So you’re engaged—congrats! Now is when the real work starts. Step one: Choose a wedding date. Sounds simple enough, right? But there are numerous factors you and your fiance should consider before officially committing to a date. Follow this guide to figure out when to get married and avoid choosing a date that’s totally wrong.
Pick a Season
Here is a solid starting point: think broad before you narrow down your choice to a specific date. The best time of year to get married is during a season that you and your fiance both love. Remember that the time of year sets the tone, theme, and often times the décor of your wedding, especially if you live an area of the country that experiences the four seasons to the fullest extent. Do you see yourselves outdoors in a garden or indoors in a cozy, candle-lit estate? After all, this day is all about you! Here are some seasonal themes and ideas to help you get started:
Flowers: Tulip, Peony, Gerbera Daisy, Hyacinth
Food: Spring salad, chicken, quail eggs, seared scallops, salmon
Desserts: Carrot cake, strawberries and cream, lemon cake, French macarons
Drinks: Limoncello, Bellinis, white wine, floral cocktails
Colors: All white, Kelly green, red and blue
Flowers: Sunflower, Orchid, Hydrangea, Dahlia
Food: BBQ, grilled skewers, fresh fruit, oysters, lobster, tacos, caprese salad
Desserts: Ice cream, gelato, snow cones, Key lime pie, berry parfait
Drinks: Mojitos, margaritas, rosé, lemonade, Aperol Spritz, beer, sweet tea
Colors: Dusty yellow, maroon, burnt orange, navy, fuschia
Flowers: Garden rose, Eucalyptus, Persimmon, Chrysanthemum, Marigold
Food: Chili, shepherd’s pie, roasted potatoes, pork loin, Cornish hen
Desserts: Pumpkin pie, apple pie, apple cider donuts, churros with chocolate, s’mores
Drinks: White Russian, apple cider, spiced red sangria, pumpkin martini
Colors: Burgundy, evergreen, gold and silver, eggplant, black
Flowers: Rose, Winterberry, Anemone, Calla Lily
Food: Root vegetables, filet mignon, lamb, baked cheese, tomato soup, bacon-wrapped dates
Desserts: Chocolate lava cake, roasted nuts, cookies, red velvet cake
Drinks: Hot chocolate, eggnog, hot toddy, bourbon, cranberry cocktail, whiskey sour
Choosing a season, however, comes with other important considerations, including cost. While winter may be an off season in many states, venues tend to jack up their prices in December and February due to a demand for Christmas and Valentine’s Day-themed weddings. January and March tend to be the least popular months to get married, and therefore the most cost effective. October, September, and June are in high demand, making dates in these months more expensive and harder to reserve. When do most people get married? Saturday, October 20 is the most popular wedding date of 2018.
Factor in Weather
No matter where you decide to host your wedding, weather will play a major role in your big day, and can help determine the best time of year to get married. You’ll always need a back-up plan on hand if and when the weather inconveniently decides to act up. Consider how the date you choose will impact your ceremony, reception, transportation, and guests’ wellbeing.
Thinking of having an outdoor ceremony in the middle of summer? You’ll need to plan for heat, humidity, and insects.
Hoping for a garden party in April? Make sure you can bring that party inside or rent a tent that is sure to keep guests dry if it rains.
For a December wedding, you’ll probably want to hold your ceremony and reception at the same venue to eliminate transportation in case it snows.
If you don’t think you’ll be able to make adjustments and modifications based on potential weather issues, you might want to choose a different day or month. Study up on average temperatures and rain or snowfall over the past few years to give you an idea of what the weather could be like on your day.
Remember Important Dates
Once you choose the month you want to get married, take a look at all of the holidays within that month. Holiday weddings can be a ton of fun, but it can be difficult for your guests to travel on a holiday or holiday weekend. Prices for flights, hotels, and car rentals can double or triple, causing major strain on your guests’ wallets.
Also consider guests’ prior commitments, like vacations that are booked well in advance, and travel woes like holiday traffic. This goes for three-day weekends, too. While your guests will be glad they’re attending your wedding, you might end up with a complaint or two about sacrificing a holiday or missing another event to attend your wedding.
