As soon as you get engaged, the questions will start pouring in. People will ask you left and right: “When is the wedding!?” It’s like … um, we just got engaged like yesterday, and we haven’t started planning yet!
It’s frustrating, because people want answers and you feel rushed to come up with a date. But take your time; it’s a big decision. In today’s post, I’ll walk you through how to choose a wedding date.
If you’ve seen any of those “ultimate wedding planning timelines” – you’ll notice that they are all timed out from the wedding date. This shows that the date is really important for planning the rest of your wedding – everything depends on the date.
Let me tell you the story of how me and my husband “chose” our date (spoiler: we didn’t exactly choose our date).
It took us forever to find the right venue (it took us about seven months)! When we finally found the right venue – they asked us what date we wanted. We didn’t have a specific date in mind – as it turns out, that was a good thing. As you’ll see below, it pays to be flexible with the wedding date.
First, we let our venue narrow our date options for us. We asked which dates the venue was available and we received a short list of dates.
Then, we let our budget narrow our date options. Some of the available dates were much more expensive than others – so we quickly narrowed it down to Fridays during the off season. That left us with only a handful of dates to choose from, and we picked the one closest to the peak-season – DONE!
And that’s how we chose our date. Super easy, right?
(By the way, that decision alone saved us more than $2,000. More about that in last week’s post..)
Your turn! Below, I’ll show you the exact steps to follow to come up with your wedding date. Before I do that – I want to talk about why it’s 100x better to be flexible with your date.
Why it’s a Bad Idea to Choose a Wedding Date First
If you pick the date first, you will have slim pickings for everything else, like venue, catering, photography, etc. This is especially true if your wedding date happens to be in the summer (…good luck with that)!
If your date is not flexible, you’ll have to be flexible with literally everything else because you’re limited to what’s available on that date. For example, if your dream venue is not available on your date – you’ll just have to deal with it.
This is why I highly recommend flexibility with your wedding date – trust me, it’ll save you lots of stress. And if you’re hung up on a specific date, my advice is simply: get over it; it’s just a date. The important thing is your marriage, remember!?
So my advice to minimize stress is to be flexible with your date. Start with your venue, and let the venue’s availability narrow your list of possible dates. This is the hassle-free (read: stress-free) way to choose your date.
3 Things to Consider When Choosing Your Wedding Date
There are lots of factors to consider, but here are three MAJOR ones:
1. School and/or Work
Sometimes you don’t have much choice in the wedding date because of your school or work commitments. If you’re in school or close to graduating – then it might be a good idea to get married when you have a break from school or when you graduate. If you work at a job that’s crazy-strict about time off, then you will probably need to plan around your work schedule – unless you have an awesome boss!
Some wedding dates are more expensive than others. The most expensive time to get married is during the peak wedding season – which is in the summer (in most places). And the most expensive day of the week, of course, is Saturday! So if you’re getting married on a Saturday in the summer – you’ll pay a pretty penny for that date. If you have a strict budget, choosing an off-peak date is an easy way to save money.
3. Venue Availability
What it really comes down to is venue availability because finding the wedding venue is probably one of the hardest tasks for most couples. That’s why I recommend finding the venue first, and choosing the date from their availability calendar.
The Step-by-Step Guide to Choose Your Wedding Date
The key to coming up with a date is to narrow your options to a span of a few months. Note: your actual date may fall outside of this initial time span, and that’s totally ok! The point of narrowing it down to a timeframe is to give yourself an idea of when to get married. This way you have something to reference as you start looking for venues. In other words, it’s totally ok to be open to dates that fall outside of the time frame that you’ll choose below. OK, let’s get started.
Step 1: Pick a Year
It might seem weird to start off with picking a year – but many couples are choosing to have longer engagements. Have you thought about the length of your engagement? Here are some questions to consider:
- How much time do you need to plan the kind of wedding you want, considering your life, work, and/or school commitments?
- Do you want to give yourself a lot of time to plan?
- Or do you want to be done with it sooner rather than later?
- Do have funds set aside to pay for the wedding, or do you need time to save?
- Are you trying to avoid going into debt?
Here’s my take: get married within 12-18 months of getting engaged, if possible. I think this is plenty of time to plan and save up.
I mean, you could have, like, a 10-year engagement. But if you’re like me, you probably don’t want to spend 10 years planning a freaking wedding! In my experience, I was so busy that I just wanted to get the wedding over with so I could move on with my life!
Step 2: Pick a Quarter
Now that you know what year you’ll be getting married, choose a three-month span within that year. Here are some things to consider:
- Choose a timeframe that works for you as far as your life commitments (school, work, family, health, etc.)
- Consider the weather in your area – do you prefer one season over another?
- Think about the cost; if you have a rigid budget, you might consider choosing a date in the off-season
Almost done! I hope you can appreciate that and the work you’ve done so far!
Step 3: Pick a Day of the Week (or two)
Now that you have a three-month span (a quarter), consider whether you’re open to having your wedding on a day other than Saturday. Most venues have different pricing for weddings based on the day of the week:
- Saturday – most popular, most expensive
- Friday and Sunday – generally, these fall under the pricing
- Monday through Thursday – these days tend to be the least expensive
It’s helpful to know if you’re open to having the wedding on a weekday or on a Sunday. Of course, if you have a strong preference for a Saturday wedding and if that’s a non-negotiable for you – that’s important to note in this step.
Congrats! You’re Ready to Shop for Wedding Venues!
Now that you’ve narrowed down your options for a possible wedding date, you can start contacting venues! When you reach out to venues and they ask when you’re getting married, and now you can answer this question with confidence!
You can say something like:
“We’re flexible on dates, but we’re aiming for either a Friday or Saturday in January-March 2019.”
By the way, I have an email template that you can use to help you start shopping for venues. You can download the template (along with a few others) by clicking here.
One Last Tip About How to Choose Your Wedding Date
I’ve seen couples who are so gracious and considerate, that they run their date by others to make sure that the date will work for their families and friends. I’ve seen this turn into a never-ending game of rescheduling. So beware: if you ask for others’ input, you will get it.
Don’t feel like you need to accommodate everyone else’s calendar. What REALLY matters is that the date works for you, your partner, and maybe a small number of VIPs.
It’s fine to get input from people that you care about deeply because you want them to be at your wedding. I’m just saying: be good to yourself and know that you don’t need to plan your wedding around other people’s plans – don’t create more work for yourself; you have way too much shit to do.
If you REALLY want to get started in choosing your wedding date, but don’t have the time right now – download this worksheet for later! Click below, enter your email, and download the worksheet when you’re ready!