What to include in your save-the-dates and wedding invitations, and when to send each

What to include in your save-the-dates and wedding invitations, and when to send each
Insider spoke to an etiquette expert about wedding invitations and save-the-dates.Irina Lev/Getty Images
  • Sending save-the-dates and wedding invitations can be a complicated and costly process.
  • Insider spoke to Anne Chertoff, the chief operating officer for Beaumont Etiquette, about what couples should include in their save-the-dates and invites and when to send them out.
  • Chertoff also told Insider how couples can select their guest lists and create rules to limit plus-ones or kids at their weddings.

Inviting people to your wedding seems like a simple task, but it can actually be quite time-consuming and complicated.

You have to figure out who to invite, send save-the-dates and formal invitations, and make sure everyone RSVPs.

That's why Insider spoke to Anne Chertoff, the chief operating officer for Beaumont Etiquette, about everything engaged couples should know about the wedding invitation process.

Save-the-dates should be sent at least eight months before the wedding

Chertoff told Insider that save-the-dates should not be sent any earlier than six months before the wedding invitations, which go out six to eight weeks before the wedding.

That means the save-the-dates need to be sent around eight months before your wedding, at the latest.


A save-the-date card should list the date, time, and location (city and state) of the wedding.

The save-the-dates should not include the wedding venue or start time for the wedding, Chertoff said. The cards shouldn't have a spot for people to RSVP, either. Those details, as well as an RSVP note, will instead be listed on the invitation.

What to include in your save-the-dates and wedding invitations, and when to send each
Save-the-dates should be sent around eight months before the wedding date at the latest.Alexandre Tome / EyeEm / Getty Images

It's also appropriate to include a link to your wedding website or registry on your save-the-dates, but Chertoff advises against including the registry information on the invitation.

"It can be viewed as though you're expecting a wedding gift in exchange for their attendance at your wedding," Chertoff said.

Before sending your save-the-dates, make sure everyone is on the same page about who to invite

You don't have to invite anyone to your wedding that you don't want there, but there are conventions around who you're expected to welcome on your day. For a traditional wedding, the guest list typically includes your immediate family, close relatives, and friends, Chertoff said.


Even if you know a loved one has a conflict with the date and won't be able to make it, you should still send them an invitation. The gesture of inviting them is important even if they can't attend.

"They will formally RSVP that they cannot attend, and perhaps include a lovely note, too, for you to have as a keepsake," Chertoff said.

She also recommends that couples coordinate with their parents about who should be invited to the wedding, particularly if they're paying for the event. Couples can give their parents a number to tell them how many of their friends and relatives they can invite.

What to include in your save-the-dates and wedding invitations, and when to send each
Coordinate with your parents when making your guest list.Jacobs Stock Photography Ltd / Getty Images

If your parents want someone there that you'd rather not invite, you should be open about it.

"If the bride or groom has a strong reason as to why someone should not be invited to their wedding, it's important to calmly and clearly explain to parents your thoughts and feelings around it," Chertoff said.


When a couple pays for a wedding themselves, they may not have to worry about who their parents want at the event - but Chertoff still thinks it's a good idea to include parents in the process so they don't feel alienated.

"While you want to make your decision clear, it's important not to hurt anyone's feelings," Chertoff said. "Be direct and explain why you've made your choices."

Read more: I'm a professional bridesmaid. Here's what happens after the wedding's over, when things can get complicated if the bride wants to stay friends.

Don't be afraid to set rules about plus-ones and kids at your wedding

Your wedding should be the party of your dreams, and you shouldn't feel obligated to cater the event to others.

That means you don't have to let people bring their kids. More and more couples are opting for child-free weddings, as it creates more of a party environment.


You can list your no-kid rule on your wedding website or leave out guests' children's names on invitations. However, that might not stop some guests from trying to bring their children anyway. In that case, Chertoff recommends being as clear as possible on the no-children rule.

What to include in your save-the-dates and wedding invitations, and when to send each
You don't have to invite children or give your guests plus ones.Blend Images - Kyle Monk/Getty Images

"If someone RSVPs with their children, call them and explain that while you love their kids, you have decided not to invite anyone's children to the wedding," Chertoff said. "If you're offering to have a sitter on-site at the venue, let them know. If you decide to invite some children, nieces, and nephews of the couple, for example, let it be known that you're only inviting those children and why."

You can also create parameters to limit the amount of plus-ones who are the wedding, Chertoff said. It's best to make a concrete rule about who gets to bring a date to the event so no one questions your choices.

For example, you could only allow guests to bring a plus-one if they're engaged or living together, Chertoff suggested.

Be prepared for your wedding stationery to take up more of your budget than you're anticipating

Invitations and save-the-dates are pricier than you might expect.


According to a study conducted by The Knot, the average cost of wedding stationery was $590 in 2019. Save-the-dates took up about $150 of that amount, and invitations and RSVP cards were $280 on average. Other paper needs, like thank-you notes and place cards, are also included in the cost of wedding stationery.

If you opt to work with a calligrapher to create custom invites, it could cost between $5,000 and $8,000, according to Brides. The price doesn't vary that much based on how many guests you invite. Rather, the cost changes based on the type of paper you choose and how you get the items printed, as Brides reported.

Although some invitations require large chunks of change, you can find invitations that fit your budget.

It's a good idea to mentally prepare yourself to spend close to $1,000 on your stationery, and be sure to shop around before committing to one package.

You can read more about the ins and outs of planning a wedding here.