Ask Team Practical: Scheduling A Wedding Around Holidays


by Liz Moorhead, Ask Team Practical

Ask Team Practical: Scheduling A Wedding Around Holidays | A Practical Wedding

Q: We’re currently planning for an October 25, 2014 wedding. However, the more I think about it, the more I worry it will conflict with Halloween. Halloween falls on the following Friday, so I’m not sure if people will be celebrating on the night of October 25th or the night of November 1st (or even October 31st). I keep going back to the idea that “your wedding is not an imposition“, but I can’t help feeling a little guilty about butting up against a holiday a lot of my friends care about. But… if we move it to the next available date (November 15th), we’ll lose the beautiful fall colors and it may be colder. Any advice or useful posts you could send my way?

Amanda

 

A: Dear Amanda,

I’m going to take a leap and guess that your friends won’t care. I realize different groups of folks treasure different days (I have family that planned their wedding around the football season), but typically Halloween isn’t one of those huge holidays with tons of traditions and major events.

Apart from that specific holiday (let’s assume everyone you know is a Halloween nut), there’s always a bit of a catch-twenty-tw0 in scheduling. If you pick this date, your cousin won’t be home from college. If you pick that one, it’ll be super hot out and everyone will sweat all over their silk charmeuse cocktail dresses. If on a Saturday, your friends from out of town will need to take off of work on Friday. On a Sunday, and your devoutly religious friends will need to miss their church service. As much as it’s really important to be a gracious host and try not to inconvenience your guests, there’s a point where it just gets a little crazy and you need to pick a damn date.

But also, you said it yourself: Your wedding is not an imposition. When we toss that phrase around it doesn’t just mean, “No one is ever inconvenienced by your wedding ever! Do whatever your little heart pleases!” But it does mean that your guests are grown-ass adults who can choose between a really awesome wedding and (for example) a really awesome Halloween party. It means, if your wedding is that inconvenient, your loved ones have the option of sitting it out.

Most of your friends—even the ones who throw a Halloween party every year exactly on the Friday before Halloween—will be really happy to set things aside in favor of being at your wedding. Some of them may not, and they may grumble about it amongst themselves. And some others may find it just so inconvenient that they’ll stay home. The thing about those last two groups (the grumblers and the shut-ins), is that there is just plain old no avoiding them. Change the date to please them, and someone will find a reason to whine or stay home.

So, will the majority of your loved ones be super bummed that they have to postpone their costume party? Probably not. Will there be a few whiners? Maybe. But there’s probably no pleasing those guys, anyway.

Team Practical, how close is too close to a holiday? Where do you draw the line between ACCOMMODATING your guests, and just making a decision that works for you?

Photo by Lisa Wiseman.

If you would like to ask Team Practical a question please don’t be shy! You can email Liz at: askteampractical [at] apracticalwedding [dot] com. If you would prefer to not be named, anonymous questions are also accepted. Though it really makes our day when you come up with a clever sign-off!

Liz Moorhead

Liz is an illustrator and writer who paints custom stationery and types up impassioned opinions about weddings, etiquette, feminism and motherhood (usually while shaking a fist and mumbling expletives around mouthfuls of cheese fries). Her spare time is spent sipping bourbon with her husband and playing Don’t Throw That in the Toilet with her son.

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  • Kayjayoh

    Also, if Halloween is actually on a Friday, I bet you anything most people will celebrate it on the 31st itself. Friday is a party night!

    • a single sarah

      Agreed. Friday is the second most convenient day for Halloween to possibly be! I would prefer it over Saturday, except the holiday is such a bad teaching day.

    • http://www.thehousealwayswinsblog.com/ Rachel Wilkerson

      Just coming to say the same thing!

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  • MEM

    My wedding will be on December 21st (16 days!) I worried a lot about having it so close to christmas- It’s difficult for people to get time off and traveling to NH in december is always iffy. Luckly the only one on our 25-person guest list who can’t make it is my bridesmaid’s husband. In reality, having it so close to christmas has been really nice. christmas cheer is interacting with wedding excitement in a really nice way and it’s a good way to celebrate family together. The biggest thing for me was making sure that my family knew that we do not expect or need any gifts for christmas this year. Finances are always tight for christmas and it was hard for some people to add a wedding into the budget. So far it’s all worked out, but I guess we’ll see how it goes!

