It may be 2016, but electronic save-the-dates continue to be a point of contention for many. In my experience, I’ve encountered a few couples who opt for email save-the-dates—sometimes it turns out just fine, sometimes the result is mixed. There are some online resources, such as Paperless Post, that do a great job creating beautiful invites. The positive is that e-save-the-dates are often free or can be done for a very minimal fee. The negative is that clients sometimes find it just as tedious to track down email addresses as residential addresses.
Many email services now come with a pre-sorting feature that may automatically route an email save-the-date to a junk folder.
Also, when you mail a paper invitation to the wrong address, it gets returned. That way you know it wasn’t delivered, and you most likely know why (i.e., no such address, can not be delivered as addressed). With an electronic save-the-date, you might not always get a bounceback notification and that may leave you wondering whether certain guests even received it.
Even if you use a service to show whether the message has been opened, that does not definitively mean the email address is incorrect—the save-the-date could have merely gone to a junk folder. Additionally, many email services now come with a pre-sorting feature that may automatically route an email save-the-date to a junk folder.
Paper save-the-dates can be printed inexpensively online or at a traditional printer. A local printer, like a Minuteman Press, can print 100 standard invitation size cards, as well as your address envelopes, for just a couple hundred bucks. Add in the postage and envelopes, and you can likely get the entire project done for less than $300. This is the approach I’d suggest, even in an age driven by email and social sharing.
Ultimately, the answer to this question largely hinges on your personal comfort level. I certainly don’t think it’s in poor taste nor is it improper etiquette to send an electronic save-the-date if our budget dictates it. But if you can spring for the cost of something very simple, I think it’s a great opportunity to get your addresses squared away before the actual invitations are mailed.