“When’s the wedding date?”
…asks every. single. person after you’re engaged.
Can you relate?
Picking the wedding date is the next step for a couple after saying, “YES.”
This is going to be the ULTIMATE GUIDE on choosing a Wedding Date.
Part 1 of 4: Things to do before choosing a Wedding Date
First thing first – do a few things before you set up venue tour appointments (and even before discussing the date).
Establish “Must Haves”. What are the top 3 things you absolutely can’t go without for your wedding day? What are 3 things you can pass on?
Establish a Budget. Who’s contributing and what’s the total number?
Establish an Approximate Guest Count. You’ll want the right-size venue for your guests to be comfortable.
Establish a Way to Organize Yourself. Set up a new wedding email to communicate with vendors. Set up a Facebook Group to keep communication easily through planning.
Establish your Top Venues & Make Appointments to Tour. Research via Google, The Knot, or Wedding Wire to find local venues that fit your needs. Make appointments.
Part 2 of 4: Venue Availability & Considerations | Choosing a Wedding Date
Advice: Don’t lock yourself into ONE wedding date before you tour venues.
One set date: X/XX/XXXX, will limit your options.
1. Shift the focus from specific to general: Instead of a date, choose a range.
What year? + What season?
Spring? Fall? Summer? Winter?
If you choose a time of year, rather than a calendar date, you’ll have more flexibility to say YES to the venue once you start touring.
2. If you do have an absolute, must-have, no-doubt-about-it date, then this is clearly important to you. If so, make sure you find out the availability of that date before you tour venues. As one of your top 3 must-haves, do it! Let’s find that date!
The best strategy for finding your wedding date…
Give yourselves the opportunity to fall in love with a venue before announcing your wedding date.
Narrow down your favorite venues.
Tour the venues & get a “gut-feel”.
View all available dates during your tours.
Write down your top picks.
Confirm the dates with your non-negotiable, must-have people. (bridal party, family, etc).
Keep in mind proposal & how it affects venue availability.
Most engagements happen from Thanksgiving to Valentine’s Day.
40% of proposals occur between Nov – Feb.
We call this time of year engagement season.
Every year at our venues, there’s a quiet lull leading up to Christmas Day… and we wonder if the phone will ever ring again (it’s eerie quiet!)
And then, like clockwork… BAM!
December 26th hits and it’s our busy season at the venues for tours and new reservations.
Therefore, if you’re touring venues during engagement season, keep in mind that many other couples are, too.
Venue reservations are first come, first serve and many venues will not hold dates for you.
To officially “book” a date, you’ll need a signed contract + an initial payment to complete your reservation. Note that the initial payment is non-refundable at most venues and is sometimes called a deposit or retainer – it just means: money put down at a venue to secure the date.
What else happens during Engagement Season?
Engagement season and the subsequent months afterwards are when venues host Open Houses.
What’s an “Open House”?
It’s when a venue opens to the public for a wedding fair.
They invite trusted vendors to host booths.
It’s a “1-Stop-Shop” for couples planning their wedding.
The bonus of reserving your venue during engagement season is that you can knock out a lot of wedding planning at the same time or just after reserving your wedding date.
Plus, save some money on special offers from vendors!
Are you considering an outdoor wedding ceremony?
Don’t forget – the S U N S E T.
During winter months (November – early March), it gets darker sooner.
Especially if you pick a winter wedding date, look for outdoor lighting.
For November – March weddings, you might also consider a “First Look”so you can squeeze in more couple portraits.
Part 3 of 4: Personal Schedules | Choosing a Wedding Date
Consider the ESSENTIAL people of your wedding:
The FAMILY. Not your twice-removed cousin
… just those who are MUST-HAVE attendees.
The BRIDAL PARTY.
The BESTIES. Your ride-or-die friends, who may or may not already be in your Bridal Party.
How much time do you want to plan?
The average reservation length is about a year.
PRO Tip: A longer engagement will give you more time to spread payments out for venue + vendors.
Also, it allows you more time to plan and enjoy your engagement time together.
Part 4 of 4: Budgets | Choosing a Wedding Date
The top 3 factors that affect your overall budget are:
#1 WEDDING DATE Choose your date
#2 GUEST COUNT Obviously, a smaller guest count means less food, fewer tables, less alcohol… less budget required. #3 VENUE GUIDELINES on VENDORS Does your venue allow for outside vendors? DIY weddings? These venue policies will affect your budget.
#3 WEDDING PLANNERS SAVE YOU MONEY When negotiating contracts with vendors, experienced wedding planners like Pineapple Processions (https://www.pineappleprocessions.com/) can save you hundreds.