30+ Save the Date Ideas (And Etiquette!)


If you want ’em, we’ve got ’em

by Meg Keene, CEO & Editor-In-Chief

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So you’re trying to figure out save the date ideas. Should you have them? When should you send them? Should they be paper or magnets or something crazy like a puzzle? Should you call them STDs? (The answer to the last question is always a resounding no.) So here is the deal with save the dates:

Save The Date Etiquette

Save the dates are relatively recent inventions in the world of weddings. (Chances are, if you ask your grandma if she had them, she’ll just look confused.) But as families and friends have gotten more geographically dispersed, weddings have become more of a destination event for many of the players. As such, it’s become common to let people know that they should, well, save the date. Unfortunately (or fortunately?) the newness of the phenomenon also means that there is not a lot of set etiquette. That means A) to some extent you can do what you want (yay!), and B) there are not super clear rules to follow (boo!). So as someone who’s been knee-deep in weddings for a decade, let me give you some basic guidelines probably worth following.

  • Save the dates are not mandatory, which means you should send them if you think it will be genuinely helpful (or when you really just want an excuse for more pretty paper goods). Save the date ideas can be anything from letterpressed cards that match your invitation suite, to magnets, to emails… to text messages, because why not?
  • Keep in mind that save the dates have a way of locking you into a guest list far in advance of the wedding. That means if you run out of space at your venue, or you get in a fight with someone, you’re in the position of UN-inviting them from your wedding, which is never pretty. When this happens, etiquette doesn’t have much of a life preserver to throw you, so proceed with caution.
  • When do you send save the dates? Anywhere from six months to a year in advance of your wedding, depending how busy your guests are, if it’s a holiday, where the wedding is… and your common sense.

Beyond that though, the sky is the limit. Which means it’s time to have some fun. Let’s look at thirty of our favorite save the date ideas (because DAMN if they haven’t gotten a million times better since I was planning my wedding).

our favorite save the date Ideas: flat cards

flat card save the date idea

Truly Tropical by Printable Press

printable press flat card save the date

Delicately Framed by Printable Press

flat card save the date idea wedding paper divas

Classic Request by Wedding Paper Divas

flat card save the date from printable press

Twig Initials by Printable Press

save the date idea flat card

We Said Yes by Wedding Paper Divas

printable press flat card save the date

Branch by Printable Press

 

editorial save the date from wedding paper divas

Editorial Love by Wedding Paper Divas

flat card save the date idea

Diamond Blossoms by Wedding Paper Divas

 

watercolor save the date idea from etsy

Watercolor Save the Date by Angelique Ink

our favorite save the date ideas: letterpress

letterpress save the date idea

Retro Stamp Letterpress by Wolfandink

growing together letterpress save the date

Growing Together by Minted

botanical letterpress save the date idea

Letterpress Invitation by Fluid Ink

minted-ribbons

Ribbons by Minted

custom letterpress save the date idea

Custom Letterpress by Letterpress Made

happy heart save the date idea from minted

Happy Heart by Minted

minted save the date

Our Initials by Minted

be there save the date from minted

Be There by Minted

save the date ideas from etsy

Serenbe Design by Chatham and Caron

simple save the date ideas

Charlotte Save the Date by August and White Design

tropical save the date idea from etsy

Tropical Save the Date by Fluid Ink Letterpress

our favorite save the date ideas: gold foil

foil save the date idea

Refined Love by Wedding Paper Divas

foil save the date with pink accent

Forever Laced by Wedding Paper Divas

gold foil save the date from etsy

Malibu Save the Date by Chatham and Caron

foil save the date idea

Whimsical Decree by Wedding Paper Divas

gold foil calligraphy save the date

Save the Dates by Handcrafted Occasions

our favorite save the date ideas: magnets

magnet save the date ideas

Minimal by Wedding Paper Divas

simple magnet save the date idea

Simple Modern Save the Date by Dunkirk Designs

save the date idea magnet

Command S by Wedding Paper Divas

save the date magnet from etsy

Save the Date Magnet by Midwest Design

shiny magnet save the date

Festive Date by Wedding Paper Divas

 

lettered magnet save the date

Lettered Save the Date Magnet by Oak Street Press

our favorite save the date ideas: email

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Meg Keene

Meg is the Founder and EIC of APW. She has written two best selling wedding books: A Practical Wedding and A Practical Wedding Planner. Meg has her BFA in Drama from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She lives in Oakland, CA with her husband and two children. For more than you ever wanted to know about Meg, you can visit MegKeene.com. #NASTY

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  • As I said on one of the other posts, I hadn’t realised before there’s a bit of a cultural difference in Save the Dates between the US and UK. We don’t tend to do formal engagement announcements in the UK any more, so the STD is basically that + a date. You wouldn’t expect to see location, times, or a website on there – that’s what invites are for. It’s why it’s a pain that so much wedding advice on the web is US centric, because UK brides who send out UK STDs and invites to a US schedule, risk losing guests who can no longer afford travel or hotels.

