This post is part of the DWD Etiquette Q&A series, where I answer my reader’s questions.
Question submitted by Nicole (Chicago)
“My fiance and I live outside of Chicago, IL and are planning a destination wedding in Marco Island, FL. We are only inviting around 30 people and it will be our immediate family and some close friends (they know they will be invited already).
I would like to do boxed invitations with a starfish in each one (for decoration) along with the information we have (hotel, airport). We are getting married in May and I am looking to send out the invitations sometime in the next month or two – which is over a year in advance.
I was wondering if that is too early? This is all close family and I want them to have enough time to look for flights and plan time off work. I really don’t want to do save-the-dates for it since I plan on spending more money to mail the box invitations and I don’t feel that it is necessary for us to do that. Am I wrong about this?
We are going to have a reception back home in June and I plan on doing save-the-dates for that and mailing them out in the fall. I am just not sure if this is proper etiquette or not. Any advice?
P.S. I love your site! It has so much information and things that I never thought of. I will be glued to this for a while.”
Cynthia @ Destination Wedding Details Says:
Hi Nicole! I’m so glad you’re enjoying the site. This is a great question that so many destination brides ask. When to send out destination wedding invitations/save the dates can be really tricky.
Although it’s critical to send destination wedding invitations out much earlier than you would for a hometown celebration, I do think that sending them out a year in advance is way too early. You want to give your guests a heads up so they can take time off work, budget and even start booking if they want to…that’s the function of a save the date. The invitation will serve as a formal reminder and will create a sense of urgency as the date gets closer.
The problem with sending invites out too early is that they will think “I have more than enough time to respond” or “I’ll wait and see if airline prices drop” and they’ll forget all about or misplace the invite/info.
The trick is to give them enough time to plan and keep your destination wedding top of mind, but not too much time to procrastinate.
You can send out save-the-dates now or next month and the invitations can go out 3 months in advance. That should give your guests plenty of time to plan especially if they already know about it by word of mouth.
There are so many really cheap alternatives to traditional save the date cards especially because you don’t have a huge guest list. You can order really cheap postcards on Vistaprint, for example, or go the DIY route. You can check out some gorgeous and cheap destination wedding save the date cards that are under $2 each here.
Or even better than cheap is FREE🙂 Why don’t you set up a personal wedding website with all the airline/hotel info and send all your guests an email with the link? That way, everyone will have all the info they need to start planning. If you need ideas, here’s a review of some awesome personal destination wedding websites.
I personally didn’t send out save-the-date cards for my own destination wedding. Like you, I invested time and a lot of money on some really customized, unique invitations and didn’t have the budget for save-the-dates too. So what I did, was set up a personal website where I put all the info my guests needed (date, airline, hotel, etc.)
I sent everyone an email with a link to the website about 9 months before the wedding. Then I followed up with the formal invites in the mail about 3 months before the wedding. I would recommend this to anyone. Only 5 of the 65 people I invited didn’t attend and it was due to circumstances outside of their control (I.e. about 3 of them got pregnant):)
I hope this was helpful! Best of luck.
For more destination wedding etiquette questions, click here.