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The 411 on Save the Dates

Sending your save the date is an exciting time in wedding planning. It's the first official announcement of your wedding, and is often the first introduction of the style of your wedding. In terms of wedding planning, save the dates are a fairly new tradition. Today they are very common for most traditional weddings, but there are still a lot of questions. Below I've answered some of the most common questions about wedding save the dates.

Do I have to send save the dates?

There are very few things that you actually have to do for your wedding...and they all have to do with the legal contract that is a marriage (obtaining a marriage certificate, having an ordained officiant, witnesses, etc.). So short, you do not have to send save the dates. It all comes down to how much notice you want to give your wedding guests to make arrangements so they can attend. Things to consider when deciding if you will send save the dates:

  • Budget If you have a limited budget, skipping save the dates is an easy way to keep your budget in line. However, save the dates are usually not very expensive. Most wedding budgets can assume $100-$250 for save the dates.

  • Distance If many of your guests will need to travel for your wedding, sending save the dates will make it easier to make travel plans. Especially if they will need to arrange air travel and hotels. You want to make the whole process easy on your guests, and having time to plan will make your out-of-town guests happy.

  • Venue Limitations If your wedding guest list exceeds your venue capacity, choosing to not send save the dates can help limit the total number of guests. A general rule of thumb is to assume 15% of invitees will respond 'no.' This percentage increases if you do not send save the dates. Although, I do not recommend this approach to keep your numbers down. I understand your list can continue to grow, but you're probably better telling your mom that her neighbor's dog-walker doesn't make the cut, than hoping that guests RSVP 'no.'

  • Engagement Photos If you have engagement photos, save the dates are a great place to use them. There's really nothing more to this point, other than taking advantage of an opportunity to share your beautiful photos.

When should we send save the dates?

The general rule of thumb is to send save the dates 4-8 months in advance (with 6 months being the sweet spot). Again, it comes down to how much notice you want to give your guests. If many guests will need to travel, or if you're having a destination wedding, plan to send your save the dates closer to 8-12 months before your wedding date. You may still be finalizing your guest list at this time, so it is completely ok to send save the dates in waves. Send the first round to those who you know will be invited (family, close friends), then if needed, send a second round later. However, try to keep people who would talk to each other in the same grouping. You don't want someone to think they were added later if they find out someone else received their save the date earlier.

What style of save the date should we send?

There are so many different styles of save the dates, and it really comes down to your personal preference, and your budget. Below are the most common save the date styles:

  • Postcard The most cost effective option is a postcard. Printed double-sided, you can drop these right in the mail and skip the envelopes. Plus, if they are 4.25"x6" or smaller, they qualify for a postcard stamp, to save some money on postage.

  • Flat card Standard cards are 5"x7" or 4"x6" and can be single or double-sided. They fit in a standard A7 or A2 envelope for easy mailing. The envelope will protect the card in the mail, so usually they will be delivered to your guests in good condition, ready to be pinned to their refrigerators.

  • Magnets Speaking of refrigerators, magnet save the dates are a fun alternative option. A little more unique, and also a little more expensive, but they're guaranteed to be up on your invitees refrigerators!

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