luggage tag style save the date card with a blue watercolour design

What are save the date cards, and do you really need them?

What are save the date cards I hear you ask? Simply put, they announce your wedding date to your intended guests and ask them to keep the date free. They are a nice way to say – pencil us in, don’t book anything else on this day because we’re getting married, more details coming.

Save the date cards have been around since the mid 2000’s and have really gained popularity over the last 10 years or so. A great idea, I’m sure you’ll agree. But you have questions, I know. Do we REALLY need them? Can’t we just send our invitations earlier? Do they go to all guests or just the evening ones?

Well, you’re in the right place, I have all the answers. Read on.

1. Are wedding save the date cards really necessary?

Probably the biggest and most important question, not least when the budget is tight. The simple answer is no, they are not essential. Yes, I know, I make wedding stationery, I should be encouraging you to buy! Hear me out.

While not absolutely essential, they can be very useful for weddings at certain times of the year. So, if you’re planning your big day around the peak summer wedding season’ then the earlier you can let your guests know the better. You don’t want to be double booked with your second cousin twice removed. Same applies if you’re marrying at another busy time of the year when families may be planning holidays (in the UK that generally Christmas, Easter, and other school or bank holiday times). Also think about whether your guests need to book time off work, sometimes they need to do this a long time in advance.

coral floral wedding save the date card
Calendar style save the date card from my Coral Roses collection

Save the date cards are especially useful for destination weddings where your guests need to book more time off work and book flights, accommodation, etc.

2. When should we send wedding save the dates?

To get the most benefit from your save the save cards, send them as early as is practically possible. As soon as you have booked your date and wedding venue, you are good to go. Around 12 to 18 months ahead of your wedding day is the most popular time to send save the date cards. But, it’s fine to send them up to 2 years in advance.

Click here to read more about when to send to send save the date cards

3. So why not send my invitations out straight away?

Good question. Of course, you could – if you have all the details ironed out. Do you have the timings finalised? Do your guests need to pre-order a menu choice & have you decided what that will be? Have you nailed down your final guest list (bearing in mind your wedding could still be 18 months to 2 years away)? If you don’t have all these things finalised then you probably aren’t ready to have formal invitations printed yet. I don’t usually advise sending save the dates if your wedding is less than a year away, often in this case it’s more cost effective to just send your invitations a little earlier.

white floral save the date tag with silk ribbon
Luggage tag style save the date card from my White & Green floral collection

4. OK, so what information should we put on them?

The beauty of save the date cards is that they need very little detail. Just your names, date and event venue if you want to mention it. It’s a way of putting a relatively inexpensive marker in the calendar with the invitation to follow, containing those all important details. Of course, if you want to include a link to a wedding website, it’s a great opportunity to do this and keep all your guests up to date throughout your wedding planning.

5. Who do we send save the dates to? 

I’ve already mentioned that, at the time of sending save the date cards, you may not have finalised your guest list. So how do you know who to send them to? Here’s my advice: Send your wedding save the dates only to those guests on your ‘A list’. Those friends and family that you 100% want to be there on your big day. The guests on the ‘definitely maybe’ list? I wouldn’t send a save the date to them. In my opinion there would be nothing worse, as a guest, than receiving a save the date card for a wedding which you don’t then receive an invitation to.

When budgeting for and ordering save the date cards, remember that you will need one per couple, family or household not one per guest. Don’t over order!

Elegant save the date cards with a burgundy border and a gold wax seal
Bespoke calendar style save the date cards with a gold wax seal

6. Do they go to evening guests?

Generally, no, you don’t need to send a save the date to your evening guests. The chances are that your guest list for the after party will be a lot more undecided anyway, and so the previous point applies. That said, I have made ‘save the evening’ cards for couples before, so it can be done. I would simply advise, if you decide to do this, that you make it very obvious it is a pre-invite to the evening reception only. You don’t want any guests confused as to which part of the celebration they are invited to!

7. Do you put RSVP on wedding save the date cards?

You wouldn’t normally ask your guests to reply to a save the date card. The formal RSVP request will be in the wedding invitation. However, you may find that, when they receive a save the date if a guest already knows that they won’t be able to make it they will let you know. This can help with planning your guest list and managing guest numbers. If you like, you can include a ‘regrets only’ RSVP instruction.

What does regrets only mean? Click here to find out

8. What if I don’t know my colour scheme yet?

Wedding save the date cards can be a great way to give your guests their very first glimpse of the style and theme of celebration to come. Don’t worry too much about colours at this stage, think more about getting the right tone and style as well as reflecting your personalities. For example, if you are planning a formal, black tie wedding then a crisp white card with elegant black calligraphy would be the perfect choice. For a destination wedding perhaps a luggage tag style would be more fitting. Classic neutral save the cards are very popular for this very reason. Colours can be introduced later, on your wedding invitations.

Click here to read more about including your wedding colours on your invitations

eco friendly wedding save the date
Plantable seed paper save the date cards, from my Autumn collection

So, the key points about save the date cards:

I hope I’ve addressed all your burning questions about save the date cards in this blog. Here’s a quick summary of the main points.

  • Save the date cards are not essential but they are a great way to give your guests plenty of notice of your upcoming wedding.
  • Sending them well in advance (up to 2 years) allows your friends and family to prepare, arrange time off work and most importantly not to double book themselves. They can give a little glimpse of the celebration to come without needing to to include all the finer details.
  • You should send them to those most important guests that you don’t want to be without on your big day.
  • You don’t need to include an RSVP.
  • Finally remember that you only need one per couple, family or household.

I make save the date cards in many different styles and designs. From simple flat cards, to calendars, luggage tags, and gorgeous eco-friendly plantable seed paper save the dates.

Click here to read more about the save the date cards that I make.

Click here for some of my favourite save the date card ideas

If you have any questions about wedding save the date cards, or would like me to design some for you, please get in touch!

If you’ve been searching for all things save the date, then my guess is you’re right at the start of your wedding planning journey. I have a super handy planner and checklist for all your wedding invitations and stationery.

Click here to get my free wedding stationery checklist and planner

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a graphic to save on Pinterest with the caption what are save the date cards