One of the biggest wedding trends of recent years has been taking a more casual, less buttoned-up approach to the big day. From looser dress codes to skipping seated dinners in favor of passed hors d'oeuvres, brides and grooms have shifted the focus away from tradition to customization. The ultimate goal is a wedding that is perfectly "you," expressing your identity as a couple. But even if you plan to buck the old ways, there are some guidelines you'll want to follow when it comes to your wedding stationery. While the rules of wedding correspondence may be long-standing, there's a good reason for that. Most of these rules will make the lives of both you and your guests easier. So, by observing them, you'll be doing everyone a favor and setting the scene for a perfect day. From the moment you get engaged and start planning your wedding
, keep these correspondence tips in mind. Don't: Leave guests guessing about the date. Do: Send out save-the-date notices well in advance - about four to six months ahead will do for most weddings. If you're planning a destination wedding, give guests even more leeway, even up to a year's notice. By getting the word out ahead of time, you'll give guests a better chance to plan - and more will be there to celebrate with you. Don't: Create confusion about who's invited. Do: Fill out invitations with only the names of those who are invited. If you're having an adults-only ceremony, skip writing "and family" or children's names. If you're open to one of your unmarried guests bringing a date, add "and guest," but simply using your friend's name alone is a subtle way to say "just you." This helps you keep your attendance count in check, which is important when you're giving numbers to caterers and other wedding services. Don't: Underestimate the time commitment for correspondence. Do: Think you'll have time to write every single thing in your own beautiful flourish? You might want to think again. Using unique wedding address labels saves you hand pain and time, which is a precious commodity as you get ready for the big event. Pick out a font that matches your invitations and other correspondence if you want a more unified theme. You'll also be able to use them for your thank you notes, which should, by the way, be hand written to show your guests you care. Don't: Let mistakes sneak through. Do: Check your invitations, save the dates, address labels - everything - once, twice and then again to make sure that the essential information is right. While a spelling error is cringe-worthy, what you really want to avoid is an error that gives people the wrong times, addresses or name spellings. It often helps to ask someone who hasn't looked at the invitation 20 times to help you out - see if you can get a co-worker or friend to proofread.