What is a "Save the Date"!?
Save the Dates are a pre-invitation mailing. Hop on any popular wedding topic online message board, and sooner or later, someone will post about Save the Dates. These have been a thing since at least 2005.
As with many things, as far as “save the dates” go, some people will take ‘em, and some people will leave ‘em. That is to say, some couples will love the idea, and some will not be interested.
Originally, Save the Date mailings were only for certain special cases, to provide important information to the early-birds. Information such as: available hotels with special rates if booked months in advance of the event. The special cases are mostly weddings with a date that is a national holiday, and destination weddings. Imagine the logistics of a holding your wedding in another country. There is a lot of information to impart to your guests, and flights need to be booked well in advance. Save the Dates will typically be sent out months before the invitations.
As with other cool ideas, the Save the Date was co-opted by more and more couples. Another good excuse (I mean, reason) to send these Save the Dates out, is in the case where your wedding is on a weekday; Some guests may need to know well in advance, to get the day off from work.
Why are couples sending out Save the Dates if they don’t really need to? Because- they are fun. You can be less formal with these Save the Date mailings than you might be with your actual invitations; And, they can serve as your engagement announcement. You can add in photographs, have fun with colors, and explore themes. Let’s face it- couples are enthusiastic about their weddings, and this is one way to direct that enthusiasm.
Save the dates are not the same thing as engagement announcements, by the way! An engagement announcement will ONLY announce the fact that you are engaged. An announcement might include a photo, some words about the couple or details how the engagement happened, but should avoid informing of the specifics of the wedding. The sole purpose of an engagement announcement is just to let people know that there is a new bride and groom. Engagement announcements are something you can send to anybody. With save the dates, it's different- you send those only to people who will be invited to the wedding.