USA WEEKEND columnist Steven Petrow helps you navigate the digital world in the real world


USA WEEKEND columnist Steven Petrow helps you navigate the digital world in the real world.

My fiancé and I are arguing. He says we should send digital invitations to our wedding, explaining that they're more environmentally friendly. I feel that printed wedding invitations are, well, sacred. Am I right that e-invitations cheapen what is supposed to be a magical day?

– Name withheld, Florida

If it's a last-minute affair or the most casual of weddings, brides and grooms have my permission to use e-invitations for their big day. In any other case, an e-mailed invitation makes a wedding seem like just another party, which it's not. With any luck yours will be the only wedding you both have -- one of the most important days of your life -- and it deserves an actual printed invitation.

Let me acknowledge your fiancé's initiative, however; I understand that electronic invitations can be more green, more efficient, more economical and less work. But what about your friends and family members (perhaps, Grandma and Grandpa!) who aren't so digitally savvy? It's one of my personal dictums that the means of communication must always keep the recipient in mind.

There really is something "sacred" about a wedding, and a printed invitation, which can run the gamut from engraved to thermography, letterpress to laser-printed (all depending on the formality of your nuptials). If going green is your thing, choose invitations made with recycled papers and printed with soy or vegetable inks. Here's another "house" rule of mine: Choose paper over digital when the message is also a keepsake. Tell your fella to think about opening that trunk in the attic years from now and rediscovering the slightly yellowed invitation in its envelope. A printout of an e-invitation simply wouldn't measure up, even for the most digital of digerati.

Finally, let me throw a pre-wedding bone to your fiancé: Digital announcements or communications are absolutely fine for save-the-date notices, shower invitations, RSVPs and wedding websites (especially when they provide detailed logistical information). And, if in the spirit of a long and happy marriage, you're looking for a compromise, here's one: For guests who are more traditional and less digitally savvy, send them a printed invitation. For your younger, more digitally hip friends, go the e-invitation route if you must. Oh, and congratulations!

Read more of Steven Petrow's Your Digital Life columns on Submit your question below. You can also follow Steven on Twitter @StevenPetrow and like him on Facebook at

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