In response to our increasingly overscheduled lives, a fairly new practice has burst onto the scene of wedding planning: Save-the-date cards are now being used to give prospective guests a heads-up about the impending nuptials that they may need in order to attend. As this practice has emerged, so too have some etiquette guidelines surrounding it.
- A fairly new invention in wedding stationery, the save-the-date card is a sort of announcement to your invitees that you will be getting married. It effectively serves two functions: It lets your friends and family know that you will be getting married, if they did not already know. It also gives them a heads-up about the date and location of the event, so they can start planning their schedule accordingly. Although wedding invitations are sent out well in advance of the event, the traditional six to eight weeks may not be enough time to let all of your guests make arrangements to attend.
- Originally it was only couples who were planning destination weddings or who lived far away from all family members who would use a save-the-date card. Common sense dictated that if you lived in California and would be wed in Ireland, you had to give people ample notice if you wanted them to join you. Today, however, there is an increasing trend toward sending these cards out even for domestic affairs. People's increasingly complicated schedules have made the advance notice a helpful tool and a courtesy for all guests. Knowing well in advance gives your guests time to schedule child care, arrange for time off from work and book their travel.
Save-the-date cards are especially important if you are planning to get married around a holiday, or in a location that gets seasonally busy.
- The rule of thumb for save-the-date cards is that anyone who receives one must receive an invitation to the wedding. While you may think that only guests who live out of town or who have children need the additional heads-up, the truth is that most of your potential guests will appreciate the extra-early warning. If your budget will allow it, it is a good idea to send a save-the-date card to everyone whom you intend to invite.
- The good news is that a save-the-date card does not need to be as formal as your wedding invitation. The wording can be more relaxed, the numbers do not have to be spelled out and you have a little freedom to have some fun with it. However, bear in mind that for many, this first correspondence about your wedding will be the first indication of how fancy your wedding will be. If you are planning a black-tie gala, a cutesy cartoon or photo of the two of you frolicking on the beach may give the wrong impression.
- Your save-the-date card should inform your guests of who is getting married, where and when they are getting married and who exactly is being invited in the guests' household. Be sure to include the proper names of each person you will be inviting. If children are welcome at your wedding, make sure to include their names on the card. If you would like to encourage your single cousin to bring along a date, write "and guest."
It is also a smart idea to include any information about local hotels or rooms that you have at a discounted rate with the save-the-date card.
- Mail the save-the-date cards six months in advance of the wedding, which will give your guests plenty of time to make arrangements. However, if you are getting married somewhere to which it is notoriously costly to fly, or if you are getting married on a holiday, you may want to consider sending your save-the-date card as much as a year in advance. This will ensure that your guests have enough time to budget for the trip. The more notice your guests have, the more likely they will be to show up on your big day.