Skip to main content

Expert Q&A: Save-The-Date Wedding Advice

We got your back when it comes to solving stationery suite blunders! Find out what these four invitation experts had to say about save-the-date etiquette:



Photo: AlimarioPhoto LLC

We got your back when it comes to solving stationery suite blunders!

Find out what these four invitation experts had to say about save-the-date etiquette!

Q: What are save-the-dates?

"A save-the-date is an optional piece of wedding stationery, which many couples choose to send to ensure their closest family and friends will block their schedules and make plans to attend the wedding." -Heidi Smith of Invitations by Dawn, nationwide

"Save-the-dates are an excellent method to inform the wedding guests of your wedding plans, including the date and place. They are cards sent anywhere from six months to a year before the wedding. Additional information, such as the couple’s website, accommodations, travel details, and anything else particular to the wedding can be included. Written save-the-dates are the traditional method of communicating with guests, although electronic methods are also used. The advantage of a written save-the-date is that it is something the guests can save and often place on their refrigerators. The save-the-date cards can match the invitations, or can be completely different." -Lynne Sandler of Lettering by Lynne in Alexandria, Virginia.

Q: When should you send out save-the-dates?

"If you're planning a destination wedding, it’s appropriate to send your save-the-date announcement up to 11 months in advance. You want to avoid sending it a full year in advance, so there’s no confusion. The last thing you need is Aunt Margie having a heart attack because she thinks your big day is one week away! If your wedding is taking place in or near a locale where many guests already live, you can send your save-the-date card between one and six months prior to sending your formal invitation." -Desiree Welke of Mixbook in San Jose, California

"Typical mailing time for these is one year prior, if your event is planned with that much lead time. Save-the-dates can also be sent out between six to eight months prior as well. Events such as weddings are very personal and require certain information to be included and at varying times. It makes the most sense to send them out within the seven to eight month range. This allows you to stick with a customary eight to ten week mailing time frame for your formal invitations. They should be sent out approximately two months prior." -Jessica Leigh of Jessica Leigh Paperie in Bay Shore, New York

Q: What is the difference between informal and formal save-the-dates?

"Formal save-the-dates are generally very traditional cards, without graphic designs or embellishments. They usually include paper and fonts similar to those used on the wedding invitation. Informal save-the-dates may include: photo/photos of the bride and groom, graphic elements, fun or whimsical fonts, and cute wording. There are some that show baby or childhood pictures of both the bride and groom next to current photos. Sometimes the s ave-the-dates are printed on magnets for guests to place on their refrigerators." -Lynne Sandler of Lettering by Lynne in Alexandria, Virginia

"Save-the-dates are very much casual by nature. It’s basically a helpful heads up for your guests and usually a place where we promote showing some personality. Formality often comes down to wording, which there isn’t much of on a save-the-date. However, if the couple wanted something more formal, I would advise them to choose a more elegant design, spell out all words in the save-the-date' s wording and address the envelopes by hand following the same rules as addressing formal wedding invitations." .Heidi Smith of Invitations by Dawn, nationwide

Q: What should you include on a save-the-date?

"Your save-the-date card should include a firm date (that you have already locked down with deposits and formal contracts), and a location for your ceremony and reception. If your location is not final, but you are sure you will be getting married on a specific day, you can send a save-the-date out with only a date and town indicated." -Desiree Welke of Mixbook in San Jose, California

"Beyond 'THE DATE' always be sure to include your names, the city and state, and in most cases hotel accommodations or a wedding website (if there are plans to create one)." -Jessica Leigh of Jessica Leigh Paperie in Bay Shore, New York

Q: What are some reasons why you should or should not send a save-the-date?

"In today’s world, sending save-the-dates are almost always a good idea. Busy guests appreciate the opportunity to plan ahead, and the couple wants to make sure their closest family and friends are able to attend. As far as cost goes, it’s important to remember that save-the-dates don't go to everyone on your guest list. So, although there is a cost associated with them, it’s often very reasonable. Save-the-dates should not be sent if the wedding date isn’t set in stone." -Heidi Smith of Invitations by Dawn, nationwide

"Save-the-dates allow the guests to put the wedding date on their calendars way ahead of the wedding to be sure they will be able to attend. They also give the guests notice of where the wedding will be and if the guests will need to book travel, hotel, etc. If it is closer than four months to the wedding, you may want to skip sending a save-the-d ate, since the invitations should be sent eight to ten weeks before the wedding." -Lynne Sandler of Lettering by Lynne in Alexandria, Virginia

Q: What is something every couple should know about sending save-the-dates?

"Once you send a save-the-date card, you must follow with an actual, formal wedding invitation. It could be very hurtful if someone thinks he or she is invited, then realizes that is not the case. It could also be a royal pain for someone if they begin to make plans to travel. Only send a save-the-date to guests you are absolutely positive will be invited. It is okay, on the other hand, to send save-the-d ates to the people whose presence you view as essential, and simply skip the s ave-the-date card for the folks who you would like to have attend, but who are not absolutely crucial to have by your side." -Desiree Welke of Mixbook in San Jose, California

"Always remember that this is your event. No matter what industry standards are or guest expectations are, you should always do what’s best for YOU. As a stationery designer, I always recommend sending out save-the-date cards. It’s fun and again, helps to create a complete 'suite' of wedding day stationery, but if skipping the save-the-date cards helps to increase your budget for formal more elaborate wedding invitations, that is not a bad thing. And if simple is all that can be done for a save-the-date, if you choose to mail them out, then make simple as beautiful as can be. There are a ton of design styles, paper types, font options, etc. that can really make a huge impact on the design. Whether it’s four layers or one 4x6 postcard!" -Jessica Leigh of Jessica Leigh Paperie in Bay Shore, New York

Q: What is a common mistake you see couples make when sending save-the-dates?

"Sending too late. It’s understandable because more has to happen before sending save-the-dates than a couple often realizes. If the couple wants to showcase engagement photos, they have to schedule those in time to receive them before ordering save-the-dates. The couple also has to put together a guest list (with mailing addresses) to determine who will receive a save-the-date. Then, there is the actual shopping for save-the-dates, personalizing them and ordering them. These things aren't difficult, but they happen so early in the wedding planning process, that the couple is often caught off guard. Sending save-the-d ates kick starts the whole wedding process rather early, which couples will be thankful for in the end." -Heidi Smith of Invitations by Dawn, nationwide

"The biggest mistakes? Sending the save-the-date prematurely, then having to send an updated version with revised dates or locations. Or sending before the guest list is locked down and having to awkwardly wiggle out of an implied invitation." -Desiree Welke of Mixbook in San Jose, California

Q: Is there a preferred kind of stationery used for save-the-dates?

"No, there is no preferred stationery used. Sometimes, the card is similar to the wedding invitation, and sometimes, there is no relationship. It may be printed on paper or magnet c ards, and may even be printed on unusual materials, such as ' wood' paper, translucent paper. The printing process can be flat or digitally printed, thermography (raised printing), letterpress, or foil." -Lynne Sandler of Lettering by Lynne in Alexandria, Virginia

"The skies the limit! There are so many fun design styles, paper types, font options, and printing techniques available to make your save-the-dates personal and memorable, and not all of them break the bank! Choose a stationer who listens to your needs, has a lot of options and can make even the simplest of designs WOW your guests!" -Jessica Leigh of Jessica Leigh Paperie in Bay Shore, New York