Destination Wedding Save the Date Etiquette

Curious about destination wedding save the date etiquette? Learn everything you need to know from wedding expert Zola.

By The Zola Team

Destination Wedding Save the Date Etiquette
Photo by Zola

The First Look ✨

After what seemed like forever, you found them. The one. Together, you’ve shared bountiful seasons. You’ve stayed up way too late, laughing and making memories. You’ve ugly-cried in front of them. Now you’re ready to plan your wedding day as a couple. After talking with your partner, you’ve landed on a destination wedding.

You want to find somewhere special, somewhere extraordinary to celebrate your big day. But you have no idea how to get started. That’s why we’re here!

This handy guide aims to help you and your partner figure out:

Is There Destination Wedding Etiquette?

The short answer is… definitely! A destination wedding is a long-awaited getaway for you and your spouse-to-be but your guests are still faced with plenty of logistical considerations. They’ll need enough time to make travel arrangements, request time off work, and arrange for childcare if their kids aren’t invited.

Following proper save the date etiquette gives your guests enough notice to budget for the trip and secure a boarding pass.

Proper Destination Wedding Save the Date Etiquette: Everything You Need to Know

At a wedding, what to say can be as important as how you say it. There’s certain information your guests need, so it’s paramount that you follow a short checklist to create a quick, easy template for your save the dates.

What Information Should You Include?

A save the date for a destination wedding needs to be concise, pointed, and digestible. When it comes to the information you want to include, stick to the basics.

  • Names: The most important detail. Make sure the save the dates include your and your partner’s full first, middle, and last names.
  • Wedding date: Next, recipients need to know what day they’re getting married. When selecting your date, remember to keep your destination in mind. It might be spring here, but it could be fall where you’re getting married.
  • Wedding destination: Location, location, location. Tell your recipients where you’re going for your ceremony.
  • Shorthand travel plans: Tell recipients how to get where they need to be. List info about airports, car rentals, and directions.
  • Wedding website: Once you’ve set up a wedding website, include the link on your save the date card.
  • When to expect the formal invitation: You are saving the date card is not a formal invitation. Let recipients know when they should be checking their mailboxes for the official wedding invitation.

Should You Include an Information Packet With the Save the Date?

If you feel like your guests need more information about your wedding, information packets can be incredibly helpful for guests that might not be tech-savvy. In the info packet, include travel accommodations and tell recipients about nearby airports.

If need be, ask for help from family members to make travel arrangements for grandparents. If you and your partner plan to offer financial assistance with travel, say so in the info packet. Talk with your partner and decide what’s best for you as a couple.

When to Send the Wedding Save the Dates

Your guests will need time to make their travel plans, including flights, accommodations, car rentals, and any at-home logistics they’ll need to arrange while they’re gone, like childcare or pet sitters.

For a traditional wedding, save the dates are usually sent four to six months before the wedding. For a destination wedding, guests should have at least six months. In a perfect world, you’d send your destination wedding save the dates eight to 10 months before the big day.

However, if you give more than a year’s notice, your guests might not be able to make arrangements to attend, as hotels often limit their advanced bookings to a calendar year.

How Early Should You Order Your Save the Dates?

When ordering you save the dates, the sooner the better. Once you and your partner have set a wedding date, it’s time to experiment with different designs for you to save the dates.

The design of your destination save the dates says a lot about the theme of your wedding. It’s your first chance to express the ethos of your wedding, relationship, and future. With Zola, you can order samples to see in person so you can make an informed decision about the look and layout before bulk ordering.

Who Gets a Save the Date?

With destination weddings especially, you and your partner will need to strategize about the guest list. To ensure you’re surrounded by loved ones on your big day, approach your invite list in this way:

  • Determine the ideal size of your wedding: Size restrictions can be a blessing in disguise when creating a guest list. It’ll help guide your decisions about who has to be there and who doesn’t quite make the cut. - If you’re going for an intimate wedding, start by inviting immediate family—parents, siblings, and grandparents—then branch into best friends. - For something a bit bigger, you can extend your list to include extended family and good friends. - If you’re throwing an all-out ball, then you’re going to need a lot of saving the dates.

  • Sort your loved ones into lists: It can feel strange to “rank” your friends and family, but sometimes it’s the only way to make tough decisions.

    • Create an “A-List” of guests that have to be there for your wedding to feel complete and send them to save the dates.
    • Create a “B-List” of people that you’d like to have in attendance but you could live without. If your A-Listers cancel, you can send out additional invitations to those on the B-List.

Creating Your Destination Wedding Save the Date

Now that you’ve selected a destination, it’s time to create a save the date card that embodies your upcoming wedding. With Zola’s extensive suite of pre-made and customizable designs, it’s easy to find a design you love almost as much as your spouse-to-be.

Choosing the Design: Drawing Inspiration from Your Big Day

You are saving the date is an opportunity to announce your destination wedding with flair. That could mean incorporating the location itself into your design, with tropical accents for a Cozumel celebration or crisp nautical embellishments for the New England coastline.

You can also incorporate the season into your greeting, using holiday-themed greens and reds for a December wedding or muted pastels for a spring ceremony.

