When to send out your invitations and save-the-dates

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I am planning a pre-invitation survey to get a guest list headcount. Will this work?
Funny RSVP card from What the Duck Cards

You've got your wedding date, you've probably got your venue, and now you've got give all your guests the head's up. That's where your invitations and save-the-dates come into play. Whether you're opting to mail a more traditional wedding stationery invitation or save a tree with some emailed invites and online RSVPs, here are some rough guidelines for when to send out your invitations and save-the-dates.

When to send out save-the-dates

Typical etiquette suggests that you send out save-the-dates about four to six months before the wedding. You want to give folks plenty of time to get the wedding on their calendars, getting their travel timeline and travel plans in order, avoiding as much confusion as possible.

Err on the side of giving extra notice and sending your cards out sooner (like six to eight months before your wedding day) if you're…

  • Getting married over a holiday weekend
  • Having a destination wedding
  • Planning a multi-day wedding that may require a little extra planning from your guests,
  • Inviting a lot of guests from out-of-town. Your want to give your wedding guests plenty of time to make travel arrangements for your big day…

And yes, you can totally do electronic save the dates! We love these options.

DoctorWhoSavetheDate alternative wedding ideas from Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride)
These Doctor Who Save The Dates available here

When to send out wedding invitations

Invitations have traditionally gone out six to eight weeks before the wedding. We'd advise starting the process of getting them ready about four months in advance to make sure you account for DIY time, addressing time, handling special envelopes, or other circumstances. Let's face it, we're talking offbeat weddings here, so you never know what fun ideas you may want to incorporate.

Add another month to the process for destination weddings since you'll be dealing with travel accommodations, among many other factors. This lets your guests hunt for travel deals.

funny save the date by alulasunshine on offbeat bride alternative wedding ideas from Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride)
“Now you can stop asking” funny save the date cards from AlulaSunshine. We love cards that include your engagement photo!

Should you include your registry information on your save the dates?

Nope. Don't include your registry information on a save the date, but if you've got your wedding website ready, then you can totally include it on your save the date cards! (If you don't have your wedding website done yet, we've got some ideas over here.) You can include your registry and gift information on your website.

What should you give as your RSVP deadline?

Set the deadline for RSVPs about three to four weeks prior to the wedding. This probably sounds early, but we advise leaving a two-week buffer to give you time to chase down the inevitable missing RSVPs. You'll want to start the chasing process early so you can get your guest list finalized and all the numbers to the vendors who need them.

interactive save the date wedding cards on offbeat bride alternative wedding ideas from Offbeat Wed (formerly Offbeat Bride)
The fabulous ↻ Fun yet Modern Save the Date card is perfect way to Save the Date for your guests and get a bit of fun whilst pivoting a bolt in the centre

Wondering how much postage to put on your save the date cards?

We've got some extensive advice about how to navigate the post office rules and make sure you don't get your save the dates returned to you because you're short a stamp.

More wedding invitation and wedding planning advice from Offbeat Bride:

Meet our fave wedding vendors

Comments on When to send out your invitations and save-the-dates

  1. Question: Is there any reason not to stretch this out further?

    We’re getting married in spring 2017, and although the bulk of our guests will be in the tri-state area, it will be an hour’s drive or more for 90% of the guests, and anywhere from a 5 hour drive to a cross-country flight for a small minority from out of the area. We were thinking of sending the Save the Dates out a year prior, and invites out 3-4 months prior.

    Since we have the time, is that ok, or is there a reason to wait on them (besides tradition)?

    • I didn’t wait. I didn’t actually have save the dates, my mom ended up calling everyone she knew and that took care of it for us. If we had done save the dates we would have sent them out as soon as the venue was booked (10months prior) because that’s when family started blowing up my phone wanting to know if we knew the date for sure yet. As for invites, I sent them out at the three month mark instead of the 2 and absolutely no one complained it was too early. The extra month for replies worked to our favour as by the time our rsvp by date had passed there was only one guests from each side that hadn’t replied. There was not tracking people down because they had had enough time to figure things out.

