3 things to be sure to include in your Save the Dates

January 17 | Guest post by kristenbyers

Chalk and Black Paper Save the Date Cards

Our Save the Date postcards turned out pretty well, and I have received many compliments. But if I could do them all over again, I would do a few things differently.

Here are the three things we should have included on our save the date postcards:

1. Our return address.

I guess postcards don't usually have a return address, and we didn't include them on ours. At first we were blissfully unaware that some of our postcards might not get delivered. This is becoming an issue as I find out that a few friends and relatives did not receive their postcards (and one woman who received a bridal shower invitation never received her save the date postcard prior to the shower invite, so she was really confused — yikes!).

2. "Formal invitation to follow."


As silly as this sounds, some people thought that this postcard was their actual invitation. I thought it was pretty clear that it was just a note to save the date, but apparently you can never spell things out TOO much.

3. The wedding location.

I didn't think it was necessary to include this detail since there is TONS of location information available on our wedding website, but people are still confused. I think this might have something to do with the photo that we used of the two of us kissing in front of the Brooklyn Bridge. (My fiance and I live in New York, and we flew our photographer out here to shoot our engagement photos. However, the wedding is in Michigan.)

So, return address, formal invitation to follow, and location… what information are you including on YOUR save the dates?

Still feeling unsure about your Save the Dates? Check out these posts for some inspiration and support:

  1. I just sent out our Save the Dates two weeks ago and I wish I would have seen this post before I did!

    We assumed people would understand what a save the date card is and that full invitations would be sent later – we were wrong.

    If I could do it again, I'd definitely include "formal invitation to follow" or something like that.

    9 agree
    • The reason why most people still confuse save the dates with invitations is because they have been receiving invitations only (and no save the dates) for decades and even so have managed to attend loads of nuptials. From the way I see things, the save the date thing has become more of a recent trend and therefore not so much "proper etiquette." So the many people who haven't been keeping up with any recent wedding trends are naturally going to be confused when they receive a save the date.

      12 agree
    • This happens even when you DO include "Formal Invitation to Follow"

      Some guests would ask me a question about the ceremony and I would say more information was coming in the "official" invitations… they replied "I already have an invitation?" thinking the save the date was the invitation even WITH "Formal Invitation to Follow" wording!

      Either way I still support using the wording since MOST people read the whole Save the Date. :)

      2 agree
  2. Ok, I did two out of the 3, but as I haven't mailed them yet, I think I can still put the return address on them! Thank you!

    5 agree
  3. I included all three bits, but I still had people asking how to RSVP when they let us know they'd gotten them. It says "formal invitation to follow" on it, but even spelling it out doesn't mean people will get it right away. It seemed most of the people who asked are friends of ours who are still unfamiliar with wedding etiquette.

    7 agree
  4. Ok, i hate to be that person, but does anyone have guests who are actually looking at the wedding website? I would never look up anyone's website, i know my family wouldn't do it, and I think I only have a small handful of friends that would check it out. Obviously it's not right for me, but who IS it right for?

    8 agree
    • As soon as I got a friend save the date last year I went straight to their website. I even RSVP's right then and there.
      So if you are wondering who it is right for, me: late 20's-early 30's lady who spends most of her day working online. I think most of our friends checked out the website too, so add slightly geeky people with iphones/androids.

      42 agree
      • I RSVPed on my cousin's wedsite, and she got angry that I didn't send the RSVP card back…

        2 agree
        • That's her faux paus and not yours, if there was an actual RSVP option on the website. Seems like silliness to me. Why provide that as an option if you want the RSVP cards back?!?

          11 agree
          • I won't be even doing paper RSVPs. Saves on postage. They'll go online or call a bridesmaid. Old school mixed with new school :)

            7 agree
        • We aren't even including an RSVP card. Our invitations have an "Information" card included that states at the very top that all RSVPs must be done on our website. We even have an app for our wedding that's linked to our website so people can RSVP on the website or on their phone via the app. It's saving us a bunch on extra invitation costs as well as postage.

          1 agrees
          • We are also fore-going the RSVP cards, and just providing an information card with the invitation, that tells them to RSVP by calling or texting either of us (with our phone numbers on the card).

