her formal wedding is very attractive, but she says people forget to fill out reply cards and that nobody has stamps anymore because bills and letters are done online. She wants to have everyone RSVP to their wedding website for all the wedding festivities. Not all of our older friends and relatives will understand about responding to a wedding website. There lies our dilemma, how to be elegant, thoroughly modern, and communicate to all the generations?  –Alexandra, Grosse Pointe, MI

A.  You do not have to include a wedding reply card to your daughter’s upcoming wedding in the wedding packet. Your daughter is right in assuming that she and her fiancé’s friends will respond to all the wedding festivities more efficiently and promptly when replying to the couple’s wedding website. However, you will need to be sure the the web address appears prominently in the wedding packet. For example:

RSVP: Jasper&[email protected]

If you are worried about what older friends and relatives will think about not receiving a reply card and thinking theirs was omitted from the invitation packet, remember that for  generations reply cards were not used for the RSVP. The the old-fashioned standard note to the bride’s mother (you) was the only form of acceptance. No doubt you will be receiving their RSVP in their own words and names can be added to the acceptance list on the wedding website.

Here are the most popular wedding websites offering RSVP option to the wedding as well as to other wedding festivities:


The latest word from professional wedding planners and coordinators is that the old-fashioned response/reply card is not working. When guests are expected to use a paper reply card with a return self-addressed envelopes, out of 200 guests invited, only 120 return the card -- and of that number only eighty will actually show up.

Because of this, caterers are now requiring a headcount sometimes up to six weeks out. An impossible lead time for the RSVP cutoff date. Furthermore, hosts end up paying for the cost per person of any no-shows. Now, that can be an unexpected (and unwelcome) added expense if you're paying for guests who don't bother to let the host know they cannot attend after all.

In wedding etiquette we have to use a more efficient method of collecting the acceptances and regrets. In other words, we have to speak the language of our guests, which these days is predominately a digital audience. Keeping all records of all acceptances and regrets for all the pre-wedding, wedding, and post-wedding events on the couple's wedding website makes perfect sense. A huge convenience for the guests, as well as the hosts.

Didi Lorillard answers questions about all matters of manners and etiquette at NewportManners, the best of which appear here.


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