Save-the-dates are more than just a pre-wedding formality. They’re a chance to give guests a taste of what’s to come, and to properly introduce the soon-to-be-marrieds.

For many, save-the-dates are an opportunity to show off their fancy – and often expensive – engagement photos.

Photos, in general, are the top trend for save-the-dates, says Amber Harrison, style and trend expert for stationery company Wedding Paper Divas.

But that doesn’t mean couples must adhere to that commonality. With the growing popularity of sites like Pinterest, more and more engaged couples are using their save-the-dates as an opportunity to impress their guests and express their more creative side.

They’re also veering from the tradition of matching save-the-date styles to the rest of the wedding’s stationery.

That’s kind of a fun trend, enabling couples to express who they are.

The best rule of save-the-dates is that there is no rule (well, other than being sure to include the couple’s names and the wedding date).

You can go as far outside of the box as you can possibly think of going, or you can be very traditional with a postcard.

Here are five of Harrison and Long’s favorite save-the-date ideas, based on things they’ve seen and designs they’ve worked on personally.

1. Food

Everyone loves a sweet treat, so what better way to whet an appetite for the wedding than with a customized cookie that’s beautifully frosted to convey the couple’s message.

Inquire with local bakeries for the custom order. Also sites like Etsy have friendly bakers from all over who will make personalized cookie treats for your guests.

Just hope they write the date elsewhere before chowing down.

2. Printing on Unique Items

Print save-the-dates on balloons for a wedding in Disney World with the theme the movie ‘Up.”

Personalizing an item that’s both representative of the couple and the wedding is a great way to have fun with the formality.

3. Embroidery

Have an antique handkerchief embroidered with text. Another fun idea is embroidering vintage postcards with the couple’s name and date, or even T-shirts or hats.

And if the bride or groom is good with a needle, this is an easy and cost-effective DIY project.

4. Magnets

Magnets can offer a more traditional card look with a bonus feature: guests can’t forget the date if it’s constantly staring them down from the fridge.

Magnets allow plenty of room for customization. They can be straightforward engagement photos with text, text-only or even more cryptic. Check design websites like Minted.com for printing options.

5. Honing on a Hobby

Do you and your fiancé play a lot of board games? Read a lot of books? Watch a lot of “Game of Thrones?”

Shared affections are a great hook for guests to see how you really are as a couple. And working them into your save-the-date is easy. (Narrowing it down to just one interest is another story.)

Harrison was particularly fond of a design she saw where the couple, who were big film fans, posed under an antique movie theater marquis that read “coming soon” followed by the couples’ names and wedding date.

©CTW Features