First consider when you will be financially ready to pay for your wedding. Weddings can cost a fortune (the average being $20,000 these days) and it's quite crucial that you start off your life as newlyweds without a large sum of debt looming over your heads. Budgeting responsibly and giving yourself plenty of time to prepare for the wedding is always a good idea. Some people may need as much as a year to fourteen months while others need as little as six to nine months to prepare.
!Remember, there's nothing wrong with a long engagement.
What Does Our Ideal Wedding Look Like?
Once you have a good idea of the time frame that you will need to be financially sound, consider when you actually want to be married. Many brides covet a summer or spring wedding, however, make sure that you'll be ready for the date when it comes. Also, don't disregard other seasons. Fall and winter have their advantages, plus they cost less. Whichever season you choose, it's a good idea to set a few backup dates just in case you can't snag the date you want for your ceremony and reception. Don't forget that wedding locations and vendors book quickly in the high-season, sometimes requiring up to two years in advance to reserve the most sought after of the bunch.
Does This Conflict?
The third step after you have visualized your dream and come to terms with reality is to consult the outside world: parental figures and friends. You should have a rough idea of who you want to be in your bridal party and the "A list" guests that you certainly must have at your wedding. Consult first with parents and siblings, then with potential attendants, and finally the other VIPs on your list. If people have big events planned, you are going to have to reschedule. It may take some rearranging and compromise, but in the end you'll be happy that you have all of your loved ones with you for your special day.
If you want to save money, consider planning your wedding for January through April (except during Valentine's Day week when flower costs soar) or October. May though September will cost the most and November through New Year's are usually more difficult periods to book vendors due to the approaching holiday season. Opt for a Friday or Sunday (any day but Saturday will be more affordable). Also, choose a brunch or lunch versus an evening wedding to cut up to 20% off the bill.
Can We Marry on a Holiday?
Marrying on holidays is completely acceptable, and sometimes, highly desirable for the bride and groom. Nonetheless, keep in mind that with holiday weddings you are posing a risky situation for your guests. Thanksgiving Day, Super Bowl weekend, Christmas, Valentine's Day, and New Year's are popular, however, many people make plans in advance for these dates and if they do show up to your wedding they may wish they were somewhere else. Memorial and labor day are less popular, making them less costly and more desirable for guests since many people would rather give up this three-day vacation than their annual New Year's bash. Other long weekends throughout the year are good choices because they allow time for travel, and give you the option of marrying on a Friday, Sunday, or Monday.
Through Sickness and Health and Rain or Shine?
Weather can definitely be an issue, especially if you are having an outdoor wedding. Besides that, you'll also need to consider how the season will affect the wedding. Winter is cold, snowy, and the harsh conditions may not be ideal for elderly guests. Just imagine running out of a chapel in your wedding gown through the snow. For some it's a nightmare, while for others, the idea of sparkly lights, powdery snow, and warm cocoa are the perfect idea of romance. Whatever your dream may be, just go for it! Spring and summer are beautiful if you can hit a dry period. Beware of hurricane season as well.
While no one can predict the weather a year in advance, you can always safeguard your time and money by purchasing wedding insurance if you fear that you might get rained out. It will protect your investment and allow you to move the wedding to higher ground. It's not for everyone, but it is available should you need it.
Finally, when it comes to weather, there is always the option of trying to escape it. Say you want a summer wedding but the prices are unaffordable or the location you want is already booked. What to do? Consider going abroad or to a warmer, drier climate. If you have time off during winter, take advantage of the southern hemisphere where it will be summertime. Then you can get a summery wedding, a good deal, and be one step closer to your honeymoon. See the guide to Planning a Destination Wedding for more information.
Is Friday the 13th Really Unlucky?
There are certain people who believe that Friday the 13th, the Ides of March (March 15), and September 11th are unlucky days to be married. This is a personal decision to consider with your soon-to-be spouse. For some it's a big deal, while for others, it's simply another day. Remember that unless your friends and family are early birds, be careful of scheduling your wedding too close to April 15th -- tax day.
Should We Consider Religion?
For all of the following religions, it is always advisable to check with your church, synagogue, or mosque before scheduling.
* If you (or your guests) are Christian, times to avoid are: the holiday season and Christmas and Palm Sunday through Easter. These are busy times and may not be supported by the church.
* If you (or your guests) are Jewish, avoid Friday nights and Saturdays before sunset. You should not plan to marry on, around, or between Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur. You may also have to delay your marriage until after Yom HaShoah or Shavout.
* If you (or your guests) are Muslim, Ramadan and Muharram (first month of the Islamic calendar) are two times to avoid. However, Sundays are best and Shawwal (Eid or the tenth month) is a time to consider.