This question came up during a recent consultation, so we thought we would give you our advice. Save-the-dates are something that have really become popular over the last 10 years or so. They can take the form of a postcard, a magnet, or a wide variety of other possibilities. They are typically sent out about 6 months prior to the wedding date and serve as a heads-up to the guests that you plan to invite to your wedding. They provide just the basics about the wedding; the date, location (city and state is generally enough), and maybe the address for your wedding website so they can stay up-to-date.
Save-the-dates have become very popular but aren’t a necessity for every wedding. We recommend sending them if you are having a destination wedding or if your wedding date is during a busy time, such as a holiday weekend. We also recommend them if you have a lot of out-of-town guests invited to your wedding. A save-the-date will allow guests to plan for a trip, save up money for plane tickets and/or hotel rooms, take off time from work, etc. They have become a nice way to alert the guests that (1) you are getting married, (2) they will be invited to the wedding, and (3) the date and general location they will need to plan for if they attend.
Although they aren’t a necessity they do serve as a nice way of alerting your guests to your plans. Guests that aren’t surprised by an invitation 4-6 weeks before the wedding and can use that extra time to plan the trip, are generally more likely to attend because they knew about it in advance.