Save the Date Etiquette: 9 Save the Date Mistakes to Avoid

Submitted by Truly Engaging… on Monday - December 30, 2019
destroyed car flipped over after car accident

Sending out save the date cards seems like one of the easiest steps in the wedding planning process, but failing to hit all the important points this early in the game could make you stumble long before you even have a chance to walk down the aisle. To help your nuptials go off without a hitch, take note of these save the date mistakes every happy couple should avoid.

1. Sending them out prematurely

a worried woman reads a letter while sitting on a couch in her living room at home

So, you're planning on getting married in the hottest venue in town in the middle of June—yay! ...But are you sure?

What you want and what's actually available may be two different things and asking guests to save a date that your venue already has booked is the worst kind of wedding planning surprise. Keep a tight grip on reality and wait to notify friends and family until you've put down your deposit and have a contract in hand.

2. Procrastinating and mailing too late

a lazy woman lays on the floor and procrastinates while holding cleaning supplies

The entire purpose of save the date cards is to give people enough time to get their affairs in order. The last thing you want is to go head-to-head with someone's summer vacation or end up with a ghost town for a dance floor because no one could book last-minute flights.

Do your friends and family a favor by sending your save the dates about nine to ten months before your I dos and about nine to twelve months out if you're planning a destination wedding that requires extra organizing—including potentially expensive plane tickets and resort bookings—on the part of your guests. Some experts say it's okay to work with a smaller lead time for more intimate hometown weddings and send save the dates about four to five months prior to the big day. That may be fine, but understand you run the risk of getting more regrets than positive RSVPs if you cut it too close.

3. Not being clear as to who's going to be invited—and who isn't

a couple looks at a notebook and takes notes while sitting on a couch

While save the date cards aren't an actual wedding invitation, they are a sort of pre-invite and should be every bit as accurate as the real thing. Spell out whether the addressee will be allowed to bring a plus one, who that plus one can be (for instance a spouse or significant other may be okay, while a blind date may not), whether kids will be welcomed, and if there will be pre- or post-wedding festivities. All those details factor in when purchasing plane tickets, asking for time off work, and planning for child care so help your loved ones out and be crystal clear.

4. Sending save the dates to each individual guest

a senior couple opens a card they received in the mail

Don't make more work for yourself than you have to. It's perfectly fine to send one save the date for each household, which means you can lump together nuclear families (your sister, her husband, and their kids, for example) or cohabitating couples. Anyone with separate addresses should get separate cards unless you're inviting one as the primary person and the other as the primary person's date, such as your Aunt Becky and her boyfriend who might be invited as "Aunt Becky & Guest".

5. Picking and choosing who gets one

a person’s hands put letters in a mailbox

It's tempting to try and cut costs and pare back your wedding planning checklist by only sending out save the date cards to out-of-town guests or those you know need extra time to plan, but there are several problems with that approach:

  • There may be issues such as childcare woes or long-standing vacation plans that you're not aware of
  • You could accidentally create discord or jealousy if a guest learns someone else was already "invited" and they weren't
  • It can look like you're sort of triaging guests by seeing who's coming off the A list before you send out the B list (though this may actually be your goal if you're trying to maximize attendance in a small space)

To play it safe and avoid unnecessary turmoil, it may be best to send everyone on your invite list a save the date card at the same time—that includes those who have already given you a verbal RSVP.

6. Failing to include all the necessary details—or including too many

a man is confused while reading a letter

Save-the-dates aren't the place to announce food options or offer up a map of the town you'll be getting married in. All you need to include are the details guests need to decide about attending and kick‑start their preparations:

  • The names of the happy couple
  • The date or a range of dates if it's a multi‑day affair
  • Geographic location including the town (but not necessarily the venue if you're not ready to share)
  • Hotel information, if possible, and specifics regarding room blocks if you have one reserved
  • Wedding website, if you have one
  • A note that a more formal invitation with all the relevant details will be forthcoming

7. Going solely digital

a new email notification on a smartphone

The rise of e‑vites has made organizing your kids' birthday parties or setting up a movie night easier than ever. That said, there are a number of advantages to sticking with traditional paper invitations for a formal event like a wedding. For starters, they serve as keepsakes and physical reminder of the upcoming event. However, the multi‑generational nature of weddings tends to mean more guests who might not regularly use social media or check their email. Consider either doubling up and sending both digital and paper emails or going fully old‑school for the sake of cohesion and style points.

8. Listing your registries

a wedding gift wrapped in brown paper and a purple ribbon sitting next to flowers

We get it, presents are the best, but making your wedding about gifts this early on in the process (or ever, really) is going to come off as tacky. It's fine to have a registry and guests will want to know where to go when they're ready to pick out something pretty, but it's better to include registry URLs or store names on a wedding website rather than a formal save the date or invitation. That way, your guests can find the information on their own rather than tying it to the invite as if a gift is the price of admission.

9. Not letting your personalities shine

a wedding gift wrapped in brown paper and a purple ribbon sitting next to flowers

Save the date cards are the perfect place to have a little fun, so take a chance and ditch boring bulk-buy cards in favor of bespoke offerings that match your theme, personal aesthetic or the overall vibe of the event. There are different options in terms of the materials you use, too. Put all those possibilities on the table and you have some super fun choices to make:

  • Send save the date magnets to help guests keep your wedding on the top of their mind
  • In addition to (or instead of) formal engagement pictures, customize your save the dates with silly outtakes, candid shots, or even a drawing of you and your fiancé
  • Play with design elements, swapping out bold lines for feminine florals or pastel watercolors for shimmery metallics

You're about to enter one of the most exciting stages of your life and save the dates are just the start. Take the time to do them up right and you'll be setting yourself up for success and a wedding you'll never forget. For more help, check out our wedding planning ideas.