Save the date vs invitation: which is which? What’s the difference between a save the date and an invitation? Let’s find out! But first, subscribe… it’s free!
Save the date vs invitation: what’s the difference? That’s the question we received from bride-to-be, Ashleigh, and her fiance, Mike. She writes,
“Hi Emmaline, I have a question! People keep telling us we need to send save the date cards but I am not sure what the difference is. Shouldn’t we send invitations? Do we send a save the date and an invitation? I’m so new to all of this and could use your help. Thanks in advance.”
Save the Date vs Invitation
First of all, great question, Ashleigh! It really isn’t a question of if you should send a save the date OR an invitation, but rather if you should send a save the date AND an invitation.
You always send an invitation; a save the date is optional, but highly encouraged.
What’s the difference between a save the date and an invitation?
The save the date card and an invitation are two different things. What is the difference between the two? Consider the save the date as more informal greeting which reveals you’ve set a date and location of your wedding.
The invitation is a formal card that informs guests of the pertinent information about the wedding day itself: the time, actual names of venues, choice of dinner entree, dress code (i.e. black tie or semi formal or cocktail), etc.
Does a save the date mean you’re invited?
Yes. You should only send a save the date to a wedding guest who is on the list to be invited.
When should you send save the dates or invitations?
There’s a big difference between save the date vs invitation timing.
A save the date is sent ahead of time, not long after you’re engaged and have selected a date and venue.
As a rule of thumb, the main purpose of a save the date is to give your guests advance notice to keep the date locked in their calendar, plan for travel arrangements, accommodations with work if necessary, etc. to attend your wedding. This is especially important to send if you are planning a destination wedding).
Guests love to have a heads-up in the event of busy summer wedding weekends, or if your wedding falls on a long holiday weekend, or if the wedding takes place on a Friday. In fact, most guests appreciate receiving a save the date before the invitation as a way to prepare for the exciting event ahead.
Save the Date or Invitation First?
The save the date is sent first!
Now that you know the difference between a save the date vs invitation, one of the biggest things to remember is the timeline of when they are mailed.
The save the date vs invitation timing is quite different:
• Save the date cards are sent approximately 4 to 6 months before the wedding
• Invitations are sent 6 to 8 weeks before the wedding.
Does a save the date have to match the invitation?
No, your save the date card doesn’t necessarily have to match or coordinate with your wedding invitation or decor. If it does, great! However, you’ll be mailing save the dates so far in advance that you may not even have a color palette or theme nailed down just yet, and that’s OK.
Is there a save the date invitation combo?
Good idea, but no: they should really be kept separate, as they are mailed out at two very different times.
If you wish to make things more efficient for guests, you can get a wedding website (it’s free here) to keep your guests apprised of any updates to the big day, additional information like accommodations, your registry, upcoming events, and more.
Do save the dates have to match invites?
Remember, another big difference between save the dates and invitations is the formality.
• A save the date is informal and more casual. There are less details on a save the date card (keep it a little secret!)
• A wedding invitation is formal and includes everything guests need to know about the wedding.
You can coordinate the save the date with your invitation, but it’s not a requirement.
RSVP on save the date or invitation?
The RSVP is only placed on the invitation, not the save the date card.
Do you have to send save the date cards?
You don’t have to send them, as there’s no rule that states you must send a save the date card.
However, it is highly encouraged because it’s a great way to spread the excitement to guests, let them know well ahead of time they are invited, and give them the opportunity to set the time aside and make sure they can attend. I don’t see a reason NOT to send them. :)
Where to Shop Save the Dates vs Invitations
You are a pro now and know the difference between save the dates vs invitations! Now you can shop both in one easy place — and yes, you can even get matching sets! We’re rounding up some of our favorite save the date cards and invitations to show you the difference.
As illustrated in these designs, save the dates are much more succinct and shorter than invites.
As a reminder, you can coordinate the designs if you like… or go completely unique on the save the date and choose something else for your invitation.
All of these save the dates have matching invite sets and are all available at Minted here.
This bold date card is one of my favorite designs! By ThatGirlPress.
Love this matching invitation set (via here!) The save the date:
… and here’s the matching invitation set:
Want to see more designs? Check out this collection, it’s amazing!
P.S. Newly engaged? Check out our wedding planning podcast!
P.S.S. Also, be sure to check out these new engagement gifts!