    • Amy March

      I’m curious what the point is of a save the date if I don’t know where I’m going or whether or how much time I need to take off to get there?

      • When I told my OH about how much information is included on US save the dates, he asked what the point of an invitation was then! Honestly, if I received some of these I’d assume they were invites and try to RSVP (especially if there’s a web address). UK STDs are pretty much used solely to make sure you don’t accidentally book a holiday or theatre tickets or whatever on the same day, and to give you enough notice to book time off work (especially if it’s during school holidays – I know people who have to log on to their work email/leave systems on January 1st to make sure they get the days off they need). It’s rare to see paper ones over here; they’re usually facebook or email, and if they’re fancy come with one of those widgets that adds the date to your online calendar.

        UK weddings are fairly standard in terms of running lunch time ish to midnight ish, so guests rarely travel both ways on the same day unless they’re very local. Our road network and public transport are a bit counter intuitive in terms of how long it takes to travel short distances (I live significantly closer to London than in my previous city, but it takes me 40 minutes longer to get there now!) so it’s common for people to factor in traveling the day before as well as the day after. I’m pretty certain we usually send invites out sooner than US couples do, which makes up the difference in terms of booking transport and hotels. The post the other day mentioned sending invites out 6 weeks in advance, but all the invites I’ve received over here are three months or earlier.

        • Jessica

          Wait wait wait — wedding invitations only 6 weeks before the wedding?? That seems strange to me, as someone married in the US. Usually you’re asking guests to RSVP 3-4 weeks before the wedding, so that only allows a couple of weeks for mail transit. I think sending invitations about 2 or 2.5 months before the wedding is more common — we sent ours the last week of June for a late August wedding. Our save-the-dates went out via e-mail and just had the date and location, plus a link to our wedding website where we updated with more info as we confirmed things.
          I’m sure there are differences between UK and US weddings, but what you’re describing as the UK customs don’t seem terribly different from what we’d be doing in the US.

          • Amy March

            I think 6 weeks is the bare minimum in the US. So I wouldn’t be surprised to see a range of “send 6-12 weeks in advance” as advice but I think most people are sending between 2 and 3 months early.

          • I think things are more similar than they are different, but if I received an STD with date, location and website I’d be confused as to why you hadn’t just sent me an invite if you’re already that sorted. Especially with the inclusion of a website, since I’d assume that was how you wanted RSVPs – they’re growing more common over here, but it’s rare to have one if you’re not taking RSVPs through it, so the assumption is you only go live when you send the invites out.

          • Katharine Parker

            “if I received an STD with date, location and website I’d be confused as to why you hadn’t just sent me an invite if you’re already that sorted.” Those are by necessity the first things you do, though (aside from website, although that was one of the first things I did). And you may not have everything figured out–times may change, locations may change (my brother’s wedding venue burned down in the time between sending save the dates and invitations. They figured it out, but it meant the town was right, the venue wouldn’t have been). You probably don’t have your menu set if you’re doing plated meal options, which you need for your RSVP card. Are you inviting people to any other events on the same invite–a farewell brunch or welcome drinks? I’ve received invites with that info and a reply on those requested, but those often aren’t set in stone until after the save the date is sent. A formal invitation has more etiquette involved in the language (who is hosting? Are both parents listed? Are no parents listed? Etc.) that can require navigating and take more time than the relatively simple language of a save the date. Figuring out the invitation takes more time than the save the date, and if you do want people to save the date, you just want to get those out efficiently.

            Also, even in the US, where everyone has a wedding website, a lot of RSVPs still are on paper. I’d say at most half of the weddings I’ve been invited to have had an online RSVP option–this varies by crowd, but it definitely isn’t universal.

          • sofar

            We sent out save-the-dates with date, venue and website (only detail we hadn’t figured yet was exact start-time). And then an official invitation later.

            Here’s why we didn’t “just send the invite:” We had a big guest list, most of which would have to fly in.

