After getting engaged and having a few months to acquaint myself with the steps of planning a wedding (I had a 16 month engagement period), I was able to learn a lot in that time.
One of the main things I realised is that planning a wedding involves many little etiquette details that most people only need to use once in their lifetime. I want to make it easier for my readers by sharing my well researched wedding stationery tips, including showing you how to address save the dates for your wedding. Let’s jump right in!
My Save-the-Date Story
“It’s mid February when my Save the Date cards arrived in the mail, and I was sitting in my living room knee high in save-the-dates. My spouse and I chose an early 1900’s building for our wedding venue. Naturally we decided to have a vintage look and feel.
“I ordered our save the date cards through the online invitation company Minted and selected a style called Rustic Charm. Although these save the dates are called rustic charm, I think the lace edging will complement our vintage theme and help set the tone for the wedding.
“After unpacking, lining, and stuffing invitations into the envelope, I arrive at the point of addressing each one. This is when you would bribe your bridal party crew with good wine and tell them you have a project for them!”
How to Address Save the Dates
Since weddings are a once in a lifetime experience, most brides keep to the tradition and etiquette of formally hand-addressing their wedding invitations. However, in the age of electronic mail knowing how to properly address wedding stationery to different guests can be overwhelming.
The following is a helpful guideline with examples for addressing your envelopes:
Married Couple with the Same Last Name
Married - Wife Kept her Maiden Name
Hyphenated Last Name
Same Sex Couples
Unmarried couple living together
Addressing to a Family
Wife is a Doctor
Marries couple, both doctors
Husband is a Judge
Divorced female who kept her married name
Tips on Addressing Your Save The Dates
Follow these tips and guidelines in addressing your envelopes, to make sure you give guests a great first impression.
- Write out everyone’s full name and do not use nicknames or initials.
- Fully spell out all addresses that are under 20 digits in length.
- Fully spell out the state or province, unless it won’t fit on one line.
- Spell out all abbreviations such as Post Office Box, Avenue, Street, Apartment, etc.
- Do not use symbols (e.g., Spell out the word “and”).
- Mister and Misses can and should be abbreviated (i.e., Mr. and Mrs.)
- Use titles and full names for formal invitations. The most formal invitation use middle names, never initials.
- Don’t use texting habits to shorten words (i.e., see you there; not ‘c u there‘).
- Do not add “and family.” Clearly state who is invited on the envelope. Make it crystal clear for everyone so that there are no awkward phone conversations later. It also gives families with uninvited children ample time to plan child care options.
- If you are inviting someone with a guests, best practice is to find out the guest’s name and write it on the envelope and then mail it to the person you know. The words “and guest” come across as impersonal and will also alleviate any assumed invitees who were not actually invited. Of course this rule doesn’t apply if you come from a culture where enormous weddings of 400 or more are the norm. Some of the older etiquette books maintain that a “plus one”should get their own invitation if they don’t live with the primary invitee, but that seems much more time consuming and wasteful then to just send a single invitation to the guest you know. Otherwise, it is appropriate to add “and guest” after the guest’s last name.
- Print the host’s return address on the back flap of the envelope, but do not include the host’s name. Any apartment numbers should be on a separate line above the street address (i.e., Apartment 3C / 30A Park Avenue.)
Matching Save-the-Dates to Your Theme
Many couples wonder if they need to match their save the date cards to their wedding theme. For those who have not finalised a wedding color scheme or style yet, don’t worry. There isn’t a hard and fast rule that the save-the-date cards need to echo the style of the invitation.
If you do know what color scheme or style you’d like, go ahead and choose something with the same cohesive style. However, if you want to have a little more fun, it’s common for couples to choose creative save-the-date cards and leave the formality to the wedding invitations.
Either way, whether you’re looking to be creative or casual, or simplistic to save time and money, that is entirely up to you.
When do you send wedding save-the-dates?
Sending a save-the-date card has become standard for all kinds of weddings, and makes for a nice courtesy to you guests as it gives them more time to plan, especially if they have busy schedules, need to book time off work or even sale a little money.
The only reason one might not send a save-the-date card out is due to a short engagement period, say less than 2 months.
The ideal time to send out your save-the-date notifications is 6 or 7 months before the wedding. And for destination weddings, they can go out as early as 9 months prior. Sending them any earlier is unnecessary. If you are running behind in your planning, you can send them out as late as 4 months before the wedding. However, you don’t want your invitation arriving shortly after the save the date card. So any later than 4 months, simply send your invites out on the early side, around 2 month prior to the wedding.
What info should be included on Save-the-Date cards?
At this point you may not have all the specifics, and that’s okay. The save-the-date should include the following information:
- Names of the couple who are engaged to be married.
- Either “Save the Date” or some other phrase that lets the receiver know there is an upcoming wedding.
- The date of the wedding or dates for a wedding weekend.
- Location of the wedding. If you have not selected your venue yet, or you want to keep the location a surprise (that way your guests will learn something new when they receive the invitation), listing only the city and state/province is fine.
- For a destination wedding or a weekend-long event, include the dates and enough accommodation and transportation information so that guests can begin to make plans. Typically, accommodation information would include the hotel name, phone number, rates and the name on the rooms that have been blocked for reservation. For transpiration, include the names of the airlines that fly to that destination.
- Include a line that states ‘Formal Invitation to Follow’.
- (Optional) Can include a wedding website, but it isn’t necessary at this stage.
- Do not include an RSVP with a save the date. The save the date is solely to correspond with your guests and let them know that the wedding is coming on a certain date, which provides guests an opportunity to keep that day or weekend open in advance.
Oops! What if we send save-the-dates and then change the date or location?
In the unlikely event that you have already sent your save-the-dates with incorrect information, the best thing to do is to update the information on your wedding website. Then, I would probably personally call all of your guests to update them with the new information.
I lot of work, I know! But it is always best to speak to someone personally so that you know they understand everything. If you have a larger guest list to tackle, enlist your bridesmaids and bribe them with some vino to get the job done fast!
I hope that this information helps speed up the process of addressing your wedding save-the-dates! Don’t forget to bookmark this page for future reference because all of this info applies to addressing wedding invitations as well.
If you’re thinking to yourself, “Yikes, this sounds like a lot of extra work that I have no interest in doing!” another option is to find a stationery company that offers envelope addressing.
In fact, we know a great one called Minted, the online stationery company I used for my very own save-the-dates, which offers FREE matching envelope design and guest addressing. This will save you a ton of time for tackling other more pressing wedding matters!