To send or not to send save-the-dates - that is the question. At least for some of today’s couples.

Save-the-date cards are more of a modern day wedding “must-have” than they were several decades ago. That’s probably due to the fact that, in ye olden days family and friends weren’t as spread out as they are today, which meant everyone a couple wanted to invite to their wedding probably already knew. Not to mention, there wasn’t much traveling going on, either by car or plane.

But in today’s world, people are located all over the place and couples have the option of planning a destination wedding.

What are save-the-dates?

Save-the-dates act as a heads up for those you would like to invite to the wedding.

They are typically sent out a few months after the engagement, once the date and location have been decided on, as well as the complete guest list. They’re like postcards that say, “Hello, this is what’s happening and we’d love you to be a part of it. More info coming soon!”

Bride and groom pose with wedding guests of all ages on the lawn at House on the Hill in Austin, Texas. Photograph by Austin, Texas wedding photographer Nikk Nguyen.

They’re not necessary, but they can be helpful, especially for couples planning a destination wedding and for those expecting a large number of traveling guests. A save-the-date gives these guests plenty of time to book rooms and travel, set up child care, take off work, etc.

Related: 5 Tips on What to Wear to Your Engagement Photoshoot

Should you send out save-the-dates?

Asking yourself a few basic questions can help you decide on whether or not to send out save-the-date cards.

1. How big is your wedding? If you’re having a small celebration, save-the-dates may not be needed, especially if everyone is located around the area. As an alternative, you could reach out to each guest over the phone or through email for a more personal touch.

2. How many guests will need to travel? As noted before, if a majority of your guests will need to make travel plans, then it’s a good idea to send out save-the-dates. Having enough time to plan will give them a better chance of being able to attend your big day.

3. How far out is your wedding date? Since wedding invitations are usually mailed out six to eight weeks before the wedding, if you’re planning a wedding in six months, there’s really no need to send out save-the-dates. Just send out your invitations a few months in advance.

Save-the-Date Alternatives

Want to save paper, time, and money? Consider giving your heads up via a Facebook private event or by emailing electronic save-the-dates. Websites like Paperless Post, Paperlust, Green Envelope, and Evite offer a variety of save-the-date cards and templates. Or you can create your own through a service like Canva or Crello. For those guests who may not be digitally-inclined, give them a call or send them a paper save-the-date just to be sure they’re aware.

Bride and groom embracing in a field in Austin, Texas. Photograph by Austin, Texas wedding photographer Nikk Nguyen.

If you’ve made up your mind and want to send traditional save-the-date cards, but still want to keep costs low, check out services like Shutterfly and Vista Print, which often offer discounted prices on save-the-dates.

Things to Keep in Mind

Unlike wedding invitations, save-the-dates are informal and don’t have to match your wedding style, theme, or colors. Basically, you just want to get across the date and venue info; the design isn’t a priority.

Make sure your guest list is final before you mail out your save-the-dates. You can’t send a save-the-date to someone, only to “take it back” by not sending them a formal invitation.

On a similar note, think twice before you decide on sending some guests a save-the-date and others not. Example situation: you send Aunt Mary a save-the-date, but decide to only send a wedding invite to Cousin Cara. The problem is, Aunt Mary shows Cousin Cara the save-the-date she received, leaving Cousin Cara wondering what happened. If you don’t let her know a.s.a.p. that she’s invited as well, Cousin Cara may feel left out and/or make other plans.

There’s no right or wrong way to answer the save-the-date question. It’s up to you and your fiancé and your particular situation. Ask yourself the questions from above and take some time to think about what is best for both you and your potential guests.

Related: Your Top 10 Wedding Etiquette Questions Answered

Interested in having a conversation about whether or not you should send out save-the-dates? Reach out to me using the button below... I'd love to chat with you!

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