Save-the-Dates, Yes or No?

Sending a save-the-date is one more thing on the to-do list, but there's more than meets the eye to this piece of wedding stationery.

There’s so much involved in planning a wedding, adding one more thing to the list can seem overwhelming. For that reason, many brides-to-be may be wondering, do I really need to send out save the dates? The answer depends on a few details of your big day and who you are inviting to celebrate.

What are they?

Save the dates are a pre-invitation to your guests letting them know the basic details of your wedding; the date and place at a minimum, but you can include other details if you have them nailed down. They’re mailed in advance of your formal invitations, usually 6 months to a year prior. This advance notice gives people time to do important things like request time off from work, buy plane tickets, or book hotel rooms if necessary. 

When You Need to Send Them

There are a few times when not sending a save the date is doing a disservice to your guests, and you don’t want to start off on the wrong foot. If any of these details apply to your wedding, definitely send out a save-the-date:

  • You’re having a destination wedding where guests will need to get passports, visas, or other travel documents in order to attend
  • Your wedding is during peak wedding season (read: summer) or during a major holiday
  • Your wedding is in a resort town or seasonal locale during their peak season 
  • Your wedding covers multiple days or is on a weekday

In these circumstances, not sending out a save-the-date can leave your guests in a lurch. You should send out invitations six to eight weeks before the big day, which might not be enough time for people to book travel arrangements. For example, if you have your heart set on an international destination, account for time for people to get passports if they don’t have one. The process can take several months, so the more time your guests have, the better. 

Reasons to Send Save-the-Dates Anyway

If none of the reasons above apply to your wedding, you can get away with not sending out save-the-dates. It’s one less thing to do, and can save you money you can spend elsewhere.

However, there are other reasons to send them, both practical and fun. If you’re on the fence, here’s why you should still consider investing the extra time and effort:

  • They’re a great trial run for your address list. Save yourself the headache of having your expensive invitations returned to sender by figuring out which addresses are incorrect now. Depending on how elaborate your wedding invitations are, they may require extra postage too, where a simple save-the-date postcard can be mailed for less.
  • Save-the-dates are also a great way to test out your wedding theme and colors. While many couples choose to coordinate their save-the-dates and invitations, it’s not required! If you don’t like the way they look once they’re printed, you can change up your theme before ordering your formal invitations.
  • There will undoubtedly be people on your guest list that haven’t met both of you, so the save-the-date is a great way to include a picture of the two of you and a bit of your personality. It’s the perfect time to use those engagement pictures again!
  • They’re a great keepsake for you and for your guests. While wedding invitations can be more formal, a save-the-date often gets kept longer, especially if it has a picture of you as a couple on it. 

How to Save Money

If you’ve decided to send out save-the-dates, you might still be worried about how much they’ll cost. There are a couple easy things you can do to save, such as sending them only to out-of-town guests if you’re having a local wedding rather than the entire guest list. Consider sending out a simple postcard too; you’ll spend less since you only need cards and not envelopes, and the stamps are cheaper than you’d need for a normal letter.

Finally, if you need to send them out to let guests know the details but you’re working on a really tight budget, you can send out an electronic note to your guests. This can be anything from a thoughtfully worded email to a paid service that sends an electronic card to your guests. Most charge a fee, but it’s still lower than a traditional mailed card.