SAVE the DATE!

~WHEN TO SEND? As a general rule, it's best to start spreading the news around six months prior to the ceremony (eight months for a faraway destination or holiday weekend). This gives invitees plenty of time to book their travel, budget appropriately and ask for days off from work. Any earlier and it may slip their minds; any later and it might as well be an invitation.

~WHO TO SEND TO? You should send your save-the-dates to anyone you want at your wedding. Even if you've already received verbal confirmations from certain guests, you should still send them a save-the-date (members of your wedding party, siblings and parents). Just remember: Only send it to those whom you definitely want to attend. Imagine sending a save-the-date without following up with an invitation. It's not recommended.

~WHAT TO INCLUDE. At this point, you may not have figured out all the specifics of your day, and that's 100 percent okay. But there is key information you'll want to include on your pre-invite. The save-the-date should definitely include your and your partner's names, wedding date (or dates, for a wedding weekend), location (a town or city is helpful, even if the venue isn't booked yet) and a notice for a formal invitation to follow. Ideally, your save-the-dates should share your wedding website link, where guests can find more in-depth information like links to your registry, timely updates regarding your nuptials and a schedule of events.

Save-The-Date Etiquette

~DO NOT SEND AN RSVP. While extra-early RSVPs would ideally give you a head start on your head count, this plan has the potential to backfire, since the excess of cushion time might cause some guests to put off replying and forget altogether. So, at this point, an RSVP shouldn't be expected—after all, this is the correspondence that gives guests an opportunity to figure out what their RSVP will be when the formal invitation arrives.

~NO REGISTRATION INFO.While your guests will likely want to know where you're registered, it's inappropriate to print this information on your save-the-dates or invitations since gifts, of course, are not technically required. Guests usually know they can ask you, your family or your friends about registry details, otherwise the best place to share that info is on your wedding website.

~WEDDING DATE CHANGES. In the event of an unexpected change of plans, your best bet is to start spreading the word. You do have the option of sending out another mailing that explains the dilemma—also known as a "change-the-date." Many stationery companies are offering free reprints or a discount on wedding postponement announcements. You will definitely want to consult with your stationer for this. Make sure you update your wedding website with the news. Enlist the help of your wedding party to help you get through the guest list to make sure everyone has been notified.

~ELECTRONIC ETIQUETTE. Email invitations for informal events like bachelorette parties and post wedding brunches are becoming more popular, which, as a result, is changing the rules of snail mail etiquette. We stand by old-school stationery for the big stuff like formal invitations, but leave the use of digital up to the discretion of the couple for any additional wedding events. If you do opt for e-save-the-dates, consider doubling up: Send out an electronic save-the-date to everyone, and paper correspondence to relatives or friends that may want it as a keepsake.

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Time to officially announce your wedding date and let your guests know they should clear their calendars. But let's be sure to do it right.