Are save the dates really necessary?
When is the proper time to send them out?
Protocol & Event Printing Expert | Owner, Dulles Designs
Since most weddings nowadays are destination weddings for many of the guests invited, your “save the dates” will be especially critical to communicate a smooth and effective wedding planning process they will be eager to attend.
Take note of the actual wedding date and destination
Stunning save the dates help boost pre-event buzz, set the tone for your wedding’s style and time of day, and also share critical travel details for your guests who will be venturing from near and far to celebrate with you and your family.
Don’t scrimp on quality or dare use e-vite “save the dates”. Make an elegant and memorable first impression of the wedding, since it will be one of the most important celebrations of your life.
The more popular your wedding date and the more remote your wedding destination, the sooner your “save the dates” should be mailed.
Nine to twelve months for weddings on holidays and popular locations
This is especially true, if your wedding will be held on a busy holiday weekend –– say President’s Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, or Thanksgiving –– or in a popular location that requires advance booking and travel logistics –– say remote islands, hard-to-reach mountain top resorts, European villages, or New York City, Charleston, or Palm Beach.
In these cases, your save the dates should be hand-canceled and in the mail from nine to twelve months before your wedding date.
If you mail your “save the dates” too far out from your wedding dates –– say two years to 18 months out –– your guests will likely lose your save the date in the shuffle of life, or forget to make their travel plans in a timely fashion. Consult with your venue and wedding planner to get the timing exactly right.
I always recommend that your “save the dates” be printed and mailed six to nine months out to give your guests ample time to secure your wedding date on their social calendars and have access to the best flight and hotel options and rates, including other arrangements.
Related: What to Wear to a Beach Wedding
Four to six months for local weddings
If your wedding is going to be held in your hometown, with only a few guests traveling to celebrate with your wedding weekend, then your save the dates can be mailed six to four months out.
The secret is to have an uber-accurate guest list, with perfectly spelled names, addresses, and zip codes –– triple checked by your wedding stationer –– prior to calligraphy or digital printing.
Skip “save the dates” if the wedding is in less than four months
If your wedding planning timeline is less than 4 months out, you may consider skipping the save the dates entirely send your wedding invitations as soon as you have all the critical details confirmed: ceremony and reception location(s), time(s), and any travel or transportation information.
Tips on setting up your “save the dates”
Work with a seasoned stationer who also offers calligraphy and full-service wedding printing.
One who can help you with invitation design, logistical information, protocol, and eventual wedding programs. This cohesive system is especially helpful for destination weddings with extra travel and wedding party logistics that may progress or change slightly for all your guests as the date approaches.
Don’t make the mistake of going DIY right after getting engaged or before your wedding venue and plans have been confirmed.
Avoid ordering something quick and cheap online merely giving your guests your wedding date and location. Save the dates today are as important and impactful as your wedding invitation.
It is also often more costly and sometimes too late to include all hotel, travel, logistical details in your wedding invitations –– information that could and should have been included in your save the dates.
Lastly, when selecting a designer for your “save the dates”, consider the color palette and design of your wedding invitations and other event stationery.
There should be a distinct cohesiveness throughout each printed piece, especially if you will be having a seated dinner and custom menu.
Your “save the dates”, invitations, and wedding programs don’t all have to match 100%, but they should work together graphically and color coordinate. If they are all too different, your guests will be confused as to which type of wedding you will be planning, worry about what to wear, and perceive your wedding weekend as a bit too chaotic.
Owner & Chief Wedding Planner, Risa James Events
Save-the-dates should be sent at different times, depending on your specific situation
- If your wedding is taking place in another country, it’s best to send them 9-12 months in advance of the wedding.
This gives guests plenty of notice to begin making travel plans and stock-piling vacation days, if necessary.
- If your wedding is not an international affair, but many of your guests will need to travel domestically, send save-the-dates about six months in advance.
Again, it gives people time to make plans. Even if a guest notifies you that they can’t attend, it’s polite to send an invitation if you’ve already sent them a save-the-date.
- Send save-the-dates via email as soon as you have a date secured. This is for planning a wedding in a short timeframe (six months or less).
- If the majority of your guests are local to where your wedding is taking place, save-the-dates aren’t necessary. But if you would still like to send them, six months out is standard.
Founder & CEO, Orchard and Broome, LLC
Take note of the wedding location
There are a few factors to consider in determining the timing of your save-the-date send-off.
First and foremost, if you’re planning a destination wedding that requires a lot more coordination on the part of your guests (ie – flights, hotel bookings, and so on), allow anywhere from 8-to-12 months lead time before your wedding day.
On the other hand, if your affair is local, save-the-dates can be sent between 3-4 months prior, with invites to follow about 2 months before the big day.
Director, Hatton & Co.
These should be sent out at around the 12 months mark
With a year to go, most people should be free to attend. They’re less likely to have booked a holiday or have a hospital appointment scheduled in.
With that in mind, making sure you’ve sent out a very quick, informal text to the majority of your guests before committing to anything is a great rule of thumb. This will likely include the main guests and immediate family because these people will usually be the most important to the bride and groom.
CEO & Founder, RESCUE Event Planning, LLC
There are a couple of factors that make a difference on when a save the date should be mailed out or emailed out.
- If the event falls on a holiday weekend or holiday, please send it out 9-12 months out in advance, this allows guest to properly plan since their traditional plans will have to be adjusted to make room for your event.
- If the event does not fall on a holiday weekend or holiday 6-9 months is a great time to send out save the dates. The key is the earlier the better!
Wedding Planner, Amora Bali Weddings
An ideal timeframe would be at least 1 year before the wedding
Book the venue before you send out all the save the dates. After the venue is fully booked, that’s when you want to send out the save the dates as soon as possible.
Having a destination wedding already creates a challenge for your guests to attend as there will be some planning involved. Your guests will obviously need to save some cash, reserve their holiday days, book tickets and arrange their accommodations in order to witness your big day.
In the case of destination weddings, the save the dates are more important than ever. Once you have an idea of how many guests confirmed their attendance, you will have an idea of how many people you can expect for the next arrangements (food, furniture, favors, etc.)
Your guests will be grateful when they receive a notice earlier. The earlier, the bigger the chances that you’ll see “Yes, please count me in! :)” as a response.
People tend to plan things long in advance. You just have to make sure that you secure your big date long before your potential guests have their own plans!