Save the Dates: why, when, and how it's done

January 13 | meganfinley


Officially Reserved Save the Date Cards

Save the Date cards: do you need them? When do you send them? And how many times will you giggle when someone refers to them as STDs?

I can answer all of these questions…

  • Need: You only need to send them if there's the perfect storm of two things: you're having a destination or holiday wedding, and you actually want people to show up.
  • When: If you're having a destination wedding, eight months before the date is considered polite. This way, if your friends are like mine, it'll give them a good, long time to save the money and it's enough time in advance for them to know not to accept gigs or tours that coincide with that date. If it's a holiday wedding then six months in advance is perfect.
  • Giggles: If you're like me, you'll keep giggling until you start working for a wedding blog and then it'll just become second nature to think about doing "STD roundups" and excitedly telling people about this "cool STD" you just saw.

Now, we at the Offbeat Empire know that "need" and "want" are two different things. So whether or not you NEED to send them, you may just want to send them after seeing these awesome examples, and that's cool too!


STDs that have crabs:
crabWAJennifer's STDs had CRABS! Get it? Ooh boy, these are awesome for a beach wedding and only the best people EVER would get the joke. Seriously, if you're going to spend a butt-load of time talking about your STDs, why not just get in on the joke?

Rock 'n roll inspired:
Save The DateTribe member SweetAdelineXO used a rock poster inspired design. Also of note: concert ticket Save the Dates to get your rocking wedding started off right.

No graphics necessary:
Save the Date  |  Design #2 (a/k/a "Why are they kissing by junk?"  -- P. Miller)Jessica and her partner DIY'd their Save the Date without the use of graphics. Jessica created the banner out of fabric and they took the photo themselves using a tripod.

Meta-tastic Save the Dates:
Save this Date!!Flickr user Vashti_ninon13 explains, "A fun way to start off our wedding. We loved using yellow bubble envelopes that we addressed with Sharpies and Star Wars stamps to round it off. Really a tri-fecta for us."

Classic with a twist:
Save the DateThe classic photo booth Save the Date, but jazzed up with a little turquoise and red selective coloring.

Vintage-style:
Save the Date PostcardStacey scanned a vintage postcard of the hotel wedding venue, then photoshopped the text directly onto the image.

Tiny and intriguing:
Save the DateMiranda and Jake DIY'd these puppies. Miranda explains, "I made these tiny save the date cards and put them in normal A4 envelopes. The envelopes I traced and glued together myself, and they're stuck with adorably small roll of masking tape. Made in InDesign. The supplies and postage for about 40 of these cost around $30."

For the artists:
Save the DatesAshley, her husband Mike and one of their groomsmen hand-drew all their individual Save the Dates. Ashley explains, "The other side is boring "WE'RE GETTIN' MARRIED" stuff in Juno type font, you know the drill." My favorite, of course, is the shark attack one. ;)

Interactive magic STD:
Interactive save-the-date and invites!I love this flippy-magic-eye-trickery-thingy STD that was designed by Seth and Holly.

Save the Date video:

Tribe member Little Bug Bride and her fiance made a two minute timelapse/stop motion Save the Date on the beautiful Puget Sound on New Year's morning with a gorgeous sunrise.

Want more Save the Date ideas? Good…

  1. Love these! And hey, is the song in the vid also featured in Ratatouille?

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    • That was our Save the Date! Thats so cool that its in this post :)

      Yup, the song is Le Festin from Ratatouille (one of our favorite movies) sung by Camille. Picking which song to use was super hard…..til we tried that one ;)

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      • Love the video! How did you do the stop motion?

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  2. We did a save the date postcard because our ceremony was extremely small/private… so that was our way of telling people yes, we're having a reception later, we're not planning on leaving people out entirely!

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  3. All of these are really exciting ideas, and it's good to have the recommendations about sending save the dates.

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  4. Definitely include "Invitation to Follow." It didn't occur to me to do so, because um, it says "Save the Date," which I thought was self-explanatory. But some people got confused and thought it was the invite and emailed me asking for the address, time, etc.

