Wedding 101

Wedding Stationery Etiquette - When and How to Send Save the Date Cards & Wedding Invitations

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As you come down from the high of being newly engaged, you’ll quickly find yourself faced with a long to-do list in order to start the process of creating your dream wedding. After picking your wedding date with your partner, you’ll need to ensure that your beloved future guests save the date in their calendars as early as possible. Once your guests know a wedding is on its way, you can then mail out your thoughtfully designed invitations with plenty of time to spare for those last minute arrangements. With endless information on the internet steering future brides and grooms in different directions, we’ve compiled all the important time frames you’ll need to keep your wedding plans moving along smoothly.

What is a Save the Date Card?

Save the Date cards are a fairly “new” addition to wedding stationery that were certainly not part of the wedding planning process in your mother or grandmother’s time. Much like a wedding invitation, save the date cards to notify your future wedding guests of key information regarding your wedding without all the specific details that will be included in your official invitation. Typically, your save the date card will consist of the following:
  • The names of you and your future spouse.
  • A line informing your guests that you will be getting married and would like them to save the date. Your wedding date.
  • The location that you’re expecting to get married in.
  • This can be the city, state, or even a country if you’re planning a destination wedding.
  •  Noting that an official invitation will follow

When Should You Mail Out Your Save the Date Cards?

The purpose of a save the date card is as the name suggests. It gives your guests a chance to save your wedding date in their calendars well in advance. What makes save the date cards a far better option than sending invitations alone is that they increase the likelihood that your valued guests will be available to attend your big day. By the time wedding invitations go out, your friends and family members could have already booked a trip or agreed to another arrangement that would unfortunately leave them with no other option than to miss your wedding or to cancel their plans. It also gives guests from out of state or out of the country extra time to find accommodations and make travel arrangements. To avoid any future issues, it’s best to include save the date cards in your wedding stationery suite.
In order for your save the date cards to be effective, you’ll want to send them early on – roughly 6 to 8 months or 8 to 10 months before your expected wedding date depending on your timeline. While some sources may suggest sending out your cards up to a year in advance, this may prove ineffective in the end as it would be too early for anyone to take time off work or school or to book their flights and hotels.
Now, you may be getting worried that even this time frame is too far in advance, but there’s no need to be fastidious about the details when it comes to preparing your save the date cards. Because you’ll be sending them out before you’ve decided on your wedding colors or the finer details of your wedding stationery, there is no expectation that your cards match your future wedding invitations nor are they expected to reflect your wedding’s final theme or aesthetic. Your save the date cards also won’t include any information that is subject to change as you plan your wedding. It’s much more important that your save the date cards are beautifully designed by you and your spouse-to-be and mailed out within the suggested timeframe. 
If you’re looking for this year’s most trending cards for your invitation suite, Minted’s wedding invitation collection can help you set the tone of your wedding and build some well-deserved hype for your special day. You can choose from romantic and moody styles to maximalist florals and everything in between.  
Minted Save The Date Cards
Signature Save The Date Card
Mod Stack Save The Date Card
L'arch Save The Date Card
Stay for Cake Save The Date Card

What to Include in Your Wedding Invitation Suite

Before you can send out your wedding invitations – or design them, for that matter –there are a few items you’ll need to tick off on your checklist to ensure that your invitations contain all the necessary information your guests will need to have. The most important step in preparing your wedding invitations is to confirm that all your reservations are set and aligned. Your wedding and reception venues should be booked and secured before having any addresses printed on your invitations. Once everything checks out, you can begin designing your invitations to embody the look and feel of your wedding theme. This will be your guests’ first glimpse into your wedding as they’ll now get a sneak peek at your wedding aesthetic. 
After you’ve confirmed all the important details your guests will need to have on hand, you can finally put your invitations together. The contents of your invitations will be straightforward and should include the following:
  • The host line indicates who will be hosting (aka paying for) the wedding. Oftentimes, this is  where the names of the bride and groom’s parents will be introduced
  • The names of you and your future spouse
  • The date and time of the wedding
  • A line officially requesting the attendance of your guest
  • The location of the wedding with either directions or a map to the venue
  • The expected dress code
  • Mention of the “reception to follow”
While not entirely necessary, you’re welcome to include additional information that is relevant to the event such as nearby accommodations. If you and your spouse are opting for a wedding website, then you can include a link or QR code that will give your guests access to the site.
Alongside your official wedding invitation will be your reception card which will contain information specific to your reception such as:
  • The time at which cocktail hour will begin
  • The time at which dinner will begin
  • The name and address of the venue
  • The dress code
Similar to your invitation, you can also provide directions or a map to the venue if you choose, although it isn’t necessary. If you choose to forgo the QR code or website link from your wedding invitation, the reception card is the second-best alternative.
Finally, your RSVP card, otherwise known as a reply card, is arguably the most important part of your invitation suite – if we’re sticking the basics. Your RSVP card will provide you with the final confirmation as to who will be attending your reception. All you’ll need to include is:
  • Your reply-by-date
  • A space for guests to write in their names followed by checkboxes they will use to indicate whether or not they’ll be in attendance
  • While optional, this is a great place to include meal choices where guests who plan on attending your reception can indicate what their meal preferences are.

When to Send Out Your Invitations

Knowing when to order your wedding invitations is equally as important as knowing when to mail them out. You’ll need to consider the time it’ll take for your invitations to be delivered to you with the addition of a grace period in case there’s a mistake that requires them to be reprinted. The sweet spot for ordering your invitations is 4 to 5 months before the wedding. Per etiquette, the standard timeframe for sending out wedding invitations is usually 6 to 8 weeks before the wedding. This allows enough time for your guests to make their accommodations in order to attend your wedding. If you’re planning a destination wedding, you’ll want to mail your invitations out roughly 3 months in advance.
Clearly establishing the deadline for your guests to return their RSVP cards is a crucial step towards having the remainder of your wedding planning process go as smoothly as possible. Ideally, you should set the deadline for 3 to 4 weeks before the wedding day. This will give you plenty of time to make your final seating arrangements with your now finalized guest list. 
To make the process of selecting the perfect save the date card that much easier, Vistaprint's save the date collection offers couples a variety of Save the Date cards that draws the focus to you and your partner with their photo designs or showcases a stunning color palette or aesthetic with a variety of fonts that can better fit your vision. 
With all the conflicting information out on the internet, it can be challenging figuring out when and how to send out save the date cards and wedding invitations. You may feel compelled to invite your guests as soon as possible with only the best intentions of upping the headcount for your special day, but being too early can be as disadvantageous as being too late. However, being knowledgeable of the ideal timeframe for sending out your save the date cards and wedding invitations can help you skillfully navigate a notoriously stressful, time-sensitive process and enjoy that boost of confidence that comes with it.
VistaPrint Save The Date Cards
5.5" x 4" Save The Date Card
10 from $15.69
4.6" x 7.2" Save The Date
10 from $19.99
5.5" x 4" Save The Date
10 from $15.69
Save The Date Card
4.7" x 7.2 Save The Date Card
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