From the moment you say yes to that engagement ring, your mind is filled with numerous wedding-planning decisions. One of the biggest decisions you and your partner will make is choosing the date, and there are a range of factors you need to consider.
Eloise, Wedding Co-ordinator at Bedford Lodge Hotel & Spa, explains the five steps to take before making a final decision on the date of your wedding, and all future anniversaries thereafter.
It is important to be realistic throughout the wedding planning process. So whether the wedding takes weeks, or years, to plan, there will be benefits and sacrifices associated with both. When considering the date, make sure to give yourself the right amount of time to achieve the wedding to suit you as a couple.
By planning 18 months or years in advance it becomes much more likely you will be able to secure the specific venue, caterers, photographer, videographer, dress and other items that you have your heart set on. This approach has its risks too, though. Venues can undergo renovations so that they no longer fit with your theme, guests list can change in two years so final numbers may be different, and life as you know it can become substantially different, with the wedding overtaking your thoughts for so many months. On the flip side, if you start planning your wedding with only a few months to go, you may be able to negotiate a more favourable price on your venue and with your suppliers if they still have the late availability, and you can plan the wedding in a much shorter, higher impact manner. But sacrifices may need to be made on other, more personal areas, such as your dress, menu, and choice of centrepieces and favours.
One year, to 18 months is plenty of time to plan your perfect wedding, but for those who are less particular, there’s no reason not to steam ahead with a wedding within the year*.
*As long as you can secure an appropriate venue
If you have a dream venue in mind and there is nowhere else you can see yourself getting married, the first thing you need to do is to check its availability as this will have an impact on when you can hold your wedding.
It is also important to consider what different venues offer within the venue package (and what would be charged on top), and how well suited this is for your theme. In the UK, brides planning a wedding outside (even in the summer months) should be aware of the venue’s options for providing shelter or relocating inside if the weather isn’t ideal. Other things to consider are whether you want your venue to have accommodation on site, whether the venue has good relationships with recommended suppliers, and whether there is a suitably fabulous backdrop for wedding photos.
If you want to have a summer wedding the garden space and outside catering options at a venue are important to consider. With a winter wedding, you need to look into lighting and fireplaces as these help create a romantic, magical atmosphere. I would also suggest looking for a venue that can host the ceremony and reception, as well as accommodation for guests, as this means your guests won’t have to travel in bad weather.
Traditionally the most popular time to get married, ‘wedding season’ itself, has been over the summer as the weather (you hope!) is supposed to be better – allowing for a little more optimism in planning to use the grounds of the venue. However, the UK summer’s forecast is anything but certain, so it is worth considering the benefits of each season, which each have their own unique beauty. Weigh up all options and plan realistically for the season you choose; don’t be caught off guard with April (or August) showers.
The weather will also affect how your photos come out, so consider how you want your wedding photos to look before selecting the time of year. Remember, the weather is unpredictable, so keep a small amount in the budget for throws or fans, to cater for last minute weather changes.
The guest list can become a bone of contention among newly engaged couples! In order to avoid unnecessary conflict, create your guest list early on in the planning process, to ensure you have a good idea of numbers before securing your venue. Once you have secured your venue you will be able to work within the venue’s capacity and also your budget. For your nearest and dearest friends and family, guest availability may impact your wedding date – so check with only your closest guests on your proposed date before confirming with the venue. It’s also helpful to consider at this stage the dates of major holidays and religious festival, such as Christmas, Ramadan, Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve, as your guests may already have plans and these dates can also be very expensive, for you and your guests, with venues and accommodation costs always higher.
Your guests’ occupations can be another factor; if a number of your guests work in schools, it would make sense to hold your wedding during the school holidays. Similarly if you are considering a mid-week wedding to save some money, check with those people who are vital to the wedding, as they may struggle to book the time off depending on their working commitments. That all said, I would be cautious of sending invites out too early as within a year or two friendship groups can change, plus ones can be replaced, and so on.
What are the areas that you won’t budge on?
I am yet to meet a bride who has never imagined (or planned parts of) her wedding day before she has been proposed to. So, when you have visualised your wedding day before, what did you see? It is important to think about the areas of your wedding that you don’t want to compromise on, as this will impact the time of year you choose.
If you have a particular flower that you want included in your bouquet and centrepieces look at when they are in season, otherwise your florist may not be able to source them – or not without additional expense.
Have you got a colour in mind? The different seasons lend themselves naturally to certain colour palettes, so speak to your wedding co-ordinator about what you have in mind and they will be able to advise you on what works best.