Save-the-Date Etiquette: Top 9 Rules For Proper Invitations

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Save-the-date cards, much more than a mere calendar placeholder, these small cards serve as the prelude to your wedding day. They whisper secrets of romance, promise, and celebration. But how do you ensure that your save-the-dates waltz gracefully into your guests’ hearts? Fear not! In this article from Viva Wedding Photography, we’ll explore the intricacies of save-the-date etiquette, from timing to mailing and everything in between. The following will ensure your announcement isn’t just a date on the calendar but a cherished chapter in your love story.

1. Do you have to send save-the-dates?

Save-the-date protocol about the importance of sending this pre-invitation
Save-the-date protocol about the importance of sending this pre-invitation – Photo by: Truly Engaging

Although many of your friends and family may already be aware of your engagement and possibly even have information about the wedding venue and date, it is still important to send out this pre-invitation notification. Additionally, save-the-dates serve as an enjoyable method to provide your guests with initial details about the wedding.

If you are planning a destination wedding, especially during busy travel periods like summer in a resort town or peak season in Hawaii, it is recommended to send save-the-date cards well in advance. This will allow your guests ample time to make necessary travel and hotel arrangements. To ensure that as many of your loved ones as possible can celebrate with you, it is both practical and polite to provide them with sufficient advance notice. 

>>> Recommend reading: Destination Wedding Etiquette | A Guide For Couples & Guests

2. Save-the-date etiquette: When to send?

Timeline according to etiquette for save-the-date cards
Timeline according to etiquette for save-the-date cards – Photo by: Green Wedding Shoes

If you are planning a destination wedding or expecting many guests to travel from different parts of the world, sending out save-the-dates eight months in advance is a good rule of thumb. This save-the-date etiquette allows wedding guests ample time to make travel arrangements, save money, and ask for time off from work. Generally speaking, providing your guests with advance notice increases the chances of their attendance.

When you’re getting hitched in the same area where most of your guests live, we suggest sending out your save-the-dates four to six months before the wedding. Besides, if you don’t know what you should do in 6 months before married, Let’s refer to this post.

3. Save-the-date etiquette: Who should get one?

Save-the-date protocol about who receives a save-the-date card
Save-the-date protocol about who receives a save-the-date card – Photo by: Cartalia

According to the traditional save-the-date address etiquette, all the people who would be invited to your wedding should also receive a save-the-date card. Don’t send out save-the-dates to anyone who isn’t already on your guest list. Once they are in the mail, there is no way to retrieve them, so ensure you have compiled an accurate guest list before sending them out.

In addition, even if you have already received verbal confirmation from some guests, it is still necessary to send them a save-the-date. This includes everyone in the wedding party, immediate family members, and other important participants (like close friends or relatives you would want there on the big day).

4. Save-the-date etiquette: What should you include?

Include your names

Save-the-date etiquette: Include your names
Your name is important information that you should add in a save-the-date card – Photo by: Oh Happy Printables

Including both of your names in the design is a “must-do” of etiquette for save-the-date cards. Depending on the style and tone of your save the date, you have the option to write out your full name or simply use your first name. Usually, it is customary for the bride’s name to be mentioned first.

However, if your situation is unique, there is no problem with deviating from this traditional save-the-date protocol. Some couples prefer arranging their names in alphabetical order or choose to list the groom’s name first. If there is a photo of you and your soon-to-be spouse featured on the save-the-date, consider listing your names in the same order as you appear in the photo. 

Include the date

Etiquette for save-the-date cards: Including the wedding date
Etiquette for save-the-date cards: Including the wedding date – Photo by: Rustic Chic

This is why it is called a “save-the-date”! Ensure that you prominently display it, either in numerical form or spelled out. Providing just the wedding day is enough; there’s no need to include specific hours. If you are planning a destination nuptials or a weekend-long gathering, it’s a proper save-the-date etiquette to provide all the relevant days and state which day the ceremony will take place. It’s possible that some guests will be able to attend only the ceremony and not the rest of the weekend’s events.

Include the wedding location

Including the wedding location is a "Do" of save-the-date etiquette
Including the wedding location is a “Do” of save-the-date etiquette – Photo by: Vangelis Photography

This is merely a generic location, such as a country, city, or state. You don’t need to specify the venue at this point. Guests only need to know the location for the purpose of planning and travel. This doesn’t mean that you cannot include your venue if you want to, but, likely, you haven’t booked it yet. If you want to add it, please feel free to do so! It is your save-the-date, after all.

