The Ultimate Guide to Save-the-Dates

From proper etiquette to our favorite save-the-date designs, here's everything you need to know

Updated 11/17/16

Haley Sheffield

Congrats! You're engaged. Now what? Time to loop in your friends and family about the wedding to come. Your first step: Send save-the-date cards to your guests. This pre-invitation card announces your wedding date and location, and also lets guests know that they will, in fact, be invited to the celebration.

Follow our simple guide below to nail the proper save-the-date etiquette, then check out six of our favorite save-the-date designs to get inspiration for your own.

Do I have to send save-the-date cards?
If you're having a destination wedding during peak-season travel times, like a three-day weekend or summer in a resort town, then sending a save-the-date is an expected courtesy, since many of your guests will have to make travel and hotel arrangements. Of course, anyone can send a save-the-date, especially since they are a fun way to give your guests a heads up about the wedding. Plus, chances are that mailing them will increase guests' chances of attending your celebration.

When do we send them?
As a general rule of thumb, it's a good idea to mail them four to six months before the wedding, or even earlier (eight months ahead of time) if you're planning a destination wedding that may require more extensive travel arrangements.

Who receives one?
Only those who you're planning on inviting to the wedding. And even if you've already received verbal confirmation from certain guests, you still need to send them a save-the-date (bridesmaids, siblings, parents, etc.). However, once the save-the-dates are in the mail, there's no turning back, so compile an accurate guest list first before mailing them because you should only send them to those you definitely want to attend.

What information do we include?
Provide any details that will help guests plan for your big day: the wedding date, location, your wedding website URL (where they can find additional information).

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 one they no longer check. So delivery is not always 100 percent guaranteed. Also, there's the tangibility factor: When you mail a paper save-the-date, 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 guests may not even have email (think: your grandparents), so you will need to spread the word some other way. Another thing to consider is the formality of your wedding. One function of the save-the-date is to give your guests a little 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.

Hello Tenfold

Save-the-Date Card
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)

White Loft Studio

Save-the-Date Photo Card
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)

Bells & Whistles

Printable Save-the-Date Calendar Card
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)

Mikkel Paige Photography

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

Carina Skrobecki

DIY Save-the-Dates
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)

Josh Gruetzmacher

Ultraluxe Save-the-Dates
For this couple's destination nuptials in Provence, 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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