    • Meg Keene

      My parents got married three days after Christmas. Bonus: pre-decorated church. Sure, some people were out of town and missed it. But I think they really love having their anniversary right after Christmas every year. So really, it works out.

      • TeaforTwo

        Pre-decorated is practically WHY I am having a December wedding. All white church with painted white pews and hundreds of poinsettias? Check. Venue coordinator who asked “we are putting up our Victorian Christmas decorations next week. Do you mind if we leave them up for your wedding?” HELL NO CHECK.

        Mine is December 14, and we haven’t had any grumbling. We’ve had a lot of squealing about how festive it will be, and a lot of folks who are glad that we’ll have at least one huge family get together that everyone will be at, since lots of my cousins etc. spend the holidays with their in-laws now that we’re older. And we’ve already decided that our anniversary tradition will be putting up our Christmas tree every year.

      • MEM

        that’s a huge bonus for me- I am soooo not interested in decorating! I actually gave the task to my mom so that she had something to focus on instead of sticking her fingers in everything. R really hates christmas so I think having our anniversary so close will give us something positive to celebrate this time of year- replace some of his bad memories with good ones.

      • ElisabethJoanne

        December 29 was my ideal wedding date when planning was all abstract, for the reasons everyone’s bringing up. Also, while it creates wrinkles for some people on academic schedules, it at least won’t interfere with anyone’s exams or summer job/internship.

        • Leslie

          I am getting married December 29 (also in NH MEM)! I have to shout this from the rooftops right now because my fiance and I just scrapped our June wedding in favor of throwing one together in THREE WEEKS because we wanted something more simple and where we live. I am busting about having Christmas decorations everywhere. And proof that your wedding is not an imposition: we just told everyone last night and nobody was mad. In fact, a couple people who should have been mad because they had to rearrange travel were not at all. After spending more than a year engaged and stressing out about how every single decision I will make throughout my day will affect The Wedding and the people at The Wedding, I feel like the weight of the world is off my shoulders now. Your wedding is not an imposition. People who love you will rally for you. Christmas weddings rock.

          • Leah S

            My hubby and I will celebrate our first anniversary on December 29. We loved that prices were lower in winter, and we had time off to get ready for everything (we’re both in higher ed, so we get nice long holiday breaks). Sure some people couldn’t make it, but it was beautiful (though chilly) outdoor ceremony and indoor recption. So we specifically chose a time near holidays, and it turned out AWESOME!

          • Superfantastic

            Dec 29 is our first anniversary too! I’m a teacher, as are most of my closest friends, so it had to be a school break. It did mean that some people didn’t come because they couldn’t take off work or didn’t want to give up time back home over the holidays. But most of those who did come made a vacation out of it, so we got to spend more time with them. And like you said, everything is cheaper in the off season. And available, which was important since we didn’t have a ton of lead time to reserve things – engaged in April, knowing we’d move overseas in February. Everything was booked up through November, but December was pretty wide open.

          • MEM

            Congrats on making the change and Go NH! We scrapped our 3-year plan for a 3-month plan because it turned out we didn’t want to wait for grad school to be over. We also spent a lot of time trying to come up with wedding plans that people wouldn’t show up for, and “we’ve only got three months to plan” was the perfect reason to cut the guest list to only the people we actually wanted there.

      • Beth R

        My parents got married the day after Christmas at an Elk’s Lodge, which also came pre-decorated with a tree and red and green lights and the works, but they’re Jewish and had to have the lodge take everything down, ha! They like having their anniversary during a holiday week, though.

    • sarah l

      We’re also getting married on the 21st (so close!!!!)

      we did have a higher decline rate (I think around 30%+ – we invited 169, hoping for 150, clocking in at 116) than we would have hoped, but we also got to get into our B list and invite some people we really like but who wouldn’t have made the cut the first time!

      The date was really important to us because it’s the solstice, which my fiance loves, and 21 is his lucky number, AND it is the best saturday night to get the rabbi out to start the wedding at a reasonable time because sundown is the earliest! There were only 2 people on our list who I was really bummed couldn’t make it, but “your wedding is not an imposition” has had to be my mantra.

