January 5, 2021
Oh, how COVID ruined many weddings and events that should’ve taken place in 2020. Trust me when I say I am hoping that 2021 is a much better year for weddings. If you’re planning to get married in 2021 and are wondering, “Should I send out Save The Dates?” you are not alone! If there’s anything we learned last year, it’s that COVID restrictions can change dramatically overnight. I’ve listed a few tips to navigate this tricky topic without breaking wedding etiquette.
Communication is key
Many couples with weddings planned for 2021 know that plans could change rapidly because of COVID. If you have a tentative date set in 2021, it’s generally okay to send out Save The Dates. However, I suggest having some verbiage that reassures guests that you will inform them ASAP in case plans change. Get ahead of all your guests and communicate everything – even if you haven’t made concrete decisions yet. Nothing is worse than dealing with postponing a wedding, and then fielding questions from your attendees about logistics and changes. Nowadays, many people do understand if wedding plans change and they just want to be kept in the loop.
One way to do this tactfully is to say something like:
We sincerely hope to celebrate with all of our loved ones as planned on [Wedding Date]. Please know we are taking every health precaution and gathering restriction seriously. In these uncertain times, your health and safety is our priority. We are monitoring the news and will keep you informed about our plans on our wedding website:
How should I send out Save The Dates?
Mailed Card – The most traditional way to send Save The Dates is to mail a physical printed card. It’s my favorite way to be informed (I know I’m biased but seriously, who doesn’t love happy mail?). Last year, many couples did this and unfortunately, had to send out follow-up “Change the Date” cards. It was a headache (not to mention costly). Now that a COVID-19 vaccine is out, I am optimistic that we’ll need fewer of these “Change The Date” cards. The great thing about working with a stationer is that most will be accommodating if there is a major change in plans. For instance, I am happy to create graphics for my couples who’ve had date or venue changes so that they can electronically update their guests in a timely manner.
If you are someone who enjoys receiving beautiful mail and are pretty certain your wedding will happen 6+ months out from now, then by all means, mail out those Save The Dates! Just have a plan in case things change – either via a mailed follow-up card or an electronic update.
Email – Electronic announcements became a huge thing in 2020 because it’s cheap and easy. Is it as fun as opening fun mail? Nope – but it gets the job done. If you have a specific vision for your wedding day, then I truly believe that every touchpoint you have with your guests, from Save The Dates to Place Cards, should be visually cohesive. Even if you decide not to mail out STD’s, it doesn’t mean you can’t have the electronic version match the rest of your wedding. You can still use tools like Paperless Post (or your plain email) to send them, but I would have your stationer design the custom Save The Date graphic for it. All of these little details add up to create a great guest experience for your wedding.
Who should I send Save The Dates to in 2021?
Uh, everyone you want to invite. Seems like a no brainer, right? Well, this might not be the best strategy for 2021. Depending on your state or city’s regulations for social gatherings, you may have to limit your guest list. I strongly suggest checking the restrictions for your state or city before having anything printed or sent to your guests. I would create a guest list with ONLY your must-have invitees based on the maximum guest count allowed for your location. Send out Save The Dates to this VIP list only. This way, you wont have to awkwardly un-invite guests in case you suddenly can’t have the larger gathering you planned for.
Once you are 6-10 weeks out from your wedding day, you can send out wedding invitations to all guests you originally intended to invite (within the gathering limit of course), regardless if they received a Save The Date or not.
When should I mail out Save The Dates in 2021?
Typically, Save The Dates are sent out 6-8 months before the wedding date, but I am seeing shorter timeframes during this pandemic. Here’s a quick reference for sending out STD’s based on your wedding month. Keep in mind the month on the right is the latest I would send them out by. For example, for an August wedding date, March is the absolute latest I would mail them by, but it’s totally fine to send them in January if you have it ready.
June/July Wedding: Mail by January
August Wedding: Mail by February
September Wedding: Mail by March
October Wedding: Mail by April
November Wedding: Mail by May
December Wedding: Mail by June
If your wedding is local and is taking place in January-May, I would suggest skipping Save The Dates and just mailing out your invitations a bit earlier than you normally would. Typically, invitations are sent 6-8 weeks before the big day. If you are skipping STD’s, I would send them out 8-10 weeks before the wedding date to give guests enough time to plan.
When should I order Save The Dates?
So now that you know when you should aim to mail your Save The Dates, when is the ideal time to order them from your stationer? Every vendor is different, but if you are ordering from me, here are my guidelines:
Flat-printed Save The Dates – Order 4 weeks before mailing
Digital (electronic) Save The Dates – Order 2-4 weeks before sending
Letterpress/foil Save The Dates – Order 6-8 weeks before mailing
p.s. If you are able to support a small local business, please do so! Wedding vendors like stationers got hit really hard from COVID, so your business really does make a difference for us mom ‘n’ pop shops. I promise your experience will be less transactional and way more personal than ordering from a big box store! 🙂
Have a Wedding Website No Matter What
Whether you decide to send out STD’s or not, I cannot stress how important it is to have a wedding website these days. You just never know if you will quickly need to inform anyone of any changes. Websites are the fastest way to communicate everything important about your day. It can never replace your Wedding Invitation, but is used in tandem with your invites or Save The Date to give guidance and updates to your guests. There are many free website tools for couples out there, such as WeddingWire, TheKnot, Zola, etc. However, if creating a website seems daunting for you, a private Facebook Group can be another great way to effectively update your guests.
Book your Wedding Stationer early
2021 wedding dates are getting booked up to absorb all of the postponed weddings from 2020, so it’s going to be a crazy year. I want to stress how important it is to reach out to stationers as early as possible. Wedding stationery takes longer to produce than you may think. Factor in the time it takes to personalize the design, order supplies, have them printed, addressed, assembled and mailed out. If you are adding calligraphy, add at least 2 more weeks on top of that. Once they are in USPS’s hands, it could take up to a week to reach their destination. It can be a tricky timeline knowing when to order, because understandably, you don’t want to order luxury invitations in the event that it may be postponed, but you also do not want to start this process too late and throw something together last minute.
If you’re worried about signing a contract with a wedding vendor, my advice is still to get a conversation going with a stationer you’d like to work with. Many are incredibly flexible and understanding. I will personally answer all of your questions about what to do when deadlines change, how I handle deposits, qty changes, etc. We have also become pretty experienced figuring out special wording for unique COVID-19 scenarios (I had a client change venues 3x last year!), so it’s in your best interest to hire us to help with the stationery logistics and take some of that stress off!
Lastly, many wedding dates in 2020 ended up changing, but most people actually ended up sticking with their original wedding vision. I can mock up wedding stationery with your original theme and colors, but wait til the date, locations, and guest counts are finalized before producing anything. It helps to start this process as early as possible… even if we have to pivot later down the road, a bulk of the work will already be done!
If you’re looking to get married this year, I sincerely hope this post helps you make a Save The Date decision for 2021. Please feel free to reach out to me (firstname.lastname@example.org) with any questions you might have! I’d love to walk you through my wedding stationery process. We also have our Semi-Custom Wedding Collection in case you want to browse some of our original designs. I am SO looking forward to seeing more weddings happen in 2021! Cheers!