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General Wedding Etiquette
The save the date you send out will be the first stamp you are putting on the theme and style of your wedding. Sometimes save the dates can be sent out up to a year ahead of the date, so don't be too specific at this stage in regard to details.
For the sake of this article, we're going to assume that you have already got your save the dates in front of you, or at least have an idea of what you want it to look like. If you don't, then please see our article on save the date ideas to get you started.
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What Details to Include?
Whether you are having a formal or informal wedding, the approach is pretty much the same in regard to the save the date wording. There are actually very few hard and fast rules on save the date etiquette, as they are a relative newcomer to the wedding scene; so don't worry about that fussy aunty who likes things "just so", as the more formal approach isn't required until you send out the wedding invitations.
The idea of a save the date is to just let the guests know the event is happening, when it is, and that you would love them to come. Add "Invitation to follow" at the bottom and that should be enough. Including too much detail at this stage is not only unnecessary – it could well change before the big day, so keep it simple.
Depending on the details you already have ironed out, you could also include the venue, and perhaps a website address if you have one set up.
Save the dates are used frequently when the wedding is going to take place in a destination away from home, or even overseas, so obviously a little more detail is needed here. You can either leave it as a simple save the date, and use an insert to include more specific travel information on flights and accommodation, or you can include this on the reverse of the save the date card. This is also where an event website comes in handy (especially for a formal wedding), as you can bypass this step and just include "Further information on travel and accommodation can be found at our website" – keeping your save the date neat and to the point.
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How and When to Send?
When you send your save the dates out depends on if you are having a destination wedding or not. If guests need to book flights then sending your save the dates out up to a year ahead is the best plan of action. If you are just giving your guests a "hey don't arrange anything else on this date", then you can leave less of a gap.
Should you make the save the dates yourself? Printing your own save the dates is fine for a less formal wedding, but a formal wedding should have professionally printed save the dates, although of course you can still design them yourself. A formal wedding is also likely to use a standard save the date template, as opposed to a unique save the date idea like using a luggage tag.
Adding a signature to the end of the save the date, or a personal message on the back is acceptable if you are having an informal wedding, and using address labels is acceptable whether you are having a formal or an informal wedding.
Depending on the style of your save the date, you could either mail it out as is - postcard style - or you can insert it in an envelope. Either is fine, and is also dependent on other details or inserts you are mailing your card out with. Usually the formal approach would be to use an envelope.
Do make it clear who is being invited. Of course this may change due to separation and so forth, but you need to make sure the recipient knows that their partner is invited too, otherwise they can't really make suitable arrangements. It is perfectly acceptable save the date etiquette to include "and guest" on the envelope.
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Any Other Questions
We've tried to cover most questions you will have in regard to etiquette for save the date announcements, but please let us know if there are any other areas we haven't covered.
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Rebecca Black, Etiquette Now: www.etiquettenow.com
Wedding Etiquette for Save the Dates, http://www.ourmarriage.com/html/save-the-date.html
Red save the date: bella8688/photobucket
Save the date luggage tag and blakc & white save the date card created by the author.
Etiquette for Save the Date Cards
This article series brings together everything you need to know about save the dates. We cover the best free save the date templates available, how to make your own save the dates, save the date wording, and save the date etiquette, as well as some alternative ideas for your save the dates.