When to Send Save the Dates: Every Question Answered

How to do save the dates like a pro.

Save the Date Card

Photo by Amber Vickery

Congratulations, your partner popped the question and you said "yes!" Now what? One of the first wedding-planning tasks brides must take on is save the dates. But, many questions come to mind when tackling this project. You're probably wondering when to send save-the-date cards, who to send save the dates to, etc. This particular announcement will be your initial segue into the world of wedding stationery suites, so we've done all the research to get you prepared for a smooth and flawless execution.

Read on to get answers to all your questions about etiquette concerning the first piece of wedding stationery you'll send out.

Do I Have to Send Save the Dates?

Nope. But we recommend you do for a few reasons:

  1. Your friends and family will appreciate the heads-up.
  2. You're more likely to have first dibs on guests who know other couples getting married on the same day.
  3. They're a great way to get everyone excited about your wedding—and to get your own creativity flowing early in the planning process.

Send out save-the-date cards six to eight months prior to your wedding and the wedding invitations eight weeks before your big day. Not only do some people have to make travel arrangements and save money, some guests will need to get time off from their jobs, arrange child care, and/or take care of other pesky chores so they can join you.

When Should I Send the Save the Dates for a Destination Wedding?

If you are throwing a destination wedding or getting married on a major holiday, you should give guests extra notice by sending your save the dates out nine months to a year in advance. Better yet, as soon as you’ve chosen a venue and set up your wedding website (with a hotel room block), get those save the dates in the mail. No one will complain about extra time to book flights and reserve a hotel room.

Who Should I Send the Save the Dates To?

Anyone you're sure will be invited. Do not mail save-the-date cards to guests on your B-list: Once they receive a save the date, you're obligated to send them a wedding invitation, too.

Is It Okay to Send Electronic Save the Dates?

One of the main reasons to email your save the date is convenience. Traditional save-the-date cards require ordering, proofing, printing, waiting for delivery, addressing, applying postage, and physical mailing, all of which can take weeks. And since most online stationery sites (like Paperless Post, Minted, and Shutterfly's Wedding Shop) are so easy to navigate, you can select and pay for your design within an hour flat, all with a few clicks.

But, of course, there may be a few 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 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.

What Information Should I Include on the Save-the-Date Card?

Include the bride's and groom's name, of course, along with the date of the wedding, the location, the wedding website, and a note that says "invitation to follow."

For a destination wedding, the save-the-date card includes information on the hotel, travel arrangements, etc.

For a weekend wedding, the save the date may include the itinerary for the weekend. For example: cocktails on Friday night, wedding on Saturday, and Sunday-morning brunch. The save the date will give the time and location for each of these events and sometimes even include the dress code, giving guests an opportunity to plan activities and their wardrobe.

Do I Have to Send Someone a Wedding Invitation If I Sent Them a Save the Date?

It's an absolute must to send a wedding invitation to anyone who received a save-the-date announcement. There's a clear expectation when a save-the-date card is received that an invitation will follow; failing to send one is essentially the same as uninviting a guest—which is unacceptable.

If finances have become an issue since the save the dates were sent, the answer is to cut back on the scale of catering, music, or flowers instead of on people already planning to come.

Does Your Save-the-Date Card Need to Match the Rest of Your Wedding Stationery?

First and foremost, a save-the-date card is meant to get family and friends excited about the upcoming wedding, so it does not have to match the rest of the wedding stationery. The easiest way to have all the elements of the wedding stationery match is to repeat and carry through a certain motif, color, or design in the entire invitation ensemble.

What Do I Need to Do Before Sending Save the Dates?

Before mailing your save the dates, your wedding website should be up and running. You should have your room blocks arranged, and you should have started to assemble your wedding registry—just in case any guests who are booking early decide to beat the crowds and send you a gift early, too. Even if the rest of your site isn’t finished (like the “How We Met” story or bios of your wedding party), filling out those most important of pages will be immensely helpful for your guests.

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