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    • Yes, etiquette-wise-speaking, it's polite to put "invitation to follow," otherwise people (might) not know what they are looking at.

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      • Oh ladies I think I must have really flubbed up. I didn't send out save the date cards, I just sent the invitation out to everyone (and the invitation was a PDF that was emailed rather than mailed because we have international guests). I am totally out of the loop when it comes to wedding ediquette. So is there a rule on this? Now I'm thinking I should find an ediquette site so I don't flub anything else up. I soooo obviously need this site. :)

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        • Please don't worry, it's definitely not essential. We didn't send out save the date cards, just went straight to invitations, and even they don't have much information on them, just the place and time and a website address where all the other information is.

          I have been to a lot of weddings in the last few years and can honestly say I have never received a save the date card, I'd never even heard of them before I discovered this site, in fact.

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          • Us too, even though it is a destination wedding we skipped stds. when we knew enough to do save the date, we pretty much had it all down so it wouldn't have made any sense to do an std and invite

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  5. Don't forget magnet save the dates! A great way to actually keep people thinking about the upcoming date and practical to boot! We DIYed ours by picking up some free "business cards" off Vista Print and sticking them to the magnetic business card backings you can get at office supply stores. Cheap and effective!

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  6. We only did save the dates because, while not a destination wedding, every guest except my parents and grandparents was from out of town.

    But we also put zero effort into them: we quite honestly couldn't be bothered finding time or room in the budget to do anything special (and mailing them meant postage from Taiwan, which meant that mailings of any sort were definitely out).

    So…we used the e-mail notification feature that came with our free wedsite.

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    • We're doing STD's for the same reason – most people will have to travel. So we wanted to give them a heads up. Also I'm SUPER EXCITED and std's have stopped me from sending the invites 9 months in advance! lol!

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  7. We printed out business cards and stuck them to a magnet. The business cards were free for us to print because my husband is a graphic designer. A box of 100 magnets was 15 bucks at staples. Voila!

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  8. This still doesn't actually answer the question of why save the dates are useful! Why not just send an actual invitation 6-8 months ahead? That's what we're planning to do. If you know these people are invited, why not just INVITE them? And if the problem is "oh it's too far out they might forgot" well a) uhh, these are our closest friends and family. Would they really FORGET our wedding? and b) if we don't get an RSVP by the date we asked for it by we am going to be emailing them and phoning them to bug them.

    So, really, what IS the point to "save the dates"?

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    • In some cases (like mine) all the details that an invitation to a destination wedding should have weren't even CLOSE to being ironed out. I had a date and location… and by location I mean "the island of Maui." I needed the next five months to find a location, book the reception, find locations and make reservations for the rest of the parties, iron out the times and look for hotels for my guests. Then three months before my wedding date, I was able to send out an invitation with all of those details. So, often times, the save-the-date is a time-buyer so your guests can get their shit straightened at the same time you do.

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    • We're in the same boat, Christa. We are inviting family members on the opposite coast that we're more than sure will come and others that we're pretty sure will not. We wanted a more definitive answer early on about who will and will not be able to make it to allow for List B guests to make their own arrangements to fly out to us. Date, time, reception, directions, and RSVP card were the pertinent stuff we needed to get out. We haven't quite sorted out accomodations yet so we listed some hotels within the area. We plugged our site in the inserts for guests to check on within a couple of months to figure out which hotels we decided to block rooms with.

      But I won't lie…. this blog really makes me apprehensive about NOT sending save the dates now, ugh.

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    • Because a.) yes, it does actually happen that people forget. They do. they really do. Even people who love you. It's not their wedding, and if they're not in the wedding party, it is sadly possible that they will forget. It has nothing to do with how close they are to you, and everything to do with the fact that they've got their own lives, too. Your wedding is not their end-all and be-all, even if they are excited for you.

      and b.) we got lots of "yes" RSVPs to our Save the Dates from people who ultimately couldn't come. 6-8 months ahead of time, people tend to be overly optimistic about their ability to come. That's because they love you and they really want to attend…so they sort of convince themselves that they can make it work when, really, closer to the date when the invitation usually arrives, they start to realize that it's not feasible.

