You've decided to get married, and of course, you're inviting guests to spend the biggest day of your life with you. Congratulations!
One of the first things you’ll have to do is to send out save the dates for your wedding guests several months in advance, so that they can mark the all-important date on their calendar while you plan the wedding details (such as the ceremony start time and the menu choices). Then, once all the particulars are finalised, you can send out your wedding invitations.
But before the save the dates go out, you have to make a big decision: who are you inviting to your wedding – and who will make the cut as wedding day guests vs evening-only guests? And if you're going to invite people to only the evening reception, should you send them a save the date?
In this guide, we’ll discuss the proper etiquette around sending save the dates to your evening-only guests, so there’s no confusion during your wedding planning journey.
Do Evening Wedding Guests Get Save the Dates?
So many brides and grooms worry that sending a save the date to an evening-only guest will cause confusion. If someone receives a save the date, will they assume they’re being invited to the whole day – and then get upset or offended when they eventually receive their evening wedding invitation?
The truth is that no, that won’t happen – as long as you word the save the date correctly. At Bride and Groom Direct, all of our save the dates are fully customisable, so you can edit the wording on them to fit whoever you’re sending it to. That way, there will be no mistaking which part of the day each guest is invited to attend.
There are some very good reasons to send save the dates to evening guests. For example:
1. Evening Guests Need to Know the Date Too!
It’s not just your day guests that will need to know the date of your wedding in advance! Your evening guests will need to know it, too, even if they’re only invited to the reception. Otherwise, they might accidentally book an engagement on the evening of your wedding without realising – and then you’ll get a bunch of “cannot attend”s on your reply cards. You definitely don’t want that!
2. Save the Dates Make Your Evening Guests Feel Special
If you're inviting people to the wedding evening only, they will obviously not be included in your day activities. Of course, there's always a chance this can lead to hurt feelings, but sending a save the date can go a long way towards making them feel special. By making an effort to send a save the date, you show that you value their presence and are excited about having them attend.
3. Save the Dates Make Wedding Planning Less Stressful
If you have evening-only guests, you don't have to worry about inviting them to your rehearsal dinner, ceremony or wedding breakfast. But these guests will still want to know the date of your wedding, so they can make sure to keep the evening free. If you don’t send save the dates, you’ll be peppered with phone calls, emails and texts from people asking the date – and who needs that extra stress? Sending out save the dates is a surefire way to make sure that everyone who’s invited knows the date plenty of time in advance, making planning less stressful.
4. Save the Dates are Cheap and Easy to Order
One of the biggest pros to using save the dates is that they’re very affordable, and can easily fit into any wedding budget. They also couldn’t be simpler to order from a professional wedding stationer such as Bride and Groom Direct. Simply choose a design at the right price point for you, and use the easy editor to add your own wedding details. You can also draft the wording yourself without the help of any professionals because it's just one page with some dates on it.
5. Save the Dates Help Set Expectations
If you send save the dates to your evening-only guests with the correct wording, then it is less of a surprise when they receive their invitation with just the reception information on it. It is very common for attendants and household members to be invited to the whole wedding with one invitation and for colleagues and more distant connections to be invited just to the reception. Save the dates make this process easier for everyone involved because it will be less of a shock to your guest when they realise their invitation is evening-only.
When Should You Send Save the Dates for Evening-Only Guests?
If you're planning on having a reception at which you’re inviting evening-only guests, it's appropriate to send save the dates to them. Many brides and grooms don't want to send save the dates because they feel like their guests will be upset if they're not invited to the entire wedding, but that's just not true.
Worded correctly, an evening-only save the date will make it crystal clear for the invitee that they’ll only be invited to the reception portion of the day, rather than the ceremony itself. By clarifying this right away, the invitees can better plan for the event, especially if they have other events on their own schedules.
We would recommend sending your evening-only save the dates at the same time as you send your save the dates for day guests. This will be)
- 4 months in advance for most weddings, where guests are local
- 6 months in advance if guests have to travel (i.e. they live more than 1 hour’s drive away from your wedding venue)
3) 12 months in advance if you’re having a destination wedding abroad – guests will need more time to organise flights and accommodation
You can then send your wedding invitations around 6-8 weeks before the wedding.
How to Word Save the Dates for Evening-Only Guests
The wording for save the dates can be delicate, as it is essential not to make the invitee feel like they are being singled out for not attending the ceremony itself. However, it’s also very important that there’s no ambiguity – you don’t want your evening-only guests to get confused, and expect to be invited to the whole day.
There are a few ways to word save the dates tactfully. For example:
Emma Roland and John Smith
are getting married
on Saturday the Nineteenth of February, 2022
Evening invitation to follow
Save the Evening
for the wedding reception
following the marriage of
Emma & John
Another, less formal example:
Emma Roland and John Smith
would like to announce
that we’re getting married!
We hope you can join us for our evening reception!
How Not to Word Save the Dates for Evening-Only Guests
It is vital that you are sensitive when wording save the dates for evening guests, so it's important not to use terminology that makes the invitee feel like they are an afterthought or that they're not special.
It’s also important that you don’t just avoid the subject altogether – if there’s no mention of the evening reception/evening celebration on the save the date, you will risk your evening wedding guests thinking that they’re going to be invited for the whole day. This could cause some tension and hurt feelings later on, when they receive their invitation.
In general, as long as you make sure to mention the evening reception somewhere on the save the date, you should be safe.
If you’re too worried about wording it correctly, your alternative is to skip the save the date for evening guests, and simply send them an evening wedding invitation. However, if you’re doing this, you’ll have to send the invitation earlier than you usually would – we’d recommend at least 2-3 months in advance of the big day, rather than 4-6 weeks.
Where to Get Save the Date Invitations for Evening-Only Wedding Guests
If you are planning on hosting an evening-only wedding, inviting just your evening guests to come to the reception only, it is appropriate and considerate to send save the dates to your evening guests. This way, your guests will know to keep their evening free – and if worded appropriately, they’ll be prepared in advance that they won’t be attending the daytime ceremony or the wedding breakfast. This can help them plan accordingly.
At Bride & Groom Direct, we have a fantastic selection of save the date invitations for evening-only guests. Here's just a small sampling of our offerings:
Elegance Save the Date Card - This clean, white, stamped vellum card is a sophisticated way to let your friends and family know about your upcoming event. The words 'Save the date!' are blind-embossed at the top of this horizontal card, with your comments written below in your choice of colour.
Romance Save the Date Card - This exquisite save the date is rimmed with an embossed filigree pattern, adding to the romance. Vintage cream or classic white are available for the Romance Save the Date Card.
All of our designs can be fully personalised, and will come with envelopes. While you’re there, you can also order your wedding invitations, including evening wedding invitations for your reception attendees – and don’t forget your reply cards and thank you cards! We offer several matching designs to suit any wedding theme, so your entire stationery collection can be perfectly coordinated.