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When to Send Save the Dates & Wedding Invitations: Your Complete Guide

Not sure when to send out your save the dates or wedding invitations? We've got everything you need to know here

A suite of wedding invitations in pink, navy blue and white on a pink background scattered with white petals

For many, one of the crucial parts of a wedding is having all of your loved ones there to share it with you, that’s why knowing when to send wedding invitations is so important.  

Understanding when you should send out your save the dates and wedding invitations ensures the best chance that your family and friends will be able to join you on the big day. 

These invitations are essential for your guests, as they provide crucial details such as accommodation booking information, whether it's an adults-only affair, and the dress code — essentially everything they need to kick-start their planning process!

7 Questions About Your Wedding Stationery Timeline Answered

Wedding invitations tend to have a lot of etiquette around them, from how to correctly word them to who should actually receive one. This guide will break down exactly when to send your save-the-dates and wedding invitations, so your guests can mark their calendars with confidence. Plus, we'll share some insider tips to save you time and money at the post office – because who doesn't love that?

We’ve also put together a handy FAQ section below which will answer any burning questions you may have, as well as a wedding stationery timeline.

1. When Do You Send Out Your Save the Dates?

A navy blue wedding save the date with gold foil detail displayed on a log slice on a pink textured backdrop

Save the dates are typically sent out six to 12 months before your wedding day. The top end of this is preferable as it gives your guests the most time to prepare and change their plans if necessary. Once your venue and wedding date are confirmed, there's no reason to delay sending out save the dates. Anytime from eight months to a year before your wedding is ideal.

It can feel sneaky, but if you're at the age where there are lots of weddings each summer, you want to get yours in the diary first. This means if another wedding comes up on that day, your friends are committed to yours first... 

2. When Should You Send Wedding Invitations? 

There are two different timelines for sending your wedding invitations depending on whether you already sent save the dates.

If you haven't sent save the dates, wedding invitations should be sent out four to six months before your wedding date.

If you have sent save the dates, wedding invitations should be sent out at least eight weeks before your wedding date. Under no circumstances should wedding invites be posted with less than six weeks until the wedding. The sweet spot is typically three months before your wedding, as you need to allow plenty of time to get those RSVP

For guests requiring travel arrangements, we highly recommend sending them even earlier — ideally more than eight weeks in advance. This allows enough time for guests to request time off from work, secure accommodation, and make necessary travel arrangements.

3. When Should You Send Out Save the Dates & Wedding Invitations for Destination Weddings?

A wedding stationery suite with an arch shaped wedding invitation topped with a wax seal

When it comes to destination weddings, the timeline for sending out save the date and wedding invitations differs significantly from that of local weddings. 

Nick Harris, Chief Dream Maker at Just About Weddings explains: "For destination weddings, which we frequently organise, we recommend sending invitations as early as possible. In fact, as soon as you have a confirmed date, it's advisable to send them out. This allows guests ample time to plan their trip and discuss with their families whether they'll be attending just the wedding or making it into a family holiday."

“When it comes to sending wedding invitations for destination weddings, we would suggest aiming for around 12 weeks in advance. However, we believe that setting up a wedding website offers even greater benefits. Many destination weddings span multiple days with various activities like tours, excursions, dinners, and brunches.

"A wedding website allows for easy updates on all event details and gives guests the opportunity to RSVP for each activity. This level of engagement and information sharing is challenging to achieve with a traditional paper invitation alone."

4. What is the Point of Save the Dates?

The purpose of save the date invitations is to ensure that your guests mark their calendars well in advance for your wedding, especially if it's during a busy time of year like peak summer season. These preliminary notices are crucial for accommodating guests' busy schedules, allowing them to plan holidays and events around your wedding date. 

While some may view save the dates as an unnecessary expense, they serve a significant purpose in providing early notification. You can send gorgeous affordable e-vites through sites like Paperless Post or make your own on a free design site like Canva. Emailing or even WhatsApping them to your guests is a fab eco-conscious choice and it makes sure they don't lose the save the date.

