You've definitely heard of wedding invitations and you've probably heard of save-the-dates and you may be confused as to what the difference is. Are they not the same thing? Why am I sending invitations twice? I am here to clarify!
Save-the-dates are a simple one-sided card with just the basic wedding information on it including date, time, and location. The purpose of the save-the-date is to give your guests a heads up about the wedding so that they have it on their radar and can start thinking about travel plans and requesting days off work. If you don't know your start time yet that's totally fine. You don't even have to put the exact venue address, just the city and state is fine. However, you do need to have your venue booked before you send save-the-dates because that's the only way you will have a set date. DO NOT send out save-the-dates with your desired date. It needs to be officially set and booked through your venue. You also need to have your venue booked so that guests can plan their travel accordingly based on the location. Your save-the-dates should be sent out anywhere between 6-12 months before your wedding. If you are planning on getting married locally, send your save-the-dates closer to 6 months as the majority of your guests won't have to worry about plane tickets or hotel stay. If you are planning a destination wedding outside of the state or country, send your save-the-dates out closer to the 12 month mark to give them plenty of time to start planning and saving for the trip. This also applies if your wedding will be local to you but the majority of your guests live out of state.
Your official wedding invitation will be fancier and more detailed. The format of wedding invitations varies depending on where you order them. But regardless they should all list the date, start time, venue address, registry info, and RSVP card or wedding website URL. Your wedding invitation is what prompts your guests to finalize their travel plans and RSVP. Your wedding invitations should be sent out around 3-4 months before your wedding. You don't want to send them out too far in advance because your guests will likely forget or RSVP yes without having actually worked out their work/travel arrangements . You also don't want to send them out too close to the wedding date and not give your guests enough time to make accommodations at work or make travel arrangements.