Setting the Date for the Big Day
Some couples prefer not to announce their engagement to the masses until they have a date in place for the wedding. When people learn of your engagement, the first thing you are likely to hear is “Congratulations!” followed by a “When's the date?” You cannot make arrangements for any of your family, wedding party, and professionals without a date. If ever timing was of the essence, it is when you are planning your wedding!
Availability and Seasonality
The most obvious place to start is your own calendar! Between you and your fiancé, you are likely to have a few dates that can be completely scratched off. Then it is off to the parents for their weekend preferences and your closest friends in your wedding party. It may sound overwhelming, but your family and friends are the ones who will be surrounding you that day.
Keep your family and wedding party part of the process to help your wedding planning go smoothly. Letting them help in simple areas will allow you to have more control over the bigger decisions later. Avoid giving them too much control by asking their opinions about two or three options that you have narrowed down for them ahead of time.
Now that you have the calendar dates that are available for you, your family, and wedding party, it is time to zero in on the date! Here are a few questions to help you narrow your search:
Which seasons do you prefer?
Do seasons matter at all to you?
Do you like snow?
When did you fall in love?
What kind of food would you like to have served?
What are your favorite colors?
Is there are particular time of year that your families find meaningful?
Do you want an outside ceremony?
How much time do you have to plan your wedding?
Do you like the heat or cold?
Do you want a strapless dress?
Are there military commitments to consider?
Believe it or not, all of these questions play a role as to the seasonality of your wedding.
Once you have settled on a season and you have weeded out dates that don't mesh with all of the familial calendars, you will be off to the races. It is important to be as flexible as possible with your date as you start the search for your ceremony and reception sites. Your date and venues are really what set the tone for your event, so be careful in your selection and the rest of the planning process will be much easier.
“Wedding Season” is typically April through October. Keeping this timeframe in mind will help you pick a date and prepare yourself for the possibility of some of your favorite wedding professionals being booked more quickly. In comparison, off-peak weddings are often easier to plan.
In general, the most popular wedding months are June, August, September, and October. Keep in mind that this is only statistically speaking and can change from city to city! Depending on where you live, December may be popular because of the holiday season or February because of Valentine's Day. Every city is different and every couple is different! The key is to be as flexible as possible at this point in the planning process and to be open to what your families' needs are. Remember, the two of you are getting married and entering each other's families! Start off on the right foot and you will be thankful after the wedding.
Should you have your wedding day on a long holiday weekend, such as Memorial Day, Labor Day, or Columbus Day? Does the sound of a festive holiday-season wedding sound incredible to you? What about a New Year's Eve Celebration or a romantic Valentine's Day theme? There are pros and cons to each of these ideas.
In regard to the long holiday weekend wedding, there are three major pros. The first pro is that your guests will appreciate a wedding on a long weekend. The long weekend will give your guests an extra day of rest after the wedding before they have to travel back home (if they are coming from out of city, state, or country). The other pro is that you get to celebrate a major holiday with all of your family and friends and it will give you extra time to do other activities that are not associated with the wedding. Another fantastic pro to consider is your honeymoon! Having your wedding on a holiday weekend means an extra day for your honeymoon or saving at least one of your precious vacation days from work for another future getaway.
If you live in a major city that celebrates a holiday by holding festivals and other free activities, be sure to do your research ahead of time. If you end up having your wedding on a holiday weekend, be sure to include these activities in your save the dates, phone conversations, wedding website, and e-mails!
Unfortunately, to every pro comes a con. Realistically, you will not be the only one who has thought of all these pros for having a wedding on a long holiday weekend. Along with you, will be a long list of other couples wanting the same venues, photographers, florists, etc., for the same date. You will have to make quick decisions if your date falls on a holiday weekend. With this in mind, the next con will be obvious. You will have less negotiating power with your wedding professionals. It is as plain as supply and demand. Some wedding professionals may even charge more for these weekends as they end up having to pay their own staff more on holidays. So be prepared for a higher price tag. The last con is that you will be in competition with long-standing vacation plans that your guests may already have. Both Memorial and Labor Day weekends are popular beach getaways. Columbus Day Weekend is a little easier on families, however, some college students may find it hard to pull away from studying for impending exams and some cities do not celebrate Columbus Day, therefore it may not be a long weekend for all of your potential guests.
In regard to other holidays for your wedding (the winter holiday season through Valentine's Day), be sure you know the pros and cons of these as well. Weddings during the winter holiday season can work best for large families that tend to get together for the holidays anyway. However, this would mean that both sets of families would have to be on the same page for celebrating together (not such an easy task!). If you are looking for a small, intimate wedding, the holiday season could be your best bet. The holidays are generally filled with traditions, spirituality, and normally a great deal of stress. The stress of a wedding on top of family holiday politics may make you consider eloping. Another con is that gifts are traditionally given during the holiday season to family in general. It might make it harder financially for your guests and wedding party to pay for travel and formal wear in addition to all of the gift giving they might have to do (never mind a gift for your actual wedding). You really have to keep your guests in mind more when it comes to getting married during the holiday season.
At certain times of the year, major religious holidays can really affect whether or not some of your guests can attend your wedding. If people in your wedding party have strict religious beliefs, be ready to not only check their calendars, but their diet, and other possible observances as well.
One other big popular wedding holiday is New Year's Eve/Day. Many weddings are held on New Year's Eve as it is a great reason to have a big party! Your guests will delight in being able to dress to the nines for your wedding day and you will have a great excuse to get together for the same holiday in the future. The guests love the possibility of being together in the same hotel and not having to drive anywhere after midnight! Some of the same cons will apply to this holiday. Many wedding professionals charge more and traveling on or around this date can be very hectic and costly. Also, many couples see New Year's Eve as a truly romantic night and want to keep it private. You know your guest list better than anyone. If you tend to have a party-all-night crowd, New Year's Eve could really be a fantastic date for you.
When having a wedding on New Year's Eve (where the average alcohol intake is normally doubled or even tripled), the best place to have your wedding is at a hotel or resort. If a hotel is just not your style, make arrangements for transporting all of your guests back to their hotels for safety and liability purposes.
When thinking of the most romantic day of the year, the first day that comes to mind for many people is Valentine's Day. The biggest pro for having a wedding on Valentine's Day is that it is not typically a very popular time of the year to get married and therefore you will have more options for your wedding. The second pro is that couples love to dance, eat, and drink on Valentine's Day. What better way to celebrate than a wedding? In contrast, because Valentine's Day is centered on couples, once again you may find couples that simply want to keep Valentine's Day private. Valentine's Day is not always on a weekend either!
Keeping all of these different things in mind will hopefully help you in your selection process for the best possible date for your wedding.