Timing is tricky.

Eric & Jamie Photography

So you’ve locked in your wedding location and finally figured out the date...now what?

Luckily for you, that means it’s time to get lost in the stacks of stationery at your local paper shop and pick a save the date. A staple for traditional weddings, save-the-date cards deliver a mini celebration to guests’ mailboxes and offer the details they need to mark their calendars. From date and location to your wedding website information, it’s all there in lovely lettering so your friends and family are in the loop.

How early do you need to give your friends and family a heads up? Timing for these little cards can be surprisingly tricky. You’ve got to hit that sweet spot between so far in advance that your pretty little papers get misplaced and so late that guests don’t have enough notice to make the necessary arrangements.

Traditionally, that perfect timing is between six and eight months. However, if your wedding is on a holiday weekend or you’re planning a destination affair, you may want to give guests a bit more time by sending your save-the-dates between nine months to a year in advance. Those extra few months may help make sure your invitees don’t plan their own vacation during that long weekend or miss out on a travel deal to your destination location.

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Sticking to that timeline takes a bit of planning. While there’s little we love more than picking the perfect calligraphy style and thumbing through examples, there’s also little worse than trying to rush that first piece of wedding stationery. Keep in mind that ordering save-the-dates requires everything from purchasing and proofing to waiting for delivery, addressing, and mailing. So, if your date and venue are set, your wedding website is up and running, and your hotel block is ready for guests to book, you may want to head into your local stationary shop this weekend play with some paper.