The date is chosen. The venue, caterer, and DJ are booked. You've scoured Pinterest for color palette inspiration and dress styles you always dreamed of. But a wedding isn't complete without your guests. And you'll want to be sure all your closest family and friends can celebrate with you. So, when is the best time to send save the dates? And who should you send one to?
Here are some tips on the best time to send out save the dates, who to include in your mailing list, and how to plan for it all.
Save the Dates: Not a Requirement But a Good Idea
While save the dates aren’t a requirement, it may be in your best interest to send them. Save the dates give friends and family a heads-up about your big day. That might mean you get first dibs on any guests with a potential conflict. It also increases the chances that everyone you want at your wedding can make it. Not to mention, it’s simply a great way to get everyone excited for your wedding!
Who Gets a Save the Date?
If you're still finalizing your guest list when it comes time to send save the dates, only send them to guests you're certain you're inviting. That means you shouldn’t send save the dates to anyone on your secondary guest list. If you do, you are obligated to invite them to the wedding, too. It's also important to include the names of the guests you are inviting, so it's evidently clear who is welcome to come. This helps prevent uninvited guests — your co-worker's spouse, or cousin's six kids — from showing up. (Although this could still happen.)
Don’t Overthink It
Save the dates are less formal than wedding invitations, so don’t agonize over the design. They don’t even have to match your invitations. This is your chance to be creative, so use it as an opportunity to experiment with a fun theme and let your personality, as a couple, shine through.
You don’t need to include all the little details on your save the dates. That information can go on your wedding website or as a separate insert included with your invitations. Stick to the details when it comes to save the dates:
- You and your spouse-to-be's names
- Wedding date
- Location of the wedding (the city will do if you don’t have a venue yet)
- Wedding website (if applicable)
- Note informing guests that a formal invitation will follow
Save the Dates: 6-8 Months Before
You want to send your save the dates early enough for people to clear their calendar for your big day but not so early that the reminder will get tossed in the trash and forgotten. If you're planning between a 12- and 18-month engagement (the average length of an engagement in the U.S. in 2017), plan to send out your save the dates 6-8 months before the ceremony. This allows guests ample time to mark their calendars, reschedule other events, request time off work, save money, and make travel arrangements, if applicable. If you're planning a short engagement (six months or less), don't bother sending save the dates and just send your wedding invites a few weeks early.
Wedding Invites: 6-8 Weeks Before
It's best to send your wedding invitations 6-8 weeks before the big day (assuming you're planning an average engagement). Set the RSVP deadline 2-3 weeks before your wedding. This will give you enough time to get a final headcount and make a seating arrangement if necessary. Don't be surprised if some guests forget to respond, have trouble navigating your website, or the RSVP card gets lost in the mail. If you're missing any RSVPs, reach out and ask if they're able to make it.
If you've already bypassed these recommended timelines, don't worry, weddings are customizable for many reasons. Make adjustments and send save the dates or wedding invites as soon as possible. At the end of the day, those that know you best will make time for your special day and everything will work out better than you could have imagined.