Save the Dates 101

A set of Scrabble tiles that spell out "save our date" with a ring as the "o."

When it comes to getting married, it can often feel like you get engaged and then—boom!—suddenly there’s all these things you’re meant to plan and just know. Before you loose your wedding-filled mind, take everything one step a time. The save the date is one of the first alerts you send out to give your guests formal notice that they’re invited to your wedding. But without general save the date knowledge, the whole wedding invitiation process can seem mystifying. Hopefully we can illuminate the process a bit by answering a few commonly asked questions about save the dates, such as when to send them—and if you even need them at all!

Are Save the Dates Even Necessary Anymore?

A small wedding ceremony set up outside on a field with a green trees all around.

Some modern couples are opting not to do save the dates at all. With the cost of weddings rising across the country, it can be seen as just one more thing you have to pay for. But the traditionalists on your wedding guest list may certainly be expecting a save the date, and may even be offended if they don’t receive one.

We say that one of the few times it’s OK not to send a save the date is if you’re having a small wedding. If your guest list is a total of 20 people, you could probably let each of them know in another way that they’re invited and to literally “save the date.” In this case, not sending save the dates may be a decision made out of convenience to yourself. But if you’re throwing a large wedding, it’s really best to send out typical save the dates so your guests can prepare their schedules, finances, and even babysitters. Your invitation coming at the last-minute with no preceding save the date could cause your guests no other option than to make preparations last-minute. That’s not the kind of energy you want surrounding your big day.

When Should You Send the Save the Dates?

This is an age-old question and somewhat debated in the wedding community. You don’t want to send the save the dates out too early and risk your potential guests forgetting about the wedding entirely, but you definitely don’t want to send them out too late, either. There seems to be a tentative sweet spot of around eight to four months before the wedding that almost everyone agrees upon. If you’re getting married out of town or in some exotic locale, send your save the dates out at the earlier edge of this timeline. If you’re getting married in town and most of your guests are from around that same place, you can probably sneak by at four months out from the wedding date. Just don’t forget to give your invitations some time, too!

How Should I Design the Save the Dates?

A man and woman on bikes kissing on an engagement photo shoot, to be used as a photo on their save the date.

The save the dates can be a beautiful extension of your wedding’s vibe. If you love planning and coordinating every little detail for your wedding, then you don’t want to miss the opportunity to do that with your save the dates. But if you’re not the artsy or planning type and have no idea what to do, there are options! For instance, have you gone over to Etsy in a while? They’ve got save the date designs for days and a lot of them are reasonably priced. You could try your chances at a printing store with their customizable templates. Also, keep in mind that some couples use their save the dates as an opportunity to show off their engagement session photos. Slap your best couple pic on the front with some nice typography and you’re good to go.

What Details Should You Include on the Save the Dates?

Some people just don’t know how to keep it brief. The urge to include more information than necessary may creep in. But the beauty of save the dates is that they’re simple! They are heralding an event—not detailing it. It might feel a bit strange not including everything on this basic invitation, but don’t worry about it. As long as you include the date and location, you’re doing it right. Most traditions dictate that the save the dates should include your names of the people getting married, the day of the wedding, and the general location.

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