Answers to All Your Save-the-Date Questions

From style to etiquette, here's how to do your wedding save-the-dates right.
by The Knot
Gray save-the-dates
photo by Greer Gatso Photography

You’ve celebrated your engagement and the planning is underway—time to get your guests in the loop by sending them a wedding save-the-date card. This pre-invitation officially announces your wedding date and lets guests know that they will, in fact, be invited to the celebration. Here are the answers to all your burning save-the-date etiquette questions.

Save-the-Date Basics

Do we have to send save-the-dates?

As destination weddings and three-day weekend affairs have become more standard, so have save-the-dates. And if you're marrying during peak travel times, like a holiday weekend or August in a beach town, a save-the-date is an expected courtesy. Of course, you don't have to send one if you don't want to, but it’ll give guests a heads up about your wedding plans. Between travel arrangements and busy schedules, sending a save-the-date will increase guests' chances of attending your celebration.

When should we send them?

As a general rule, it's best to start spreading the news around six months prior to the ceremony (eight months for a faraway destination or holiday weekend). This gives invitees plenty of time to book their travel, save a bit of cash and ask for days off from work. Any earlier and it may slip their minds; any later and it might as well be an invitation.

Who should receive a save-the-date?

You should send your save-the-dates to anyone you want at your wedding. Even if you've already received verbal confirmations from certain guests, you should still send them a save-the-date (bridesmaids, siblings and parents). Just remember: Only send them to those whom you definitely want to attend.

What information should we include?

At this point, you may not have have figured out all the specifics of your day, and that's 100 percent okay. The save-the-date should definitely include your and your fiancé's names, wedding date (or dates, for a wedding weekend), location (a town or city is helpful, even if the venue isn't booked yet) and a notice for a formal invitation to follow. Ideally, your save-the-dates are the best place to share your wedding website link, where guests can find more in-depth information like links to your registry and a schedule of events.

Etiquette

Should we include a way to RSVP?

While extra-early RSVPs would ideally give you a head start on your head count, this plan has the potential to backfire, since the excess of cushion time might cause some guests to put off replying and forget altogether. So, at this point, an RSVP shouldn't be expected—after all, this is the correspondence that gives guests an opportunity to figure out what their RSVP will be when the formal invitation arrives.

Should we share registry info on our save-the-date?

While your guests will likely want to know where you're registered, it's inappropriate to print this information on your save-the-dates or invitations since gifts, of course, are not technically required. Guests usually know they can ask you, your family or your friends about registry details, otherwise the best place to share that info is on your wedding website.

Do we need to add "and guest," or can that wait for the invitations?

It's best to be clear about who's invited to the wedding, even this far in advance. By including the actual names of every intended guest on the envelope, you're less likely to have any assumed invitees (like your second cousin's new boyfriend), or general confusion (is your 7-year-old niece invited?). Communicating who's invited up-front also gives families with uninvited kids ample time to plan for child care, and out-of-towners time to figure out travel and hotel plans. (Psst, help them out by blocking hotel rooms on HiSkipper.com.)

What if we send save-the-dates and then change our wedding date or location?

This scenario is very unlikely, since you shouldn’t send out formal wedding information before setting the plans in stone (so if you send save-the-dates before you’ve booked a venue, print the city or town in which you plan to wed instead). But things happen, so in the event of an unexpected change of plans, your best bet is to update your wedding website, pick up the phone and start spreading the word. You do have the option of sending out another mailing that explains the dilemma—but a personal, verbal notice is the best way to avoid confusion (and won’t cost you more money for extra postage and paper goods). Ask your wedding party and family members to help you get in touch with everyone if your guest list is overwhelming.

Can we send electronic save-the-dates?

Email invitations for informal events like bachelorette parties and postwedding brunches are becoming more popular, which, as a result, is changing the rules of snail mail etiquette. We stand by old-school stationery for the big stuff like formal invitations, but leave the use of digital up to the discretion of the couple for any additional wedding events. If you do opt for e-save-the-dates, consider doubling up: Send out an electronic save-the-date to everyone, and paper correspondence to older relatives or friends that may want it as a keepsake.

Style and Design

Do our save-the-dates have to match our wedding invitations or theme?

Save-the-dates are usually much less formal, so this is your opportunity to let your style as a couple really shine, or try out a theme you love but are hesitant to commit to officially. Play with colors, motifs or fonts to create something that’ll get guests excited for the occasion.

How do we decide on a style?

Our favorite part about save-the-dates is that they aren't your wedding invitations. In other words, feel free to take a design risk, insert a little humor or choose a bolder-than-usual font. Most important, you want to create something that grabs your invitees’ attention and sets the tone for the rest of your wedding. Are you both foodies? Print your favorite recipe on the back with a sweet anecdote about the first time you tried it together. Having a destination wedding? Choose a fun map or travel-inspired graphic to get everyone in the mood. But don’t feel pressure to stray off the beaten path if you don’t want to—you can never go wrong with classic, elegant choices like engraved script or watercolor calligraphy on a pretty card that showcases your wedding colors.

Does it have to be a card?

Cards may be the most straightforward way to go, but a wedding save-the-date can really be whatever you want. You have so many creative options: sticker magnets,  custom comic strips, a photograph—even a bar of your favorite chocolate! Since many couples design the save-the-date themselves, this is the perfect chance to showcase your personality and interests as a couple. A graphic e-vite is another option, but (as mentioned above) we recommend sending a printed copy to your less tech-savvy guests and loved ones who might want to save it as a keepsake.

We want to design them ourselves. Where do we start?

If you don't have a knack for graphic design or calligraphy, don't worry—there are plenty of ways to design a beautiful, personal save-the-date on your own. Mountaincow.com offers downloadable PrintingPress software to help you design cards with text and graphics. Companies like VistaPrint and Shutterfly allow you to upload your own design and will print it on your choice of card (or magnet), then ship them right to you. VistaPrint and Shutterfly both offer extensive galleries of predesigned options too. Though these are great places to start, do a little research online to find a downloadable template, design service or software that speaks to you.


Ready to find a stationer? Start your search here.

Get amazing save-the-date inspiration right here.

Up Next
Guest List Manager - The Knot
Get organized with The Knot's wedding guest list manager. Use our wedding guest list template to manage wedding RSVPs online and track your guests.