      So…they're good when you have a lot of out-of-town guests who need to get things together, and good for preliminary number estimates without too much commitment to details for you, but that doesn't mean you have to spend a cent on them. Our no-fuss, no-cost STDs worked just as well as the cutest mailed pop-out cards.

      If your guests are mostly local or your wedding is small, then yeah, they're not really necessary.

      Just like with anything wedding-related, STDs aren't going to be right for everyone, or necessary for everyone…so they may really be something you don't need. That's cool. Just keep in mind that they sometimes serve a great purpose for others.

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      • Ah yes! I forgot about the whole "guest list changing as the date gets closer" thing. I had SO many people say "I'm there for SURE" when the save-the-dates went out. But once the invites went out… the yes RSVPs were half what they were eight months beforehand.

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        • thank goodness!!! i'm hoping that is our case!! our parents gave us WAY more people to invite than we were expecting, and while we're aiming for 100 guests, we currently have 178 on our invite list. it IS a destination wedding of sorts, and i'm really hoping that deters these "randoms" that i'd really rather not actually come.

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    • Actually, yeah — between sending out our STDs and invitations, my aunt called my mom to ask when the wedding was, again, because she threw out the STD. MY AUNT. Who is also my godmother. So yeah, some people will forget, even if they're your closest friends and family.

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  9. We screwed up on our STD cards big time (and by we, I mean him). Our STDs are just NOW being sent for our wedding in late May. Oh well, guess that narrows down the guest list a little!

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  10. We're having a destination wedding, so we sent our invites about 9-10 months before the event.

    We had 2 different invites: a video and a post-card, both made by my sister. Some of our guests had emails, some don't (like my grand mother!).

    We sent the link to the video in a short email, and mailed the postcards to the others. Boths linked to our blog. 3 months before the deadline to make reservation, we sent exactly the same things (email and postcard) with a mention «rappel amical».

    Here's our video, I LOVE it :-) hope the embed will work!

    Mariage from Catherine Dionne on Vimeo.

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  11. i just read this on 'disneyland brides' on fb, and i hadn't seen any9ne else post something like this, but thought it was a great idea and some of you might need this idea :)

    "I did the same thing as I had 135 guests to invite, so I had two groups of invitees. The 1st group was the only group to receive save the dates as once you send those out people expect to be invited. I sent out invites to the 100 guests that we really wanted and mailed out the rest as people responded with not being able to come. It means a slow trickle for the rest, but means no worries about too many people coming. I set Aug 1 and Sept 1 as my rsvp dates. I called/texted/emailed all the earlier rsvps at the end of last week. Luckily for me I am able to invite everyone on our list."

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  12. I can think of another few reasons to send STDs.

    If many guests will be traveling, especially internationally

    If you have very busy guests who book up weeks or months in advance. My most beloved aunt is always busy months in advance.

    If you didn't have an engagement announcement but would like to let people know asap.

    If you have nervous friends who need to know details very early. (I'm one of those people who like to have important things planned out in advance)

    If you have an unusual wedding or theme that people need to know about, like a cosplay or dress-up wedding. A friend of mine in the Storm Trooper 501st got a lot of thanks for letting people know 8 months in advance that it was a Star Wars cosplay wedding. People had plenty of time to make or put together costumes.

    You can also send STDs online to cut down costs. A good friend of mine sent all his out via ecard and I thought that was great.

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  13. These are great! but i had to show you my sis's save the date. I think it was great! She mailed the dvd to everyone – and it was a big hit:)

    http://youtu.be/JmPiskyh_1E

    ^ the video :)

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  14. My daughter was married last year by her husband's grandfather in their out-of-town church. Now, one year later, we want to have a big reception at home. What's the proper verbage for a SDT?

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  15. I definitely agree with the comments that STD's are a good idea if you have guests traveling a good distance. Our wedding isn't a destination wedding for US, but for the majority of our guests, it will be.

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