Save the dates are often the first concrete way couples announce that they’re getting married. Sending these announcements is a fun and exciting step that makes your upcoming wedding feel locked in place, while offering advantages for prospective guests as well.
But once you’ve mailed the save the dates, what’s the next step? In this guide, we’ll cover:
Your guests will be (almost) as excited as the two of you about the big day. They’ll be eager to make plans to join you, and that means they’ll have questions. The first thing you can expect after save the dates arrive in guests’ hands is for them to contact you for more information, so be prepared for your phone to ring off the hook.
Being able to direct them to a wedding website or information source will free up your time for the other things on your wedding to-do list. Good news: you don’t have to be a professional web developer to create a stunning and informative wedding website. You just need Zola.
Zola’s free wedding website builder is intuitive, customizable, and can even complement your wedding stationary. Thanks to simple drag-and-drop tools and a wide selection of gorgeous templates, you can create the perfect wedding website unique to you. You can easily fill your wedding website with everything your guests need to know about your big day, from directions to the venue to attire information. That means you and your partner spend less time answering questions from excited guests and more time getting ready for the day!
This early in the wedding planning process, you won’t be able to go into detail about everything, but it helps to predict guests’ questions and be prepared to point them in the right direction. Your guests might ask things like:
In addition, you can expect a deluge of travel-related inquiries. Unless you and everyone you’re inviting lives in the same city or town, your guests will probably need to make arrangements. They’ll likely wonder things like:
Work with your partner to answer these questions ahead of time and fill your wedding website with the relevant information your guests will need. If you’ve sent save the dates out early and don’t have a whole lot of details yet, start with the most important information—date, time, place, and venue. You may not have an answer yet to every question, and that’s okay. Acknowledge it on the website and let guests know about when they can expect an update.
For example, if you’re negotiating with a few different hotels for a discount on a block of rooms, your accommodation section can look like this:
Accommodations We’re working with a few different hotels to find the best value for our wonderful guests. Check back here by the end of May for up-to-date accommodation options!
The more transparency you have for your guests, the better. And if there’s ever an important update you need to make sure everyone knows about, try using a wedding guest tool like Zola’s Wedding Guest List Manager. A bit like a digital wedding guest assistant, Zola’s Wedding Guest List Manager allows you to send emails to everyone on the guest list to ensure everyone gets the message. This tool also allows you to keep track of RSVPs, meal choices, and guest addresses (a lifesaver when thank you note time comes around!).
This an awkward (and oftentimes uncomfortable) aspect of the post save the date period. With people constantly sharing on social media platforms, word about your save the dates is likely going to spread, so you might find yourself fielding a question like “I saw on Facebook that Sam got their save the date. Where’s mine?”
You and your partner have your reasons for choosing the guests you did—venue, budget, or just personal preference. It’s paramount that you build a wedding guest list that makes you happy, and if that means leaving some people out, you might be asked to explain. Doing so doesn’t have to be (excessively) painful or awkward if you take the following steps:
People are wise to excuses, so you’re better off just telling the truth. When you say something like “I’m sorry, Jamie, but we’ve decided on a small ceremony. I appreciate you getting in touch, and hopefully we can talk again soon,” a real friend will understand.
Every wedding day operates within a certain budget. Additionally, every venue has a capacity. If either of these two components are why you can’t invite everyone, it pays to be honest. Your guests should understand the mechanics involved.
While dealing with these questions can be uncomfortable, it’s important to keep in mind that they stem from someone’s desire to be with you and your partner on your big day.
They might be disappointed at the lack of a wedding invitation, but in the end, you and your future spouse are the ones who matter, and all you can do is be as kind as possible and continue with your wedding plans. People who care about your wellbeing will be content to celebrate your love on a different occasion.
A major benefit of sending save the dates is that they allow you to start forming a picture of who will be joining your celebration. With your first round of RSVPs, you’ll already have a few details in place.
In your wedding planning journey, you may have heard the terms “A list” and “B list” when it comes to creating your wedding guest list.
