Save the Dates: Everything You Need to Know
Why do you have to have these AND wedding invitations? Are they necessary? When do you send them, and to whom? Should they be really formal? Relax, bride-to-be; this isn't a super stressful item on your wedding checklist, and Kadlee is here to help walk you through it!
So you found the one you want to spend the rest of your life with, you have a gorgeous piece of bling on your finger, you've booked a venue, and you've made a guest list. Congrats! The toughest decisions are behind you. Seriously - from here on out, it may be stressful, but the hardest parts are over.
You're probably wondering what's next... depending on your unique wedding (because every bride and every set of nuptials is different), the next step might be to let people know they're invited, which is where the Save the Date discussion starts. Save the Dates are a recent invention in the wedding industry - your mother or grandmother didn't send them out. But as people have become more geographically dispersed, busier, and more tech-savvy, Save the Dates were introduced to help establish your wedding as a priority for your guests.
Basically, Save the Dates are a way to let your wedding guests know what's happening, when and where it's happening, who is invited, and what they should plan for. It gives them enough advance notice to make sure they can come! They're optional, not required, but you should consider them first before leaving them out of your strategy, because they can be really helpful.
Save the Dates vs. Wedding Invites
It is key to keep in mind that Save the Dates are not wedding invitations. The two look different and serve different purposes. Here are the three main differences:
Wedding invitations are more formal. Save the Dates are the informal first touch, the first notice to your guests that you're getting married and you want them to be there! If you design them/pick them out, they don't have to match each other, and your Save the Dates can be as creative, fun, and relaxed as you like. Many couples have even started doing digital invites. While this is one way to save money, it's not as personal, and many of your guests (especially older relatives) might prefer something they can hold/display on their fridge.
Save the Dates, if you're going to do them, come first (typically six to ten months before the wedding date). This is done so guests have enough time to purchase plane tickets, book hotels, and find childcare if necessary, and so that they have a concrete reason for declining other commitments that may arise. Especially if your wedding is during the summer (when everyone's on vacation), during a holiday season (NYE & Christmas are busy travel times), or on a long weekend, they might not be able to come if they are not sure if they're invited months in advance and have notice to plan accordingly. The formal wedding invitation can be sent six to eight weeks in advance, however.
Save the Dates are simple. While wedding invitations need to have all the details and several components (time, place, the reception card, and the response card with meal options, at a minimum), the Save the Dates just need to have a few things (and they can all be on one card!): your full names, what guests are invited and what they are being invited to, the date, the place, and a link to your wedding website, if you have it, though it's not necessary. Your names and the date are really the only things that matter. But you should absolutely have the word "wedding" on the card and you need to let them know at least a general idea of where the wedding will be held so they can arrange transportation. You should also specify who is invited; if you're not allowing plus ones, or kids, now is the time to make that crystal clear so that people can make arrangements. You should definitely NOT highlight registry information on the Save the Dates (it's considered against etiquette), but you can list a wedding website where they can find other information which can and should include a registry.
If you have a lot of people you invited that live out of town, Save the Dates are definitely recommended. However, if you're having a small, simple wedding with local friends and family, or if you have an engagement shorter than four months, Save the Dates are probably not necessary, and you can just skip right to the invitation part.
One really critical piece of advice we would like to impart here; make sure that you have basically finalized the guest list, and have poured incredible effort and careful thought into searching its depths, before sending these out.Once you do, there's no going back. Save the Dates aren't wedding invitations but they do send the same message...this is your notice to your recipients that they are invited.
If you didn't double check the guest list and you end up having too many guests, it's going to put you in an incredible awkward or stressful situation. Also, if you sent a new friend a Save the Date, and you end up not being as close to them as you thought, it would still be rude to uninvite them. Don't send them to people you're not absolutely certain you want celebrating your wedding with you.
Need some inspiration? Check out creative Save the Date ideas fromA Practical Wedding,Brides, andOne Fab Day!
What questions do you have about Save the Dates? Do you have a favorite idea you've seen online? What's your opinion on digital vs. physical? Let us know in the comments!