      • Thanks! That does sound a lot less stressful.

        Half of our people invited know they’re invited anyway, and since we already booked the venue, a lot of people know the date already. We’re waiting on an epic sale from Vistaprint before we actually order anything, but I don’t see why people shouldn’t at least have Save the Dates as soon as possible.

    • A warning about early Save the Dates: I sent mine out over a year in advance (about a month over, I believe) and got a lot of people saying they probably wouldn’t be able to make it; because they didn’t read the year and assumed it was that year. People’s brains work in weird ways, and in all likelihood they only really “saw” the final date. A year should be fine, but it’s probably a good idea not to go OVER a year.

      • That’s true, but you can make it a bit clearer. For example, in March I told people I was getting married the following June. As well including the year, I said “next summer” which helps people’s frame of reference.

    • The only reason is that you might change your mind about guests!

      This isn’t an issue for smaller weddings (or perhaps much bigger ones), but for us we had a few “I think we’ll want to invite them but we’re only just becoming friends” people, some “I used to think of them as good friends but haven’t seen them much lately, let’s see what happens” people, and some “let’s see if they’re still a couple” people, things like that. We left a few potential SOs off the save the dates (while secretly keeping spots for them on the list) and lo and behold–they’ve now broken up before we’ve sent the invitations.

      When we first got engaged I thought the decisions would be really difficult, and we wouldn’t be able to narrow it down enough, but now things have settled and I’m very content with out “A list.”

  2. We are having our wedding over a holiday weekend and many people will be coming from out of town, so we’re sending out save the dates out 10 months in advance and invitations 4 months in advance so people don’t make other plans for the holiday weekend and can plan appropriately for those who need to travel. We will also give a reminder even to those who have RSVPed about 4 weeks out as a memory jot for everyone.

    • The memory jogging sounds like a great idea! Our wedding is way out of town for most of our guests, and I’m doing earlier invites. I was worried some might forget by the time our wedding actually rolled around >.<

  3. We sent the Save the Dates out 1 year before our wedding. We got engaged about 16 months before our wedding date, and people were getting antsy and constantly asking about when the wedding was going to be, so we sent them out 1 year to the day beforehand.
    We’re also sending all out of towner invitations 1-2 weeks earlier, seeing as they have more to work on in order to get here (except one uncle – he booked everything the moment he found out the wedding date). Other invites are going out just over 2 months before the wedding date. For the RSVPs, we’re going with 1 month prior, which is accommodating an extra 2 weeks before we have to tell the venue how many people we are because there will always be lazy guests!

  4. Is there any reason we can’t just send the invitations ahead of time and be done with it? I have never really understood the concept of a save the date followed by an invitation.

    • We didn’t do Save-the-Dates. We felt they were just a complete waste of time and money and energy and postage and everything. I think my fiance put it best when he said “Save the Dates are a made up wedding industry cash cow. People managed to show up to weddings for hundreds of years without having to be told about it twice.”
      We sent our invitations for our October 31st wedding on July 1st. Our RSVP date is September 1st. I’ve gotten some “That’s too early! How are people supposed to plan that far in advance?” That makes no sense to me either. They look at their calendar, see if they’re free, then if they decide to come they mark our wedding on their calendar.
      So in short, Save the Dates can be super cute and are a nice way to let people know way in advance. I’ve seen some truly awesome ones and would not begrudge any couple who wants to send them. It just wasn’t for us and it’s not entirely “necessary.”

      • That was the same for us. Between my mom and me everyone knew the date way in advance and I didn’t send anything at all out before the 3 month mark. They can be cute, and sometimes I wish I had sent them, but then I think that we put that money into something else and am glad we didn’t spend it on pre invites to a party a year out.

      • I totally get where your coming from, but some people who work jobs with variable hours might have a hard time knowing if they will be free months out. Some people can request the day off, but not everyone has that luxury, and most variable work schedules are only posted 2-3 weeks out. I’ve been in that position before, and it sucks. That said, I will always mark a wedding on my calendar and RSVP, but some people might have to wait until the last minute for work reasons.

