Wedding Etiquette 101: When To Send The Save-The-Dates

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When to send save the dates

So, he popped the question and you're finally beginning to plan your wedding! That means engagement photos, choosing a venue, making a guest list, and, of course, making a save the date to send out to your guests.

But when should you send save the date invitations? Says Kylie Carlson, CEO of International Academy of Wedding & Event Planning, “Typically, save the dates are mailed shortly after the engagement announcement, or after you and your partner take engagement photos, as these are generally used for the cards themselves.”

Using this time frame gives everyone plenty of notice to mark the day on their calendars, take time off work if needed, and begin planning for travel and accommodations if the wedding is out of town. Still, there are a few things to consider.

RELATED: How To Address Wedding Invitations

1. Destination weddings

When having a destination wedding, especially if it’s international, it’s important to let guests know the details as soon as possible. 

Says Jen Avey of Destination Weddings Travel Group, "We recommend giving at least 10-12 months’ notice if possible. This ensures guests can prepare; whether that means having ample time to budget for the trip, schedule time off work, or find the necessary child or pet care options for when they’re away.”

Attending a destination wedding is oftentimes not a swift decision for guests to make.

"It’s polite to give them enough time to think it over and decide if it is feasible for them to attend. Maybe they can’t take the time off work, or they already have other travel commitments, or perhaps they just can’t financially swing it. Open communication early and often is key. Save the Dates should go out 9-12 months in advance," advises Danielle Rothweiler of Rothweiler Event Design.

2. A general rule of thumb

All other save the dates should go out 6-9 months in advance. Says Rothweiler, “As a wedding planner, many of my couples want to get these out on the earlier side for various reasons, including that they have guests that will be invited to other weddings on the same date.”

3. Make swift decisions

With a short engagement, there’s not a lot of time to waste when it comes to setting final plans and letting guests know the details.

“Once you find something you like, go with it and don’t keep looking. This will ensure things keep moving at a swift pace and you don’t have last-minute chaos ensuing,” Avey warns.

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4. Keep things simple

“If planning your celebration in under six months, keep things as simple and non-chaotic or confusing as possible. This includes cutting the guest list to just your closest friends and family, and not going overboard with décor details. The less things you need to keep track of, the simpler the planning process will be,” advises Avey.

5. Don’t forget a wedding website

Regardless, save the dates should go out with the inclusion of the wedding website where guests can get more information. And you may want to consider using a password.

“The website should be password protected to avoid being found on a basic Google search,” warns Rothweiler. "This means that any hotel block information needs to be included on the website, and hotels will not set these up more than a year in advance.”

6. Go digital

Digital save the dates are a great way to quickly get the word out about wedding plans when the timeline between the engagement and wedding day is short. 

“Emailing a digital save the date to the guests can be done quickly and economically, so the focus can be placed on preparing the invitations for mailing,” advises Kristy Rice of Momental Designs.

7. Don’t make things too complicated

Although it’s your big day and the focus will be on you and your new spouse, try to make arrangements and day-of details as accessible and manageable as possible for your guests. Simple things like communicating with guests every step of the way will alleviate stress for everyone involved.

“Go the extra mile and note that just as you have a short window of wedding planning, they also have a short timeframe to go by,” Carlson adds.

RELATED: How To Plan A Wedding Without Losing Your Soul And Your Sanity

Aly Walansky is a NY-based lifestyles writer who focuses on health, wellness, and relationships. Her work appears in dozens of digital and print publications regularly. Visit her on Twitter or email her.