Save The Date vs. The Wedding Invitation – Everything You Need to Know

holiday lights save the date

You’ve set the date. You’ve booked the venue. The wedding plans are underway. You’ve also made the guest list.

What’s next? Some say send save-the-date cards. Others say send the wedding invitations. So which is it? Do you send both of them?

It’s okay if you don’t know how to answer those questions. We have the answers for you.

What’s the Difference?

Let’s start with the fact that there is a difference between these two items. Save-the-date cards tells the recipient to do exactly that: save the date. While it does serve to give your invitee some information about your big event, its role relies less on providing details and instead focuses on alerting your possible guest to the possibility of a formal invitation.

On your save-the-date, include your names, any basic information about the location, the date and a little comment to let the recipient know to expect a formal invitation soon.

As your wedding date gets closer, you want to start thinking about sending out your actual invitations. The official wedding invitation gives much more detail about your special event. This is where you give the venue information, the date and time of the wedding, and the date and time of the reception. Your invitation should also formally ask your friends and family to come celebrate the union between you and your partner.

When Do You Send a Save-the-Date – and Do You Even Need to?

You’ll always want to send some type of official invitation out for your wedding. Save-the-date cards, however, are optional. It’s important to know when to send save-the-dates if you choose to use them. In general, you want to send them out four to six months ahead of your wedding, but sometimes even earlier than that can be better.

By sending these cards, you’re letting people know to keep that date open. Then, they can make their plans to attend accordingly. The timing for the invitations is much later, usually six to eight weeks before the wedding.

Save-the-Date Etiquette

There are some things you should and shouldn’t do when you decide to send save-the-date cards. Here are some guidelines to follow for save-the-date etiquette that will ensure you’re getting the most out of your decision to send these cards:

  • Put enough information on them: Anything you know about the location is important and can prove helpful to your potential guests.
  • Don’t worry about your save-the-dates matching your invitations — be creative!
  • Don’t include anything like glitter or confetti in the envelope.
  • Send save-the-dates only once you’ve nailed down a guest list.
  • Include information for allowing plus-ones and whether children will be welcome to attend.
  • Don’t include gift registry information, but do include your wedding website if you have one.

luxury wedding invites marble texture

Tips for the Wedding Invitations

Your wedding is getting closer, so now it’s time to order and send out your official wedding invitations. First, make sure you order the invitations far enough ahead to allow time for proofing them and fixing any mistakes. About three to four months ahead is usually enough time. Choose invitations that reflect the personalities of you and your partner and maybe the theme of the wedding.

With your invitation, include a reply card with a self-addressed, pre-stamped envelope. In cases where the reception will be at a separate location from the wedding, you should also include a reception card with all the information about the party included.

Your wedding invitation is a good place to put the details of your menu. Many people have different dietary needs. If you give your guests a chance to make the chef aware of any special needs they have ahead of time, it can make your special day more enjoyable for everyone present.

Include any hotel information when appropriate. Also, you can include directions to the venues or even a map in some cases.

wedding decor wooden sign

Use Save-the-Dates and Wedding Invitations Effectively

In terms of save-the-dates and wedding invitations, it’s not a question of which is better. These two things should serve different purposes. Utilizing each one effectively can positively affect the experience your guests have when they attend your wedding.

While planning your wedding, consider how great of an impact save-the-date cards might have. If you feel your guests can benefit from receiving a save-the-date, then send them out. However, especially when you have a smaller guest list comprised primarily of close friends who have already expressed a willingness to attend, simpler is sometimes better.

Regardless of what you eventually settle on, we hope that the information we’ve discussed here will be helpful in your decision for what to send and what not to send.