A few years ago, when I was planning my wedding, my mother and I discussed the possibility of sending a save the date card. My mom pointed out that back in her day no one sent a save the date, people came, or they didn’t — whatever! Since then times have changed and it seems people have busier lives. While it’s hard to pinpoint a time when sending save the dates started, one thing is for certain — they are popular now and becoming a to-do for the newly engaged. My theory — save the dates have replaced the traditional engagement announcement. Brides want to give their guests more information than “We’re engaged!”, now it’s “We’re in engaged AND our wedding will be here on this date.” Let’s face it, with social media your engagement is known around the world in just a few short hours — even minutes, so why not get the most from the mailing.
In addition, I feel that in today’s society people are more spread out than before. I have friends all across the country, because that’s where they went away to college and then settled there, or that’s where they could find a job. With everyone living in different locations and guests traveling from out of town, they need more time to plan the trip. Similarly, destination weddings have become increasingly popular — whether it’s in the US, Mexico, the Caribbean or across the oceans, if you want guests to come, they’ll need plenty of notice to make arrangements.
So, what is the etiquette for save the dates? You have to think about who you want to send them to. Since you’re announcing the basic details of your wedding, they should only be sent to those guests you are going to invite to the wedding. Not just intend to invite, but will actually invite. If a guest gets a save the date and is then cut from the formal invitation list due to venue restrictions, financial concerns, space, etc. you’ll feel bad and they’ll be wondering what happened. Avoid this awkward situation all together and have your list finalized before sending them. If you’re not sure that you’ll be able to accommodate everyone “and guest”, then leave out “and guest” from the save the date. It’s totally OK, and you can confirm with or without guest when you send the formal invitations.
As your putting together the guest list, you should also start thinking about your wedding theme, colors, tempo, etc. Are you going vintage or modern, formal or laid-back? The save the date is the first chance you’ll get to make an impression on your guests and should correspond with the theme of the wedding. Likewise, utilizing the same colors and fonts on all your custom wedding stationery is a great way to bring it all together. You can even incorporate your engagement photos into the save the date card — what a great way to let everyone see some of your amazing pictures!
Also, based on how formal your wedding theme and atmosphere will be, is how you should choose to address the save the dates. The save the date cards can be less formal than the invite, so addressing them to Mr. & Mrs. Smith can take a backseat for Tom & Julie Smith. This by no means is the rule, you can address them as formal or as personal as you like.
Another thing to consider is timing. When should you send the save the date? Again, it is totally up to you. If you’re planning a destination wedding, then we suggest sending the save the date one year in advance or as soon as possible. At that time your guests will also want to know the details for accommodations, so they can start booking their travel arrangements. Passport save the dates are perfect for including all of this information in a fun way that will get your guests excited about the trip. For local weddings, six months in advance of the big day should provide enough advance notice. Postcard save the dates are very popular and provide just the right information for your guests.
Bottom line, make it your save the dates something you and your guests will enjoy. Think about, most will end up on the refrigerator as a daily reminder to your guests, so make them uniquely yours.