When to send out your save the dates

Collage featuring save the date card and wedding planning mood board.

If you've ever planned (or are planning) a major event like a wedding, you've doubtless heard of save the dates. But did you know that they're a relatively new concept on the party scene (by new, we mean within the last 20 years!)? Considering how busy everyone is and how much planning goes into an occasion like a wedding, we think the save the date is the best thing to happen to the wedding industry since cake. These simple cards serve as a heads-up for your friends and family, allowing them to mark their calendars and make necessary arrangements to attend your big day. Sending a save the date is relatively easy—especially if you use a digital save the date invitation from Evite—but to ensure proper timing and etiquette, here's a guide on when and how to send save the dates for your wedding or event.

A save-the-date card with an envelope and tinsel backdrop.

What is a save the date?

A save the date is a preliminary announcement sent to your desired guest list before you send the formal wedding invitations. It includes key details such as the event date, city and state, and lets your recipients know to reserve your chosen date on their calendars. While save the dates are commonly associated with weddings, they can also be used for other milestone events, such as anniversaries, birthdays or corporate gatherings. Basically, if it's an important event and you want to ensure your dream guest list can make plans to attend, sending a save the date can help make it happen!

Do you have to send a save the date?

Short answer: No. Long answer: Sending save the dates is considered a thoughtful gesture, especially for events with a considerable guest list or when planning a destination wedding. They give your friends and family ample time to make travel plans, book accommodations and ensure they can be present to celebrate with you. So while they aren't mandatory, they definitely make planning easier for everyone involved and help achieve your ultimate goal: being surrounded by your loved ones on your big day!

When should you send out the save the dates?

"How early should you send save the dates?" is a common (and excellent) question to ask. Generally, it's advisable to send save the dates about six to eight months before the wedding or event. This timing allows guests to mark their calendars and make any necessary travel arrangements, particularly if they need to plan around work or school schedules. Four to six months before the wedding ceremony is also acceptable, but remember—the early bird gets the dream guest list! For destination weddings or events that require more extensive travel plans or take place during peak travel times like the holidays, consider sending save the dates up to a year in advance to ensure your family and friends can attend.

When is it too early to send save the dates?

If your wedding or event is more than a year away, it's best to hold off on sending save-the-dates until you have finalized your wedding date and venue. Plus, sending save the dates too far in advance can lead to confusion or even forgotten commitments as plans are more likely to change over a long period of time. Remember—it's not like a dentist appointment where you can opt to reschedule as the date approaches! 

What should you include on your save the date cards?

Diagram of how to write out a save the date.

  1. Request guests to "Save the date"
  2. Add the names and occasion for the event
  3. Provide the date of the event (time of event not required)
  4. Include the city and state where the event will be held
  5. Optional: Note that a formal invitation will follow
  6. Optional: Share your wedding website

Along with your names (or event name if it's a business event), the save-the-date should prominently display the event date and the city and state where the wedding or event will take place. Long story short—keep it simple and to the point. You can also add a brief message expressing your joy and a reminder that formal invitations will follow. If you have a wedding website, consider including this to allow guests to find more information about the upcoming celebration and get excited!

Who gets a save the date?

Save the dates should be sent to all family members, close friends and anyone else you wish to attend your wedding or event. Essentially, anyone who will receive an invitation later should receive a save the date. It's very important to compile an accurate guest list before sending out save the dates to avoid any omissions or miscommunications later on. If they receive a save the date, they will expect a formal invitation later on, so make sure your guest list is final before sending out the save the dates.

Does the save the date have to match the wedding invitation?

While it's not necessary for the save the date to perfectly match the wedding invitation, most couples prefer to maintain a consistent theme or design throughout their wedding stationery. This creates a cohesive and visually appealing experience for your guests from the initial save the date to the final wedding invitation. Evite offers a plethora of wedding suites featuring designs for save the dates, bridal showers, wedding ceremonies, receptions and even thank you eCards. However, if you haven't yet decided on your final wedding invitation theme, we recommend still sending out your save the dates in a timely manner as the most important thing is to get the word out to your prospective guests that they made the cut. In this scenario, opt for a save the date design that still fits the vibe of what you're thinking of for the wedding invitation or one that goes with anything. A save the date personalized with a photo is a great choice!

What should you do before sending save the dates?

Firstly, ensure you have confirmed your wedding date and venue, as this information is crucial for the save the date cards. While you can always update the details on your paperless Evite save the date, your guests may not be able to change their plans quite as easily! Additionally, if you have engagement photos you would like to incorporate, make sure you have them ready before designing your save the date cards.

Other save the date etiquette to keep in mind

It's important to remember that save the dates are not wedding invites. They are simply a way to give your loved ones a heads-up about your event and allow them to make initial arrangements. Again, it's essential to only send save the dates to those you are sure will receive a formal wedding invitation. So don't forget to send your actual wedding invitations with all of your big day's details for guests to RSVP to. Once you're ready to send your wedding invitations, check out Evite's guide to wedding invitation wording and formatting for everything you need to know about crafting the perfect invitation!

Save the date design ideas

Okay, now that we've discussed the necessary save the date details and etiquette, it's time to talk about how much fun a save the date is to create! Think about it—your save the date is likely your first chance to share your wedding or event vision with your guests, so don't let that opportunity pass you by. Your chosen design can truly set the tone for your big day, so think about what you want it to say visually.

Photo save the dates

Two examples of photo save the dates.

Put those romantic engagement photos to good use! 

Classic save the dates

Two examples of classic save the dates.

Two wedding themes that will never go away: monograms and florals.

Minimalist save the dates

Two examples of minimalist save the dates.

Keep it simple, sophisticated and chic.

Destination save the dates

Two examples of destination save the dates.

Tropical paradise or scenic desert landscape, there’s a design to match!

Modern save the dates

Two examples of modern save the dates.

Solidify your status as the fun couple.

Browse All Save the Dates

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