When it comes to wedding dates, the possibilities are limitless (as long as the limit is 365 in a non-leap year, that is)! With so many options, choosing your date can be a daunting task, but one you’ll want to have started before you approach vendors. Ideally, you’ll have a small set of possible dates that you can run by vendors in whom you’re interested.
Sounds great, but how do you arrive at that list of dates? Here are eight considerations to help you get there.
Dates with significance
If you’re set on honoring a specific occasion – maybe the anniversary of your first date – that could make narrowing down much simpler. Just think about whether you’re willing to wait until that date falls on a weekend, and if not, what trade-off you’re most willing to make (having a mid-week wedding, or selecting another date). Also, decide whether you’ll be willing to stick to a date if your dream venue or vendor is unavailable, or whether you prioritize booking them over having your wedding on February 4 and no other date.
Are there times of year when work is either extra busy, or, conversely, when it’s easier to take time away? If you’re an accountant, it might be harder to take vacation in March and April. If you’re an educator, summer might be the best time for you. You might also think about your guests – maybe your three groomsmen are all professional athletes, and so you’ll want to pick a date during their off-season.
Your ideal venue
If you’ve always dreamed of a garden wedding or a beach wedding, you might want to rethink winter (at least, in the Philadelphia area!), and possibly the height of summer, too. If your ideal venue has an amazing outdoor setting, but only a cramped or dingy indoor backup venue, consider how willing you are to risk bad weather changing your plans; certain times of year are much more likely to have rain or snow.
Some people love holiday-weekend weddings, especially ones where people have an extra day off from work. If that’s you, think about how significant the holiday is to you and your guests (e.g. Halloween might work, Memorial Day, maybe less so) and how inflated airfare and hotels may be as a result of the holiday.
Important family dates
Does your family have an annual reunion (or similar event) on a particular weekend? People might be displeased if you schedule your wedding opposite that event, if so. Your grandmother might be delighted to share her 90th birthday with your wedding, but she also might be annoyed. Do a quick check of the family calendar (ask your parents or other close relatives if you’re not sure of the specifics), and then decide if there are any dates to be avoided.
Similarly, is one of the dates on your list the wedding anniversary of a close friend or family member? If so, you’re within your rights to also choose that date, but you might reach out to them before you do so. You’ll hopefully know whether the couple would take offense, and if so, whether that’s a battle worth fighting.
Some wedding venues are priced not just by day of the week, but by time of the year. A Saturday night in June will almost always cost you more than a Sunday afternoon in January (sometimes, many times more). If you’re in love with a venue (or vendor) with time-dependent pricing that puts high season out of your budget, you might consider off-times as a way to make it work.
Year-long engagements (give or take) are still more common than any other length. You can absolutely get married in less time, but you should go into the planning process having accepted that some vendors won’t be available. If you’re not willing to do that, but know you must have a February wedding after your November engagement, you’ve now honed in on your specific month and year.
Other major life changes
Conversely, if you know you want to avoid two major life changes in short order (e.g. you know you’ll be moving, graduating, or changing jobs), plan your wedding date accordingly. I’ve lost count of how many HGTV episodes I’ve seen where a couple is trying desperately to find a house before their wedding; if you don’t want that to be you, be sure to give yourselves enough breathing room to adjust to one thing at a time.
So, how did I choose my wedding date?
S and I ended up choosing our date fairly early on – as academics, we were pretty limited to either summer break or winter break if we wanted to stay as stress-free as possible. December was a no-brainer for me, as the holiday season has always been my most favorite time of year and the temptation of having another reason to love it was too good to ignore.
With a June engagement, that December was out for us, because I wanted more time. We also knew that our work situations would likely be in flux the following year, as I would’ve just graduated and S would be finishing up. That meant 2016 was it, along with a two-and-a-half-year engagement.
We weren’t committed to any particular date in December, though we didn’t want our wedding to be within a week of Christmas, and we had a preference for Saturday over Friday, but would’ve been happy with either. With that in mind, we started scouting venues, letting them know that, at this stage, any of four separate dates would work. Most locations were fairly wide open that far in advance, so once we chose the location, we just picked one of the available dates and went with it!
Have you chosen your wedding date yet? If so, what things did you consider? Let us know in the comments!