This is a great opportunity to reflect on what matters most to you so you can choose the best "when and where" for your wedding day.
Let go of the idea of the perfect wedding date. The wedding planning process is all about cultivating that feeling and vibe you want to create for you and for your guests, in whatever way feels most appropriate to you. Get off to the right start by choosing a specific date that matches your desires and needs while keeping your loved ones in mind.
With all of the planning and investment that the wedding requires, it’s important to give yourself enough time. Ideally, you want to to set your date at least 8 to 12 months out to make sure you have enough time to get everything ready. Hiring a wedding planner is often a good idea. A skilled wedding planner can help you work on a tight timeline. If you choose to plan the whole wedding on your own, give yourself a bit more time to get acquainted with the process.
Budget, Vibe, and People
Think about your fundamental needs first: what is your budget? Then consider your aesthetic and emotional needs: how do you want the wedding to feel and what's the vibe you are aiming for? Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, consider the needs of the people you are inviting. Every component considered in choosing your wedding date should have these three elements in mind; this is how we frame the decision-making process. Choosing between a summer or a winter wedding isn’t just a decision between different vibes, it’s a decision that affects your budget and who will be able to attend.
Is There an Ideal Season?
The most popular months to get married are September, October, and June followed by May, August, and November. Wedding dates that fall within these months are generally good choices — temperatures are mild and there are fewer holidays and vacations, but also potentially higher prices due to more demand.
These busy months could lead to conflicts with other weddings that you or your guests may get invited to. But depending on your location, you still might be able to find a great deal on a beautiful venue if it is off-peak for them. No season is perfect, so you have to consider the tradeoffs that make sense for you.
Of course there are also additional factors to consider. Is your dream to hold an indoor or outdoor ceremony? An outdoor ceremony will naturally be more exposed to the elements and visually connected to the season, the foliage in bloom, and the day’s weather. An indoor wedding may offer more control and fewer risk factors, but it will lack that natural, majestic beauty that outdoor weddings can provide. Again, tradeoffs!
A “summer wedding” doesn't have to be in your calendar’s summer months if you can zip on down to the southern hemisphere or somewhere tropical during the winter. But of course, this comes with greater attention to budget and guests' ability to attend. Wherever you hold your celebration, be aware of pricey flights and expensive hotel rooms both for your sake and for that of any out-of-town guests.
A winter wedding is securely in the off-season. Take advantage of discounts while cultivating something magical in the snow. The cold of winter might symbolize endurance through the challenges brought forth by the natural rhythms of life, or the capacity of your love to exude warmth and comfort.
A fall wedding is popular as a happy medium across multiple considerations. It can symbolize an important transition in life.
And a spring wedding symbolizes rebirth, change, and hope. The natural beauty of the Earth in bloom is hard to beat, though your guests may be weeping as much from allergies as from the emotion of your ceremony.
Consider Your Guests and Family Members
Thoughtfully reflecting on your budget goals and finding a time of year that matches your vision would be incomplete without considering your guests. Will your dream wedding really be what you want it to be if the people you care about most cannot attend?
For example, if you have a destination wedding, someone in your wedding party may not be able to travel due to health or budget concerns.
Think about anniversaries, birthdays, and other commemorative events. Scheduling the ceremony on the date of a guest's anniversary or birthday, or worse, another friend’s wedding, can easily get awkward.
Consider limitations due to physical conditions, travel restrictions, prior commitments, religious holidays or observances, and any other important or inescapable conflicts. If your sister-in-law is a teacher, she would likely appreciate a summer wedding that takes place when school is out.
There must be balance in thinking about your guests. Ultimately what matters most is deciding on a wedding date that works for you. But if what is best for you does not consider what is best for others, your special day could exclude your closest loved ones.
Weather and the Wedding Venue
Even if you are planning to be married indoors, weather still has an effect on the general mood and vibe of the celebration. If you're planning your celebration in Florida, consider that extreme summer heat in July. If thinking about a dream beach wedding in September, remember the threat of peak hurricane season. Make sure to do some basic research on the climate, as well as any patterns in seasonal rain, of the location you have in mind if you are traveling somewhere new.
Consider how weather might impact aesthetics. Wedding photographers love clear skies and a juicy sunset brimming with natural light. Think about attire. Making sure everyone is comfortable in formalwear is one reason fall weddings are so popular.
Still, whatever happens on your wedding date is unpredictable. Make preparations for any emergencies or last minute pivots. Can you change location quickly if a downpour sets in? Will your plans be affected by a dramatic and unexpected shift in temperature on the day-of? Talk to your venue about relevant emergency procedures. Having a backup plan is just good wedding planning.
Weekend or Weekday Wedding?
Weekday weddings will be more budget friendly than weekend weddings. Venues naturally have greater demand on the weekend, so consider a weekday ceremony and reception to bring costs down.
Some venues and wedding vendors will even provide discounts and special rates for weekday bookings. Make sure to double check with the venue you're working with, because some consider weekdays as Monday to Friday while for others it's Monday to Thursday.
Weekend weddings tend to be more lively and energetic with everyone free from work and primed for leisure and fun. Weekdays will likely be a more relaxed affair, depending on the your guests' capacity to take time off and show up.
A weekday wedding will likely require more from your guests, since many will have to take time off from work or request more time than they would have otherwise planned for. But fewer guests is not necessarily a bad thing. A smaller crowd can translate to a more intimate and close knit guest list. Maybe you already need to whittle down the guest list; this is one organic way to do it.
Guests that make space in the middle of the week for your celebration might also be distracted by weekday work expectations. But then again, a weekend wedding may distract from your moment if you have guests that are liable to let the revelry get out of hand.
Holidays and Holiday Weekends
A Labor Day weekend wedding sounds like a great idea, and there's good reason it’s the most popular holiday for a wedding. But rest assured that you will not be the only one planning to take advantage of the three-day weekend, so competition for wedding venues and vendors will be tight. The same goes for a Valentine's Day wedding, though cold weather makes this a less popular choice, especially for an outdoor wedding.
Think about the holidays that matter not only to you, but to your guests as well. You don't want to have to force your guests to choose between your wedding and an important religious observance.
Yet a conflict does not always equal a deal breaker. Nearby holidays can give flavor to the theme of your wedding. Local events near the time of your wedding date could be integrated into the celebration and festivities.
The price of flowers is seasonal and could uptick near a holiday. Mother's Day and Valentine's day might also mean more costly flowers. Springtime, with its prom and graduation season, might cause conflicts, competition with venues, or higher prices for flowers.
Other Things to Consider
The date you choose might also be connected to the time of day you have in mind for your ceremony and reception. If a particular venue is booked in the evening, consider having a morning ceremony with a lunch reception. Daytime slots will often cost less but also have a smaller window of time when the space is available. This works well in the situation of weekday weddings that have a more relaxed atmosphere.
If you are especially indecisive, you can make a decision on your wedding date based on a set of numbers that mean something to you. How about 11/11 or 4/20? Talk to someone with a magic twinkle in their eye and have them consult an ancient astrological calendar and your life path number.
In the end of the day, it's simply about thinking of which month and date calls to you or has a special meaning, and it is entirely up to you how to get there. Just make sure you are fulfilling your and your guest's needs while you’re at it. Tune into what season resonates with your personality, the spirit of the relationship that precipitated this celebration, and the community of people you want to share it with.