      • My thoughts exactly! I have never planned a wedding but planned many other events (especially group trips) months in advance and have never understood the “How am I supposed to know what I’m going to be doing X months from now?” thing… like, that’s the point, I’m asking you now to plan what you will be doing. If you can’t commit then I have to take your hesitance as a “no” (which is totally fine!).

        However I’m someone who loves to plan ahead (like, a year ahead sometimes!) and I live and die by my calendar.

    • Basically so people know what day/city, without you having to have figured out details like start time/dress code/number of locations that far in advance.

    • We sent out save the date cards because we knew what week we were getting married, but didn’t know the exact day. We’re having a destination wedding, so we wanted to give people as much time as possible (turned out it was about 11 months notice). We are having a party in our hometown as well, amd didn’t do save the date cards, we just sent out the actual invite.

  5. We sent our STDs six months before and I just put my invitations in the mail yesterday – at just about the 3 month mark. A lot of our guests are from out of town, so we wanted to give them a little more notice to plan for travel and whatnot.

  6. We are getting married next June. We are having an adults only wedding and want to make sure everyone has plenty of time to prepare and coordinate with a sitter, etc, since we are taking away most people’s go-to child minders.

    We’re planning on sending out save the dates sometime in September/early October. We’re (well, maybe just me/I) am already starting to get requests from friends and family about the date to make sure they put in for the day off, so while I’d like to get them out sooner, I don’t want them to go TO SOON and then everyone forgets.

    I’m hoping for invitations to go out about early-mid March.

    I set the RSVP date as the end of April. This gives us 4 full weeks before the venue needs a final headcount, giving us about 10 days-2 weeks to track down anybody we haven’t head from.

  7. We emailed our customised mailchimp ‘Save the Dates’ out 11 months in advance. We’ve got friends and family all around the world, so we needed to make sure they knew when the wedding was and to give them time to start saving money. Email is ecofriendly and free and the absolute best way to reach everyone when they’re scattered near and far, including my 89 year old grandfather. We’ve setup a website with an RSVP section (and have already gotten some through, and that’s not even the invites yet) and a private facebook group with all kinds of information. I am not sure what we’ll do for invitations, but they again will be electronic.

    • We are sending out digital Save the Dates for a destination wedding (for my family and friends at least) about 9 months in advanced. USA travel only. I have learned even though I have older generations, about all of those coming even though we are inviting about 250+ (children included in that) will be tech savvy.. minus a few).

      I am really interested in going as digital as possible but we are still will send the main invite mail. What websites are the best for using for tracking or what are you using? And is it complicated to have both them send back via mail and RSVP online??

  8. I would add a decent chunk of extra time if you’re getting married around any sort of a holiday. Time around holidays (not just “the holidays,” but also Memorial Day, 4th of July, etc.) can be nearly impossible to get off of work, especially if you work retail or medical, unless you request it off several months in advance. The same goes for the very beginning or end of the school year and school breaks, if you’re inviting teachers or students. I’m a teacher, and I need superintendent approval to request off any time in the first or last two weeks of school, or on a day adjoining a holiday break or weekend. There’s actual paperwork involved, and you have to get it in before too many people take off before you.

    Personally, I use an online calendar, so as soon as I get an invite for anything, it goes on there. I would think that once you’re within the less-than-a-year mark, it’s safe to send a save-the-date of some kind, especially if you need the extra time for holiday or traveling planning. I’m getting married in the middle of December 2016, so I’m thinking of maybe sending my save-the-dates in January or February, just so I beat out potential Christmas parties that might crop up, and so the handful of people who might fly out can get their plane tickets early.

    It’s worth noting that your save-the-dates don’t have to be mailed. It could be a quick FB message/event, email, text, whatever works for who you’re inviting. It’s basically just a heads up on your wedding date – it doesn’t need to rival your formal invitations.

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