Save-the-Dates: Etiquette, Wording, and Design

custom watercolor save the date Anna Kay Artworks

After all the congratulations for you and your sweetheart, your loved ones will begin to wonder two things: when is the wedding and where? To help answer inquiring minds (and assure them they’ve been invited), save-the-dates are key! But what if all you know is your date and location - not colors or style or signature cocktails or even what your dress will look like? When do you have to send them out? Do you even have to send them at all? Take a deep breath, sweet bride, and maybe a slow sip of somethin’ yummy, and read on.

Do I need to send save-the-dates?

If your wedding is six months or more away, yes! This is a polite notification to your friends and family to give them plenty of time to make travel plans and schedule accommodations, if necessary. It also ensures that you are on their calendar before other events come up! Send them as soon as you know your date and location (even if it’s just the city, that’s okay, too!).

Who receives a save-the-date?

Anyone who must absolutely be in attendance (or at least invited) receives a save-the-date. Parents, grandparents, the bridal party, close family members, dear friends - and maybe anyone who would be offended if they didn’t receive one. If you want to send save-the-dates to your whole guest list, that’s a lovely gesture! Just know that it isn’t strictly necessary. However, keep in mind that everyone who receives a save-the-date must receive an invitation.

What should save-the-dates say?

The only necessary components of a save-the-date are your names, the date, and the venue or city! You don’t even need the words “save the date” on the cards if you’re opposed to them! The wording can be as formal or informal as suits your individual tastes. If you’d like, you can include a line such as “formal invitation to follow” and/or the URL for your wedding website. While the URL is acceptable (and even encouraged!), including registry information on your save-the-date is non-negotiably taboo. You want your guests to feel invited because you enjoy their company, not for the gifts they might give!

Do my save-the-dates need to match or coordinate with my invitations?

Not at all! Save-the-dates can be as “you” as you want them - get creative! Do you and your beau go on weekly ice cream dates? Why not have an ice cream cone border on your save-the-dates! Are you intrepid hikers with your furry friend in tow? Include a painting of the three of you in hiking boots on a trail! Do you just adore everything about the style from Gone With the Wind? Decorate your save-the-dates like Tara! One thing to consider, though: this is the first glimpse your guests will have of your wedding and, in some cases, of the two of you together. Make sure to express your style as a couple.

How do I address save-the-dates?

Just like the wording of the save-the-dates themselves, this can be as formal or informal as you like!* You don’t have to say “Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy;” it can be “Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth Darcy.” Or, if you’re including children, “The Darcy Family” or “Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth Darcy and Family” will do. (Only address the parents if you are not including children.) A few rules of thumb: if you are giving single friends and family members a plus one, be sure to include “and guest” on the save-the-date envelope. If your friend or family member has a long-time partner, they must also be included on the save-the-date address.

*A caveat here is that if you have older or more etiquette-rigid guests, you might consider addressing just their envelopes more formally.

Anything else?

Yes: order extras! You’ll need one save-the-date per household, but you should keep one for yourself and have a couple of extras on-hand just in case Great Uncle Roland was mistakenly left off the initial list. Also, extra cards means extra envelopes for any handwritten typos!

That’s a lot of information to take in, but if you have any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to comment below or send them to me using my contact page! I also highly recommend Emily Post’s wedding guide for everything you could ever want to know about wedding etiquette!