When to send save the dates: a bride and groom in the back of an antique truck

Getting engaged and planning a wedding is an exciting time in your life. You’ve done all the fun stuff — shared the news with loved ones, taken engagement photos, and put together your dream wedding Pinterest board. Once you set the wedding date, though, the real work begins. It’s time to dive into the logistics of wedding planning, including sending save the dates. Picking the right design for your wedding save the date is enough of a task. But you also need to figure out when to send save the dates.

Wedding etiquette changes as the times change, and the rules are not the same as when your grandparents were getting married. These days, wedding invitations are becoming more informal, online invitations are more common, and even save the dates are a fairly recent addition to the wedding suite. So it’s only natural to have a lot of questions. We’re going to get into the nitty-gritty of when to send your save the dates and other save the date etiquette.

Why Send Save the Dates

When to send save the dates: bride, groom, and wedding guests release balloons

Before getting into the “when,” you might be wondering about the “why.” While you don’t have to send a save the date, it can be super helpful for your wedding guests.

Most people’s friends and family members are spread out around the country or even the world, so getting your big day on their calendar ASAP is more important now than it may have been in the past when most people lived close to their friends and families. Add in the fact that everyone has such busy schedules these days (and maybe even other weddings to attend), and you’ll want to do whatever you can to make sure the special people in your life are there to see you tie the knot.

Before You Send Your Save the Dates

Yup, you’ve got some work to do before sending the save the date. The biggest task is figuring out your guest list. You want to send the save the date to the people you 100% want at your wedding.

And there are some details you should clear up before you send them off — like whether kids are invited and who gets a plus one. If your wedding is going to be kid-free, including this information on your save the dates will give parents ample time to figure out their childcare arrangements. Start compiling your guest list and collecting contact information 1-2 months before you plan to send the save the date. This gives you time to make sure you haven’t forgotten anyone or made any mistakes.

When to Send Save the Dates

When to send save the dates: bride and groom hold hands

If your wedding is coming up within the next 12 months, you should plan to send save the dates as soon as possible. However, if it’s more than a year away, maybe wait a little so you don’t run the risk of people forgetting or losing the save the date because too much time has passed. The rules vary depending on the type of wedding you’re having, so keep reading to get into the specifics of when to send.

For Local Weddings

If your wedding is super local and most people will be driving in for the day from nearby, it’s sufficient to send your save the date six months before the wedding. Unless you’re having a short engagement, try not to wait longer than six months because you still want to be considerate of everyone’s time.

For Local Destination Weddings

A local destination wedding is when your wedding doesn’t require air travel, but it’s still a weekend getaway that requires guests to pack a bag and make some arrangements, like booking hotel rooms. Send the save the date 6-9 months before the wedding day, and use this time to mention any other wedding weekend events that might be taking place. If you’re having a welcome dinner the night before or a goodbye brunch, your guests will want to plan and pack appropriately.

For Destination Weddings

This is the big leagues when it comes to wedding planning. If air travel is involved, the best time to send out save the dates is 12 months before the wedding. This is especially important if your wedding is in an international location because this requires more extensive travel plans. Your guests have a lot to figure out, like taking time off work, booking flights, and getting visas if necessary. Be mindful of this and give your guests as much of a heads up as you can.

Other Things to Consider

Now that you’re fully versed on the basics like why, who, what, and when, there are a few other save the date details you’ll want to think about before sending them. Here are a few more save the date tips, including what information to include and what to leave off.

Paper or Digital

When to send save the dates: the Classic Calendar save the date design from Greenvelope

Credit: Signature Greenvelope

Whether you choose paper or electronic save the dates is entirely up to you. There is a certain appeal to traditional paper invites that your parents can save to commemorate your nuptials, but the convenience of an electronic save the date card is hard to beat.

Collecting all your guests’ addresses is easier when it’s just email addresses that you can import from your inbox, and keeping track of everyone you’ve sent a save the date to is also easier. You can quickly send messages to all the guests, as well, if anything changes with your wedding plans, which beats having to call every invitee.

If you’re a traditionalist at heart, a good option is to supplement paper save the dates and wedding invitations with electronic ones as well. It’s the best of both worlds because you get the convenience of electronic RSVPs but you and other close family members will still have physical cards to remember the day. Digital save the dates also have an address collection option that makes it easier to send your paper wedding invites later on.

What Information to Include

When to send save the dates: the Flight of Fancy save the date design from Greenvelope

Credit: Shari Margolin Design

When deciding which details to include in your save the date, there are certain must-haves to include and some faux pas to avoid. Of course, you want to include your names and the exact wedding date, as well as the location. If you’re having a destination wedding and haven’t figured out the exact location yet, don’t stress too much. Let your guests know which city your wedding is taking place in for now, so they can start booking airline travel. You can iron out the other details before you send the wedding invitations.

If you have a wedding website, the save the date is a good place to include this. This way, guests can stay up to date on all things wedding-related as you update and add new information. The save the date is not the place to include registry information, though — save that for the wedding website. Leave off dress codes, hotel information, RSVP cards, and specific times for now. Instead, let guests know that a formal invitation and more information will follow.

Sooner Is Better Than Later

It’s easy to lose track of time with all the hustle and bustle of wedding planning, but making sure your guests have your wedding date on their calendar is a high priority. Use this handy infographic to help you create a timeline of all your tasks and important deadlines, and enlist the help of your wedding party to make sure nothing gets overlooked. Browse through our collection of modern, fun, and romantic save the date cards to get a little inspiration.