Save-the-Date Cards: Optional or Necessary?

beach-themed save-the-date card
Save-the-dates are usually a must for destination weddings.

Save-the-dates are a great way to announce your wedding day and generate excitement among your guests, but believe it or not, they haven't always been the norm! Thanks to all the creative ideas that are out there to send the message of your upcoming nuptials with pizzazz, ranging from magnets to small flipbooks filled with photos of the bride and groom, save-the-dates have greatly increased in popularity over the last decade. Not only are save-the-date cards a fun way to set the tone for your upcoming wedding, but they're practically a must-have for couples tying the knot far away on a small island or those ringing in the New Year as husband and wife.

Not sure if save-the-date cards are for you? Here are some points to consider that will help you decide if they're a necessity or an extra for your big day.


Why Ask Guests to Mark Their Calendars?

If your wedding falls near a major holiday, like Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year's Eve, or you plan to have a destination wedding, save-the-date announcements are especially important. Your guests will appreciate the courteous heads-up regarding your wedding date, which will give them enough time to save money for your affair and make the proper travel arrangements.

Football season is another festive time of year that can be tough to plan a wedding around, depending on who your guests are. College football is extremely popular in the U.S., and since many games take place on Saturday, don't be surprised or offended if people have a hard time choosing which event to attend. A friend of mine planned her big day the same day as a major SEC football rivalry, and several people opted to go to the game rather than her wedding. That's bad enough, but most of the guests who came spent the reception crowded around the TV behind the bar, missing out on everything from the bride and groom's first dance to the garter toss at the end of the night.


Moral of the story: You know your guests better than anyone else! If you think having your wedding on a holiday or the weekend of a major football game will be a problem, you might want to consider choosing another date.

Send the Message with Style

save-the-date maps
The author created these whimsical save-the-date maps for a destination wedding in Rosemary Beach, Fla.
Image courtesy Natty Michelle

The design of your save-the-date can be a great way to set the tone of your wedding with a theme that will be incorporated in everything from your cake to your invitations. Popular types of save-the-date announcements include postcards, stickers and magnets, but why not go for something a little more unique? Have an artist illustrate the city or town where you'll be getting married with well-known tourist attractions; the rehearsal dinner, ceremony and reception locations; and significant landmarks that mean something special to you and your fiancé.

Using photographs is another clever way to announce your wedding date to guests. Combine your love of music and your recent engagement photos into a save-the-date CD! Or you might choose to use photo booth pictures where you each hold cards reading "Save" "the" "date" along with your wedding's date and location to creatively send the message. If the two of you have dated for a long time, a picture from when you first met next to a current picture is a sweet way to tell guests you're tying the knot.


Save Room for the Details

Your save-the-date cards should be as functional as they are fun. Of course, clearly include your names, wedding date and location. If you haven't picked out a wedding venue yet, that's OK, but definitely add the city and state where your affair will be held.

Also, be sure to write guests' names clearly on the address label, similar to the way you'll address your wedding invitations later. It's fine to be less formal with save-the-dates, but including each name will make it clear whether or not a date will be invited. If children are omitted from the address label, this will give your guests plenty of time to arrange for childcare. Guests may RSVP to you early, letting you know that they won't be able to attend. If this happens, make a note, but you still must send these people wedding invitations. Guests' plans can change, and you still want them to feel welcome to share in your special day!


If you plan to make a wedding Web site, supply guests with this address on your save-the-date card as well. Creating a Web site is a great way to give guests tons of information about your wedding ceremony and reception locations, the weekend's schedule of events, local hotels with rooms blocked off for guests, and fun facts about the bride, groom and wedding party. While you shouldn't include registry information on your save-the-date or wedding invitation, it's OK to reserve a space for this on your wedding site.

Save-the-date Etiquette

Deciding when to mail your save-the-date announcements can be tricky. Peggy Post says to send these three to six months before your wedding, which allows guests plenty of time to make necessary travel arrangements, book a babysitter, and save money for airfare and wedding gifts. It isn't recommended that you send your cards too early, because guests are likely to set the notice aside and forget or misplace it. Mailing them too late will practically overlap with your wedding invitations, which is a waste of your time and money.

Don't leave anyone out! You must send a save-the-date to everyone on your guest list, even if you've already shared your wedding date with some of them in person, via e-mail or over the phone. Once you send someone an announcement, you must also invite her to the wedding. Make sure your guest list is set in stone before your announcements go out, because after that, you really can't make any changes. However, if you find out later that you accidentally left out your aunt's cousin's brother and you have to invite him to the wedding, you can certainly send him a formal invitation; these guest list additions happen.


After you drop off your save-the-dates at the post office, sit back, take a deep breath and feel better that you've crossed one more item off your to-do list. You're one step closer to saying "I do!"

Lots More Information

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  • Bennet, Molly. "October 26: Sam Restarts His Wedding Diet." New York Magazine. Summer 2009. (Sept. 13, 2010).
  • Emily Post Weddings. "Weddings: 3-6 Months in Advance." (Sept. 7, 2010).
  • Micarelli, Allison. "Save-the-Dates: Tips & Trends." The Knot. (Sept. 8, 2010).
  • New York Magazine. "Shop-A-Matic Wedding Stationery." (Sept. 15, 2010).
  • The Knot. "Save-the-Dates: The Wording." (Sept. 8, 2010).