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The date is set and you’ve finalized the guest list.  You’ve booked the perfect venue to capture your big day’s feel and it’s just the right size for all your family and friends.  You’re well underway with all the wedding planning for the perfect day to celebrate your marriage.

So with the big details finalized, what comes next?  You may think right away that it’s now time to send out save the dates but you may also wonder if maybe you should send out the wedding invitations instead.  Is there a right or wrong answer? Should you send both?

When it comes to wedding planning, the couples we work with always tell us they know the least about the wedding stationery.  That means you aren’t alone if you aren’t sure of the answer. That’s what we at RC are here for and today I hope to give you all the answers to these questions.

What’s the difference between Save the Dates and Wedding Invitations?

Believe it or not, there are some big differences between save the dates and wedding invitations including their purpose.  Save the Date Cards tell those you send them to that they should save the date because they will be invited to the actual wedding.

While a save the date does tell the receiver some key information about your big day, it’s purpose is much less about providing wedding details and more about giving them a heads up that they are going to be invited to your wedding and to begin making plans for travel, time off, etc. as needed.

Based on the purpose of the save the date, you should include the following information:

  • Your names
  • The wedding date (not including the day)
  • Basic location information (City and State)
  • Simple line indicating an invitation will be sent in the near future
  • Optional:  Your wedding website

Things not to include on your save the date

  • Day of the week
  • Your Wedding Venue, address, etc.
  • Other detailed wedding information

Save the dates should be mailed out roughly 6-8 months before your wedding date and can be sent as late as four months early if necessary.  For destination weddings or weddings that will require the majority of guests to travel or if the wedding is on a weekday, you can send them out as early as 12 months before the wedding.

In contrast, your wedding invitations should be mailed out 6-8 weeks before the wedding.  Your wedding invitation will include all the specifics about your wedding day in much more detail.  Your wedding invitation is where you should include your venue, the full day, date and time of ceremony and reception.  It should also be written in a way that more formally invites your family and friends to join in the celebration of your marriage.

Additional wedding invitation enclosure cards may also contain even more details about your wedding day including directions, maps, your wedding website, hotel or travel information, etc.

southern romance save the date

What do you need to send and what can you skip?

Weddings get expensive and as you draw closer to the day, budgets can start getting pretty tight and you may begin to look for ways to cut back or save money.  Regardless of your wedding budget, you will always want to send some form of formal wedding invitation. Wedding invitations come is all shapes, sizes and price points so regardless of how much you have to spend, you will be able to find something that works for your pocketbook and wedding style.  This is something you cannot skip.

On the other hand, save the dates are optional.  While there are some situations where save the dates should be sent for many couples that are not a required stationery item.  Before you decide one way or another on save the dates, be sure you understand the situations where you should send them.

As mentioned above, whether you need to send save the dates or not, they are a great way to give your guest list a heads up.  They let the people on your guest list know to keep your wedding date open and begin making plans to attend as needed. If you wait to send your wedding invitations you may be making it much harder for some guests that you really want to be present on your day to be there with you.

Effectively Use SAve the Dates and Wedding Invitations

Save the Dates and WEdding Invitations are two very different things that serve very different purposes.  Neither one is better or worse than the other. Understanding their differences and their unique purposes is key to effectively using each to enhance the experience your your invited guests.  Your wedding day is your day but it is very much about your guests, you are hosting them after all.

If you still aren’t sure about sending save the dates, consider how much of an impact they may have on your guests.  Do many of your guests need to make travel arrangements or take time off to attend your wedding? ARe you having an adults-only affair and many guests may need to make arrangements for childcare for the day or weekend?

There is no right or wrong answer.  Sending save the dates is entirely up to each individual couple and regardless of whether you not you decide to send them, my hope is that the information provided here has helped inform you so that you can better make the decision that works for you, your budget and your very special day.

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save the dates vs wedding invitations