      • sarah l

        of note (me again) as we are having a jewish wedding it ended up limiting our venue choices because I did not want to be surrounded by christmas trees in a hotel. luckily, we found an awesome venue where we can completely control the decor (and were fortunate enough to be able to hire someone to help us think and execute it)

        • Gabrielle

          Hi MEM and sarah, I’m also getting married on 21 December (in Australia though, in a paddock!). We were also concerned Christmas would affect our guest’s abilities to attend – turns out everyone is delighted to be kicking off their holidays with a wedding, and people are flying in from all over the country! Plus, we get to relax and celebrate a lovely Christmas with our families after all the big event is over! Sending you both warm wishes for a wonderful day on the 21st :-)

          • MEM

            you too Gabrielle! australia sounds amazing!

    • jamienil

      I’m getting married on December 27th (just around the corner – eee!) I was a little worried about it being so close to Christmas, but my closest friends and family members are attending, and I’m super excited to see them all in one place! The only people who declined were people who I think would have skipped it no matter the date (due to financial problems/life issues/etc). I get kind of stressed out around the holidays, which is adding to my wedding anxiety in a way that I didn’t quite anticipate, so I’m glad to hear it’s all culminating in a positive way for you, MEM! I’m looking forward to having a December wedding anniversary, and I’m excited for my warm-weather honeymoon! Good luck to you, and I hope the weather holds up for all us Northeastern December brides!

      • Emily

        We are getting married on Dec. 27th of this year. At first I had all these plans for a summer weddings, but I am getting SO excited about a Christmas wedding now. And my parents and in-laws are very excited about having EVERYONE home for Christmas this year! I haven’t heard a single complaint about our date!

  • KC

    I totally agree that the weekend before a weekend Halloween is not something you would need to dodge, practically speaking, with most groups of people. (okay, yeah, if that’s the Traditional Weekend For The Family Reunion Cruise and you’re having your wedding in Montana, and if all your friends have a massive costume party deliberately not on Halloween but the weekend before Halloween, then… that would be a pretty unusual situation and might be worth delaying things?)

    But I’d also note that, yes, no matter when you plan your wedding, you will most likely have some people who choose not to come on that specific date (because they have other traditions or another wedding to go to or because it doesn’t fit in their budget or because their kid is sick or they’re on their anniversary trip in Thailand or because that’s the day of the special evening clearance sale at their favorite store or their grandma is in a different state and has pneumonia or something…).

    I think that part (not an easy part!) of being a grownup and having your wedding not be an imposition is forgiving people for not coming to your wedding, even if you would have prioritized things differently than they did.

    (note: it can be helpful to remember that the “reason” they give you may not be the full reason; people shy away from explaining things all the way from “it’s the same date I got married to my ex” and “I’m in debt up to my eyeballs and would feel guilty attending but not giving you a present [or a present at the same "level" I gave to a different relative when I was in a different financial situation]” to “no one knows this, but uncle so-and-so who will be at the wedding molested me as a child and I don’t want to be anywhere near him”. Some stuff goes on in the foreground, some stuff goes on in the background.)

  • http://www.thehousealwayswinsblog.com/ Rachel Wilkerson

    Well, as the resident Halloween nut, I feel comfortable saying that Oct. 25 seems totally cool for a wedding date! (Esp. because Halloween is on the following Friday, so most of the partying will be done that night.) And as someone who just LOVES Halloween and October in general, I’d be really excited to have another fun fall thing to look forward to that month…it would just be another great way to celebrate the lovely season and indulge in autumn things! (Of course, I’m assuming you’re going to have some autumnal things at the wedding. If not, it would still be totally fine!!)

  • whitlizflem

    Our wedding was November 3 last year, and we went to a friend’s wedding October 6 this year. My sister-in-law’s (who was my bridesmaid) favorite holiday is Halloween, and she chose to go to New Orleans for the weekend before to celebrate. If it’s really important to people, they will figure out alternate times to celebrate Halloween, and I’m sure there will be tons of celebrations the Friday of Halloween and Saturday.

  • Erin

    When we got married, we had been planning a July wedding, and then realized that family from other states and even other continents would be coming to visit the Christmas before our wedding. We weren’t sure that they would have the money to fly back six months later for the wedding, since they usually only came to visit every few years.

