when to send save the dates for destination wedding

You’ve found your dream wedding destination. You’ve chosen the perfect venue. You’ve officially set the date. Congrats–you’re officially off and running with the wedding planning process!

When you imagine your big day in this special place, you see yourself saying “I Do” surrounded by your closest friends and family, right?

But it’s a far greater commitment for your guests to travel to a destination for your nuptials than to head to the nearest church in town. If you want your loved ones with you on your special day, it’s essential to make sure they have every opportunity to make the trip.

The best way to do that?

Send out Save the Dates–and send them soon!

While most wedding etiquette guides recommend sending out Save the Dates about four months in advance, destination weddings are a whole different animal. You may actually want to consider sending them as much as a year in advance!

Here are some factors to consider when deciding when to mail your Save the Date cards for your destination wedding:

1. Do you have your guest list ready to go?

If you still don’t have your guest list nailed down 6-12 months in advance, that’s okay! You can just send Save the Dates to your “must invite” guests for the time being: immediate family and close friends that you know you want by your side.

Send out a second round of cards as soon as you finish your guest list. If you have a few people you’re still on the fence about, order some extra cards to have on hand for when you decide.

2. How far will your guests have to travel– and how will they get there?

If your guests can hop in the car and drive to your destination in a couple hours, it won’t take as much planning or cost as much to attend. That means they won’t need much extra notice, so a Save the Date sent four months out may be just fine.

If they’ll need to book domestic or international flights to join you, be sure to give your guests plenty of notice to plan the trip. They may need to arrange time off of work, process passport applications, and make some budget adjustments–none of which can be easily done at the last minute.

The farther away you are from your destination, the more notice you should give your guests.

when to send save the dates

3. Will your guests be traveling during peak times?

You’ll want to be aware of the calendar when you book your date, because certain times of the year are more popular for tourists–and more expensive as a result. Holiday weekends are the most obvious peak times: Christmas, Thanksgiving, Fourth of July, Labor Day, etc.

Certain destinations have their own peak times as well:

  • January – March is the typical winter wedding/ski season
  • Memorial Day – Labor Day for most US beach towns
  • July – August for popular summer mountain destinations such as Colorado
  • September – November for leaf peeping in the Eastern US

International destinations may have their own high seasons as well, so do your research! The more popular your wedding date for travel, the more notice you’ll want to give your guests.

4. Are you planning additional wedding festivities you’d like them to attend?

The beauty of a destination wedding is the ability to make it feel like a vacation for everyone involved. Hiking, golfing, snorkeling, a spa day– embrace what the location has to offer!

Save the Dates are a great place to let your guests know about these events first. While you may not list all the information on the actual card, you can include the link to your wedding website where you can be more detailed and even provide an itinerary. If you’re hoping they’ll join you for more than just the ceremony and reception, make sure to give them plenty of notice.

The Bottom Line?

Since there aren’t any cut and dry rules for exactly when to send destination Save the Dates, here’s a pretty good rule of thumb:

The more of an investment guests will need to make, and the more time you hope to spend with them around your wedding, the earlier you should send out your Save the Dates.

The sooner you can send them, the more likely it is that you will spend your wedding day surrounded by the people who mean the most to you. In the end, that’s what it’s really all about!

Still searching for the perfect Save the Date card? Explore all of our designs here!