Save the Dates vs Invitations and Their Roles in Your Wedding

Learn differences in roles, wording, and etiquettes between save the dates and wedding invitations. We help you navigate through your wedding correspondence.

So you’ve locked in your date — congrats on getting your first big wedding planning item done! Now, as you’re dreaming up what type of decor will look best at your venue, popping the question to your bridesmaids, and going dress shopping, it’s time to start thinking about your wedding stationery.

As with all things wedding-related, the traditions you choose to embrace and the ones you choose to skip are totally up to you — and that’s true for save the dates and invitations! In this article, we’ll dive into everything you need to know about save the dates and invitations so you can decide what works best for you, your wedding vision, and your budget. So keep reading to dig into the differences between the two, including what information they typically include, who to send them to, and when they’re sent.

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The Purpose of Save the Dates and Invitations

The core purpose of both save the dates and invitations are the same: to communicate the details of your wedding day to your guests. But there are some key differences.

Save the dates, which are sent before the wedding invitations (we’ll get more into the exact timing of when both are sent later in this article), are a way for you to get your wedding date on your guests’ calendars while you iron out the finer details of the day. They’re meant to communicate when and where your wedding will be to allow your friends and family to plan in advance if they need to book travel, request time off of work, or find child care. Save the dates are also a great way to announce your engagement and get your guests excited about your wedding.

If the role of your save the dates is to give your guests a heads up that they are invited to your wedding, the role of the invitation is to actually invite your guests to your wedding! Invitations will include all of the details that a guest will need to know about your big day, and will request an RSVP so that you can get a final headcount to your vendors.

What to Include on Save the Dates vs Invitations

The level of detail you choose to share about your day in both your save the dates and wedding invitations is totally up to you. Below, we’ve outlined what information each typically includes, but you can choose to omit many of the finer details if they don’t apply to your wedding.

Save The Dates

Wedding Invitations

  • The names of the bride and groom
  • The wedding date (including year)
  • The city or destination of the wedding venue
  • Wedding website (if you have one)

  • The names of the bride and groom (full names for a formal invitation)
  • The wedding date
  • The address of the ceremony and reception
  • The start time of the ceremony and reception
  • RSVP instructions
  • Hotel information
  • Itinerary if you’re having multiple events (welcome party, rehearsal dinner, goodbye brunch, etc.)
  • Meal selection instructions (if you’re having a plated dinner)
  • Instructions pertaining to children (note if the wedding will be child-free or if children are welcome)
  • Dress code
  • Plus one information
  • Wedding website
  • Wedding registry information
  • The names of you and your partner’s parents, if they are hosting the wedding

Formats of Save the Dates and Invitations

The level of detail you choose to share about your day in both your save the dates and wedding invitations is totally up to you. Below, we’ve outlined what information each typically includes, but you can choose to omit many of the finer details if they don’t apply to your wedding.

Save the Date Formats

Save the dates are typically much simpler than wedding invitations (though, again, the sky's the limit with all things wedding-related!). Usually, the save the date is an envelope containing a single card that shows off your favorite engagement photo — or a few photos, depending upon the design — along with your wedding date and location.

In addition to the traditional single-card format, there are a few trendy twists on save-the-dates you can explore. Postcard-style save the dates are a great option if you’re looking to save a bit of cash on wedding stationery, as guests’ addresses are printed directly on the back, allowing you to skip envelopes. Save the date magnets are a fun way to encourage your guests to mark their calendars, and are great for more casual weddings. Or, if you’re looking for something with a bit of extra flare go for a vellum-wrapped save the date. This style consists of a vellum wrap printed with your names, wedding date, and location, that is layered over a high quality print of one of your engagement photos. For more fun save the date format ideas, you can check out our full save the date inspiration guide!

Invitation Formats

Though the rise of wedding websites have allowed couples to pair back their invitations if they want to, typically wedding invitations consist of multiple cards — called an invitation suite — due to the amount of information to share with guests.

Invitation suites can include…

  • The main invitation. This card contains the wedding date and the start time and addresses of the ceremony and reception, along with language like “You’re invited to the wedding of…” or “Your presence is requested at the wedding of….” (The wording you choose to include on your invitation can go a long way towards setting the tone for your big day, and we recommend reading our full guide to wedding invitation wording to learn more.)
  • RSVP card & pre-addressed envelope.This small card is what your guests will complete and send back to you to let you know if they’ll be able to attend your wedding. Usually, the card includes a space for their name, a space where they can mark if they are accepting or declining your invitation, an area where they can mark if they are bringing a plus one, and an area where they can share their meal preferences.
  • Reception card.If your wedding ceremony and reception are taking place at two different venues, it is wise to include a reception card with the details of your party in addition to your main invitation. These cards will sometimes also include directions for how to get from the ceremony venue to the reception venue.
  • Wedding itinerary card.If your wedding is a multi-day affair, this card can be included to share information about the start times, locations, and dress codes of events like welcome parties, rehearsal dinners, and goodbye brunches.

Invitation suites can also feature accessories like beautiful envelopes, separate envelope liners to add a bit of flair when the cards are opened by your guests, and belly bands to help hold all of the individual cards in your invitation suite together.

When to Send Save the Dates and Invitations

You can send your save the dates as soon as you have your wedding venue and date finalized, but, typically, couples send save the dates twelve to eight months before their wedding. This allows guests enough time to plan travel, and ensures everyone should have plenty of advance notice to prioritize attending your big day.

Wedding invitations, on the other hand, are traditionally sent six to eight weeks before the wedding (though it is advisable to send them up to twelve weeks before the wedding if you know guests will be coming from abroad). This allows you enough time to have the finer timeline and details of the day finalized, while still giving guests plenty of time to RSVP.

What Guests Need To Do

Beyond displaying it on their fridge, nothing is expected of your guests when they receive your save the date.

Wedding invitations, on the other hand, typically require guests to RSVP within a certain time frame after receiving the invitation. Traditionally, RSVPs were mailed back (which is why RSVP cards are a part of larger invitation suites) to the couple, but many couples now choose to direct guests to their wedding websites to RSVP. For guests that are attending, you may also ask that they make a meal selection, provide the name of their plus-one (if they are bringing one), list any dietary restrictions/needs, request a song, or share a message.

Now that you understand the differences between save the dates and wedding invitations, it’s time to start designing the wedding suite of your dreams! Minted offers thousands of save the date and wedding invitations designed by independent artists from around the world — all of which are customizable, allowing you to build a wedding stationery suite that feels perfectly you.