How to choose a wedding date
Choosing a day to get married is a big decision. Not only does it take your engagement to a new level of official (if that’s possible), it also affects the type of wedding you have. A wedding on a Thursday in October will be much different than a wedding on a Friday in July.
Equally, or more, important: your wedding date will be a day you celebrate for the rest of your life. Think about celebrating your anniversary every year, hopefully for decades: do you really want that holiday to be the week after Thanksgiving? In the middle of the summer? While your wedding is only one day, your anniversary is for the rest of your life.
There are two main ways you can go about selecting your wedding date: you can choose the perfect date, and then only look at venues that have that date open, or you can choose a venue first, and then pick a date they have available. Of course, if your venue is a private home or outside, you might have any date available.
If you want to choose a venue first, you will probably be more limited in dates. You can have an overall time of year or date range in mind, and then see what they have available. In order to book a Saturday in the spring, summer, or fall at a popular wedding venue, you may have to book a year or more in advance. If you are more flexible on the day of the week, or are willing to have a wedding in late fall or winter, you may not have to book as far in advance, and it may be less expensive.
The most popular wedding months, in order, are: June, September, August, May, October, and July.
There is some variation in different parts of the country, depending on climate.
If your venue offers you the freedom to choose any date, or you want to choose a date before choosing a venue, you will have a lot more options. One way to chose your wedding date is to slowly narrow it down, by first chosing a season, then a month, then a date, and finally a time:
Begin by deciding in which season you would like to get married, and what time of year would work best with you and your fiance’s life. The season can be a starting point for an entire wedding style. Also consider the climate in the part of the country you’re getting married, especially if you want to have your ceremony and/or reception outside.
Be mindful of holidays on or near the wedding day. It might be easier for people to travel on long weekends like Memorial Day and Labor Day, but they might also have other events to attend. A holiday weekend could also be busier in the place you’re getting married – will there be a parade that will make it hard to travel, or gridlock traffic as people try to get to the beach? If you live in a college town, you may want to avoid planning a wedding on graduation weekend, if it means no open hotel rooms or parking spots.
If you’re having a religious ceremony or are getting married in a church or temple, there will likely be restrictions on the wedding date and time, which they can help you navigate. For example, Catholics cannot marry during Lent. Many churches also have set days and times for weddings, usually to accommodate their regular services.
3. Day of the Week
After choosing a time of the year, you can decide on which day of the week you would like to get married. Saturday is by far the most popular day, followed by Sunday and then Friday. Thursday evening weddings are growing in popularity, especially during the summer when some people can more easily take Fridays off. If you have a lot of guests traveling from out of town, consider their travel days before and after the wedding, and try to make it as easy as possible for them to get there while taking the fewest days off of work and their regular lives.
4. Time of Day
Hand-in-hand with day of the week is time of day. If you’re having your wedding on a weekday, it makes sense to hold it in the evening, while a wedding on Saturday or Sunday could more easily be in the morning or afternoon. Traditionally, weddings were held in the morning, and celebrated afterwards with a luncheon, so if you decide to go that route you’re actually not unusual! Also keep in mind that, in general, the later in the day a wedding is held, the more formal it is. Formal weddings usually do not start before 6:00pm. Traditionally, any wedding that occurred after 6:00pm required formal black tie attire, although there is more flexibility on that today.
When choosing a time of day for the wedding, also consider how that will translate to food and beverage services. Any wedding during a typical meal time should include service of that meal.
When deciding on a month, day, and time for your wedding, it can be a slippery slope to consider family and friends’ availability.
You should take into consideration close friends and family who have already planned a wedding date close to yours. It is nice to consider school schedules if some of your guests are still students, and of course take into account major holidays. It is also nice to consider the wishes of anyone contributing to your wedding financially. Beyond that, you could drive yourself crazy trying to take everyone’s plans and preferences into account. Pick the date that is best for you and your fiancé; the rest of your guests will understand and do their best to make it work.
Choosing a wedding date means taking into account a lot of moving parts and trying to make a decision based on many different pieces of information. Remember that there is probably no “perfect” date for your wedding and everyone involved, but in the end, you have to pick one. Try not to get too hung up on the process. It’s really just a number, and as with most parts of wedding planning, not nearly as important as your wedding and marriage.
Post, Peggy and Emily Post. Emily Post’s Etiquette. 17th ed. New York: HarperCollins, 2004 Print