Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Our Save the Date

When we decided on our list of wedding priorities, save the dates barely registered. Of course we intended on informing people about the wedding six months out (or maybe more like five...) but the idea of spending money on creating and mailing these announcements was less important than spending money on wine. Or programs. Or our ketubah. Or my new shoes/his new tie. You get the picture. Instead, our save the date priorities were the following:
  • free/exceedingly cheap
  • get people to put the date on their calendar
  • direct guests to our website for more information
  • request a pre-wedding questionnaire to collect address/mailing info
  • simplify our event management process
  • attractive
  • easy to use
With this list of priorities, we were pretty much left with email options. I looked into constant contact or vertical response, which I've used to create professional newsletters, but I didn't love their templates. I looked into mailchimp, which allowed for free emails to email lists under 1000 people, but I needed better photoshop skills to make their templates sing. And so I revisited a New York Times article on evite alternatives (because I despite evite) and discovered Pingg.com. Thank g-d. Because Pingg honestly saved me from a save the date DIY meltdown.

Meltdowns are what happen when a) you're cheap b) you're incredibly strapped for time c) you're very particular about your aesthetic, d) you don't have the design skills to create your vision without serious help, and e) you are entirely unwilling to budge on any of the above listed points.

Enter Pingg, which offers a range of attractive wedding invitation and save the date templates that were simple to personalize. After deciding we didn't want to upload our own design, we gleefully explored all their gorgeous and varied save the dates and found a template with succulents. Succulents! And space to add our own photos! In about five minutes I'd uploaded a few photos (from our engagement shoot and from general adventuring) and finalized our save the date design.


Aside from chic, easy, and entirely free email invitations, Pingg also provides several other features that made it extremely attractive to us:
  • Privacy settings that only allow invited guests to view and respond to our invitation and limit everyone from seeing who else was invited (you can also open the invitation to all of facebook, twitter, and your email address book, if you wanted to go that route.)
  • Ability to import your address book and export RSVPs
  • Management page where we can manage all communications, track emails sent, emails openned, invites forwarded, RSVPs, guest messages, total headcount and more (having done large-scale events, this sort of functionality was critical to me)
  • Ability to send reminder messages
  • For less tech-savvy invited guests, you can order printed copies of the invitation or save the date that Pingg will mail via USPS, for about $3 per card.
  • Private messages (guests can message you or you can message your guests)
You could even theoretically use Pingg as your full wedding wedsite (though it was a bit limited for our needs), since it allows you to integrate gift and charity registry information, add google maps, and post photos.

Although Pingg can be free, we decided to spend the $10 to upgrade to Pingg Plus, which means our guests experience an ad-free save the date, we got a customized URL for the website and RSVPs, and we got to include a fancy interactive envelope with our email invitations. I appreciate that Pingg offers an affordable way to class up even email invitations.
This is what arrived in our invited guests' inboxes

When invited guests click the image, it opens to reveal the save the date. 

When guests click on the save the date, they're taken to our Pingg website

At our unique Pingg URL, guests can see more event details, send us a private message, click through to our official wedding wedsite (which we created for free in a wordpress blog), click through to our questionnaire (which we created and published for free in google forms), or RSVP.  It makes everything easy and streamlined. We can send out reminder notices as the wedding approaches. We can track all our RSVPs in one place. We can see if anyone hasn't received/opened their email and follow up by phone. And, for invited guests who are less tech-savvy, you can even order printed copies of our invitation that pingg will send in the mail. 

Although I am convinced this was the best $10 we've spent so far on maintaining our wedding sanity, I should note a few drawbacks.
  • Pingg includes an RSVP option, which is great for normal invitations but slightly confusing for save the dates. However, I appreciate that many people are already eager to reply.
  • Since we decided to sidestep the Mr./Mrs./Ms./Dr. issues for emails, we imported everyone with first names only. We now have three yes replies from various Janes, which is difficult to manage without last names in our Pingg system. If I had to do it again, I'd probably import everyone's actual full names and titles.
  • We were careful to address the emails carefully, noting that people in serious relationships were addressed as "John and Guest" But because email is informal, many people without the "and guest" designation have simply assumed they all get a plus one. Ouch. We've had to send some awkward emails about that.
Overall though, I am entirely in love with the ease, style, and functionality of Pingg. I'm sure our online invitation process would have been simpler if we had used a designed-for-weddings, visually coordinated online event invitation, wedsite, and guest management program like Glosite. But Glosite would have cost us $119, and we found a way to cheaply recreate its functionality with a combination of Pingg, Wordpress, and Google Forms. And even if our online items aren't visually coordinated, I'm really happy with how our save the date looks. It fits our event needs, our aesthetic, our design skills, and our chock-full schedules, all for a tiny $10 investment


This is not a sponsored post. I'm just sharing the results of our wedding experience so it can hopefully assist someone else.  

12 comments:

  1. That some people have assumed they can bring a guest, in spite of having no evidence, isn't the fault of Pingg.

    It's a complete lack of etiquette awareness and it's their own fault.

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  2. Thanks for the advice - we're looking to do save the dates soon and this looks like a great option to check out!

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  3. That is way cool! I will have to check that site out when or if I need it!

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  4. That's adorable! Thanks for sharing...

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  5. @Willow - the plus one issue certainly wasn't the fault of Pingg, but I think it was less obvious on an email than on an envelope who was invited or not. And for some reason, people default to assuming they get a plus one at weddings. Sigh. It's worth a different post altogether, because we thought long and hard about our approach to this issue (in general and on a person-by-person basis) and still had to send the awkward "oops" emails when some people RSVPed for two.

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  6. Wow, I can't believe how perfect those STDs are for you guys. The succulents seriously rock!

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  7. I love the succulent design on your Save-the-Dates. I recently used pingg for a non-wedding invitation and have been pretty happy with it. I was actually thinking about using it for our RSVP system along with our Wordpress wedsite even if we still send printed invitations through the snail mail so that I can ask some pertinent questions about food and such.

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  8. What a great and thorough review! I think your SDs (why must we include the T? I protest!) are adorable!

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  9. It pains me how completely inept the majority of our guests were regarding the internet. There is NO WAY we could have done this. I know of three people in The Candyman's family who have a computer. Three. And one doesn't even have dial up so it just sits there.

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  10. I love you save the dates. I recently used another site called www.savethedatemagic.com and I found large magnets that I designed myself and they turned out wonderful! I am so happy that yours turned out great too! Congrats! Dee Dee

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  11. they look excellent! great job, love the succulents...good to know there's an option that's THAT affordable out there!

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