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Modern Weddings: Will Your fancy New Ideas Leave Grandma in the Dust?

With wedding websites, electronic save the dates, thumbprint guest books and alternative registries, modern weddings can leave older generations behind.
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Planning my wedding was a lot more complicated and involved than I expected, and the wording on the back of my Save the Date postcard was no exception.

I wanted to share the story of the proposal. Plus, I had travel information, two hotels I'd blocked for guests and, of course, the date. Sticking the link to our wedding website on the back and calling it a day would have been easiest... but I could just hear my Great Aunt Genie asking, "The world wide webs is on channel 67, right? Or is that PBS?"

With wedding websites, electronic save the dates, thumbprint guest books and alternative registries, modern weddings can leave older generations behind.

If your guests are 50 and under, you're probably safe to send out a Save the Date via Paperless Post. But if you've got guests who still don't know how to operate their VCR, you might have to make some concessions.

E-Invites and Save the Dates

As much as I'd love to promote the green-ness of electronic wedding invitations, I just can't. Old-fashioned invitations are formal and beautiful -- opt for recycled paper, but don't nix them entirely. Save the Dates, however, aren't formal at all, so I say send 'em electronically. But what about guests who don't have or understand email? A couple of ideas:

- Make a paper copy. Print out a copy of your electronic invitation, or (better yet) write a handwritten letter, then mail it. They're sure to appreciate the personal touch, even if your handwriting is atrocious.
- Enlist help. If Grandma Thelma is coming from out of town, someone is going to have to help book her flight and hotel room online anyway. Ask the closest tech-savvy family member to help.

Wedding Websites
Personalized wedding websites are one of the most helpful "new" developments in the wedding world. With the ability to share so much information online, they can definitely make your life easier.

But what about guests who simply don't understand the Internets? How will they RSVP online? And if they don't have Internet access, how will they get directions and know where to go?

- Send out a paper copy of your invite and include directions, or ask another relative to help your older family members with the website. Just as I suggested with your Save the Dates, this is the easiest option.
- Set up a carpool: Ask others to give your older relatives a ride. By hitching his wagon to someone else's horse, Uncle Barney won't need to worry about directions at all.

Just as Grandma started to wrap her head around the relatively "new" phenomenon of a wedding registry, different kinds popped up. You can now register for everything from camping gear to video games, and many couples aren't simply picking out china patterns anymore.

Will your older guests think your "alternative" registries are weird? Or worse, tacky? Truth be told, some guests will not be open to donating to your honeymoon, house fund or charity of choice. They prefer to wrap and give you a physical gift, perhaps because they have something specific in mind, or simply because they want you to think of them every time you use it. While that's unfortunate in some ways (because really, my Grandma didn't have the best taste), I say let it go.

- So what if they don't like your alternative registry? This is one area where I'm definitely going to tell you to suck it up. It's a gift for crying out loud. Don't be picky. By all means, create the registry you want, but if someone doesn't use it, don't get upset.
- Be grateful for any physical gift. And send a nice and timely thank you note.

Wedding Details
In order to determine what the older generation expects at a wedding, I did an ultra-scientific study: I asked some older people. Guess what? They don't expect favors. In fact, they don't expect much of anything beyond a ceremony, dinner and dancing. "In my day there weren't all these choices. I don't even remember picking out the color of my flowers," said one relative of mine.

When planning your wedding, know that a lot of these details are relatively "new-fangled." If you decide to forgo traditional favors in lieu of a donation to charity, for example, it's very likely the trinkets won't be missed. Likewise, if you choose creative alternatives to traditional details, few will raise an eyebrow.

At the end of the day, not everyone is going to "get" it. And that's okay. After all, it is your wedding. If Aunt Bernice thinks you're one knife short of a full set for asking people to sign your guestbook with a vintage typewriter, let her talk smack. It's called progress, Auntie. And a wedding done in your style is never a bad thing.