Mastering Save the Dates: A Complete Guide

Introduction to Save-the-Dates

Save-the-dates are more than just a prelude to the official wedding invitation; they are a pivotal part of the wedding planning process. These announcements serve a dual purpose: they not only inform your guests about the upcoming wedding but also symbolize the start of your journey to matrimony. The significance of save-the-dates lies in their role in ensuring that your loved ones can mark their calendars well in advance, especially if they need to arrange travel or take time off work.

Is a Save-the-Date an Invitation?

No, a save-the-date is not an invitation. A save-the-date is a pre-invitation notice sent to inform guests of a significant event such as a wedding, indicating the date (and possibly the location) so they can keep that day free. It serves as an advance notice and is typically followed by a formal invitation, which provides detailed information about the event, such as the venue, exact time, and RSVP instructions. The formal invitation is the actual request for the recipient’s presence at the event. Save-the-dates are more of a courtesy to help guests plan ahead, especially for events that require travel or significant preparation.

Choosing the Right Time to Send Save the Dates

Timing is everything when it comes to sending save the dates. The general rule of thumb is to send them six to eight months before the wedding. This timeframe gives your guests ample opportunity to plan, particularly if you’re hosting a destination wedding or marrying during a busy holiday season. Factors that might affect this timing include the location of your wedding, the proportion of out-of-town guests, and any major local events that might coincide with your wedding date.

Designing Your Save the Dates

Designing your save-the-dates is an opportunity to express your creativity and give your guests a sneak peek of your wedding theme. Whether you opt for a classic, modern, or whimsical style, ensure that the design reflects your personalities as a couple. Personalization can range from custom illustrations to a simple monogram with your initials. Remember, the design sets the tone for your wedding, so choose elements that resonate with your envisioned aesthetic.

Information to Include on Save the Dates

  1. Venue Details:
    There’s no need to include the name or full address of your venue on the save-the-date. Just mentioning the city and state is sufficient to inform guests of the destination. If you prefer, adding the venue name is optional.
  2. Hotel and Accommodation Information:
    Avoid overwhelming your guests with excessive details at this stage. Opt to provide accommodation information with the formal wedding invitation or on your wedding website.
  3. Exact Times for Ceremony and Reception:
    Since it’s early in the planning process, specifying start times isn’t necessary. The primary aim of the save-the-date is to alert guests about the wedding date and location.
  1. Dress Code Details:
    It’s premature to share dress code information. Reserve any instructions regarding guest attire for the wedding invitation, or alternatively, include them on your wedding website for easy access.
  2. RSVP Requests:
    According to save-the-date etiquette, it’s too soon to request RSVPs. Since these notices are often sent up to a year in advance, requesting an immediate response isn’t customary.

Digital vs. Physical Save the Dates

In the digital age, choosing between digital and physical save the dates can be challenging. Digital versions are cost-effective, eco-friendly, and easy to distribute. However, physical save-the-dates have a tangible charm and can become keepsakes. Your choice may depend on factors like your wedding style, budget, and the preferences of your guest list.

Addressing and Sending Out Save the Dates

When it comes to addressing your save-the-dates, etiquette plays a significant role. The way you address the envelope sets the tone for your event and indicates who is invited. This can be particularly important for guests with unique family situations or those with plus-ones. Ensure that the names are spelled correctly and the titles are appropriate.

Managing Responses and Follow-Ups

Save the dates typically don’t require an RSVP, but they can help you gauge who is likely to attend. This preliminary headcount can be invaluable for planning purposes. Keep track of any early responses and be prepared to answer questions from guests, particularly regarding travel arrangements and accommodations.

Steve Gerrard Photography

Budget Considerations for Save the Dates

Budgeting for save the dates is an essential aspect of your wedding planning. Costs can vary significantly based on the design, printing, and mailing expenses. If you’re looking to save money, consider digital options or DIY designs. For those willing to splurge, custom artwork or luxurious materials can make your save-the-dates stand out.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

One common mistake is sending save the dates too late, leaving guests scrambling to make arrangements. Another error is overloading them with information; simplicity is key. Avoid including details that are likely to change, such as specific timings or venues that haven’t been confirmed.

Cultural and Regional Variations

Cultural and regional norms can influence the style and content of your save-the-dates. For instance, in some cultures, it’s customary to include a photo of the couple, while in others, a simple card suffices. Consider incorporating elements that honour your heritage or the locale of your wedding.

Eco-Friendly Save the Dates

Eco-friendly options for save-the-dates are increasingly popular. These include recycled paper, seed paper (which guests can plant), or digital versions. Choosing a sustainable option not only reflects a commitment to the environment but also sets a conscious tone for your wedding.

Save the Dates and Wedding Websites

Linking your save-the-date to your wedding website is an efficient way to provide guests with additional information. Your website can include details about accommodations, travel tips, and any other relevant information that wouldn’t fit on the save the date. It’s also a great way to keep guests updated on any changes or additional plans.

Photography and Save the Dates

Incorporating personal photos in your save-the-dates can add a unique touch. Whether it’s an engagement shoot or a favourite snapshot, choose a photo that reflects your relationship and the tone you want to set for your wedding. Ensure the image quality is high so it prints well.

Steve Gerrard Photography

Save the Dates for Destination Weddings

Destination weddings require special consideration when it comes to save-the-dates. Give guests extra notice – ideally eight months to a year in advance. Include key travel information and consider creating a detailed section on your wedding website dedicated to travel logistics.

Save-the-dates are a pivotal element of wedding planning, offering the first glimpse into your special day. They set the tone, provide essential information, and ensure your guests can prepare to celebrate with you. Remember, the key is to balance personalization with clarity and to consider the needs and expectations of your guests.


  • How important is it to match my save-the-date with my wedding theme?
  • While not essential, it creates a cohesive look and builds anticipation for your wedding theme.
  • Should I send a save-the-date to everyone I’m inviting to the wedding?
  • Yes, it’s a good practice to send them to all potential guests to avoid confusion and ensure everyone is informed.
  • Can I use a group photo for my save-the-date?
  • It’s best to use a photo of just the couple to highlight the upcoming union.
  • Is it okay to send save-the-dates via email?
  • Yes, digital save-the-dates are acceptable and are becoming increasingly popular.
  • What if I have to cancel or change the date after sending save-the-dates?
  • Communicate the change as soon as possible via a follow-up message or card.

Further Reading





All photos – Steve Gerrard Photography

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