            1 agrees
    • Most of our family is internet savvy, so we're dong RSVPs on our website. I think websites are more geared toward the younger generation who is already on the computer a lot

      6 agree
    • Maybe it's just a 20-something thing. I have looked at every wedding website I've ever been told about. I love them! There is so much info on there. I was even actively searching for a website for a couple of friends who got married last year and I was surprised to find that they didn't make one!

      13 agree
      • I LOVE that they can have so much information. We have lots of things that simply wouldn't fit on an invite. We get to save money by not having RSVP cards, and we get to let our guests know just what's up!

        6 agree
    • I looked up my ex's wedding website when I saw an invitation on a mutual friend's fridge. Yes, I'm admitting to a little cyber-stocking.

      5 agree
    • So we haven't had that many people look at our website…not a big deal, because it's pretty basic. However, we did have two people we never expected look at every page on our website: my fiance's grandparents, who I didn't know even used a computer!! It was totally unexpected…but nice that they checked it out, haha!

      2 agree
    • My demographic: mid 30s professional in the U.S. Whether I'm interested in other information, the one thing I always hit up a wedsite for is registry information. One of the greatest things in the land of Internet for me is that I can find a link to the registries, browse them, buy a gift and have it sent directly…all before the actual wedding. I also find them helpful for things like where to stay, something else I'll just book online.

      I sent our save the dates and people received them about a month ago. 70 sent for 125 total guests for a June 1 wedding. I've had about 30 visits to our wedsite, so far, which I think is solid. The other thing is that making the wedsite really wasn't difficult or terribly time consuming (and I'm not the most tech savvy person, the template was just easy to use), so even if nobody else visits it, I'm not going to have any morose feelings about "I worked so hard on this and nobody used it."

      7 agree
      • If you're looking at direct mail marketing stats that's a 42% roi! WOW! 3% is usually good. Well done. ;)

        8 agree
    • I used my wedsite for RSVPs (which saved us on the invite costs.) It also linked to our wedding registries (which we opted not to put on our invites), as well as directions/ info about the wedding day. There were a ton of benefits to sharing info this way— RSVPing was easy for people to do and for me to keep track of, and there were very few registry related questions directed my way.

      I also included fun stuff on the site- wedding party introductions, engagement pictures, our engagement story, etc- but that was mainly for my own enjoyment. It ended up getting read by quite a few curious friends and relatives who hadn't heard the full scoop. You can take or leave creating a wedding website, but it can be a really helpful tool!

      4 agree
    • I wish I had thought to include our wedsite address on our save-the-dates. We have more than a few guests who are flying in and need the extra time to find cheap flights, rental cars, and figure other logistics. Being able to see the location of our venue with respect to our hotel and the airport is a big help to them, especially since some are making the trip into a mini vacation and they plan on exploring the extended area. Because we didn't plan ahead and have the wedsite ready to launch, we instead had to contact all those guests individually with the details, which kind of defeats the purpose of the wedsite (they're all late-20s to mid-40s and internet savvy).

      0 agree
    • I actually didn't include my wedsite in the STDs. STDs go out like 6-8 months prior to the wedding! No one needs the information now. I wanted to get the STDs out ASAP, and didn't have the time to build a complete wedsite.

      Besides, who knows what details will change between now and then?

      3 agree
  5. I also had a problem getting them machine processed, as the formal invitation to follow was covered up by the mailing barcode on one side, and the wed-site was covered up on the other side. Get them hand processed or avoid putting important things near the bottom edge.

    5 agree
    • ohhhhhhhhh that stupid BARCODE! Yes, leave plenty of room on the bottom!!

      0 agree
    • Our post office refused to hand process anything. They said they just don't do that anymore.

      0 agree
  6. We used the URL of our wedding website as the vertical dividing line between the recipient address area and the message area on the back of the postcard. I thought we were being clever, and it was really pleasing from a design standpoint, but hardly anyone looked close enough to realize what it was. I realized this when we started to get a lot of "Do you have a website? What about a registry?"

    3 agree
  7. I put all of mine in envelopes because, to be fair, I didn't feel like I wanted names and locations and dates out there for anyone to see.

    I also sent mine out with Christmas Cards, so I was going to be using that letter rate stamp and return address anyway.

    I just wish I would have not typoed my year on the reverse.. October 2012 instead of 2013. I had people call to joke that they had missed it, even though it was correct and HUGE on the front.

