So you already have your who and your what with your fiance (I hope) and your wedding, but what about your when? Having discussions about when you want your wedding to be is one of the first things you need sit down and figure out with your fiance.
Narrowing down your date range is such an important step. This can help determine your color palette, your overall feel, how much of your wedding will be outdoors, and of course the length of your engagement. It can also be helpful to know what date range you are open to before you go to start looking at venues, as you can bet that along with approximate guest count, it is one of the things they will be most interested to know.
In addition to overall feel and weather, the date range, or even day of the week, can also have a very large impact on your budget and how much you will spend on many wedding vendors.
Below I have laid out a pretty comprehensive step by step guide of all the things to take into account when contemplating your wedding date. I hope you find it helpful in your quest for getting to know your wedding!
Pick your time of year
In most places throughout the US, April through October are considered the “peak” wedding months.
Winter months — January through March — are the “low” season.
June, September, and October are the most popular months to get married.
Things to consider:
This the the main reason that the “peak” season is so, well, peak. It is also why June, September, and October are the most popular months. The weather is gorgeous in most places — not too hot and not too cold.
What do you envision on your wedding day? What flowers are in bloom? Do you picture snow?
Sight is not the only sense you want to consider here. You also want to consider how the weather will feel that day. Will you be ok standing outside for pictures in a wedding dress if it is over 100 degrees?
Since the peak months are the most popular months to get married, they also tend to be the more expensive months. The low season months often times have discounts or incentives for getting married at those times. Since they are less popular times, vendors need to use these incentives to increase their business during the low season. This goes for pretty much all of the vendors — venue, photographer, caterer, you name it.
If you want to utilize some of the feelings of a holiday for your wedding, then you probably want to try and get your date on or close to that holiday. For example, many brides have chosen a New Year’s Eve Bash for their big day, complete with a midnight countdown. Others take advantage of a long weekend that a holiday may bring so their out of town guests have less trouble getting time off — think Labor Day.
Beware: these kinds of holidays do book out way ahead of time. You many think you’re golden because your venue had the date open, but you still have many more vendors to hire. There is nothing like finding the perfect photographer, only to find out they are already taken on your date. In addition, many guests plan their holidays and vacations way ahead, so be sure to get plenty of notice out to them as well.
Do you want a long or a short engagement? How much time do you feel comfortable with for planning purposes? The average length of an engagement is 14 months according to a survey done by The Knot in 2014. According to Wedding Paper Divas, 40% of couples wait 13-18 months. At the end of the day, there have been couples that have gone 1 month, and there are couples that have gone for years. It all depends on how involved you want your wedding to be.
Personal note: Unless you are planning on eloping or a very intimate gathering with very little pieces to put together, I would recommend giving yourself at least 1 year to plan, minimum. A year and a half is even better. Planning a wedding is stressful enough without putting a deadline on yourself. You don’t want to feel so rushed that you have to skip parts of what you want. Besides, single time is long and married time is long…so why speed up the engagement?
Pick your day of the week
The most popular day of the week for weddings is, not surprisingly, Saturday.
Things to consider:
Ease for Guests
Saturdays tend to be the easiest for guests to attend in that they don’t have to come right after work as they would on a weekday, and they don’t have to worry about getting up early the next day as they would on a Sunday. If they are coming from out of town, Saturdays give them the best opportunities to take the least amount of work off. However, if you give guests enough notice, they should be able to accommodate other days of the week. Don’t count them out just for this reason.
Day of the week is potentially a huge and much easier way to save money then you might think. Many venues and other vendors offer discounts for Fridays and Sundays, and an even bigger discount for a weekday. In addition to discounts, they may also have a lower minimum for you to have to spend.
I decided to have my wedding on a Friday and it was one of the best decisions I made.
It allowed me to have my wedding at the venue of my dreams, and it was half the price of what it would have been the very next night—a Saturday. It was well worth it. Sure some the of the guests asked why we chose a Friday and they had to leave work a little early, but we just said that was what was available and everyone was totally fine.
Pick your time of day
While the average wedding is held in the evening, some couples choose to have a wedding brunch or daytime wedding. Obviously, this would affect your wedding day choice as well. A Saturday or Sunday might be best in this case. Keep in mind some venues may not allow you to have a daytime wedding on a Saturday since they are most likely preparing for a Saturday evening wedding. All you can do is ask!
Pick your wedding length of time – one day or weekend extravaganza
Most couples choose to just have their wedding day and that is it. But there are other options to certainly consider.
How far are your guests coming from? If many of your guests are coming from out of town, or if your wedding is potentially a big family reunion of people that don’t get together very often, it might be fun for you to throw an entire weekend event if that is your thing.
You can have a couple days worth of events prior to the wedding such as a golf day or hunting trip. You can have a BBQ or bonfire with your family instead of a traditional rehearsal dinner. After the wedding, you could host a morning after brunch as well. The possibilities are really endless.
Of course, the more things you add to the agenda, the more it will cost. It really comes down to what is more important for you: hosting more family and friend time together, or spending more on wedding decor/vendors.
Are you considering a destination wedding instead of doing something local? More often than not, if you are going to plan a destination wedding, it is usually going to be over the course of several days. Since you are traveling to another location, why only make the fun last for one day? Many popular destination spots have all inclusive wedding packages and even do a lot of the work for you.
Don’t narrow yourself down to 1 date until you talk to venues
I know, I know. I just got done telling you to pick all of these things and now I am telling you to slow down. The thing is, if you go into venues with a set date and are not flexible, you may be disappointed. As long as you have an idea of all of the above, you are golden. Personally, I think it is much easier to pick your ideal venue and then go with a date that fits your ideal parameters rather then discount venues just to get a specific date.
Don’t try to change your date for others
So you think you have the whole thing figured out and then Aunt Millie tells you she cannot make it that day. My advice: don’t go flip flopping your date around to try and accommodate others. There are too many pieces involved in planning a wedding and you will only give yourself undue stress. Aunt Millie will understand, but if you change it for her, where does it end? You will literally drive yourself crazy. Don’t do it!
Over to you…
What is your favorite time of year for a wedding? I would love to hear about it in the comments below!