It's the first official communication you're sharing with your wedding guests before your wedding day, so you want to be certain you do your save the dates the right way. Whether you plan on sending customized photo magnets, adorable postcards or to go green with digital save the dates, the general etiquette remains the same. Here's what you need to know.
What to Include
Think short and simple when it comes to the information included on your save the date. Regardless of the format, if you stick to the "4W's" (who (you and your fiancé), what (are getting married!) when (date and time), and where (city) — you'll be providing all the information guests need to be able to ensure their availability for your celebration. Just don't forget to add something that indicates "formal invitation to follow."
In a modern twist, most couples are now including their wedding website (a fifth W!) on the save the date, where more details will be easily accessible including timelines, registries, bridal party information, and more.
When to Send
According to traditional etiquette guidelines for local weddings, these courtesy reminders should typically be signed, sealed and delivered around 6-8 months prior to the big day. For destination weddings, anywhere between 8-10 months is considered appropriate, as guests will potentially have to make travel arrangements, arrange childcare, professional accommodations, etc.
Who to Send to
Here's where it can get a bit sticky. Etiquette suggests that your wedding guest list should be finalized prior to sending save the dates, and in a perfect world everyone you intend on inviting will receive a save the date.
For couples who believe in using a "B list", where guest lists can fluctuate depending on budgets and RSVPs from the "A list", save the dates can be tricky. If you don't send one to everyone, and then couples get an invitation closer to the date, it's a surefire way for them to know they weren't on your original list. If this doesn't matter to you, proceed as you see fit, however for couples wishing to stick to traditional etiquette, make a guest list, stick to it, and send them out to all invited. (Easier said than done, of course!)
Other couples opt to only send save the dates to their closest friends and family. This is also a great option for those with flexible guest lists, and is a conservative way to ensure those closest to you will, in fact, save the date. (After all, it's the whole point!) The downside to this is that all other wedding guests may make prior commitments before receiving the traditional invitation.
Just be sure to keep in mind that whoever you send a save the date to must also receive a wedding invitation. It is unacceptable, in regards to etiquette and general politeness, to not follow through.