    So around a year before our chosen date, we moved the wedding up six months. Christmas was on a Friday, and family wasn’t going to be in town for very long. We had a long discussion and decided to get married at 2pm on the Sunday two days after Christmas.

    It mean that a lot of our college friends couldn’t come because they would be home with their families, and the fact that it was on a Sunday meant that some people had to take Monday off or leave the second the reception ended. (It snowed, and the roads were bad, so my dad ended up leaving in the middle of the reception so he could make it 5 hours home safely).

    I wouldn’t change a thing, though. We got married, most of the people we loved were there, and there were a ton of great things that happened surrounding the wedding that wouldn’t have happened if we got married in July, most notably that it snowed on our wedding day!

  • Erin E

    I got married on Oct. 26th of this year! And no one seemed to think it was a Halloween conflict at all – most Halloween activities seemed to be on the following weekend. The fall colors were in full swing and I got to stuff the kid’s goody bags at the wedding with fun Halloween toys. Yay!

    I will say, though, that I’ve been invited to a few weddings that I haven’t been able to attend because they were on major holiday weekends… like “day off of work” holidays. Those seem to create more conflicts. I’ve heard people say “well people have an extra day off and can make a trip out of it if I combine the wedding with a holiday”… but I personally dislike that. This is just my own opinion, but I value my holiday weekends highly and usually have already made (or want to make) my own plans as opposed to giving over that whole weekend to a wedding. Sorry! I like the idea of choosing a boring old weekend in the middle of a month to take over and make your own holiday!

    • Ella

      Me toooo!!! Yay 10/26/13 dates!

    • malkavian

      Those holiday weekends are also expensive as heck to travel on if you have to fly out!

    • Beth R

      As someone who got married over Memorial Day weekend this year, I totally pulled the whole “it will make it so you don’t have to take any days off work!” card and “you can totally make a trip of it” card. Nobody complained to my face about losing their day off or the more expensive travel arrangements, and a whole ton of people did make a longer trip out of it anyway, but I get that if you’re not super close to the person whose wedding it is, that could be a pain.

      On the other hand, the wedding was just one day but now we get to have our anniversary near a long weekend for the rest of our lives together!

      • Reesa

        I’ll be getting married Memorial Day Weekend next year. It’s nice to hear that it worked out for you so well. It’s exciting to hear family making it their early summer vacation, and yes – every anniversary will be a day off of work now! :)

  • Ellas

    Ha! I got married this year on that same weekend — October 26. 2013. I had a few friends threaten to come in costume, but that was it. I love Halloween, but it was NOT what I wanted to theme my wedding (spoiler: the theme was wedding). Trust me, your friends care more about your wedding than a holiday. And if they don’t, they’re not your friends. No one cared that Halloween was right around the corner (we’re young twenty-somethings so our crowds sound similar). They chose to celebrate Halloween the weekend after, Nov. 2nd.

    In addition, we had our wedding the weekend of our college homecoming — a very big deal with our close friends and us. I felt guilty about making them choose our wedding over homecoming, but everyone said the same thing when I voiced my concern: everyone they wanted to see at homecoming would be at our wedding! :)

    • Violet

      “(spoiler: the theme was wedding)” HAHAHAHA!! This is awesome!

  • Cat

    I’m getting married on the same day! I was a little “worried” about the proximity to Halloween, mostly because it’s my brother’s birthday. BUT it is the day that works the best for us, so that’s who won the argument. The Baby Family!

  • Manda

    Amanda! I feel like we should be friends or something. My name is also Amanda, my wedding date is October 24, 2014, and my partner and I chose our date based on the pretty fall colors.

    Honestly, I didn’t worry about the wedding conflicting with Halloween. My bigger concern was setting the date for a Friday. We’re having our wedding earlier in the day (ceremony around 11:00 AM ish, reception immediately following) and I’m a bit worried that people might not show up. I’ve already received some questionable comments from family members. I feel as though they expect me to justify and/or defend my decision, which really makes me feel uncomfortable. I just keep reminding myself that those who really want to be there will make it work. They’re getting plenty of notice. Besides, my wedding is going to be awesome. We’re serving brunch food, warm apple cider, and homemade ice cream from an AMAZING local ice cream shoppe. Those who choose not to come are just going to miss out on all the amazingness. ;)

    • KC

      I think it’s totally fine to have a Friday wedding, and actually fairly awesome. However, you’ll want to *really* make sure people know it’s Specifically No Really On A Friday Even Though It’s Earlier In The Day, because idiots like me sometimes assume all weddings are on a Saturday and then make the actual “wait, the date on that invitation is on [non-Saturday day of the week]” realization… later. I have not actually *missed* a wedding due to this (whew), but I came very, very close once (and almost bought the wrong plane tickets another time, eek).

