The Ultimate Guide to Save-the-Dates

From proper etiquette to popular designs, here's what you need to know.

white and silver wedding stationary suite

Haley Sheffield

Congratulations, you're engaged! While there's plenty to keep you busy in those whirlwind early days of your engagement—including sharing the good news far and wide and starting to think practically about possible wedding dates, locations and your wedding budget, too—one important consideration in the wedding planning process is when to send save-the-dates to your future wedding guests.

Here we answer some of the most common save-the-date etiquette questions, then offer a few of our favorite save-the-date styles, so that you can nail yours like a pro!

Do we have to send save-the-dates?

While most of your friends and family have already heard about your engagement and maybe even have an idea about where and when the wedding will be, this pre-invitation notification is still important: Save-the-dates serve as an official announcement of your wedding date and location and also let guests know that they will, in fact, be invited to the celebration. Plus, they're a fun way to give your guests a head's up about the wedding!

Additionally, if you're having a destination wedding during busy travel dates—such as a three-day holiday weekend, summer in a resort town or peak season in the Caribbean—then sending a save-the-date is an expected courtesy, since many of your guests will have to make travel and hotel arrangements.

One function of save-the-dates is to give your guests a glimpse of the wedding to come. So the more formal the wedding, the more likely a printed card will set the tone you want your wedding to have.

When do we send them?

As a general rule of thumb, it's a good idea to mail your save-the-dates four to six months before the wedding—or even earlier if you're planning a destination wedding that may require more extensive travel arrangements. In general, giving your guests an advance head's up increases the likelihood that they'll be able to attend.

Who should receive one?

Save-the-date notifications should only be sent to those who you're planning on inviting to the wedding. Once they're in the mail, there's no turning back, so be sure you've compiled an accurate guest list before sending them off. And even if you've already received verbal confirmation from certain guests, you still need to send them a save-the-date—that includes everyone in the bridal party, key wedding participants and immediate family members, of course.

Can we send them via email?

These days, it's perfectly appropriate to send your save-the-date announcement via email. Just be aware of a few potential bumps along the road: Your e-card may get filtered into guests' spam folder, or perhaps the email address you have is an outdated one, or one which they don't regularly check. While convenient and budget-friendly, delivery is not 100% guaranteed.

Also, there's the tangibility factor: When you mail a save-the-date card, guests will likely tack it up somewhere in their home or office, so it will serve as a reminder of the wedding to come. And, of course, some of your older guests may not have email, so you will need to make sure they "save the date" in another way.

What information do we include?

Provide any details that will help guests plan for your big day, the most important being your wedding date and location. And, of course, don't forget to include your wedding website URL, where your guests can find all sorts of additional information!

You don't have to name your wedding and reception venue(s) just yet—save that detailed information for your actual wedding invitation. Simply naming the town or city and state (or destination wedding location) works for this early announcement.

1. Save-the-Date Card

Hello Tenfold

Keep things simple by mailing an elegant and straightforward card that includes all of the pertinent wedding information: your names, wedding date, location and a line indicating that the official invitation will be coming in the mail. (Letterpress save-the-date sample pack, $25, Hello Tenfold)

2. Save-the-Date Photo Card

White Loft Studio

Engagement photos are a great way to personalize your save-the-date. Choose your favorite shot and then select a full-bleed photo-card design to really show it off. ("Boutique" save-the-date, starting at $163 for 100, Laura Condouris available at Minted)

3. Printable Save-the-Date Calendar Card

Bells & Whistles

Save money on save-the-date cards by downloading these free calendar-style printables designed by stationer Bells & Whistles. Print them out on card stock, fill out your names, the month and circle your wedding date. (Calendar save-the-date, free PDF download, Bells & Whistles)

4. Destination Wedding Save-the-Dates

Mikkel Paige Photography

Get your guests excited about your destination wedding with these leather luggage-tag save-the-dates—they're so chic and will definitely compel your guests to pack their bags and book a flight. (Luggage-tag save-the-date, price upon request, Fourteen-Forty)

5. DIY Save-the-Dates

Carina Skrobecki

Up for a DIY project? Get a custom rubber stamp made with all of your wedding details and stamp the save-the-date information onto manila shipping tags for a vintage-inspired look. (Save-the-date design, price upon request, Carina Skrobecki)

6. Ultraluxe Save-the-Dates

Josh Gruetzmacher

For this couple's destination nuptials in the south of France, wedding-day details were printed on a silk scarf and mailed in a cylindrical wooden box. (Scarf save-the-date, price upon request, Yonder Design)

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