Choosing a wedding date is one of the most important planning decisions you will have to make as a couple — it will impact every other aspect of your big day. You may have an idea of where you imagine yourself walking down the aisle or what you want your cake to look like, but until you decide when you would like to get married, you can’t commit to anything. You may be wondering: “How do I choose a date that suits everyone and is always special to me?”or “Where do I start?”
For every couple, the process is completely unique and it’s part of what makes your wedding date so special to you. I hope that by sharing some planner ideas — as well as my experience as a real bride — I can help you find the perfect time to say “I do.”
Step #1: Consider the weather.
The most popular months to get married are June, September and October and it is not surprising that the weather is absolutely gorgeous in early summer and autumn. In general, you can plan the weather based on past records and standards, but do not forget to continue to track it throughout your planning process.
I’ve been planning weddings where we’ve experienced unusually strange weather — those of you who live in California remember that December/January heat wave we had! — and the best way to deal with it is to add a little cushion in your budget for items like throws or fans. Think about your guests and their comfort level.
I love every season for its unique beauty, but I knew I didn’t want to wear a wedding dress in the middle of summer and there was no way I could get my fiancé Jesse to wear a suit in 100-degree weather! So we peeled back the layers of each season and ended up with spring. The weather won’t be too hot and everything is so lush and pretty at this time of year.
Step #2: Consider all the factors of an off-season date.
Getting married in January or March can help you reduce your rental costs, but you need to be prepared to make sacrifices in other areas. For example, let’s say peonies are your absolute favorite flower and you can’t imagine having a bouquet with anything else. Depending on the time of year, it may be difficult (if not impossible) for your florist to find them at a price that fits your budget. (In general, off-season flowers are incredibly expensive.)
The same concept applies for Friday versus Saturday weddings. While a venue may be able to give you a break on their minimums for a Friday reception, be aware that the rest of your wedding vendors might not be able to.
Since I’m getting married in the spring, I’m willing to spend a little more on guest comforts such as throws, extra heaters or a hot chocolate station. Bonus: These pieces of equipment can double as personalized favors or interactive activities throughout my wedding day.
Step #3: Lead the date selection process by creating a list of what you are planning for your wedding day.
Imagine that your wedding day has finally arrived — what do you see? A lush rose garden as a backdrop for your ceremony? Vineyards dripping with grapes ready for harvest? Snow-capped peaks? By reducing your potential wedding date to a season (or two), you can cut your options in half.
This is where the girly side of me comes in! Jesse loves fields and greenery — he’s Irish, so it’s in his blood — and I’m a total flower girl. As much as I love November and December, I knew the flowers would be picked during those months. So, for me, it came down to wanting to create a beautifully lush setting for the whole day, ideally in a field in the middle of nowhere (more on my venue search in a future blog post!).
Step #4: Think twice before getting married on a holiday.
In addition to Christmas, Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve, you may also want to reconsider the knot on religious holidays, event weekends (depending on your location), major sporting events, Father’s Day and other holidays of this nature, and September 11th.
While holiday weddings can be super fun and festive, your wedding date is something you want to celebrate for years to come because of the meaning behind it—not because it was also NYE. Another thing to keep in mind is the significant costs associated with holiday weddings. For example, the price of roses during Valentine’s Day is awesome, so having them on your big day could really hurt your overall budget.
But perhaps the most important factor to consider is your guests. As much as they love you, do they really want to spend an important holiday celebrating you instead of being able to celebrate it? Yes, your wedding is about both of you, but you also want to make it an event that your guests are passionate about and can afford to attend. Hotels, flights and car rentals can all be very expensive, especially during a holiday weekend.
Once we narrowed it down to spring, Jesse and I had to decide if we would get married in March, April, or May. March is St. Patrick’s Day, and as much as I love a good themed party, I can’t see myself hosting a St. Patrick’s Day wedding. May is Jess’s birthday month, so it was out! April is.
Step #5: Focus on what you want your wedding day to be and how to represent it on a date.
At this point, you should have your potential dates narrowed down to a month or two, and that’s when it gets fun! In the months leading up to the final round, are there any dates that make sense to you as a couple or as individuals? Do you want to honor a family member who is no longer alive by getting married on their birthday or anniversary? Are there any dates you want to avoid?
For this step, I started by asking Jesse if there were any dates in April that were special for him individually because we couldn’t think of any for both of us. (We started dating in March and got engaged in January, and the two have already dated.) He couldn’t propose anything, so I asked him what he thought about getting married on my grandparents’ wedding anniversary, which is April 30th. They have been married for over 50 years now and have taught us to love and enjoy life, so it seemed appropriate that we could honor them. We both agree that our wedding should take place on this day.
Step #6: Give yourself plenty of time and don’t rush!
I’ve planned full weddings in just a few months, and we’ve all seen how weddings can be put together in a matter of weeks on TV. However, what you may not know is the cost it takes for a great celebration to be executed quickly.
When a bride contacts me and asks if we can plan her big day in a short time, I always tell her that anything is possible, but there may be areas that she will have to sacrifice. For example, a custom wedding dress can take more than a year to create, depending on what you want. Also, your personalized favors, centerpieces, or logo invitations may not end exactly the way you planned.
The moral of the story is to make sure you give yourself enough time to plan the things that are really important to you, whether it’s incorporating lace from your mom’s dress to use in your own dress or getting handmade favors from your favorite travel destination.
As a wedding planner, my life is planned well in advance, so I knew I had to choose a date with enough time to really block everything out, especially if I want to be able to go on a honeymoon. Jesse and I knew we’d be watching at least a year in advance. This will give us plenty of time to bring in a number of custom details and let my creativity take over!
Step #7: Think about the other aspects of your wedding and how they will all turn out.
Now, depending on what other aspects of your wedding are important, you may want to keep an open mind on a few dates. What happens if your dream location is booked or your favorite photographer is out of town? Better yet, what about the important people in your family? You’ll want to make sure they can wait!