While you may live in the Washington, DC region, many of your guests may not live here.  Traveling to this area for a wedding is a destination for many people, so save the dates are a popular choice for couples to help their guests plan their visit.  If you are thinking about sending out save the dates for your wedding, be sure to read this post.  We have Heidi, owner of stationery store The Dandelion Patch, with the 411 on save the dates.  Take it away, Heidi:

modern-blue-and-gray-save-the-dates-the-dandelion-patch

Photo courtesy of The Dandelion Patch

Who and How
Save the date cards allow guests to plan ahead, particularly if you’ll be hosting a destination wedding.  They should be sent as soon as you have set the date and secured your venue, typically 9-12 months before the wedding.  Though it is more informal stationery, the following wording is appropriate:

Please Save the Date for the wedding of Miss Mary Smith and Mr. John Doe
April 9, 2012
Sunset Hills Vineyard
Purcellville, Virginia
formal invitation to follow
We very much look forward to seeing you there!

If you have a wedding website, your save the date is the first place to include it.  This gives your guests one place where they can go to get all the details that they will need about your wedding venue.  Your website may also include recommendations for hotels as well as information about room blocks that you may have reserved.  Don’t have a website?  Then you will want to include accommodation information directly on your save the date.

Save the date cards should be sent only to those who will be invited to the wedding.  Have family or friends who’ve already planned vacations or who you know won’t be able to attend?  You could forgo sending them a save the date card.  However, you might opt to send them one; in which case, a handwritten note along the lines of “We know that you already have plans.  We hope you can join us on our special day but certainly will understand if you cannot make it.”  It lets them know you care without making them feel obligated or guilty if they cannot attend.

elegant-yellow-and-green-save-the-dates-the-dandelion-patch

Photo courtesy of The Dandelion Patch

What
Wondering what your save the dates should look like?  Generally, it is a 3.5 x 5 or larger card on high quality paper.  However, some couples are more imaginative.  Inventive venues and destination weddings allow for some creativity with save the dates.

For example, if your wedding is at a vineyard in Loudoun, your save the date could be fashioned from a wine label with all the details or stationery made to look like a wine label.  If expense isn’t an issue and you want to get really into the theme, nuptials along a sandy Chesapeake Bay beach are conducive to a message in a bottle save the date.  If your special day is centered around your cultural heritage, you could incorporate the colors specific to your background such as red, which is the symbol for good luck in the Asian culture.

Hosting your wedding at an exclusive French restaurant?  Why not print your save the dates as a passport or boarding ticket with a French customs stamp on it?  If you’ve ever strolled about the Tidal Basin in springtime, you see the wonderful photo opportunity the cherry blossoms afford bridal couples.  A beautiful save the date bedecked in silk cherry blossoms is an elegant and unexpected touch.  These ideas can be carried over to other wedding stationery such as your invitations and reception cards.

Where
You’ve dreamed of having a wedding in Paris, France but it is cost-prohibitive and your guests can’t travel that far.  You can still marry in Paris, Virginia, that is!  Incorporate this theme and play on words into your save the date theme (see above).

While it is wonderful that you are fulfilling your romantic notions, just bear in mind that your destination will dictate how many guests will be able to attend and how costly your wedding will be.  It is another reason why save the dates are important in this scenario.  It allows guests to figure out logistics and expenses well in advance before they commit to attending.

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Photo courtesy of The Dandelion Patch

When
Another consideration is exactly what time of year you will wed.  If this past Christmas is any indication, many will shy away from attending a destination wedding for fear of being snowed in and/or stranded at an airport for days.  Moreover, holidays and summers translate to higher airfare and hotel prices, for both you and your guests.  Popular local events can also affect your plans and the need to send out a save the date.  For example, Washington, DC’s burst of color during the spring Cherry Blossom Festival draws hundreds of thousands of visitors, making hotel rooms sparse and downtown venues difficult to navigate.  Save the dates allow guests to start searching for the best airfares and reserve rooms that might book up faster during peak times.

As the saying goes, “It’s not the destination. It’s the journey.”  Make that journey easier for your guests by creating save the date cards that are attractive and timely.  Doing so will generate excitement for your big day and ensure that your loved ones will be in attendance.

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Thank you so much, Heidi!  Be sure to check out more from The Dandelion Patch on their website.  Better yet, stop into one of their locations to check out their paper products and other goodies in person. The Dandelion Patch is located in Virginia in Vienna, Reston, Leesburg and in DC in Georgetown.

Looking for more inspiration or local vendors for your wedding?  Be sure to check out our galleries and vendor guide.

Photos courtesy of The Dandelion Patch

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