            So, the save-the-date went out 8 months in advance to give people the chance to shop for airfares and hotels (that’s why disclosing the exact location was important early on). Most people lose paper, so expecting people to hold on to the save-the-date and then RSVP whenever they buy their plane tickets isn’t realistic. Plus, people tend to be overly optimistic about these things. If you give an option to RSVP (via an official invitation) 8 months in advance, people will think to themselves, “Oh surely I’ll be able to get time off and be able to afford a plane ticket 8 months from now! I shall reply, yes!” And then, if it turns out they can’t come, they may feel too embarrassed (or couldn’t be bothered) to reach back out and say “nevermind I’m not coming.”

            An official invitation about 6- 8 weeks before the wedding also serves another useful purpose. It tells people, “Hey we need a response NOW — we know you probably lost your save-the-date, so here’s another reminder of the event details. Please let us know if you are a YES or a NO.” And, since it’s just 8 weeks out, chances are people who truly can’t afford travel will assess this situation realistically and send a legitimate “No” reply.

            If you have a more local guest list, invitations alone are probably fine. But, if I have to travel to a wedding, I like to get the save-the-date and have a nice grace period where I can research and shop around for travel without having to commit.

          • zana

            Because…sometimes you have the basic wedding stuff planned, but not the other events that might go around it. And it’s better to send one piece of email/mail, then 7 as you plan all the other events.

          • nutbrownrose

            I have an RSVP by date 6 weeks before my wedding! Mostly because I fully expect everyone to treat it as “postmark by” or “mail in that week” and I want time to harass people who haven’t replied.

        • stephanie

          Emailed you a question!

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  • Arie

    We sent actual postcards from the location of our destination wedding because: NO ENVELOPES. I really only had one round of envelope-licking in me, and it was saved for invitations.

    • idkmybffjill

      Bonus! Postage for post cards is cheaper (if you remember it exists, I sadly did not and didn’t take this advantage when we sent ours out). You can order specific post card ones from usps.com!

      • zana

        Yes, and the bird postcard stamps right now are SO CUTE.

        Signed, someone-who-got-married-in-an-aviary-and-used-bird-postcard-stamps-all-the-way

        • nutbrownrose

          Can I just say that I’m glad someone out there likes them? I personally hate that they’re the only option (or were when I was ordering) because they’re not my style AT ALL, but I’m glad they’re not universally hated. It makes me feel less bad for hating them knowing someone out there is neutralizing my hate.

          • zana

            Yes, I adore them ;)
            I’m also super digging the WPA Posters forever stamps right now, too :)

          • nutbrownrose

            I think those are amazing! I just have a weird hatred for the birds.

  • Katharine Parker

    If you’re sending a save the date to anyone other than close family and friends (like your parents’ friends), consider putting your full names. (I know a lot of couples with the same first names.) And if you’re sending these internationally, remember that not everyone writes dates the same way–5/6 can be May 6 or June 5 to different people.

    Also, it looks nice, but the “We said yes” one reads as a wedding announcement to me, not a save the date. What did you say yes to? I would find that totally opaque if I received it.

    • jem

      Ha! I had a mild panic after we sent out the save the dates because I realized they only have our first names (both on the cards and the return addresses, ugh) and you can’t see our faces in the picture (so much for being arty…)! I definitely second including enough information to identify yourselves!!!

      • Jane

        I worried about this but ultimately decided it was ok because our save the date was via email with a link to our website, so recepients could just click on it and immediately know exactly who we were.

        I think the take home message is to make sure all the necessary info is easily accessible.

        • jem

          Yeah, we have our website on there, which should make it pretty obvious who we are (although I know that no one is looking at our website– thanks squarespace analytics!). It also helps that we’re having a pretty small/intimate wedding, so everyone who got a save the date was expecting one, and so knew who we the card was referring to when it said Jane and David were getting married in Winchester.

    • CMT

      Ha, I was just coming here to comment that I love that it says “We said yes” instead of “She said yes” which drives me crazy.

      • Katharine Parker

        I mean, “she said yes” is lame (I also hate when someone shows off her engagement ring and says, “he did good”), but at least it makes sense–he asked her to marry him, she said yes. Who asked what in the “we said yes” scenario? I read that and think, “they said yes to the officiant who asked if they wanted to be married.”

        I’m all for choosing to get married as a joint decision and making plans for the future as a couple, but “we said yes” reads so weirdly to me! Can’t you write, “we’re getting married!”?

        • idkmybffjill

          I just assumed the meaning was, “we asked eachother if we wanted to get married…. we said yes.”

