The reality is, until you set a date, all other planning is practically impossible. But beware of selecting the date and time of your wedding without careful thought. There's more to this decision than you might imagine.
The first question to ask yourself is how much time do I need to plan the wedding? Be realistic, a large, formal wedding could easily require a full year of planning. Wedding consultants report approximately 200 hours are needed to plan an average wedding. Spread over a year, those hours can be easily managed; however, spread them over three months, and the result will be serious stress and exhaustion. On the other hand, a small, less formal affair could be smoothly planned within four to six months.
In selecting your month, ask yourself: What season do I prefer? Or does the season matter? Is there one time of year your family or the groom's family would find particularly meaningful? Perhaps Christmas has always been special to you, so an early December wedding would fulfill your dreams. As an added benefit, seasonal weddings such as Valentines Day or Halloween can simplify decorating decisions.
Experts say the most popular wedding months continue to be June, August and September.
If saving money is of primary importance, think about having your wedding on a Friday night or Sunday afternoon. Wedding vendors and banquet halls will be much more likely to negotiate the price on any day but Saturday, their busiest day. There is a trade-off, however, as out-of-town guests may find it tougher to attend Friday or Sunday events.
Should you choose a holiday weekend? On the plus side, your guests may appreciate a wedding on a long weekend, since it gives them an extra day for travel time and recuperation. On the other hand, some family members may already have other plans for those special weekends. Again, you face a trade-off.
To cut down on conflicts, plan around major events in your area and significant events in your family. You don't want to worry about your cousin's college graduation falling on the same weekend as your wedding. Check with the local convention & visitors bureau to make certain no big conventions will be in town on your date, taking up all the hotel and banquet space. If you can't avoid a busy weekend, lock-in your hotel rooms as early as possible.
Be sure to take weather into consideration. Many a bride has planned an outdoor summer wedding in chilly January, forgetting to take into account that July weather can be unbearably muggy and 95 degrees. I still marvel at photos of myself, a bridesmaid at an August wedding, with sweat running down my face and wet hair sticking to my forehead--not a pretty picture. Likewise, in some parts of the country, a wedding in January could be hindered by eight inches of snow on the roads.
Wedding and reception times do matter, especially when it comes to feeding your guests. In times past, ceremonies were often held in the morning and guests sat down to a wedding brunch afterward. Morning weddings are much less common now. For example, a 2:00 p.m. wedding is an appropriate time if you're planning to serve only punch and cake. But a later wedding, such as 4:00 p.m. or after usually means the guests expect substantial food. Serving complete meals will have an impact on your budget, so take that into account when setting the time.
By now you must be thinking...how can we ever settle on a date, but take heart! You will find a workable day to exchange vows and with a dash of deliberation all your family and friends will be on hand to share your joy.