Tradition decrees that save the dates be sent on fancy, expensive stationery and via snail mail. This requires spending almost as much money and time as you would on wedding invitations, literally just to tell people a date and general location for your wedding. Unlike a wedding invitation, there is no need to RSVP, provide logistical details or a link to a website, or anything else. It’s difficult to justify all of that $ and effort simply to disseminate one simple piece of information. But don’t despair, e-Save-the-Dates save the day!
It’s 2017, and people use their email every day. Not only is it easier to send info to people electronically, it’s also easier for them to receive it and reply instantaneously. This is especially helpful for gathering mailing addresses, should you be sending paper invitations later on.
This post outlines four aspects of sending electronic save the dates: why and when to send them, where to find them, and how to design them.
Why Send Save the Dates
While it’s no secret that The Backyard Wedding is not a fan of superfluous wedding conventions, save the dates are one I can get behind. You want your family and friends to attend (ostensibly), so it’s important to get in front of their travel plans and other obligations to guarantee their attendance. Wedding invitations are traditionally sent only 6-8 weeks in advance (which, by the way, I disagree with, but that’s for another post), so if you left it to your invitations to get a head count you would certainly miss out on some of your main people. Which brings us to…
When to Send e-Save-the-Dates
Save the dates are typically sent 4-6 months before your wedding, and 8-10 months before a destination wedding or a wedding that falls on a major holiday.
I just can’t stay away from staying away from tradition! Our wedding is local to most of our guests and I will be sending out save the dates nine months in advance. Why not? The sooner you notify people, the more likely they are to attend. I know that I plan my vacations freakishly far in advance– sometimes up to a year in advance, so I would want to know a friend’s or family member’s wedding date as soon as possible. Unless you are planning a last-minute wedding, the traditional timing of four months in advance seems to cut it way too close, in my opinion. In sum: send your save-the-dates whenever you feel it is appropriate; don’t feel the need to wait until a certain date to send them.
Where to Find e-Save-the-Dates
After a couple hours of research, I’ve discovered that there just aren’t a whole lot of options for companies with e-Save-the-Dates that had decent design. I found only two that were worthy: Paperless Post and Greenvelope. (Nope! I am not getting paid by them to say this.) Both have varied designs, similar pricing, and an easy-to-use website. Pricing methods and unique features are as follows:
Pricing: Works using “coins” (more info below). Your average e-card’s accessories, like the envelope, liner, etc. can be well customized for about 4-5 coins, and at that rate the coin packages are approximately $35 for 60 invites, $42 for 80 people and $55 for 100 people.
Features: Each optional feature you add tacks on an extra coin or two. While you can’t typically move around graphics on design templates, you can add fun stamps to the card to make it your own, and custom card accessories like a backdrop or envelope liner. These additions bring up the cost from the standard two coins per card, and chances are you will want to customize these aspects of the card. I was able to do almost all the custom features on an e-save-the-date for a grand total of 5 coins.
Pricing: Base price of $30 to send to 60 people, $40 for 80 people and $60 for 100 people when using the template provided for a particular card. You can definitely get away with a nice card without adding on customizations.
Features: Unlike Paperless Post, you can customize certain elements of the card, such as text color or placement, for an extra fee. This can quickly double the price you are paying for your e-cards, so probably best to just stick with a template you like. However, they do not charge extra for envelope liners, and other customizations that Paperless Post does, though their base rate for the invite is higher.
How to Design Online Save the Dates
The first step in choosing your e-Save-the-Date is to narrow down your options. Both Paperless Post and Greenvelope have an overwhelming number of designs to choose from, so my advice is to start by deciding whether or not you want a photo of you and your sig-o on the card. I’m just not into the romantic photo thing, so I was able to scroll down to the options on the left-side bar on both Paperless Post and Greenvelope and select “no photo.”
As you peruse the designs, try to find one that you like without needing to change elements. While Greenvelope does enable you to change a card template (such as the placement of the “permanent” text or the background color on the card), it can get so pricey that I would advise against it and just go with a design you like as is. For example, some save the dates have a large, central “Save the Date” written on them that is immovable; I found a design I liked but preferred that me and my fiancee’s names were in the center of the card rather than the words “Save the Date,” so I had to move on from that one.
Once you’ve selected a card design, you will need to fill in your text. A couple key points about what to write:
- As mentioned earlier, some prefer that “Save the Date” is the focal text of the card, while others prefer their names to be central. For that too-cool-for-school look (my MO), you can choose not to write “Save the Date” on the card at all as it’s probably pretty obvious why you are sending a card with you and your fiancee’s names on it, a date, and a location. (Opinionated aside: For some reason I feel like having a big fat “SAVE THE DATE” jump out upon opening the card is either mildly cheesy or mildly garish. It’s either like you’re yelling, “YOU BETTER SAVE THE DATE, MOTHERFUCKER” or like you’re just too into those kitschy wedding phrases. Why am I so cynical, why.)
- This card is not only about the date of your wedding, but also a general location. If you don’t know your venue yet, wait until you do before sending out save the dates. The purpose of them is to allow people to start looking at flights and making travel plans to the wedding location.
- It’s a good idea to include “Invitation to Follow” on the card so that wedding amateurs don’t confuse this with your invitation.
- Do not include your registry info on the card. Very bad.
- If you are super on it and already have your wedding website ready to go, include that on the card. However, it’s not necessary.
- Don’t worry about matching your save the date themes to your wedding colors or other themes. It’s early in the planning stages, perhaps the first thing you are even doing, and you are not expected to have thought through all of that yet (and perhaps you never will, which is all good).
After designing your card, you will want to make sure you select the option to have Paperless Post or Greenvelope collect mailing addresses from everyone IF you plan on doing paper invitations. (See this post on electronic invitations if you think this might be an option for you).
Last but not least, here is the e-Save-the-Date card and background that I went with. I liked that it was casual, simple, and gender-neutral/not too traditional-girly.
Good luck on planning your electronic save the dates, and I’d love to hear your thoughts below!