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Save the Dates: Why and When to Use

Sarah Reuangrith

Today I will be continuing my party planning blog with a look at when to use save the dates and why they are good to use.  If you are new, be sure to check out all the party planning articles I have written so far: Party Planning 101.

Save the Dates: Why and When to Use

Before we get too far along, I want to mention that when I say save the dates I am referring not just to the formal announcements you get in association with weddings but any informal or formal way of letting people know to mark the date on the calendar in anticipation of getting an invite.  

Why do we use save the dates?

We use save the dates for the most part because we want people to attend our event.  By providing information to our guests in advance, we increase the chances of them attending as they do not double book themselves.  Essentially we are telling them to mark the date on the calendar as they will be invited to attend and we want them to be there.

Why not just send the invite and skip this step?

In some cases this is fine.  Not every event needs to send out a save the date.  Perhaps your event is next week so it would be overkill to send out a save the date when the invite will go out right away.  Typically save the dates are used for the following scenarios:

  • The event is happening a long time from now: Say you are getting married next year.  It is too early to send out an invite (typically you send them out a couple months before the event) but you want to be sure the important people in your life can come.  
  • Travel is required: If you are getting married in Toronto or have lots of guests that will need to travel for the wedding it is a good idea to provide a heads up so that they can make travel arrangements in advance (watch for seat sales, find accommodation, etc.). 
  • Vacation Time Needs to be Reserved: If you are holding your event out of town, over several days or on a day people would normally be working, you might want to give advanced notice as people tend to plan how to use their holiday time at the beginning of the year.  Knowing your wedding is happening means that they can take one less day for their fishing trip and attend.
  • It's Expensive: Maybe the venue you selected is a golf course that has a strict dress code that most of your family couldn't meet or you are getting married out of town and guests need to pay for a hotel.  Giving them lots of time to budget and look at different options will make everyone a lot happier.
  • They are VIP's: we discussed this a bit in our article on Picking a Date and Venue so you may have already been in touch with the must have people but it doesn't hurt to reevaluate and make sure you haven't missed anyone.  This is also the opportunity to expand the list so that it includes a few more people you REALLY want to attend.

At what point in our planning do we sent out save the dates?

Once you have the date, venue and time locked down is when you should send out the save the dates.  At this point you are pretty committed that the event will be moving forward and have enough information that guests can correctly put the date on the calendar.  

What information do we include?

The simple answer is that you include all the information that you have.  You know the date, the start time and where this is all happening.  Don't worry about sending information about where to stay or a detailed list of events.  That can come later with the invitation.  You do want to send enough information though that your guests can start working on getting the vacation time, money or get used to the idea.  Remember, the whole reason you are sending the save the date is that you want this person to attend.  Put yourself in their shoes and provide all the information you would need to put it on the calendar.

Who do we sent them to?

Here is something really important: don't send save the date information to people who you are not sure will be invited.  This sounds like common sense but you would be surprised how many people get over excited about the party so tell everyone about it before finalizing the guest list.  This is really not a good idea!  If the guest list is still up in the air, only send to the people you know will be included (close family and friends) and leave the distant relatives and co-workers off the list.  This doesn't mean they won't be invited, it just means they will get all their information when the invite comes.

If your event is not happening for a year or longer, be brutal about the guest list before sending save the dates.  A lot can happen in a year and you don't want to have a falling out with a friend and have to invite them because you sent a save the date or perhaps you switch jobs and now have a bunch of old co-workers on the list.

Keep track of who gets a save the date as these people MUST be invited to attend the event.  It doesn't mean they will accept the invitation but they still should receive one.

Sending save the dates

How you choose to send the save the dates will depend a lot on how formal your event is.  If this is a really formal event, then mailing your save the dates is probably best.  Whereas if your event is a backyard BBQ for some close friends, sending a text or email is probably fine.  This is really up to you.  The important thing is that the information is communicated to your guests.

Incorporating your theme

Don't forget to include a little bit of your theme into the save the dates.  This is the first chance your guests will have to see what the party will be like and gives them a little taste of what to expect.  For Example, use your wedding colours on the announcement and use language suitable for the event (formal event, use formal language).

For example, your event is a western themed backyard BBQ happening next month.  You might sent a quick text to your best friend who works out of town a lot telling them to stay in town so they can attend.  Instead of saying "Hey, I'm having a BBQ on..." say "Howdy Partner, I'm having a BBQ on ..." 

Wrap up

I hope this helps explain when and why we use save the dates.  Was this helpful?  Let me know your feedback in the comments.


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