Save-the-date notes are somewhat of an odd addition to the modern wedding planning extravaganza that can put a lot of pressure on a planning timeline. Obviously couples need to tell their guests about a wedding in advance so those beloved people can plan to attend (this was especially important for us since our wedding was on a holiday weekend). But making this happen by sending a snail mail accoutrement at the “appropriate” time ended up being a little bit of a challenge for our very short wedding timeline.
When Are You Supposed to Send Save-the-Dates?
We had chosen May 28 for our wedding date because we wanted to have the wedding before “high season,” which typically occurs in the summertime*, and we didn’t want to wait another year. (This is one way of forcing yourself not to dilly-dally on wedding planning; it’s the rip-the-Band-Aid-off technique, and it worked pretty well for us.) But, having gotten engaged at the end of November, we were on a time crunch from the start.
Deviating from the Norm
Counting backward from our wedding date, we “should have” been sending save-the-dates around the end of January to give the minimum recommended amount of notice of four months. But to send save-the-dates, you must know the where and the when of the wedding day. So, after we put down a deposit on our venue on January 24th, solidifying our location and date, we were already somewhat “behind schedule.”
I use quotes around these phrases because nowadays, weddings are really whatever you make of them. However, the thing about cultural norms—like save-the-dates—is that they do help people know what to expect even if they’re not in close contact with you throughout the process. For example, knowing that I’ll receive a save-the-date at least four months in advance assures me that I will be able to plan to attend a very important event of someone I love. While there’s nothing wrong with going against cultural norms, per se (hey, that can even be pretty fun!), it’s worth evaluating the reason behind those norms and making sure you’re considering those reasons, even if you’re not addressing it in the “expected” way.
In an effort to communicate the requisite information (the reason behind save-the-dates), we decided to email our family and friends on January 25th so that calendars could be marked. For us, this was a super simple, casual email that looked like this:
This allowed us a tiny bit of breathing room, which we gulped up like lemonade on a hot day. We finally got around to ordering the hardcopy save-the-dates on February 20. After a round of digital proofs, expedited shipping, and acquiring cute postage, we sent out our save-the-dates on March 2. Whew!
*Note: a May 28 wedding is solidly in the range of “wedding season,” but we were still hoping to steer clear of everyone’s summer vacations and possibly avoid additional difficulties reserving vendors that might be booked in the summer.