          • Katharine Parker

            That both makes sense and is not intuitive to me at all. In life, the meaning of “will we marry each other” is probably more reflective of the discussions people have about marriage than “will you marry me”–but “will you marry me” is the trope and the script that “she said yes” fits into. Maybe I’m the only person who finds “we said yes” confusing? But, unless I knew there was some kind of double proposal where both parties did in fact “say yes,” I would look at that and think, “wedding announcement.”

          • idkmybffjill

            Yeah, I think that’s fair and unless I knew the couple well would likely also be my assumption.

  • Amy March

    Oh gosh yes, if you’re wondering if people will be hurt to get a save the date and no invitation, yes, yes we will. Still annoyed about the one time the happened to me years later!

    • idkmybffjill

      Ew, yeah. Big mistake. Huge.

      I also would have reached out and then you’d HAVE to tell me I wasn’t invited. I’m assuming if I received correspondence about your wedding I’m on the damn list.

      • Katharine Parker

        Yes, I would be concerned my invite got lost (this has actually happened to me once). Please avoid that awkwardness and only send save the dates to people you’re inviting to the wedding.

        • idkmybffjill

          Yes – same! In one case I actually just went ahead and RSVPed (my invite did just get lost, it arrived with lots of tracking info as it had obviously been misdelivered or something about a week before the wedding). Granted, in this case I knew the bride well and knew I was invited – but I probably wouldn’t think twice about someone I knew less well! If the website was up and the details were the same I’d either reach out or RSVP online. Awkard!

      • Amy March

        I did exactly that! So awkward. (It was my friend’s father’s wedding. He had told her she could invite a few friends and then changed his mind. Not like friendship ending or anything but I am still displeased.)

        • idkmybffjill

          Ugh LORD. At the very least reach out proactively with that nonsense. A simple, “I’m sorry my dad is apparently a groomzilla and I have to uninvite my friends – this is the worst”, would go along way.

          • Amy March

            It would have! Especially earlier than 6 weeks out. Made it seem like they would have invited me if more other people had said no, which made it even ruder.

          • idkmybffjill

            ugh, absolutely.

    • Jane

      But – are we agreed that you don’t send someone an invite if they’ve told you they won’t be able to make it after they get the save the date?
      Obviously a different situation than yours, but it’s the only time I can think of that would make that acceptable. And it’s a situation I’m currently in – since I’m post-save the date, pre-invitation.

      • Amy March

        We are absolutely not agreed! I say always always always a save the date requires a formal invitation. Maybe they changed their minds!

        • jem

          Yes– we are sending invites to everyone who got a save the date, even if they said they won’t be able to make it. Maybe they changed their minds, and surely they want to receive some pretty paper in the mail! It’s a nice way to make folks feel included, even if they can’t make the day.

        • Jane

          See – and this is why I asked. I could have sworn there was a discussion on APW a while ago where the consensus seemed to be that sending the invitation anyway might make people feel bad. But I think with a note like idkmybffjill suggested, I think that problem would go away. Thanks.

      • idkmybffjill

        I do agree on this… and for some reason I feel like Miss Manners has a similar rule? I can’t figure out how to google it but it’s in my head. Something about it makes them feel like they have to tell you no twice or something? Honestly I think it could go either way, personally. If I were in that place and it were a good friend, I’d probably include a note that said, “I know you can’t make it but I just wanted to continue to include you because I know you’ll be there in spirit” or something like that.

    • savannnah

      We sent a save the date to a family member who we are not inviting to the wedding after all. Normally I would be mortified about this but 3 anti-semitic fb rants later, I’m wondering if we need to contact them to let them know we are dis-inviting them or just not send an invite? How does one dis-invite someone to their wedding?

      • Amy March

        Eh, the good news is that there isn’t a polite way to do this so whatever you think best goes! I’d consult with a mom/grandma type and see what they think is going to cause the least drama.

        • savannnah

          As his other 8 siblings are invited, I think this is a great idea. Thanks!

      • idkmybffjill

        Honestly I think the etiquette of it is – “this is an action that can end an otherwise happy relationship with a person.” If that line has already been crossed, you need not worry about etiquette.

        ETA: We personally had something similar happen, although less extreme. We just didn’t send an invite, the person didn’t follow up, that was that.

        • savannnah

          My non-confrontational self is leaning towards that but I would worry less if we were more direct this instance.

          • idkmybffjill

            Having the info that the rest of his siblings are invited – I’d say directness will probably benefit you here too. Sorry, dude – rough position to be in for rough reasons.