If you’re not familiar with the terminology, “A-listers” are “must-haves,” like you or your partner’s parents, siblings, and closest friends. “B-listers” are “would be nice” additions, like distant cousins, casual friends, or friendly coworkers.
After guests start receiving save the dates, some of them will decline. If potential guests begin to confirm they will not be attending, you have a few options. One of them is to pull guests from your B list to take the place of A-listers (who declined your invite, of course). Additionally, you can leave the spaces open for spontaneous invites, or reduce the size of your guest list.
Now that you’ve sent out your save the dates and you’re starting to hear back from guests, you can take steps to make their journey to your wedding a pleasant one. Of course, what you’ll need to do varies wildly between a local wedding and a destination wedding.
If you’re planning a destination wedding, you probably already have a long to-do list. While you can’t finalize everything after sending save the dates, you might be able to cross off a few items, like:
Additionally, if you’ll have the pleasure of your group’s company for an extended time, look into places to eat and activities to do. Consider posting links on your wedding website to drum up excitement.
Book a block of hotel rooms: Until RSVPs come back, you might not know the minimum number of guests you can expect, but you have a general picture. Typically, even if you don’t have the exact number, hotels will be willing to work with you.
Browse flights or speak to a travel agent: If you’re helping relatives and loved ones who are less travel-savvy find flights (or if you have the budget to cover some of those flights), you can start looking now. Not only can you score discounts by booking flights far in advance, you can avoid splitting up a party hoping to travel together. For parties of ten or more, travel agents can be a huge “value add” to your planning process.
Making local arrangements may not seem as daunting as planning for a faraway locale, but laying groundwork now will mean fewer loose ends later. Flights will likely be cheaper, and if you’re a tight-knit bunch, you might be able to make arrangements for out-of-town guests to stay with family or friends.
Sending out your save the dates is a huge milestone. It’s a signal that the real wedding fun is about to begin. We know you’re excited, However, the journey doesn’t end there. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you prepare for your big day:
One of the most exciting parts of wedding planning is sitting down with your future spouse and picking out the things that will make your new life together that much sweeter. And bonus points: Your guests are likely chomping at the bit to start shopping.
Establishing your wedding registry is a fantastic next step after sending save the dates. People will be asking where you’re registered. The best way to check needed or wanted items off your list is to point them to us at Zola, where you can compile a registry from tons of different places.
You won’t be limited to registering with a single merchant or store, so if one of you is an avid at-home brewer, the other is a gardener and staunch football fan, and you both need silverware for your new condo, it’s a one-stop shopping list for guests hoping to give you presents.
The best way to avoid wedding day stress is to be as prepared as possible. You and your spouse don’t want to leave your appearance to chance, and neither will your wedding party. Now it’s time to choose the wedding date attire.
If you’ve decided this is one of your next steps, involving your wedding party at their earliest convenience is a fantastic way to drive the excitement. They’ve received their save the dates, now it’s time they get fitted.
If you’ve sent your save the dates out seven to eight months before the wedding, there’s no need to send wedding invitations immediately after. We suggest taking this step at around the two-month mark (with RSVPs due no later than one month before the wedding). However, it’s never too early for you and your partner to start shopping for invitations.
Tip: While your invitations should match the wedding theme, level of formality, and express who you are as a couple, don’t worry if your invitations don’t match the save the date. Save the dates are less formal than invitations, and there’s nothing wrong with being a little quirkier.
At Zola, we pride ourselves on being your one-stop-shop for all things wedding. We offer beautiful, free website templates in hundreds of different designs. They’re the perfect way to express your style and celebrate your love, while providing your guests with the information they need about your upcoming wedding. We also offer an extended wedding registry, wedding stationary, a wedding boutique, pre-screened vendor lists, and so much more!
Trust Zola to lead you through every step of this amazing journey—after all, we’re the wedding experts!
Sources: Brides: The Ultimate Wedding Planning Timeline and Checklist The Knot: Expect This Many People to RSVP “No” to Your Wedding The Offbeat Bride: Ten Blunt But Loving Ways to Tell People They’re Not Invited to Your Wedding