How many times since you got engaged have you heard this question already?
Even if you just got engaged Saturday night, you head to work on Monday and I guarantee someone will ask you this! As soon as they see the ring, sure as shooting, they’re going to ask.
As I write this, I’m just back from the bridal fair, and guilty myself of asking this way too many times. I know I drove a few couples crazy, especially those who had just gotten engaged!
One bride remarked about setting a date, “I’ve heard from there, things start to fall into place.” And, based on my own experience, she’s right. Once you have a date, you start to get a mental picture of your wedding.
But before you start sending out “Save the Date” cards or announcing your date to family members, take a moment to think through the pros and cons of your wedding date. Here are a few factors to consider:
It’s in the Numbers:
There are always a few popular dates each year. These may center around holidays, traditional wedding months like June, or repeating numbers. In the last few years we’ve had brides choose 11/11/11 and 12/12/12 for weddings, and some couples are already starting to plan for 1/4/14. If you want one of these dates for your wedding date, it’s best to start early! Many wedding businesses — including wedding venues, photographers, videographers and some musicians — can only work one event at a time. If the date happens to fall on or near a weekend, competition can be especially fierce for the good, experienced vendors. You are competing with a large number of other brides to get these dates, so it’s best to get in ahead of the competition.
You may want to choose a date that’s on or around a holiday, or you may want to avoid holidays altogether. Memorial Day and Labor Day are popular wedding times, because guests have an extra day of travel time. Other holidays, such as Thanksgiving, may conflict with family traditions for your guests, and many times vendors prefer to enjoy their often all-too-scarce time with family.
If you want an outdoor wedding, or something like a barn wedding where a hot day might present a challenge, the season will also factor into your decision. Often in Arkansas, brides worry about severe weather in the Spring, and heat in the summer. Fall dates are popular precisely because of this Arkansas weather conundrum: once the weather is stable enough that we aren’t having severe storms every weekend, it’s simply, uniformly HOT for about four months! Brides in Arkansas even schedule their outdoor weddings for November and December (with an indoor option in case the weather turns.) I have shot so many outdoor winter weddings in wonderful weather in Arkansas, while my Midwestern photographer friends are already shivering in the snow!
Sooner, or Later?
The final thing you want to consider when setting a date is how much time you are giving yourself to plan. Some people can pull off planning a wedding in a matter of weeks, and some people get stressed out just thinking about doing this. One of my good friends says she got engaged, spent a month planning and booking everything, and then spent the next six months just waiting, and wishing she had decided to just elope with her husband-to-be. But other brides I know have needed every second of their nine-month or one-year planning time. Remember that the closer to the date you are, the more likely you are to find that venues and wedding vendors are booked. Flexibility is a must when planning a wedding with a short engagement.