    • karyn_arden

      I got married on a Friday as well, at 4 pm to be precise. It was fantastic – people loved it because they got to play hooky from work, we loved it because our photographers charged us a slightly lower rate and everything was easy to manage. The only trouble was possibly the drive between our ceremony venue and our reception space (and I didn’t hear anybody complain so I doubt it was an issue in any way).

      You don’t need to justify or defend your decisions about your wedding (or any of the rest of your life) to anybody. Ever. We never had issues with that question, but if people ask, I’d just tell them that it was a decision that worked best for you and your future-husband. And you’re right – if they really want to be there, they will. The only people who couldn’t make it to our wedding were the ones who live across the country, but everybody else was there and it was the best. time. EVER.

      • Erin E

        “If they really want to be there, they will” isn’t quite true though – and I think it’s important to realize that. Sometimes people DO really want to be there, but can’t make it because of legitimate things. The fact is that you will have more of those legitimate things on a weekday than a weekend. I was invited to a Friday afternoon wedding this year and I’d just started a new job… I legitimately couldn’t take a day yet. And no, it wasn’t my best friend getting married, but it was still a good friend. I’d hate for her to think I didn’t really want to be there – that wasn’t the case at all! If you choose a weekday you have to acknowledge that you’re running the risk of a few more people not being able to make it.

    • J

      We got married on a Friday (late afternoon) in August. We picked that day because the venue we loved was like $2000 cheaper, which made it doable versus not-doable. I had three friends, I think, that specifically said they couldn’t make it because it was on a Friday, all because they had big things happening at work that day. They all would have been flying in from across the country, and they were all good friends but not SUPER close friends, so it’s possible they couldn’t have made it on a Saturday, anyway (flying in that morning would have been somewhat tough), and I imagine that, if they were among my very best friends, they probably would have figured it out. So yes, it might have an impact, but I don’t think it will have an enormous impact.

  • Lindsey d.

    Same situation here! And the “my wedding is not an imposition” phrase was key to my decision. We are getting married on March 15, the same day as our city’s big annual St. Patrick’s Day parade. Our ceremony is at the same time the parade rolls. My brother has had to drop out of riding in the parade to officiate for us. But NO ONE (not even my brother) has even mentioned that it would be a problem. Everyone is excited to be there for our one-time event and understands they can go to the parade next year.

  • Kathleen

    I went to a wedding this year that was on Saturday October 26th (when most people were going out for Halloween), and didn’t think a thing of it. I love Halloween, but would happily skip the festivities for a wedding. Halloween will happen again next year.

  • alyssa

    We had our wedding on the same Saturday as New Years’ Eve, and far from people being disappointed, they were actually happy to have NYE plans! We accommodated for the date by having a midnight champagne toast, and the whole thing was very festive and fun. I wouldn’t worry about the holidays around your wedding – part of the allure of the season is why you chose your date, right? :)

    • KC

      NYE weddings are awesome. That is all.

  • Sabrina

    We are getting married on 10/18/14, and solving the problem by making is a costume extravaganza (including a costume contest, trick or treat table, and ceremony in our favorite graveyard by an officiant who drives a hearse,)

  • ElisabethJoanne

    We got married on the Monday of a 3-day weekend (Veterans Day). We didn’t hear anything about conflicting with people’s other plans.

  • RD

    I got married on Oct. 26 this year. One of my colleagues was hosting his 10th annual mega-Halloween party the same evening and still came with his wife to see our 5:30 p.m. ceremony and stayed for about an hour of the reception. We wanted an outdoor fall wedding and live in a big college football town (our alma mater, huge fans ourselves), so we picked our date based on the bye week. A couple of other friends came to our wedding and reception for a couple of hours, despite having Halloween parties to attend later in the evening.

