The Differences Between Save-the-Dates and Wedding Invitations, Explained

Learn why these wedding stationery pieces have different purposes.

<p>Photo by <a href="">Karen Hill Photography</a></p>

Once you and your partner have booked a venue and set your wedding date, you can let your guests know that they can mark their calendars for the big day. As you begin to look into wedding stationery, you might be curious if you should send a save-the-date card in addition to a regular invitation. While sending this piece of mail isn't required, it is an incredibly helpful source of information for both couples and guests.

"Sending save the dates is such an important part of the planning process, especially for those hosting a destination event," shares Sneh Diwan, founder and creative director of Diwan By Design. "They are great reminders for family and friends to request time off, book any necessary travel in a timely manner, or simply see if they are even able to attend based on their overall work and life schedule. To go a step further, they can also help set expectations as a guest as to what you are investing in terms of your total spend (i.e. wedding gift, travel and accommodations, outfits, etc.)."

"Overall, it is a good nudge for your guests in making the best decision when RSVPing, but also lets the couple get a good sense of how many people are actually going to attend their wedding," notes Diwan. Responses from save-the-dates can allow couples to offer invitations to people on their wedding guest B-Lists if anyone in the first round is unable to make it.

Want to learn more about the differences between save-the-dates and wedding invitations? Ahead, we break down what sets these two pieces of stationery apart.

Learn More: What to Include in a Wedding Invitation Suite

What Information Is Included on Save-the-Dates and Invitations?

The primary difference between a save-the-date and a wedding invitation is the amount of information given to guests. A save-the-date is an official announcement of your wedding date and location, and it lets guests know that they are on the guest list and a formal invitation is forthcoming. This note doesn't have to include name your exact venue if it is not locked down yet or if you're not ready to share. Simply giving the city of your destination can suffice, especially in the case of a destination wedding where many guests will have to travel.

Meanwhile, wedding invitations include more details like the time of the ceremony, the dress code, and the wedding website URL. The suite could include inserts with information on whether a guest is invited to a rehearsal dinner, where to find the registry, maps of the venue area, and RSVP cards.

When Are Save-the-Dates and Invitations Sent?

Save-the-dates and wedding invitations are sent at different times. A save-the-date is sent ahead of the invitation suite to give guests notice that the formal invite will arrive later. These can be mailed (or e-mailed) about four to six months before a wedding. However, if you are hosting a destination wedding, you can send a save-the-date up to a year in advance to give guests a heads up. Meanwhile, wedding invitations are sent much closer to the actual wedding date. They are usually sent six to eight weeks ahead of the big day.

Up Next: 7 Common Wedding Invitation Etiquette Mistakes Every Couple Should Avoid