    3 agree
    • I just flat out sent out cards with the wrong year on them… and the only person who called me on it was a friend who really didn't need one anyway because she never plans more than 2 days in advance. No one else even mentioned it (though I didn't send very many, only to the people who would need to travel)

      0 agree
  8. What are peoples' feelings on using photos on save the dates? Anyone else not a fan of doing this? Seems like everybody puts photos on theirs but I am uncomfortable with it – not sure what else to put on there though design-wise.

    4 agree
    • I actually love the photos…MrOhs and I just got invited to a wedding for one of his cousins, and I didn't recognize the groom's name, but I did recognize his picture. (I have met him! Phew!) So I think it's nice, especially for people who might know the bride OR the groom, but not both.

      2 agree
    • we made ours super simple to go in Christmas cards. We printed out on card 'our first names are tying the knot' 'please save the date 21/09/2012 in Gloucester' 'Invitation to follow'
      We then put a little stamp of a bike on it (as we both cycle a lot) cut out the card and attached it to a playing card then stuck little bows on the top. I then put holes in the cards and strung them up with string so people could put them on the Christmas tree.
      we're not really the kind of people to use a picture of us. It would have felt a bit weird to be honest.
      I didn't want to spend much money on them as I didn't think people would pay that much attention to them.
      The only questions i've had is one person asking where our registry is at. (we don't have one yet) and a couple of people asking. When is it again???? Its right there on the SDT! lol.
      I think simpler is better — the less info, the less to confuse people.

      1 agrees
    • Meh, we chose to have awesome-looking save-the-dates without using a photo at all (Royal Steamline ftw!). I personally don't like photos on stuff like that either, but that's just because we aren't photo people in general (I realized earlier this year that we don't have a single photograph displayed anywhere in our house…) so I don't think it's weird at all. I doubt anyone would notice. People aren't going to be thinking "why on EARTH didn't they use a photo!?!?", you know?

      5 agree
    • We didn't put a photo on our save the dates. The design we chose (from Minted.com) had a photo background, but the text itself was bright, graphic, and large. I made a "photo" of a charcoal-colored rectangle using Microsoft Paint and uploaded that as our background. They looked great!

      0 agree
    • We've done a vintage postcard style 'save the date'. The photo we've used is one I took of the view from where we're having our wedding ceremony – rolling green hills with mountains in the background, and no people. We have postcard style text on the front saying 'Come visit Castlereagh', and on the back text along the lines of 'Liana and Andrew are getting married on date XX at Castlereagh Hall please keep it free, we'll be sending out formal invitations later in the year'. This way people know where it is and can make travel arrangements, and the full details will come later in the year.

      0 agree
    • Ours were a cute design based off of the "Adventure Book" from Up on the front. I get that some people are uncomfortable having their picture and personal information go through the mail. Our Thank You cards are postcards, but we're still putting them in envelopes because it's a picture of us.

      0 agree
  9. Wow, either this post came too late or just in the nick of time! We already printed our save the date cards but I was already planning on including an additional slip of paper with our wedding website address on it. Going to add the wording "formal address to follow" as well!

    Of course, the one thing we almost forgot on our cards (helpfully pointed out by our friend who wound up designing and screen-printing them) was our NAMES! Let this be a lesson to always have a second set of eyes….

    1 agrees
    • We kinda did this with the Name thing, our return address stickers as well as our save the date, lacked our Last Names. And the "photo" of us was a commissioned piece of caricature art lol oops!

      0 agree
  10. We actually didn't do save the dates or invitations since we're keeping the wedding really, really small. We did send out wedding announcements in advance though, and I have been surprised how many people have interpreted that as an invitation. You really can't spell it out too much.

    0 agree
  11. We included all three of these things one ours and thought we had all of our bases covered. But 1) no postcards have been returned to our return address even though we know some people never got them and 2) many people think it was the invitation even though we explicitly said a formal invitation would follow. That said, at least everyone (who got the postcard) knows the location and the date. Disappointingly few people have visited our website (even though we explicitly said there was a lot more information there), although I expect this number to increase a bit as we get closer to the date itself.

    1 agrees
  12. I just got my save-the-dates from the printer, so I had a mini heart attack when I saw this article. Luckily, I included all of these things on my save-the-dates. Yayyy!