    I was in a wedding the year before that was held on Memorial Day weekend, and that didn’t affect my friend’s attendance either. She had a lot of family traveling from out of state, so it was advantageous for them.

    Our venue was a botanical garden, so there were fall pumpkins, etc. around for the season. Our decor was not even remotely fall themed (blues and greens) and it wasn’t out of place at all.

    Bonus: I picked up a ton of great photobooth props for super cheap at Dollar Tree because of the proximity to Halloween.

    If you want to get married on the 25th, do it!

  • CJ

    We got married the Saturday after Thanksgiving–I think the timing may have frustrated a few family members who didn’t want to travel over Thanksgiving, but they got over it. For a few key guests and family members, having that week was the only option for them to be involved because of having a couple of extra days off work. There were one or two people we invited who did not come because it was the week of Thanksgiving, but you can’t please everyone, and the people who *were* able to be there precisely *because* it was Thanksgiving were the ones we were more invested in planning around.

    • Chloe

      We were considering the weekend after Thanksgiving and also a date in December but in the end nixed it for MLK weekend in January 2015. The issue for us is we live in Johannesburg where my fiancé grew up and his family lives and are having the wedding here. For family and friends coming from the US it is a serious expense, probably more than if it were a true destination wedding. I know my wedding is not an imposition, but the difference between a $900 flight and an $1,800 flight in December is pretty important from where I’m sitting. For the Thanksgiving weekend, since I already know a bunch of people will not be able to make it because of the cost, I didn’t want to add in missing a family holiday as an extra deterrent. If my US-life memory serves me correctly MLK weekend is not a huge family togetherness or travel weekend (although my family is Black – maybe we’ve been doing it wrong?), so I’m hoping to get the benefits of the built in day off of work without domestic flight rates being exorbitant. Fingers crossed!

  • Sarah

    My wedding is next year ON the 4th of July. I figure if people are too busy coming then that’s fine and I won’t mind. It’s my way of wittling down the guest list (FH’s guest list side is 3 times as big as mine) without hurting feelings

    • macrain

      This is the type of thing I would LOVE. I never know what to do on the 4th and I would be delighted to have a wedding to attend.

  • macrain

    Yay October 2014 brides! Mine is happening on the 18th; the only reason we nixed the 25th is that’s my fiance’s birthday. I honestly wouldn’t have given it a second thought, though! I think you’ll be just fine.
    I’m actually being put in the position where I have a major work event (that I am in charge of the planning and implementation of) the weekend before my wedding. Which of course isn’t a problem for my guests, but YIKES. I decided to invest in a day of coordinator who will take over planning and confirming everything two weeks before the wedding. We’ll see how that works out. :) I’m trying to do as much as possible ahead of time.

  • Chanel Jones

    Halloween is a huge holiday for my husband, our friends, and I. That being said, we got married on October 28th, our Halloween-loving friends showed up and helped us celebrate, and then we went to our favorite Halloween party the next evening and saw everyone who couldn’t make it. It was one of the best weekends I’ve ever had.

  • Catalina

    My cousin got married Easter weekend and, yes, people chose to sit it out, but there were lots of guests at her wedding! She incorporated optional Easter events into the weekend, like an egg hunt for kids and a sunrise service the morning after. I think that helped make it alright that it was a holiday weekend, because she didn’t pretend that it wasn’t,

  • http://dressesandyarn.tumblr.com/ Natalie

    I’m in the opposite camp for the same reasons. I’m looking to have the wedding on Halloween weekend specifically so my guests CAN partake in some of my favorite hometown festivities. I’m actually ready to contact the haunted house I want to take my guests to so that I can ensure it’s open if I have to bump it up a few weeks so guests can have Columbus Day weekend. I’m even looking at dresses to determine how well I will be able to maneuver through the haunted house.

  • Christina

    My wedding is January 4th this year, which is the Saturday following New Year’s Eve, and the only complaint I’ve heard is from The Complainer in our family, and it was that the cost of plane tickets was high due to the holiday. But when I looked at them, they were about average for what I am used to seeing for that particular trip. Most people were happy about the date, and many of them took Thursday and Friday off of work for the event, giving them a 2 day work week, because they’re already off on Wednesday.