When to send save the dates: Save the date etiquette

A save the date card with a black and white photo of a couple on the left and mother of pearl-patterned text lies beside purple anemone flowers.
Paperless Post BlogWedding > When to send save the dates: Save the date etiquette

Would you believe us if we told you that save the dates were one of the more contemporary pieces of wedding stationery we made? Go ahead: ask your parents. There’s a real chance that they didn’t send wedding save-the-dates and didn’t have friends that used them, either. When they were getting married, there weren’t many uses of invitation to follow. Couples just sent wedding invitations. While you might find earlier ones, they are mostly a 21st century phenomenon: the era of destination weddings and of generational migration away from hometown weddings. Accordingly, we are all learning the why’s and how’s of them together. We think they are a courteous gesture and a brilliant way to start your ceremony planning with a bit of personal style.


A brownish-orange save the date with a photo of two women happily embracing and a light blue envelope with a matching liner.Lead Story” by Paperless Post.

When to send save the dates?

Typically save the dates go out four to six months before the ceremony, however, if you are planning over a busy holiday weekend it is a good idea to send them earlier. This proposed timeline might seem conservative, but keep in mind that you don’t have to have your venue finalized yet to send your cards: just the date and the general location. 

If you are starting to stress about your save the date timeline, the good news is that there is wiggle room if you are sending online save the dates. With instant delivery, your save the dates won’t be delayed or lost in the mail, so you can be confident your guests won’t be caught unaware.

When to send save the dates for destination weddings?

Destination weddings require you to give guests ample notice so they can make the proper travel arrangements. Go ahead and send save the date cards for destination weddings as soon as you lock in your date. Don’t worry about any of the other details, that is what the invitation to follow is for. Sending early ensures you’ll give guests more time to plan and also lets them look forward to their upcoming vacation!

From beachside and tropical ceremonies to European receptions, build excitement by adding information about the location to your save the date cards. Sending a digital save the date also allows you to include a link to your wedding registry, as well as information about travel details and accommodations.

A navy blue save the date card has a line drawing of an airplane circling the earth and numbers that coordinate with copy in the body of this article.Passport to Romance” by Paperless Post.

Save the date etiquette 101

Because save the dates are relatively new within the category of wedding stationery, they are refreshingly unbound by much of wedding etiquette. Of course you need to send one to every guest invited to your wedding ceremony, but otherwise you are free to get a little creative with your design. You can take a look at the save the date templates on our website for inspiration, but the most traditional formulas are fairly simple and take care of a few key functions. Here are the basics for what to include and how to word your save the dates:

  1. Ask your guest to save the date
  2. Give the date (naturally)
  3. Provide the city (and state if needed)
  4. Announce the upcoming invitation

Do save the dates and wedding invitations have to match?

The most important part of save the dates is sending them on time. Matching save the date cards to the rest of your wedding stationery or wedding invitations is important, but not worth delaying your save the date timeline. If you haven’t finalized your wedding invitations, don’t worry. As long as your save the date cards give off the same general vibe of your wedding theme, the two cards don’t need to match exactly.

Save the date and invitation design ideas

Not only does the save the date let guests know when and where to show up for your wedding, but you can also use it to set the mood: formal, casual, destination, or retro. Let the design help you tell the story of your wedding with a tropical or rustic design. Your save the date and invitation should feel like they are part of the same world, but they don’t need to match. Don’t wait to choose your wedding invitation to get started on your save the dates.

  • Classic save the dates: Nothing sets the tone for a stunning, classic wedding more than lush greenery. This simple yet sophisticated palette allows you to send out your save the dates quickly, even if you haven’t made concrete decisions around your other wedding colors.
  • Destination save the dates: Get guests excited for your far-flung celebration with a destination save the date card. Hint at island vibes with monstera or palm leaves, or choose a save the date example with artwork of your venue or wedding destination.
  • Gold and metallic save the dates: If gold is the star of your wedding palette, choose a gilded save the date to get everyone looking forward to your fabulous affair. Contrast this stylish metallic with an envelope color of your choice to round out your theme.
  • Modern save the dates: Minimalists rejoice! Paperless Post has dozens of modern save the date examples to keep things simple, sweet, and chic.
  • Photo save the dates: Show off your engagement photos with a photo save the date card. Let your love take center stage with a sweet image you can add easily to any save the date photo card.  

Simple, right? Equally simple: finding a save the date (browse our full collection here) and coordinating wedding invitation that matches your ceremony’s style.  Read more to find out when to host every wedding-related event, from the engagement party to the bachelorette.  For inspiration on how to choose a wedding venue check out our interview with the planners behind Mavinhouse Events.