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Everything You Need to Know About Save-the-Dates

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The Knot
by The Knot
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You've celebrated your engagement, the planning is underway, and it's time to get your guests in the loop by sending 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. But what is a save-the-date exactly? And do you really need it? We cover basic questions, etiquette concerns and style inquiries so you'll be fully prepared with your save-the-dates. It'll be worth the time and effort (mainly so your guests are able to block off the date). You can also purchase your save-the-date cards on The Knot Invitations, so you can do everything (create a wedding website, craft a registry, hire your pros) all in one place. But before you purchase, you'll want to do some research. Here are the answers to all your burning save-the-date etiquette questions.

In this article:

Save-the-Date Basics

Do we have to send save-the-dates?

As destination weddings and three-day affairs have become standard, so have save-the-dates. And if you're marrying during peak travel times, like a holiday weekend or in a resort town in August, a save-the-date is a necessary courtesy. While you don't have to send one if you don't care to, it'll give your guest list advance notice 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 save-the-dates?

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, budget appropriately 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 (members of your wedding party, siblings and parents). Just remember: Only send it to those whom you definitely want to attend. Imagine sending a save-the-date without following up with an invitation. It's not recommended.

What information should we include on our save-the-dates?

At this point, you may not have figured out all the specifics of your day, and that's 100 percent okay. But there is key information you'll want to include on your pre-invite. The save-the-date should definitely include your and your partner'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 should share your wedding website link, where guests can find more in-depth information like links to your registry, timely updates regarding your nuptials and a schedule of events.

Save-The-Date Etiquette

Should we include a way to RSVP with our save-the-dates?

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. The Knot wedding website tool syncs with your registry, so your guests can easily view your wishlist for your newlywed nest.

Do we need to add "and guest," to the save-the-date 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 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 Hotel Planner—a one-stop shop for your group's hotel reservations.) Include all of the housing information on your wedding website to avoid being bombarded with the same questions multiple times.

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

In the event of an unexpected change of plans, your best bet is to start spreading the word. You do have the option of sending out another mailing that explains the dilemma—also known as a "change-the-date." Many stationery companies are offering free reprints or a discount on wedding postponement announcements. The Knot Invitations has a selection of "change-the-dates" that you can send out to your guests to let them know the news. 

Once you've sent out a written notice, update your wedding website with the news. If you'd like to take it a step further, consider a personal, verbal notice  to avoid confusion). 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 relatives or friends that may want it as a keepsake.

You'll also want to keep your wedding website completely up to date in case your guests lose track of the email in their inbox. We recommend adding a section for FAQs, which covers everything from logistics to registry to housing. That way, your guests won't be flooding your phone with questions leading up to your nuptials.

If you've had to postpone your wedding, sending electronic save-the-dates is a simple way to spread the word as well. Look into pretty (or funny) online templates that you can send out (we love the choices on Etsy).

Save-The-Date 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.

It's also an opportunity to showcase your new engagement photos. Look into other creative ideas, like a collage, a map of the place where your wedding will be held or a cute graphic of you, the couple.

How do we decide on a save-the-date 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. 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. Planning a destination wedding? Choose a fun map or travel-inspired graphic to get everyone in the mood. 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. Psst: The Knot Invitations allows you to order free samples so you can check out your top choices in real life before comitting.

Does the save-the-date 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 guests and loved ones who might want to save it as a keepsake.

We want to design our save-the-dates ourselves. Where do we start?

If you don't have a knack for graphic design or calligraphy, not to worry—there are plenty of ways to design a beautiful save-the-date on your own. The Knot Invitations lets you personalize its predesigned templates by changing the colors, fonts and images to suit your style. (You can also request help with your customization—for free!) Meanwhile, 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. They both offer extensive galleries of predesigned options too. And Mountaincow.com offers downloadable PrintingPress software to help you design cards with text and graphics. 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.

If you're looking for one-of-a-kind save-the-dates, consider tapping a professional stationer. They can help you create the bespoke wedding stationery suite of your dreams.

Save the Dates from Shutterfly
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