The Scoop on Invitations + Save the Dates

So you recently got engaged, and have finally sifted through dozens of friends and family members to form the perfect guest list! But now what? You’ve set a date and a location, but what steps do you need to take to now pull your guests into the loop? 

If you’ve found yourself lost in the world of invitations, asking “When am I supposed to send these out?” or “Why do I need both save the dates AND invitations?”, we’ve laid out some helpful tidbits to answer your questions and steer you in the right direction!

wHat's the difference between invitations and save the dates?

First off, save-the-dates are not always necessary.  As destination weddings and bringing in out of town guests have become a more popular choice, so have save-the-dates.  Their purpose is solely to provide an extra notice further in advance for those who will have to make extra travel accommodations.  Thus, if you’re having your wedding in Nashville and most of your family is from Michigan, then it would be smart to include them.  Conversely, your small 75 guest wedding in your hometown with only your closest friends and family definitely doesn’t require this extra step.    

Secondly, save-the-dates typically only include a date and a location.  At this point, RSVP information is not needed.  Invitations, on the other hand, must include the date, time, location, and appropriate RSVP information.

When should I send them out?

Typically, save-the-dates should be sent out anywhere from 6-8 months in advance.  Again, the earlier you can inform out of town guests or family, the better. However, it’s important to send them only after you have completely finalized and gotten your hands off the guest list. You don’t want to make the mistake of sending a save the date to someone you end up taking off the invitations list.  After save the dates are sent out, invitations should then be sent out 6-8 weeks in advance. 

What styling options do I have?

If you were a bride getting married 10-20 years ago, the norm would be to use very traditional invitations – the solid white or ivory background with a formal font, a separate RSVP card inside, and two layers of envelopes for both personal and formal addressing. Still today, some brides choose to go with that more traditional route, so this is certainly an option!  But don’t feel bound to it.  Because the current wedding culture has led more and more brides to having non-traditional, creative weddings, invitations have begun to reflect this! 

In deciding which style you want to go with, you should first consider the style of your wedding as a whole. If you go the less traditional route, think of your invitations as a chance to show guests a glimpse of your special day.  For example, if you’re going for a more rustic wedding with endless hanging lights, your invitations are an opportunity to reflect that! Here’s one example of a bride that wanted her invites to match the overall tone of her wedding:

On the other hand, sticking with tradition is a perfect option as well.  Some brides simply prefer this—especially if their wedding is going to be traditional!

For those who are torn between types of styles, including save-the-dates may provide the freedom to do traditional invitations but still have a personal, stylized save-the-date. This may entail including an engagement picture, or using a pretty background. There’s definitely not a rule that says save-the-dates have to match invitations, or even match your wedding.  It is ultimately up to you as a couple to go with what you want, and the options are endless. .  As long as your guests can be adequately informed of your date details and have a chance to RSVP, the creative freedom is yours!  

Happy Planning,


Images by:
Jeorgimages, Amy Allmand Photography,
K.Schultz Photography/Two Monkey's Rental &
Jessica McIntosh Photography