Save the dates should be sent at least 6 months in advance with the invitation to follow 6-8 weeks in advance. If you are planning a long-haul destination wedding I suggest sending save-the-dates up to 12 months in advance so guests can make travel arrangements, schedule time off work, and plan financially. You don't have to send save-the-dates to everyone. If you only have a few guests that will be traveling from out of town you can send them to those guests only. Remember, local guests only need 6-8 weeks notice in the form of a wedding invitation.
The information included on a "save the date" card is the couples name, the wedding date and location, "formal invitation to follow" and a wedding website if you have one. Some of the most popular formats are a small insert in an envelope, magnets and postcards.
Here are a couple of guidelines and tips when considering your save-the-date:
Keep it consistent
I know it's tempting when your in a time crunch to quickly throw something together for your save-the-date, but you should make sure this piece is just as considered as your invitation. Keep in mind this will now be the first glimpse into your wedding and it should have a consistent "look" with the rest of your stationery. It might seem like a small detail, but doing it right will make a big difference!
Are you getting married in a unique location or venue? Are there certain aspects of your wedding that you can link to your save the date? Below is an example of a couple getting married July 2011 on Pender Island, B.C. The bride decided to incorporate a ferry ticket since all the guests will be taking a ferry to the Island. I designed the ticket similar to a photo she found of an actual ferry ticket and used a heart hole punch to note the month and day of the wedding.
Make a Statement
Even though save-the-dates usually come in small packages there is no reason you can't wow your guests. I love the idea of creating something usable that your guests can interact with. What about doing a mini calendar that the guests can use at the same time as counting down the days until your wedding!
Utilize Engagement Photos
If you have engagement photos that you want to feature in your wedding stationery, save-the-date cards are a great way to do so.