    0 agree
  13. We designed ours as postcards too. it wasn't until after I got them printed out that I realized I didn't leave a line for the return address. I also added "formal invitation to follow," but it ended up printing so small that I doubt anyone with bad eyes will be able to read it! lol
    I didn't add the location, since 1, there wasn't a lot of room, and 2, I didn't want the whole world to know what day and location our wedding was! The pictures we had didn't give away any noticeable location though.

    Strangely, no one called or anything commenting on them. I kind of wish they did though, just to make sure everyone got theirs!

    1 agrees
  14. I would also add to make the date the most prominent part of the card. I got all graphic designery with mine and made the date a little 00.00.0000 format one and a bunch of my family members told me aunt that they got the Save The Dates but that they had no date on them. Well they most certainly do!! But if I were doing it again I would either make it even bigger or spell it out SATURDAY AUGUST 17 2013.

    0 agree
  15. I had all that info on mine and people still were confused. You can't repeat these simple things enough. But even if you do there will be tons of people that still dont really get it, it made me start to think that all my friends and family couldn't read or were to lazy to read so they just asked. Kinda frustrating to say the least! Arg!

    0 agree
  16. The best save-the-date I have ever gotten was in the form of a refrigerator magnet so I am pretty sure that is the format I am going with. I felt like I was being repetitive but apparently people need that. I'm glad that I read this.

    2 agree
  17. When we got back the first draft of our save the dates, I realized I hadn't put our last names on them — good thing we had a friend making them for us and we could make a few quick changes!

    0 agree
  18. I was caught off guard by something stupid. I designed them and my FSIL polished them up with her mad skills and I printed them from vistaprint. Postcard size, with the intention of sending them as such. Then I started looking for aesthetically decent postage: fail. I hit multiple local post offices and all they had was Hawaiian shirt designs. Don't get me wrong, I can dig a Hawaiian shirt, but my wedding isn't in Hawaii or anywhere tropical. And the color and design of the cards would clash horribly. So, I looked into custom postage…cost was way more than first class postage. So I ended up just getting a floral design first class stamp. Upside: vistaprint included envelopes for free with my order, even though the cards were postcard size, so I used the envelopes and was able to put a handwritten note on the back of each save the date (mostly just a quick "we're looking forward to celebrating with you! Love, us").

    The moral of the story, check the availability of aesthetically pleasing postage in the rate you need if you're trying to save a few bucks using postcard stamps. ;-)

    0 agree
    • Those damned Hawaiian shirt stamps have been clashing with every (painstakingly chosen) postcard I send! I've started using two of them to mail bills so I can get through them and buy a new design. #firstworldproblems

      3 agree
      • I have to admit hesitating in posting this comment…I was terrified I'd missed something really obvious despite visiting multiple post offices, asking point blank if that was the only design in the country, looking on the USPS website, and googling the shit out of it. So glad the Hawaiian shirt shit show is real, not just something easily avoided I couldn't find my way around. First world problems, true, but we (thankfully and gratefully) live in the first world…so it's still a problem, just the kind I must remember be thankful to have. =)

        0 agree
  19. I forgot to put the location and it's kinda surprising to me how many people ask me where. We both grew up in the same town and now live in a town thirty minutes away, so I'd think it was a safe bet it was one of the two, which would require the same level of travel plans.

    0 agree
  20. my best friend did her rsvp's as postcards and alot didn't come back, it was only after she did this that her postman father mentioned that the post office doesn't use the same care with postcards that they do with other mail. So I was advised immediately against postcards when I did mine.

    2 agree
    • Glad you mentioned that. One of my good friends did postcard save the dates and lots of them didn't get where they were going. It gives me heartburn with doing seal and send invites.

      0 agree
      • You can use a moist/damp sponge instead of licking them all! They even sell envelope sealers that look like daubbers for bingo that include a little extra adhesive.

        0 agree
  21. We forgot the time on ours, luckily a couple of people emailed us for it. It was a mistake from being so tired of wedding planning.

    0 agree
  22. First and foremost: Great post! Seems there are a few of us out there who needed an extra reminder.

    Second is a silly question, but I'm am officially a bride-n00b: Why the return address? Wouldn't whoever you send it to want to keep it as a reminder? And could it be the return address that makes some people think it's the official RSVP?

    Going to send our save the dates out soon, but wasn't planning on getting them sent back. Am I missing something crucial?

