On the other hand, if you are not sure whether a particular person or couple will be invited to the wedding, don’t send them a save-the-date card. And there is really no reason, and it’s a waste of your precious money, to buy and send these notices when all of your guests live relatively nearby or the wedding will not occur during a busy time of the year.
Timing Is Everything – Wedding invitations are generally mailed out six to eight weeks prior to the event, but save the date cards should be sent out four to six months ahead of time. This way, guests will be able to shop around for transportation, schedule a convenient flight, reserve a hotel room, and make other necessary arrangements. Major events are exciting social gatherings that everyone will want to attend, both family and friends from near and far. Sending them out well enough in advance makes it far more likely that all of your guests will be able to attend.
Since save the date cards are a recent phenomenon, it’s helpful to include an addendum along the lines of ’invitation to follow’. That way, invitees will not mistake the card for the actual invitation because the real invitation will have more details, be more elaborately designed, and more prestigious in general. In other words, your guests won’t think you and your spouse are cheapskates that are as scant on information as you are on cash.
What Not To Include – Save the date cards should not be used to provide detailed information about the event itself. This is not the time or place to discuss the rehearsal dinner, the reception, or the ceremony. It is inappropriate to include registry information as well. Guests who are interested in registry information can contact you themselves, or they can wait until the actual wedding invitations are sent out. Response requests are also not included. These notices are merely a courtesy ’heads up’ to your long distance guests and others who may require, for personal, professional, or medical reasons, some advance notice.
Rules & Etiquette – Again, few rules apply. The only information you must include is your names and wedding date, although I suggest including location information as well so wedding guests can begin their travel plans. Aim to send save-the-date cards soon after you secure your date and venue, or about 4-6 months prior to your wedding. Remember, everyone who receives a save-the-date also receives an invitation, so have your guest list finalized prior to sending them. You can, however, always add guests later (there is no rule that says everyone must receive a save-the-date card). Although formal replies are not required, you can get preliminary attendance estimates through word-of-mouth.