It's a rare and special occasion when a couple reaches their 50th wedding anniversary, and it warrants a huge bash with all of their loved ones in attendance. Some of those loved ones may live on the other side of the country and will have to make travel plans, and others may need to find a babysitter and take time off work. Sending 50th anniversary save-the-dates gives everyone plenty of time to make arrangements so the couple of honor gets to celebrate with all the people who mean the most to them.
Sending 50th Anniversary Save-the-Dates
Generally, save-the-dates are sent in advance of weddings, but it's not a breach of etiquette to send them before a major party even if you're actually planning a pretty casual affair. The intention of sending save-the-dates is exactly what it sounds like: To let everyone know when and where an event is going to take place so they can plan to be free.
It's just a precursor to an official party invitation, so it can be very simple. Don't worry too much about getting the wording just right or making it look extremely polished. Include the date and the general location of the party and any other related events. (If you're inviting five people to a morning-after brunch, for example, note that on the save-the-date so guests can plan their travel plans.) Also include a contact number in case any guests have questions.
Perhaps the most important piece of etiquette to remember around save-the-dates is that everyone who receives one must also receive an invitation to the party itself. Don't send one to someone unless you're positive that you're going to want that person to come to the party. (This is also why it's important to keep a list of everyone who receives a save-the-date.)
How to Address the Envelopes
You should also firm up decisions about inviting plus-ones and children before sending save-the-dates. Address the envelope to everyone who is invited to the party. For example, if you're inviting parents and their young kids, you might address the save-the-date to "The X Family." If it's an adults-only affair, you might address the envelope to "Mr. and Mrs. X." If you're going to give a single guest a plus-one, address the save-the-date to "X and guest." This way, everyone who is invited knows exactly how to plan.
Mailing Etiquette for Save-the-Dates
Another piece of 50th anniversary party etiquette to keep in mind is that digital save-the-dates might be fine for a party with a young crowd, but it's likely that many of the guests to this party will be in their 70s or older. The best idea is to send paper save-the-dates through the mail, at least to the folks who don't know how their email spam folder works. You don't want a cherished friend missing this once-in-a-lifetime party because he missed an email.
Finally, be thoughtful about the timing. With a wedding, save-the-dates generally go out about six months before the event or longer if it's a destination wedding. You may have a shorter lead time with a 50th anniversary party. Send save-the-dates as soon as you've solidified the details about where and when the party will be held. Follow up by sending the actual invitation about three to six weeks before the party.
Etiquette When You Receive Save-the-Dates
As the guest of an upcoming 50th anniversary party, you don't have too many responsibilities upon receiving the save-the-date. You generally don't even need to RSVP, although some save-the-dates do include an RSVP request. All you really need to do is reserve the date on your calendar and start thinking about gift ideas for the couple who is celebrating half a century together.