Custom Tools That Can Help

Need some help with your save the dates? No problem. Here at Zola, we offer more than 400 customizable designs. Our selection comes in a variety of styles and colors to suit your wedding’s palate, with exciting embellishments and add-ons, including:

  • Magnets so that your guests can stick your save the dates on the fridge
  • Foil for an additional decorative touch
  • Letterpress for classy, raised text that adds a sense of sophistication

Ordering Your Save the Dates

Once you’ve created a design idea you like, it doesn’t hurt to try before you buy. To see Zola’s samples ahead of time, just follow these three simple steps:

  1. Pick up to five different designs
  2. Customize your cards with your photo and details
  3. Have your samples shipped at no cost to you

Once you’ve checked, double-checked, and triple-checked the design and details, you can go ahead and place your order. The standard price for most designs is $129.00 per 100 cards, and orders can take as few as five days to arrive on your doorstep.

Zola Tip: If you’re in a hurry, expedited shipping is also available.

Your Wedding Website: The Complement to Your Save the Date

A mobile-friendly wedding website is a quick, cost-effective way to keep your guests up to speed on all your wedding news. This is especially important for destination weddings because there’s just no way that you can include every critical detail on your one-page save-the-date cards.

To supplement your save the dates, here’s what to include on your wedding website.

The Itinerary

Tell your guests what you’re doing and when you’re doing it, and create a detailed schedule of the wedding day events. List addresses, phone numbers, and websites. Consider using Google Maps to drop a pin at specific spots. Include additional phone numbers for members of the wedding party if guests need help.

Flight Information and Resources

Let your guests know about the adjacent airport. Give specific flight numbers, times, and ticket prices. Share the airport’s website and important phone numbers. If need be, provide a link to Google Maps with directions.

Car Rentals

Post links to different car rental agencies near your destination. If helpful, encourage wedding party members to network to make carpooling easier.

Recommended Lodging

If you can, ask for input from friends or family members. If someone you know has been to your destination before, they can recommend places for guests to stay. You could also curate your list based on online reviews and recommendations. Be sure to provide various options at different price points so that there’s something for every guest.

Your Registry

On your wedding website, include a list of everything you and your honey need (or want). Feel free to post links to your favorite local shops or online retailers. Nothing is guaranteed, but you can’t get it if you don’t ask for it.

Downtime Activities

If your destination wedding happens over a long weekend or holiday, you might have downtime. If guests want to show up a day early or stay late to tour the area, clue them in on the local scene:

  • Share social media pages of local restaurants, clubs, and bars.
  • Post links to attractions, historical monuments, and parks.
  • Create a list of activities your guests can do to keep themselves entertained (and to experience the new locale!).

Longer Stays

Some of your guests might want to stay for longer. Maybe they’ve decided to create a vacation out of the endeavor. Some guiding “vacation routes” might be a pleasant surprise to see on your website. Additionally, it might entice guests to extend their trip.

Contact List

Members of your wedding party will have questions. You and your partner will do your best to field them, but you’re planning a wedding—your schedule’s pretty full. Consider designating someone else (father, sister, maid of honor, etc.) to help with questions. Then, provide their contact information.


Create a page on your wedding website for FAQs. Talk with your partner to come up with questions that might arise. Answer them as best you can. Get the family in on this one, too. There’s no way you can think of every single question someone might ask. Be prepared for some doozies.

A few questions might include:

  1. Will there be vegan and gluten-free options at the wedding reception?
  2. What’s the best place to get local food at your destination?
  3. Does the hotel allow pets?

Example Save the Date Destination Themes and Creative Ideas

Below are a few themed save-the-date design ideas for your destination wedding to help jog your creativity.

#1 Island Destination Theme

An island destination theme is ideal for the gorgeous weather. If you’re looking to get married during the winter months where you live, consider a tropical escape that is sunny and warm.

You can easily match your save-the-date cards to the cool, white, sandy beaches by selecting a matching color palette. There are also opportunities for appropriate design embellishments like seashells, palm trees, and sugary mixed drinks sprouting tiny pink umbrellas.

#2 Mountain Destination Theme

A mountain-themed destination wedding provides more seclusion for you, your partner, and your guests. It also comes with beautiful scenery, perfect for breathtaking wedding photos against a snowy wonderland backdrop, and tons of activities to keep your guests entertained.

Greenery saves the dates provides a simple but on-theme way to tie in the scenery of your wedding with the design itself. Another option is to use a black and white card that matches the pristine white snow your guests will find all around them.

Summer mountain weddings are just as stunning, paired perfectly with whimsical and botanical save-the-date cards that match the blooming flowers, mountain lakes, and picturesque views.

#3 City in Another Country Theme

If you’re traveling to a major global city for your wedding, you already have a built-in option for your save-the-date designs: the landmarks and scenery of your stunning destination city. Maybe you want to highlight the lights of Paris, the white and blue backdrop of Greece, or the sophisticated fashion sense of Milan.

As you plan the wedding itself, don’t be afraid to embrace the uniqueness of the city’s culture, including authentic cuisine, wardrobe, decor, and even customs.

Zola: The Destination For All Your Destination Wedding Needs

At Zola, we want you to have the perfect wedding. Everything we do is in the service of love. That includes templates for all your paper products, expert advice at every turn, and free shipping, guest addressing, and envelopes on those save the dates you’re now more than ready to send out.

From the invitations in the mail to a comprehensive wedding website to the vendors at the wedding itself, Zola can ensure smooth sailing on your big day—even if your destination wedding is nowhere near the water.

Create Save the Dates as Unique as You Two