Here is this wild thing that happens the second you announce your engagement (and before you’re even close to when you can pick your wedding date). People (apparently hearing only static in their brains) look at your brand new ring, and ask you, “So when is the big day?” I’m never sure if they think you might have planned a wedding before you decided you were getting married… or if they think you pulled together the whole thing during the half hour car ride to your mom’s house to show off your ring(s). But since picking your wedding date is no longer as easy as calling your local house of worship and asking them what Saturday in June they have free, we polled our (super smart) readers and came up with some critical things you need to consider when you want to pick your wedding date.
Let’s start with what is, for most of us, the be-all and end-all of starting to pick your wedding date:
what to consider when you want to pick your wedding date
your venue’s CALENDAR: Knowing where you want to get married is almost always a top-level concern when you want to pick your wedding date. Sure, you might really want to get married on 7/7/17, but you have to find a venue that’s free that day, so wait a second before you monogram that date on all your silver. The truth is that venues, particularly ones that are in high demand (or have low prices) can book up way in advance. One reader explained it this way:
We found a venue in our budget that would hold our huge guest list and were like, “Okay when’s the next available summer Saturday you have? Two summers from now? Okay. Let us sign the paperwork.”
Yeah, it was a long engagement and the venue basically picked the date for us. But it was fine. It gave us a date to plan for VERY early on and give our traveling loved ones plenty of heads up. It also made picking other vendors easier.
don’t ask for (Too Much) advice: It’s a good idea to consult your must-haves for potential conflicts before you are about to pick your wedding date (the people you would be devastated if they couldn’t come), but once you’ve got that date, resist the urge to ask people what they think about it. Frankly, once the date is the date, the less input you receive, the better:
The fewer people who you give input on the date, the better the process. Remember, it is highly unlikely you will have 100 percent attendance, even if you let everyone vote on the date, because things come up. (Pregnancies, you name it.) So don’t tie yourself into knots about finding a date everyone in your lives likes, especially if that date is many months (if not over a year) in the future.
Think About The Season: Maybe you’ve always dreamed of a June wedding, or perhaps you want to get married in a snowstorm. Or maybe you just want to get married during one of your partner’s law school breaks so you can go on a honeymoon (raises hand!). Regardless of what your dream season is and why, thinking about the time of year can help you narrow down dates and venues that will work. Keep in mind that you can often get good deals during the winter, but that spring and fall have become increasingly popular wedding seasons, so you’re probably not going to save any cash on that super cool Halloween wedding.
And in case you’ve maybe started to convince yourself that your wedding will only be amazing if it’s during (insert your favorite season here), remember that every season has its drawbacks: summers can be hot in formal clothing, winters can be rainy/snowy depending on where you live, spring and fall are sometimes unpredictable. TL;DR: There’s no magic day that is going to be better than all the days of the year, so don’t let picking your wedding date hinge on something that might not happen, anyway. Even if the Farmer’s Almanac says otherwise.
Think About how long your engagement will be: There are advantages and disadvantages to short (and long) engagements. If you have four months, you’ll power through those decisions like you have a fire under your ass… because you will. If you have two years, at some point you’ll start to wonder if there actually is a wedding in your future. So, if you have a choice, pick a wedding planning timeline that works for you. (And hey, if you’re an over-planner and chronic worrier, it might be easier to be done in three months than to have three years to obsess.)
Consider Your Also Engaged Friends And Loved Ones: I know, I know. We’re not supposed to be the sort of shallow people who think about who is getting married first, but… also… maybe you are? (Shhh.) David and I had been engaged for an (endless-seeming) year-plus, when three months before our wedding date his ex called him to say she’d gotten engaged that week, and was getting married next weekend, and could we spend a bunch of money to fly across the country to come? I’m embarrassed to say that smoke might have billowed from my ears, because HOLY SHIT NO CUTS IN LINE.
Of course, there is no etiquette rule on the book that the one that puts a ring on it first, walks down the aisle first. So, if you know that you want to get married before (or after) your sister, or your BFF, or your cousin, consider that as you think about dates.
Likewise, if you and a close family member want a similar group of people to fly into your hometown from all over the country during, say, the summer of 2018… consider trying to pick dates together, so people can fly in just once, and party it up twice.
If You’re Not FlexIble On Dates, be flexible on… Everything Else: If you are completely, 100 percent set on one specific date, realize that you’ll probably have to be flexible on both vendors and venue… or at least come prepared with early deposits in hand.
We were the weirdos who had a special date picked before we officially got engaged. I’m a chemist and the husbandperson is a mathematician—being blerds (Black nerds) is a big part of our lives and our relationship. Randomly in late 2014, we were talking about when we’d like to get married and throwing around dates, and he suggested Pi Day (March 14th). I checked a calendar and realized it was on a Saturday in 2015… and it felt like fate. We looked at each other and just knew that was the right day. Another date was not an option, so we wound up booking our photographer and venue a year in advance, and before we officially got engaged cause we didn’t want to miss out on our dream date or our dream venue.
consider local events: Maybe the city you live in always has a film festival on one weekend, or there’s a big sporting event that always happens the same time of the year—or whatever. You might not be able to remember everything, but definitely consult an events calendar to see what is and isn’t going on around the date that you choose, and plan accordingly.
I won’t lie and pretend that figuring out how to pick your wedding date is stress free. It takes wedding planning from the nebulous “Oh wouldn’t it be nice if we could do XYZ” and puts it firmly in the realm of “Holy crap, this is happening.” But the reality is finalizing the date is often easier than you’d think. Because as it turns out, the venue you want only has one date free. Or there are only two weeks during the year where you could get time off to go on a honeymoon. Or because your mom wants nothing more than for you to get married in your hometown church at Christmas time.
Whatever the reason, when you get right down to it, your date often picks itself. And sure, that means you are no longer planning all the weddings on your Pinterest board. But it means you’re finally planning your wedding. And that’s pretty great.
(Bonus: Now you know when your anniversary will be. And the big secret is that anniversaries are the best holidays, because it’s the holiday that you earn by caring for each other. Plus, sex.)