If these factors don’t bother you, then by all means have a Memorial Day weekend wedding. Generally though, you should stay away from very important family holidays (unless your guest list consists of immediate family members only) like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Other important dates to research are major sporting events, especially if you and your guests are big sports fans. A basketball fanatic will not want to miss the NBA championship game, even if it’s for his or her own wedding—and you definitely don’t want guests with their eyes glued to their phones during your ceremony because they’re watching the game or checking the score.
Talk About Traditions
Every culture and family has its own set of wedding traditions. Talk to your fiance about which traditions are important to you and your family and find ways to uphold them on both sides. That means picking a wedding date that aligns with two families and cultures. Here are a few date-related traditions. Even if you or your fiancé don’t belong to a specific culture, you might be interested in borrowing a few of these ideas.
For some Chinese, wedding dates are chosen carefully, based on traditional Chinese zodiac signs. Depending on which animal you and your fiancé are on the Chinese zodiac calendar, there are lucky dates (and unlucky dates) to get married. Look up a Chinese wedding calendar to figure out the dates that are perfect for you. The Chinese also believe that weddings on dates that end in the number 8 or 9 are particularly lucky.
In Italian culture, June is the best month to get married since it’s named after Juno, the Roman goddess of marriage.
For Jewish couples, Friday night and Saturday weddings are generally off-limits, due to Shabbat, which begins at sundown on Fridays. They can, however, have a wedding on Saturday night if it begins after sundown. And although it might be an unpopular day for a wedding, Jewish tradition also says that Tuesday is the most auspicious day of the week to get married, based on scripture in the Torah which says that the third day of creation (often considered to be Tuesday) was particularly lucky.
Filipinos warn against having a wedding on the 22nd day of any month, citing that the number 22 looks like two figures kneeling in repentance or sickness. They also believe that it’s bad luck for two siblings to get married in the same year.
The Irish believe New Year’s Eve is the luckiest day of the year to get married. The couple will wake up married on the first day of the new year!
Wedding date astrology is also popular, especially in Hindu culture. This is based on the alignment of planets during your wedding. The concept can get quite complex, so here are a few things to look out for:
Your wedding zodiac sign
Just like your birthday has a sign that comes with specific characteristics, so does your wedding. For instance, a Libra wedding (September 23 to October 22) is considered to be particularly lucky—which could explain the popularity of September and October weddings—since Libra is the sign of balance.
If you’re into wedding date astrology, it’s best to avoid dates when Mercury or Venus are in retrograde, since communication mishaps are said to be more common during these retrogrades.
Before you officially decide when to get married, talk to your most important guests—your closest friends and family—to get their input. You want to be absolutely sure your favorite people will be able to attend. It’s also a good idea to avoid getting married on the birthday or wedding anniversary of someone special in your life. Or, at least, get their blessing to choose that date. Family members and friends can also share anecdotes of particularly special dates, like the date your grandparents met, that could inspire your choice. Additionally, you’ll want to avoid getting married around the anniversary of a family death, to remain respectful of that day.
Look For Novelty Numbers
A fun way to pick the best time to get married? Go numerical. Dates with repeating numbers are fun to say and look at—and easier for both you and your guests to remember. Next year, February 20 is particularly special (2/20/20). Palindrome dates (dates that are the same forwards and backwards) are interesting too, like August 1, 2019 (9/1/19) or January 2, 2021 (1/2/21)
Decide on a Day of the Week
Thankfully there are only seven options for this step. Saturday is still the most popular day of the week to get married, mostly due to convenience for both the guests and the couple, who have an extra day post-wedding for travel, relaxation, and hangover remedies. This also means that Saturday is by far the most expensive day to get married. Venues are booked years in advance, travel is more expensive, and vendors will jack up prices too.
All things considered, your wedding day is all about you and your fiancé. Is there an important date that stands out to you as a couple? Maybe you’ll want to get married on the date you met, or the night of your first date, or the date you had your first kiss. A sentimental wedding date is a romantic touch and a great story to tell! Plus, it will make it a bit easier to remember your anniversary.