by: Lauren Franklin
You are engaged - congratulations! Undoubtedly, immediately after your friends and family squeal with delight over your news, the first question they will ask is, "So when is the date?" It can be somewhat annoying, especially if you are very recently engaged, but really all your loved ones are asking so they can mentally save the date.
So begins your wedding planning. Obviously the first thing you need to do is start viewing places for your ceremony and reception, because without those there is no wedding.
Once you have nailed down your wedding's place and date - then its time to get the word out. This is especially important if you are having your wedding during peak wedding season (usually the spring, early summer) or over any holiday weekend. Keep in mind, that while surely your guests are looking forward to celebrating with you, they can have conflicts. Wedding season unfortunately conflicts with graduation season, and long weekends are usually booked up with vacation plans way in advance.
If possible, you want to send your save the date cards out 6-9 months in advance. Lean toward the longer end of that spectrum if you have guests coming long distance or if you have a popular wedding date booked.
Now comes the fun part.
What should they look like? Do they have to match? Who should I send them to? What should my save the dates say? How much information do I need to include? The answer to all those questions is easy. Its entirely up to you and your fiancee. As long as the most important information is on there - your names and your date all the rest is gravy. However, to help guide you through the decision making we offer these words of advice.
What should they look like?
Save the dates are your opportunity to get the word out about your approaching wedding in fun, expressive way. Save the date announcements can be more casual than your more formal wedding invitation. However, keep in mind this is your chance to create a first impression. Your guests will receive your save the date and start forming impressions on what kind of event it will be. So we suggest you be unique, but use high quality materials. Nothing sends the wrong message like flimsy materials.
Some suggestions for unique save the dates can be found here:
Do they have to match?
Nope. They don't have to match the rest of your wedding, but they can. If you are the kind of person who has been dreaming of what your wedding would look like even before you were engaged then perhaps you have some ideas already for color themes, design styles, etc. If that's the case, great! Work with it! However, often times those types of wedding decisions are not solidified so early in the game so don't sweat it. The priority is to get those save the dates in the mail so you get on your guests' calendars. Another consideration, if you are the type A personality with your wedding plans all mapped out, you are going to be seeing a lot of those colors or design decisions over the upcoming months. So much so that you might get a little sick of your chosen colors (gasp! Say it isn't so!) The save the date offers the opportunity to use your second choice color ideas, just to mix it up a bit. The point is, if you see something completely unrelated to your wedding ideas that you absolutely love - go for it!
Who do I send them to?
Lose the notion that the save the date has to be sent to everyone on your list - because it doesn't. In fact, (and you didn't hear this from us) if there are people on your list that are what we like to call "obligatory invites" = people you really have to invite due to family ties, or professional connections, this would be a good time to hold off. We aren't saying to disinvite them, but if they only receive the formal invitation then no harm done. The reality is if you are inviting your boss to the wedding simply because it's the politically correct thing to do, then you are probably secretly hoping he/she doesn't come. Having said all this, we do recommend you make sure you send your save the date to people who might interact with eachother. Say you have a distant Great Aunt Matilda who you are inviting purely out of family obligation. Normally you would not send her a save the date. However, if your Great Aunt Matilda has dinner over your cousin Amy's house and sees your save the date hanging on her refrigerator there might be feelings hurt.
What should my save the dates say? How much information do I need to include? The way to think of save the dates is almost like directions. You are instructing your guests to save the date, and beyond that you are giving them all the most important information in order to make arrangements to attend. For a local wedding with not many long distance guests you could get away with just your names, the date of your wedding and the town where you will be holding the event. However, that is rarely the case. Usually planning couples have information they would like to communicate. Here are the various ways to do so and things you can include:
You can keep it casual and just use your first names or if you are concerned this might confuse your guests you can use both of your full names. However, the point can be made if your guests don't know you by your first names, why are they being invited?
You really don't need to give them the exact GPS location of you wedding but just a general region would be a good idea. For example, "New York City."
Everything beyond those first three elements is optional.
Chances are you are going to reserving some hotel blocks for your guests. If you know that information it would very helpful to your guests to have it early with your save the date. However if haven't gotten to your blocks yet, don't worry. You can include that information with your formal invitation. If you aren't doing blocks for your guests, its still not a bad idea to recommend places to stay to your guests.
Wedding websites are a great idea. It gives you a place to communicate all the information you have unlimited. It also can be updated as decisions are made - which should be a great comfort to you.
If a lot of your guests are flying to your wedding, then you might want to include how far your ceremony and reception location is from the airport. Also to note, several of the major airlines will offer a discount that you can pass onto your guests. You simply need to call the airlines in advance and explain that you are planning a large event.
Car rental information:
Car rental company will do the same. They will offer a discount that you can pass onto your guests. Again, call the car rental companies in advance and explain that you are planning a large event.
Things to do/Places to eat:
This type of information is totally optional but can be a nice touch for your guests especially if they are coming long distance to attend your wedding. It could convince your guests to make an extended weekend of your wedding if you suggest some fun activities for everyone before and after your wedding. Also, if you have favorite restaurant recommendations that can be a nice personal touch for your guests to enjoy.
Lastly, be sure to include the text "Formal Invitation to Follow"
If you don't you will be surprised at how many people will call you thinking your save the date is your wedding invitation. Your great Aunt Matilda (assuming you sent her that save the date after all) is going to ask, "Where is the rsvp card?"
-written by Lauren Franklin
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