  • Hannah

    I do think that including the line ‘Invitation to follow’ is helpful, lest recipients think this is the only correspondence they’ll receive. Given that save-the-dates are a relatively new convention, some people might be puzzled by the absence of some details.

  • Sarah

    we emailed a message “STD from Sarah and Jeff” with a pic of us as save the dates (to friends/family with our strange sense of humor) and I still chuckle about it.

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  • Alli

    We had a really cute idea to make Christmas cards that were our save the dates. And then that just didn’t happen so I wrote “Save the date for our wedding!” at the bottom of the Christmas cards going across the country and figured everyone else could deal. Then of course this past weekend FH’s unmarried college friends ask me if they’re invited because we keep talking about the wedding to them but they haven’t received a save the date! So they’re more prevalent than we thought!

  • macrain

    We did paperless post Save the Dates and sent paper invitations. One annoying thing about that is that you can’t shut off the RSVP feature (or- you couldn’t three years ago), so some people did respond even though we weren’t collecting RSVPs so early on.
    Other than that I would highly recommend that route. We could customize it with a picture, it looked great, and cost almost nothing.

  • Eve

    Is it weird or rude to only send Save the Dates to some guests/does etiquette exist for such a situation? I’m thinking for my situation sending them to family that lives a plane ride away and a few European friends, since much of FH’s family is local-ish and in close contact with each other. I only ask because FH is head over heels for magnets, which are expensive, and when I was talking to a bridesmaid who lives across the country what she did for Save the Dates for her wedding, she was super confused, said she didn’t do them, and would be happy if I just told her the date when we set it (and also she wouldn’t use a magnet).

    • savannnah

      My friend did this. She used paperless post and sent out e-std’s to the younger crowd and mailed paper copies to the older crowd.

    • AmandaBee

      I don’t think it’s rude, I do think it could cause confusion/hurt feelings if one friend hears another talking about the save-the-date and didn’t get one (they might think they’re not invited to the wedding?). But it makes sense to me that you might prioritize those people who need to know super early, and I think you could pull it off if your circles of people aren’t super interconnected.

      Know your people, of course. Some people save these types of things I guess? I always feel obligatory guilt if I don’t keep the magnets since I know how pricey they are…but to be honest I hate clutter so I usually just mark the date down and then throw the save the date away.

    • Amy March

      No, but if they are people who talk to each other those who didn’t receive a save the date when they know you sent them might assume they aren’t invited.

    • idkmybffjill

      I did this – I tried to consolidate it by social circle though, so no one would see someone else’s and be like, “ugh I didn’t get one!”. Basically we had to invite a lot of family that we were 80% certain wouldn’t come, so we sent those family members save the dates and invites early so we could get their RSVPs early, and then invited the less close friends who we still would’ve loved to be there (and who were local) instead. Worked out great! 10/10 would recommend!

      • zana

        Yeah, working in circles is the way to go here.

  • Totch

    One thing that I think should move towards being a rule: if your wedding is a nonstandard day/time/setting for your community, save the dates are necessary.

    My cousin is getting married soon, and we just found out that the ceremony is at 11am on a Friday. She bought save the dates and then never sent them? Booking an off time is totally fine, but if your guests need to plan on an extra vacation day to attend you need to give them that heads up!

    • Amy March

      I’d just assume she doesn’t really care if anyone comes! Which, fine? But I wouldn’t be making any special efforts to attend.

  • Marie Tachouet

    We’ve sent Save the Dates for our under 70-person wedding in a remote location, and it’s been super helpful. A number of people have since told us that they can’t come due to pregnancy and it’s so great to know that now (so we can invite other loved ones to take their places) rather than after invites go out. Speaking of…thinking of doing digital invites and not bothering with RVSP cards, etc, except for a couple of older generation couples who don’t do email. Thoughts or recs?

    • zana

      We did this. Or something similar. We sent out postcard “invitations” with minimal info and a link to our wedding website (which also handled RSVPs). The Internet-disinclined received hand-written letters with all the information (plus the postcard), and separate instructions on how to RSVP. We just handled the RSVPs for the Internet-disinclined manually to keep our numbers up to date.

      I wrote a rather long-winded review of all this here: http://byov.blogspot.com/2016/11/wedding-review-wedding-websites-and.html

    • Vanessa

      We’re doing email invitations through Paperless Post. We did our save-the-dates the same way, and it was really nice to be able to see who has opened it :)