By Jean Bachcroft
Save-the-date cards have just one purpose: to give your wedding guests plenty of notice, so they’re sure to make it to your big day! These are especially useful for brides planning to marry during the holidays, or any time you need your guests to mark your date on their calendars months in advance. And if you’re inviting out-of-town guests who’ll fly in for the wedding? They’ll need lots of time to make the necessary travel arrangements — especially if they’re overseas.
You should send save-the-date cards to all your intended guests when either of these situations apply. Yes, even to those friends and family members who you’re already sure will attend. On the other hand, if you’re not 100% positive you’ll be inviting a certain someone (or couple), then by all means, skip the save-the-date. And there’s really no reason to splash out for save-the-dates when all your guests live in town … or your wedding’s during a time frame where everyone has a clear schedule anyway.
Planning and Sending
Once you have all your wedding plan basics in hand, place your order with your stationer. Custom-printed cards can take up to three weeks, so give your stationer plenty of time. When to mail them out? About six months before the wedding date. You can order save-the-date cards to match the rest of your wedding stationery, or go with a completely different look. But if your wedding follows a theme, you might want to hint at that with the very first piece of paper.
Getting Your Guests’ Attention
Some brides-to-be really want these cards to be eye-catching: not least, so that busy guests will pick them out from the junk mail! If this describes you, look for something unusual, like scratch-off cards or custom magnets (refrigerators make great reminders of your special day). Or maybe you’ll want to make your own cards, using one or more of your wedding colors, a theme-based design or a photo.
You can buy save-the-date cards online, or at stationary stores. You can also make your own with a card-design software program. Michael’s Arts And Crafts stores sells a program called “Wedding Invitation Kit” that costs less than $25. It’s mainly designed for invitations, but it handles note cards too.
Since this is your first written contact with most of your guests, you’ll want your save-the-dates to make a good impression. Make sure that you spell each guest’s name correctly. If you’re not sure how to spell someone’s name, look it up! Or ask someone reliable.
Then in the save-the-date itself, include the date, time, and place of the ceremony along with any other information your guests will need.
Here’s a sample notice:
Please save the date of Saturday, June 25, 2012, 2 PM, for the wedding of Mischa Barolo and Jacob Herman in Rochester, NY. Invitation and directions to follow.
Always follow up with the wedding invitation, which you should mail about six weeks before your date.
Things to Avoid
Keep in mind that these cards only do one thing. Don’t include unnecessary information like directions, rehearsal dinner details, or registry details (Remember: if you do plan to include registry info, the only place to do so is a shower invitation. Better yet, simply rely on your friends and family to get the word out.)
And since you’re not looking for response, don’t include a reply card. Last but not least, try not to e-mail your save-the-date information, especially for formal weddings. Of course, there’s always an exception to every rule!