This may seem like a very obvious topic for some of you, and if you are a superstar planner, then you may have checked these off your list immediately. For many of you, however, you may try to put the cart before the horse and try to send save-the-dates before you should be. Remember, planning well now will save lots of time and screw ups (and redos and stressing out) later on. Here are a few things you need to do before even thinking about starting on your save-the-dates.
1. Set your date
This one is pretty obvious, but it also doesn't mean just pick a date out of the air willy-nilly. A lot of things may impact your dream wedding date (if that's actually a thing...?). Think important family members having exams, best friends already committed to being in another wedding that day, a sister being pregnant and due that week... Aim for a date range or month and work with the people on your must-have list to be sure the most important people to you will be able to make it. Also, see #2.
2. Book your venue
While you don't necessarily HAVE to do this one, it's highly recommended that you do so before letting people know you're getting married and they'll be on the list. You may not be able to grab a venue you really want (say, due to timing, budget, availability, etc.), and you don't want to let people know it's in a city that it actually ends up NOT being in, or a venue that you were hoping for but didn't quite make happen. In tandem with item #1, your date may be determined by the venue's availability, and the two highly depend on each other. We had set a date and even booked the venue but then realized some cottages we wanted to stay in along with close family and friends that were part of the venue were all booked up because of a sailing tournament, so we had to shift up a week. Things to completely nail down before sending save-the-dates...phew.
3. Create wedding website
Most brides these days opt to include their wedding website on their save-the-dates, to point people toward more information about the venue, the couple themselves, and, see #4, gift registries. You can always get started and grab your URL while you're working on designing/ordering save-the-dates, but be sure it's all finished for the most part before you send them out.
4. Register for gifts
Whether you put details on your actual save-the-dates or opt to include it on your website, it's best to get your gift registry done for the most part pretty early on. Yes, of course, it can change over time and you can always add to it, but some people like to immediately send a gift or will refer back to your site or save-the-date once they are ready to grab something for you.
5. establish guest list
While some brides may love this part, it's often a stressful part of the planning process. You seemingly have to go through everyone you've ever known and decide if you want to keep being friends with them (HA, just kidding, but some people are seriously cutthroat and hold grudges. You don't need that kind of negativity in your life anyway, sister.). But in all honesty, it's not the most fun thing to do and there will likely be arguments with mothers or mothers-in-law about which long lost family friends you haven't seen in 15 years or even really remember anyway really need to get an invite. Don't forget, this is your day and you can surround yourself with whoever you want to. Nevertheless, you have to do it. You need to know how many people will be getting invites so you can be sure they receive a save-the-date, be sure to order the right amount, and need to round up addresses in time to ship them out.
Other things you should probably also do are figure out your wedding style so that you can set expectations from day one on what to expect (and get people pumped and buying plane tickets), book calligraphers and invitation designers so they can work with you through your whole planning process and keep everything streamlined, and grab a glass of wine because you deserve it, girl. Cheers!