Include the wedding website URL

Adding a wedding website URL is a "Do" of etiquette for save-the-date cards
Adding a wedding website URL is a “Do” of etiquette for save-the-date cards – Photo by: Wedding Chicks

If you have a wedding website where you can provide updates and information about your wedding plans, it’s a good save-the-date protocol to include the URL on your save-the-date invitation. In this way, your guests can explore further for more comprehensive information.

Many couples utilize a wedding website as a platform to share their engagement photos and videos. Additionally, you can use it to share essential information with guests, such as hotel details, local maps, and any other helpful tips, particularly for out-of-town invitees. 

Let your guests know a formal invite will follow

Save-the-date wording etiquette
Save-the-date wording etiquette – Photo by: Etsy

Remember to include phrases such as “a formal invitation will be sent later” or “our formal invitation will follow.” This message informs your guests that you will send them a formal invitation closer to the wedding date. The invitation will provide detailed information such as the exact times and locations of the ceremony, the gift registry, meal options, and a method for RSVPing. 

5. Do wedding save-the-dates and invitations have to match?

Etiquette for save-the-date cards' design
Etiquette for save-the-date cards’ design – Photo by: Truly Engaging

No, save-the-dates and wedding invitations don’t need to match each other. We believe that the connection between your save-the-dates and invitations is similar to the relationship between your eyebrows – they should resemble each other but not be identical.

If your main invitation features a beautiful mix of pastel colors with elegant gold foil accents, you could select a favorite color from the invitation as the primary hue for your save-the-date cards. Additionally, opting for a mix-and-match approach will prevent your save-the-dates from revealing the surprise of your main invitations, especially if you have a unique design planned.

6. How many save-the-dates should you order?

Ordering a few extra save-the-dates is a proper save-the-date etiquette
Ordering a few extra save-the-dates is a proper save-the-date etiquette – Photo by: Love, Beth

Etiquette for save-the-date cards is similar to invitations in that you will only require one per household. When making a decision on the quantity to order, it is important to consider that. It is a smart idea to order a few extra save-the-dates, typically around 10 to 15.

You might come to realize that you have inadvertently omitted someone from your initial list, or you may make a few mistakes while addressing the envelopes. Ordering extras during the initial order will be more cost-effective and convenient compared to placing a separate order later.

7. Can you send them via email?

Save-the-date etiquette on using e-vites
It’s totally fine to email your save-the-date invitation – Photo by: Hitched

In today’s modern age, it is a completely acceptable save-the-date etiquette rule to send your save-the-date announcement via email. Keep in mind that there could be some hiccups along the way, such as the possibility of your e-card being filtered into the spam folders of your guests. Although delivery is convenient and cost-effective, it is not always guaranteed. Therefore, it is advisable to follow up to ensure that your delivery has been successfully completed.

8. How do you mail save-the-dates?

Save-the-date protocol on mailing
Save-the-date protocol on mailing – Photo by: Rustic Chic

Once you have compiled your list of guest addresses, sending out save-the-date cards is similar to mailing wedding invitations. If you include embellishments or unconventional mailing materials, such as magnets, in your save-the-dates, be prepared for a slightly higher cost per card. This is because the additional weight or the need for a hand-canceling service may incur extra charges. However, opting for hand-canceling will ensure that your cards are not damaged by machines during the mailing process.

If you need to know the precise price per card, bring an envelope that is ready to mail to the post office and have the clerk weigh it. And, most importantly, never drop your precious save-the-dates into the mailbox! The ease of this option is tempting, but entrusting them to an actual postal worker will guarantee their safe delivery.

9. Save-the-date etiquette tips on saving money

Save-the-date etiquette tips on saving money
There’s no need to include magnets in your save-the-date cards – Photo by: Pipkin Paper Company

To keep the cost of the physical card low, you can opt for a more affordable option and avoid anything highly customized, such as a hand-painted watercolor save-the-date. It’s better to reserve such intricate designs for your wedding invitations. There are numerous printable save-the-date templates available that offer custom designs at affordable prices, provided you are willing to put in some effort.

We understand that save-the-date magnets are increasingly popular. However, as mentioned above, due to their weight, they will incur higher mailing costs. Additionally, you have the option to reserve elegant wax seals, custom calligraphy, and hand-sourced vintage stamps for the main invitation as well. 

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In the delicate dance of wedding planning, mastering save-the-date etiquette rules is an essential first step for the upcoming process. As we conclude our exploration, remember that these small cards carry not just a date but the first whispers of your love story. With a blend of tradition and personal touch, your save-the-date becomes a timeless memento—a promise etched in the hearts of your guests. Viva Wedding Photography hopes your wedding journey is filled with anticipation, elegance, and the joy of creating memories that will last a lifetime. Happy planning!

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