    1 agrees
    • It's there to let the Post Office know where to send the mail back to if it can't be delivered for any reason. Otherwise, they'll have to trash your wayward invite and you'll never know that the recipient didn't get it. (Well, at least until they ask why they weren't invited…)

      1 agrees
  23. Ours had "Formal Invitation to Follow", the place (just our city and province), but we didn't do the return address. People still thought they were the actual invite, and no one looked at our wedding blog, so we've been bombarded with questions about registries, hotels, wedding party… I'm almost regretting sending them our at all.

    0 agree
  24. I'll put in a vote in favor of Save-the-Dates by email. We still said "formal invitation to follow" but I think email is less likely to be mistaken for the formal invitation.

    My fiance had the fantastic idea to ask people to "reply with your current address". This let us confirm that people actually read the email, and we got to collect or confirm some more addresses prior to sending the invitations.

    Email also allowed us to send two versions. Both included the town and state, but one also included a link to accommodations. We wanted people who would be traveling to have first dibs at the most convenient places to stay.

    As a side note re: who reads wedding websites – I definitely do. I get anxious in social situations, especially if they may involve complex rules of etiquette. Information helps, especially this kind of stuff:

    http://offbeatbride.com/2012/03/wedding-faq

    I may not know what to say to the bride's uncle in the receiving line, but I'll at least know where to park.

    2 agree
    • Do you send the formal wedding invitation to those who got back to you after receiving the "save the date" notice advising they are not coming?

      0 agree
      • It's a nice courtesy to send an official invitation to everyone who received a Save The Date.

        1 agrees
  25. So with our Save the Dates, we planned to send out a separate version to those not invited, but that we wanted to be aware of the engagement/wedding. I'm wondering what kind of wording should be on a wedding/engagement announcement for guests who are NOT going to be invited?

    0 agree
    • Wedding announcements are usually sent right AFTER the wedding takes place. I'm thinking that if you sent any kind of cards announcing your engagement or your upcoming wedding, the people you send them to would assume that they are invited to your wedding. This might cause confusion, resentment, & embarrassment. Dealing with people with their noses out of joint is a hassle you don't need when planning a wedding!

      1 agrees
  26. We didn't send save the date cards. We didn't send RSVP return cards. We didn't send announcement cards. They (for us) we all an extra expense, and going by the comments here, people still just get confused. We sent out an "A" list invites, and then a "B" list invites, because we had a small intimate wedding. The people on the "B" list knew they were able to come if others weren't. like for instance i had to invite my Dad's family, even though I knew none of them would attend (that's the short version, haha), but IF they did, it meant we may not have room for others. so i waited for all of them to say no, which they did, and then invited the people i actually wanted there!

    0 agree
  27. Include your last names SOMEWHERE – it can be on the return address, it can be with your names, it can be a pretty monogram in the background – someone, like your mom's co-worker or fiance's great-uncle, will have NO idea who you are if you don't include your last name.

    0 agree
  28. Only wish we had seen this before sending ours out. We should have really put "Invitation to follow" on it because many folks are treating the save the dates like invites. Some have already purchased plane tickets and gotten hotel rooms booked when they haven't received an address and time schedule yet. So we ended up having to explain things early to one family member who has a non-refundable flight to get on in the middle of the reception. Bummer! But hopeful she can swap the tickets for another flight.

    0 agree
  29. Doh! I forgot to include "Formal Invitation to Follow". But this is how I did mine:
    I picked a style of Save The Date postcard on a wedding invitation website, personalized it using their tools, and then used a Snipping Tool to save the Preview Image to my computer. I then sent that image in a group Facebook message to all the people I am inviting, whom I have as friends on Facebook. My mom lives with my fiance and I, so she doesn't require a reminder, and I emailed the image to my Dad since he doesn't have Facebook. My Aunt and Grandparents will not receive a Save the Date at all, since they don't even email. They will receive a formal mailed invitation like everyone else, including a simple RSVP information card, that asks for RSVP by call or text, to either myself or my fiance. Postage stamps here in Canada are now $1 each, so I'm glad my wedding is small and I only need to send out less than 25 invitations!
    Technology FTW!

    0 agree
  30. If you aren't having children at your wedding DEFINITELY include this on your Save the Dates. It bit me in the arse when we sent out the invites with it, regardless of the fact the parents had been told…

    0 agree

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