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Save-the-date announcements are an increasingly popular way for couples to proclaim their impending nuptials to friends and family.  If you are considering sending these announcements, here is a basic primer to get you started.

Form– The wonderful thing about save-the-dates is that they can be created in many different formats to suit your needs and creativity.  They can be sent as postcards, refrigerator magnets, formal announcements, or through a postage and paper-saving e-card/invitation website, such as pingg.com.  Consider incorporating one of your engagement photos and/or another eye-catching graphic related to the wedding theme or otherwise meaningful to you as a couple.

Function– You should plan to send a save-the-date 6 months prior to the wedding, or 8 months for a long-distance or destination wedding.  It should include your first and last names, wedding date, wedding location, and the URL of your wedding website if you have one.  If you know many attendees will need hotel rooms, make arrangements for room blocks far enough in advance that you can include this information as well.

Etiquette– First of all, please know that save-the-date announcements are not required or expected.  They are simply an option you may choose for yourselves.  If you do use them, a general rule is that you should only send save-the-date announcements to individuals you definitely plan to invite to the wedding.  It is then courteous to send the announcement to everyone who is invited, even if you know for sure those people (such as immediate family and the wedding party) plan to attend.  Finally, the way you address the announcements should make it very clear who is invited.  For example, if your friend is allowed to bring a guest, address the announcement to “Jane Smith and Guest.”  If your cousin’s whole family is invited, specify, “John, Sarah, Mark, and Ann Doe.”

Sending accurate save-the-date announcements well in advance will greatly free your time to focus on other wedding preparation details as the big day draws closer.