Feb. 1, 2013 at 4:25 AM ET
Save-the-date cards are a relatively new trend in weddings, and they came about as a way to respect guests' time and make sure they can attend the wedding. In good etiquette, you'll send these as soon as possible, months before the wedding to 'reserve' your big day on their calendars. As with any printed item for your wedding day, there are some save-the-date etiquette mistakes you'll want to avoid:
1. Sending them out immediately upon your engagement. You're all excited about the wedding plans, you booked the place, you made a guest list that includes everyone you've ever known. But as time goes on, all of those deposits for the band, the videographer, the photographer, the florist, and more add up. You could find yourself in a money crunch that requires you to cut down your guest list...but you can't if you sent everyone a Save-the-date. This is the #1 save-the-date mistake, because you must invite these people to the wedding now. It's bad form to have them reserve a block on their calendars, not take their annual vacation, not register their kids for camp and so on...and then they don't get invited to the wedding. Major rifts happen in families over this one, so take your time, make sure you know the strength of your budget, and send them out when you're sure you can invite everyone on your list.
2. Going off-color. Your friends might think a wacky save-the-date card featuring a dog with cartoon-like eyes swigging from a bottle of tequila is fun, but your relatives will wonder about you. Keep the save-the-dates on the classic or classy side, and personalize them with a photo of the two of you, great colors, a border, and so on. There's a lot you can do to be original without crossing the borders of taste.
3. Not notifying guests that there's a magnet inside the envelope. The magnet save-the-date card is a popular choice now, but if you don't write on the envelope that a magnet is enclosed, the recipient could place the envelope on top of a computer disk and erase it. It's always best to put a 'magnet enclosed' note on the outside of the envelope.
4. Not putting enough information. Always make sure you include the wedding location, such as your hometown or a destination wedding locale, along with the date so that guests can make travel plans. Just having the date is not enough. Guests need to know how many days they'll need to take off of work.
5. Enclosing confetti. Or anything else that will fall to the floor and be a pain in the butt to vacuum up. A better enclosure is a sheet of vellum with a poem or something that can be kept - or tossed - with ease.
Sharon Naylor is the author of The Essential Guide to Wedding Etiquette.
A version of this story originally appeared on iVillage.