That said, there's nothing better to set the tone for your wedding than a physical save the date. You can choose the same design as your future invites and give guests a taste of what to expect from your wedding. Either way, a save the date is pretty important if you're marrying at a busy time of year.

5. Who Do You Send Save the Dates To?

Save the dates should only be sent to guests who are invited to your whole wedding day. You do not send them to guests who are only invited for the evening reception. It can be very misleading and awkward if you send a save the date to an evening-only guest.

Nick Harris says, “Save the dates serve a specific purpose: to notify guests of the entire wedding day's events and secure their presence. For everyone to have a great time without any confusion, it's best to only send save the dates invitations to guests invited to the complete wedding celebration.

"For those attending only the evening reception, a separate, more concise notification closer to the date outlining the specific details of the reception is more appropriate.”

6. Should You Send a Save The Date Invitation to Evening Guests? 

"We advise against it. Evening guest invitations are sometimes subject to alterations, which can complicate matters. Additionally, couples may not wish for evening guests to misconstrue their invitation as an invitation to the entire day's events. This potential misunderstanding could arise, especially if they've received a save the date," adds Nick. 

There are a couple of elegant ways to invite your evening guests to your wedding. One formal option is to send a separate evening reception invitation with all the details—date, time, location, and how to RSVP. This makes it clear they're invited to the evening do. Or you could take a more laid-back approach with a phone call, email, or digital invite specifically mentioning the reception and extending the invite. 

Timing-wise, aim to send these out 4-6 weeks before the big day to give everyone enough time to plan. Having an RSVP option, even if it's informal, helps with sorting out the final arrangements. And if there's any dress code or other info they need to know, including that ensures everyone's on the same page and your wedding day goes smoothly for all your guests.

7. Do I Have to Send My Wedding Invitations By Post?

A simple wedding invitation displayed on a soft piece of fabric

More couples are choosing the eco-friendly route of digital wedding invitations, but the majority will still send paper invites by post. Etiquette dictates that all your invitations should be mailed, so even if it's going to your next door neighbour or your parents, you post it. No invites should be delivered by hand. 

There's some tips you should know before you send off your invitations:

  • How much do your invitations weigh? Put together one full invitation, along with all the enclosures, and take it to your post office to get weighed and sized, so that you know how much postage will be required for each invitation.
  • Can you avoid the sorting machine? Not every post office will offer this, but it is worth asking when you go to send them off if the post office can hand-cancel the invitations. Hand-cancelling means adding a postal mark by hand over the stamp so that it cannot be reused. Most of the time this is done by machines at the sorting office, but they can damage stuffed envelopes and leave dirty marks on them. If it can't be done, then let them go through the machine - no one remembers the envelope anyway.
  • Protect your wax seals. Candle wax seals are accepted by the Royal Mail, however, there is a high chance they can get broken en-route to your guests. If you're sealing your invites with wax seals, we'd recommend they go inside another envelope to protect them.
  • Can you reduce your postage costs? With a large number of letters to go out, you might want to think of ways of reducing your costs. One way is to use second class stamps, but you will need to factor the extra time these take to arrive into when you send your invites. You can also choose smaller, simpler designs that don't need to be sent as large letters. Consider what extras need to be in the invitations too - can your RSVPs be done online rather than in the form of response cards? Can you have FAQs on your wedding website rather than an information card?

Your Wedding Stationery Timeline

Follow this free wedding stationery timeline if you're stuck on when to send your wedding invitations and save the dates. 

Wedding stationery timeline depicting when to send your save the dates and wedding invitations with a month by month breakdown

Your wedding stationery timeline should look something like this:

  • 10-12 months before - start your free wedding website
  • 8-10 months before - finalise guest list and addresses and send out save the dates
  • 4-6 months before - order your wedding invitations (don't forget your RSVPs!)
  • 2-3 months before - send out your wedding invitations and get your on-the-day stationery (such as menu cards and your wedding guest book)
  • 6-7 weeks before - order your order of service, place cards and rehearsal dinner invites (if you plan on having a rehearsal dinner)
  • 1-2 months after - order and send your thank you cards

If you need to know how to word your wedding invitations, we've got wedding invitation wording templates you can copy.