Inspired by the Democratic National Convention – perhaps you’ve heard that it’s in town this week? – we’ve compiled a list of nine recurring events to consider (and potentially avoid) when planning a Philadelphia wedding. Major events often mean limited hotel availability and inflated rates, road closures, traffic jams, and the like.
If you haven’t already read through our tips for choosing your wedding date, you can do so here!
- Mummers Parade – New Year’s Day
New Year’s Day is not a good choice for weddings, no matter where you’re having one (how excited would you be to wake up that morning and know you have a wedding to attend? New Year’s Eve, however, warrants a future post). This is especially true in Philadelphia, where the day is marked with the long-standing Mummers Parade.
- Philadelphia Flower Show – March
The ceremony venue-scouting visit S and I scheduled in 2015 happened to coincide exactly with the flower show, which we realized as soon as we got to the SEPTA station. While the influx of visitors may include more locals (and thus hotels might not be as problematic), be ready for huge crowds on the trains and around the Convention Center.
The 2017 show is currently scheduled for March 11-19; check out the website here.
- Penn Relays – last week of April
Of particular interest if your venue is near the Penn campus, but watch for hotel availability, generally – the Penn Relays have drawn more than 100,000 spectators for the race weekend.
- Broad Street Run – first Sunday in May
The 10-mile race has drawn more than 40,000 participants, plus, of course, spectators.
- The regattas (e.g. Dad Vail in May)
Perhaps the most well known race is the Dad Vail, typically held in May, but you may want to check for traffic / road closure alerts around other major races, as well. The Boathouse Row website has a calendar, though it currently only includes the 2016 dates.
- Welcome America – July 4th
Philadelphia is an amazing place to celebrate the 4th, in our completely unbiased opinion, but may be a little crazy for weddings. Although – Steph attended a wedding at the Atrium at the Curtis Center over the July 4th weekend this year and reported that neither traffic nor road closures were out of the ordinary. Still, we’d suggest being mindful not just of the 4th but the festival schedule in the days leading up to the 4th (which you’ll find on their website).
- Made in America – Labor Day weekend
This year will be the fifth for Jay-Z’s Made in America music festival on the Parkway. Last year, the mayor’s office announced that more than 130,000 visitors attended the two-day event.
- Philadelphia Marathon – third Sunday of November
The annual Marathon begins and ends at the Art Museum. It’s one of the largest in the United States, with close to 100,000 people running, working, or attending.
- Army-Navy game – second Saturday in December
While Philly was historically the main host for Army-Navy, the city has been rotating with Baltimore and DC for the past several years. It’s presently held on the second Saturday of the month, but that may change in the future.
When searching for room blocks, I was initially told by one hotel that they wouldn’t have anything, as it was Army-Navy weekend, to which my reaction was something measured, like “nonononono no no I’m sure it’s not I CHECKED I SWEAR.” I was mostly right, as the game is in Baltimore this year, but will be back in Philly for 2017 (December 9th).
Major events may be announced with relatively short lead times (i.e. once you’ve already booked venues and vendors); there’s no reason to worry about what you can’t control!
Remember all of the couples scrambling for a Plan B when Pope Francis announced his September 2015 visit to Philly? That was unfortunate, but also largely unavoidable.
Smart wedding planning is just about being mindful of recurring events (as well as federal and religious holidays), and knowing there are always solutions if something does go awry.
Have wedding date-related questions? Leave us a comment below!
I would love your opinion about deciding between two different venues and dates! One is May 5 Saturday 2018 at waterworks, which as you know is broad street run weekend (day after wedding). The venue is on the parkway and our hotel will not be on broad. The other option is June 9 at Bellevue. This seems less risky overall, but I start a new job and move at end of the month so would have to get married, go on honeymoon, then move! Would love to hear your thoughts.
Smartly Wed says
Hi Michelle! Thanks so much for your question! There’s a lot to think about here. My immediate thought was to suggest that you decide based on venue, rather than date, unless you’re truly indifferent between the two venues (though are these the only possible dates at each?)
Both venues are likely great options for your and your fiancé, and I’m assuming that both the Bellevue and Water Works hit the necessary boxes: They’re in your budget, they’ll fit your guest list, you like the look, and they have the spaces to accommodate what you’ll want (e.g. cocktail hour & reception, vs. ceremony too).
So, if that’s the case, you might think about things like which one “feels” more like you, whether you’re interested in using some of the outdoor space at Water Works, how well you like the menu options, whether one venue offers things in their standard package that would be upgrades at the other, and so on.
A few other considerations, specific to these venues:
At the Bellevue, you and your guests could all stay there, which cuts down on transportation needs (and also just makes the day a bit less hectic). One advantage to a hotel wedding that you might not have considered is the opportunity to get credits toward your honeymoon, sometimes including free nights (the Bellevue had such a promotion when I looked at having my reception there).
With Water Works, you’re now working with Cescaphe, so some of your vendor choices may be limited; I’d consider all of the “extras” you might want to have at your wedding and how you feel about the vendors you’d be able to use.
In terms of dates, though, I probably wouldn’t worry about the Broad Street Run too much, unless you’re planning something big for Sunday morning that might be affected by road closures. If you give your guests plenty of heads-up time, they can plan accordingly.
The main worry with a big-crowd weekend like that one is hotels – have you reached out to hotels you’d potentially want for room blocks to see about their rates that weekend, or even how much availability they’d have? If you’re having a smaller wedding (I’m assuming it’s not incredibly small, based on your venue options), or if you don’t have many guests who’ll be staying in hotels, that’s less of a concern. A day-after brunch, or similar event, could be moved farther away from Broad and go off without a hitch.
I definitely feel your concern on the June date; I just did a move, new job, and wedding over five months, and that felt like too much at times! My first question there is whether your honeymoon would have to be immediately after your wedding, or if you’d be willing / able to have it later (new jobs & vacation time might play a role in that, I’m sure), as that’s one less thing to cram into a few weeks, if so.
You’ll know better than we will about how hectic starting your new job and your move will be – do you have lots of training you’ll have to do? Is the move across town or far away? Are you doing all the packing and moving yourself, or do you have movers? Even with the very best plans, there’s going to be a ton of wedding tasks to do in the weeks before the wedding – how much of that is going to fall to you and your fiancé, vs. a planner or family & friends?
Steph and I are in agreement that we’d go for Broad Street Run weekend over a crazy schedule, but that, again, assumes that you like the Bellevue as much as Water Works.
Keep us posted about what you decide! We’d love to help answer any other questions you have 🙂