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There are a lot of tasks to keep straight when it comes to planning a wedding. It’s easy to get confused about when to send out your save the dates. My experience as a stationery designer helps but I also asked over 100 brides on Facebook when they sent out their save the dates and consulted the experts to help advise you on when to send out save the dates and other important wedding stationery such as invites and RSVPs.
When to send out save the dates
Send save the dates 9-12 months before your wedding. Couples in 2022 sent out their save the dates an average of 10 months ahead of time.
This is in keeping with the traditional advice from wedding professionals to send out save the dates 9-12 months in advance. And it gives your guests plenty of advanced notice so they reserve the date in their calendars.
It’s also several months before your wedding invitations go out. Save the dates are sent out earlier than wedding invitations to give guests advanced notice about your wedding. You can read more about the difference between invitations and save the dates, and why you need save the dates, here.
Here’s a breakdown of when to send your save the date based on when you are getting married:
|Month of Wedding||When to send out save the dates|
|January||March (year prior)|
|February||April (year prior)|
|March||May (year prior)|
|April||June (year prior)|
|May||July (year prior)|
|June||August (year prior)|
|July||September (year prior)|
|August||October (year prior)|
|September||November (year prior)|
|October||December (year prior)|
Looking for information on when to send your wedding invitations and collect RSVPs? Check out this article.
And here’s a handy infographic you can print or pin for reference that has all of the common stationery dates.
How early is too early to send out save the dates?
You can’t send out wedding dates too early. You can send them 18-24 months in advance if you have your venue booked and want to make sure your guests reserve the day or make travel arrangements.
Because you’re not asking for a response from your guests about attendance, and you are planning to send a follow up invitation with more details, you can send out a save the date as soon as you know the date and location. This is especially useful for international destination weddings where you know guests may need to book a flight or accommodations 9-12 months in advance.
When to send destination wedding save the dates
Send save the dates for destination wedding 9-12 months in advance. You can send destination wedding save the dates earlier than that if you know the date further in advance and want to give people more time to book flights and hotels.
This is especially important if your wedding is in a different country. Depending on the country, guests may need to renew their passports or apply for a visa. So it’s essential to give your friends and family enough notice to get all of their travel and government requirements in order if you want them to attend your international destination wedding.
When to send digital save the dates
Send digital save the dates 9-12 months before your wedding.
Digital save the dates can be sent at the same time as paper save the dates. This is a great way to save a little bit of money on your wedding stationery. Save the dates are a less formal communication than your invitations and don’t require a response so I see a lot of couples skipping paper save the dates in favor of digital ones. You can read more money-saving tips about invitations and save the dates here.
Who do you send save the dates to?
Generally, you send a save the date to everyone you plan on inviting to your wedding.
Because save the dates are an indication you’ll be invited to a wedding, you need to be pretty sure that you’re going to invite all of the people you send save the dates to. You can skip save the dates for anyone you’re unsure will make the final guest list and send them a wedding invitation later on.
While you do need to send an invitation to everyone you send a save the date to, you don’t need to send every guest a save the date. I’ll put that in another way – you can send a save the date to a select number of guests. Why would you do this? If only a small number of people need to travel internationally for example, you can send a save the date just to them. That way they can still have the advanced notice they need but you can save yourself some time and money.
For example, if you’re a bi-cultural couple inviting 300 people to your wedding and 50 of them are from another country, you can send 50 save the dates and follow up with invitations a few months later. Then you would send 300 invitations out and ask for RSVPs.
Not sure who should make the guest list? Check out this flow chart of who you should invite to your wedding.
When to send b-list save the dates
You don’t typically send save the dates to any b-list guests. You only send save the dates to guests you are sure will be invited to your wedding. Because b-list guests won’t get an invitation if all of your a-list guests respond yes, you don’t want to send anyone you might not invite a save the date.
Not sure what a b-list is? Check out this article on sending multiple waves of invitations.
What to do if you send a save the date to someone you aren’t inviting to your wedding
This is a tricky situation and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Anyone who receives a save the date will expect an invitation to your wedding.
If you made a mistake with a few people, try to accommodate them if you can. Otherwise, you’ll need to call them individually and explain the error. Apologize that you won’t be able to fit them into your big day. Be genuine that it was an error and explain why you can’t have them there after-all. Be prepared that this may end a friendship or relationship. You’re essentially un-inviting them to your wedding and many people who have hurt feelings about this.
If after planning a large wedding you decided to downsize considerably, you can send out a larger communication that the wedding plans have changed. Something like “We’ve decided to elope!” or “Plans have changed!” is enough to explain the situation and why they won’t be receiving an invitation. It is still worth calling anyone individually who you care about to explain the full details. You can let them know it was a financial decision, not a personal one and you’re looking forward to celebrating with them in person after the wedding. You can also enlist your parents or siblings to call relatives on your behalf that they are closer with to explain why you downsized.
Most people will understand if you’re truly downsizing from a larger wedding to a micro one. But make sure you’re being truthful and not just cutting a few guests here and there. The person in question will found out sooner or later that you did in fact have a traditional wedding from photos if you’re just using downsizing as an excuse.
Made any other mistakes? Here’s an article on what to do when you make a mistake on your invitations or save the dates (and how to fix it!)
Where to find the best save the dates
One of my favorite tips to cut down on costs is to use an affordable wedding stationery option. Zazzle has some of the best quality and beautiful designs for the price. You can check out my favorite styles on Zazzle here. And don’t forget to check out my review of Zazzle to see why I recommend them.
Save the dates should be sent 9-12 months in advance. This is so people can hold or “save” the date in their calendars. By sending save the dates in advance of your wedding, guests won’t accidentally make plans on your wedding and not be able to come. For international or destination weddings this is especially important. Guests who need to travel will need additional warning to book flights or hotel rooms and take time off from their jobs.