You’re engaged, congratulations! Even if you have only been engaged for a week, I bet you’ve been asked approximately 1000 times if you’ve picked a date.
No, of course I haven’t picked a date! I haven’t stopped staring at my ring long enough to do anything else!
People love this question, even when the answer is so obviously no. BUT, now that you’re engaged, you do need to start thinking about actually getting married. I know, crazy. One of the first decisions you will need to make is the date. The actual date will depend a lot on the venue’s availability, so I don’t recommend getting hard set on a specific date too soon in the process, but there are some things you should think about before going on those venue tours.
Length of Engagement
Start by thinking about how long of an engagement you want to have. According to The Knot, the average engagement is 14.5 months. Keep in mind, that is just an average; there are plenty of people who getting married much quicker, and others who wait years. There are positives and negatives to both a long and short engagement. A longer engagement gives you more time to plan and save. A shorter engagement reduces the time you will be stressed and gets you married quicker! Just keep in mind that a really short engagement does present its challenges. Many venues and vendors book over a year in advance and wedding dresses can take 8 months.
Choosing a Season
So now you have a basic idea of the timeframe. Time to pick a season! The best way to categorize wedding dates is on-season and off-season. These categories will vary slightly by venue, but typically, the off-season is from November – April.
What does on-season vs. off-season mean for you?
On-Season: These months are popular for a reason. Early summer and fall have near perfect weather and beautiful scenery. You don’t have to worry about snow cancelling your big day (I’m knocking on wood – we are in New England after all), or about your guests freezing their bums off. You can have that outdoor wedding you’ve dreamed of with relatively low risk.
Off-Season: The weather may be less dependable, but prices are significantly reduced during the off-season, so you can get a lot more wedding for a lot less money. Additionally, off-season dates are less popular, so you will have less competition to secure the venue you love.
My best tip? Look at dates in early November or late April. You will get the cost benefits of the off-season, but you will practically be in the on-season! It may be a little chilly, but overall, weather in early November and late April is pretty fabulous! Totally worth losing a couple degrees to save thousands of dollars.
Choosing a Day
Ok, you’ve picked the perfect month. What about the day of the week? I’m sure it is no surprise to you, but Saturday is the most popular date for weddings. Unfortunately, like the seasons, its all about that competitive market! Saturday nights usually have higher per person costs, and can have much higher minimums.
Friday: Fridays are great because you are usually saving 15-20% off Saturday prices, which is awesome! But, you need to keep in mind that many guests may have to take the day off from work, miss your ceremony, or miss the entire wedding. Fridays can also cause extra stress for the bridal party if they don’t have a lot of time off available at work. While they can probably swing it, most of your party will not want to go to work on Thursday either, especially if they are traveling, so they are looking at 2 days off.
Saturday: Who doesn’t love a Saturday wedding? Guests don’t have to worry about taking time off from work, or going to work the next day after a night of dancing (and drinking). It really is the perfect night of the week for a wedding. But, if you are watching your budget, Saturday may be the worst option. Saturday night minimums are often thousands of dollars higher than Friday and Sunday nights! The good news? Most venues have the same pricing Friday, Saturday and Sunday in the off-season, since you are already getting such a discounted rate. So if you want a Saturday and want to save, keep those off-season dates in mind!
Sunday: Sundays are another great cost saver. Similar to Fridays, you can likely save 15-20% off the Saturday night cost. An advantage of Sunday over Friday is that guests do not have to take time off of work in order to attend (granted, they probably won’t want to go to work Monday morning…but they can!) and you can have your rehearsal dinner Friday or Saturday night, which is way more fun. One downside to Sundays is if you were planning to get married in a church – you probably can’t. Check with your local church, but since normal masses are already scheduled for Sunday, it will be unlikely that you will be able to have your ceremony there.
A Few Things to Watch
Holidays: My advice? Don’t get married on a major holiday. The main reason involves your guests. Guests are not going to be thrilled that you just ruined their holiday plans. Do you care? Maybe not; it is your wedding! But, you also might lose some guests that you really wanted to be there but can’t get out of a previous commitment. You also may end up paying more, especially when we are talking about the off-season. For example, New Year’s Eve is during the off-season. So it’s cheap, right? Wrong! There is no better way to lose that off-season discount than to get married on a holiday. Another reason not to get married on a holiday? You get to make your anniversary a whole new holiday! Getting married on a holiday could be a cool idea if you are totally obsessed with a certain holiday and want a super cool themed wedding. But, for the most part, your anniversary could very likely end up taking a backseat to the other holiday every year in the future.
Lent: Anyone looking to get married in the Catholic Church needs to know this! Many churches do not allow weddings during Lent! The dates of Lent vary every year, but if you are looking in the February-April timeframe, make sure you check. You don’t want to have a date set with the venue to later find out that you can’t get married at the church until a month later.
Timing: Ceremony time may be a different topic altogether, but I think it is important to note here. Remember that the sun sets at different times throughout the year! This little fact is very important when it comes to timing your ceremony and your pictures. If you choose to save some money and get married in the off-season, you will likely be dealing with a sun that sets pretty early, so you may need to have an earlier start time, or do a first look so your pictures are done during the daylight.
I hope that helped you get started with picking your date! Remember – whichever date you pick, it will be perfect! So don’t sweat it too much! Do whatever is best for you and your budget, and you will have an incredible day!