When Is It Best to Send Save-The-Dates?

People generally send save-the-date invitations for a wedding six months in advance. For destination weddings, it is customary to send save-the-dates eight months to a year in advance.

When sending a save-the-date wedding invitation, the size and location of the wedding are the most important determining factors. As a courtesy, wedding planners recommend giving recipients advanced notice of eight months to one year so that they can make their travel arrangements and plan for time off from work. For smaller, local weddings, people generally mail the first round of save-the-date invitations three or four months in advance. They also follow up with a formal save-the-date invitation about eight weeks before the wedding to remind people when and where the wedding is taking place. For very small weddings that involve only local guests, formal save-the-date invitations are not necessary, but it is courteous to send them anyways. Prior to mailing save-the-dates, people should consider any upcoming holidays, like Christmas and Easter, when there are higher volumes of mailings. Otherwise, save-the-dates could get lost in the shuffle.

Planning the Wedding Details
Before sending save-the-date invitations, the wedding parties should pinpoint the details of the wedding itself. This means choosing a location and reserving a date for the wedding ceremony. Sometimes, especially with popular wedding venues, the wedding party has a limited option of dates to choose from. In this case, they usually start by choosing from an available date at the venue, and then making other wedding plans from there. The wedding parties may also decide that it is most important to select a date first, in which case they can follow up later with guests to tell them where the wedding's exact location will be.

Selecting Recipients
After choosing a date and location, people usually decide on a guest list. This helps determine how many people will be at the wedding. If the wedding's size and budget will make it hard to send everyone a save-the-date invitation, the wedding party can narrow the mailing list down to select recipients first. All guests on the "A" list, which usually includes the best man, bridesmaid and immediate family members, should receive send-the-date invitations, says Martha Stewart. The wedding party should wait until hearing back from the "A" list before sending save-the-dates to the "B" list, which includes guests who will be contacted if space is available.

Designing the Invitations
The next step in getting save-the-date invitations ready is designing them. People can be as creative or conservative as they wish when creating save-the-date invitations. Regardless of whatever style invitation they choose to send, people often mail the cards with an engagement photo or two, which adds a nice personal touch. Each invitation should also include the date and location of the wedding. People should address recipients by their full names on the invitations unless the wedding is casual and informal. Other useful information that people can add, although it is not required, is the wedding's website, if there is one, and travel information for the wedding location if it is a destination wedding.

With the advent of digital technology, people may be inclined to send save-the-date invitations via email. Wedding etiquette does permit electronic correspondence, but wedding planners recommend sending a traditional invitation through regular mail.