It’s February and it might be the shortest month but it is often referred to as one of the most romantic months of the year (especially if Hallmark have done their job properly in convincing you, if you didn’t already agree). Plus this year there is double the chance of a proposal this month (if you are waiting for one patiently) with not only Valentine’s Day on the 14th, but as it is a leap year you can take matters in to your own hands and pop the question yourself on the 29th. We look forward to hearing all the forthcoming engagement stories and wedding plans. (Meanwhile if you are looking for inspiration on ways to propose (or if you just love hearing how people get betrothed) then take a look at some proposal stories from real brides that we’ve curated.)
Congratulations if you are recently engaged. Telling people your big news and flashing your new piece of jewellery is such an exciting time and how wonderful to be spreading good news amongst your nearest and dearest. Unfortunately, just telling the romantic (or run of the mill) engagement story is often not enough information for some of our family and friends. And I imagine that almost in the same breath as wishing you their congratulations, one of the first questions that you’ll get asked (again and again) when you first announce your engagement is ‘So, when is the big day?’ (After you’re married the question then becomes ‘So, when are you having a baby?’ But that’s a different story!)
If you’ve not set the date yet, this can be quite a daunting question and certainly one that requires quite a bit of thought. So before you rush to send out your save the date cards, please let us offer our guidance on how (and when) to set your wedding date.
- Consider the holy trinity of wedding planning
For me, there are three key aspects of wedding planning that go hand in hand and pretty much affect every other thing that is connected with your big day. These are Venue, Guests and Budget (otherwise known as where, who and how much). They co-exist as you can’t really pick your venue without knowing how much you have to spend and how many people you want to invite. Likewise, you might not be able to invite all your guests due to venue size and money constraints. And let’s face it, your budget may well dictate whether you can afford your dream venue or how many second cousins removed can be invited. So they’re a bit like the chicken and the egg (and the farmyard!) as you can’t decide one thing without the other. (Don’t worry we’ll be talking lots about these three elements in future blog posts coming very soon!)
Anyway, I digress as we are actually talking about the when aspect of wedding planning at the moment. However, the where, who and how much elements very much affect when your big day will be too. For example, venues may have different prices depending on the time of the year and do you when your key guests or wedding party be available. Trust me, nearly all the decisions you have to make about your wedding will come back to one, two or all of the elements in what I class as the holy trinity of wedding planning.
- Timing is everything
I married a school teacher so instantly my choices were limited for wedding dates if I wanted to have a honeymoon after the ceremony. (Honestly, I used to take a holiday in November time to enjoy some winter sunshine before I met my husband. But even before kids, I had to resign myself to more expensive non term time holidays! Heavy sign!) So, we chose the summer holidays which then meant we had to consider other people’s travel commitments and it impactedon our budget as it was in the height of wedding season. We also had to consider availability of certain suppliers at a busy time. One benefit of marrying a teacher though is that we weren’t restricted to a weekend date which made it cheaper on the venue costs (although would mean that some of our guests had to take a day off work). See what I mean about it always coming back to decisions or compromises based on cost, guests or venue!
So you have to decide what are your must haves (ie what you’re not willing to compromise on) and what you can be flexible with. For example, in order to get your dream venue are you willing to wait a couple of years to get the right date. Here are some things to bear in mind when picking your date:
- Year – which year are you thinking? This year? Next year? Or several years down the line? This may seem like a basic question but if you want to do something this year then suppliers and venues may already be booked up. So think about how long you have /want to plan the wedding. The more notice you give then the more likely you are able to have your first choice. Only last week I heard a supplier say that they have been booked for a 2020 wedding – now that is forward planning!
- Time of year / season – this could affect what the weather is likely to be like (although who knows what the British weather is up to at the moment!) which could influence your themes, colours, venue, attire, transportation, food choice etc etc. Also different seasons can have an impact on the price and availability of food and flowers. I really wanted the church to be crammed full of cowslip when I got married but this is just nowhere to be seen in August!
- Month – the old Catholic marriage song below states your fate as a couple depending on the month you choose to wed. At the time, it was unusual and unlucky for a couple to get married in May as this was the start of Summer and was marked by a pagan feast. Although this superstition may date further back to Roman times. On the contrary, June and other summer months are very popular and even December is gaining in popularity, presumably so that people can use holiday time around the big day. It is worth considering different months as popular ones are in demand so prices may increase and availability will decrease.
Marry when the year is new, always loving, always true,
When February birds do mate, you may wed or dread your fate
If you wed when March winds blow, joy and sorrow both you’ll know
Marry in April when you can, joy for maiden and for man,
Marry in the month of May, you will surely rue the day,
Marry when June roses blow, over land and sea you’ll go,
They who in July do wed, must labour always for their bread,
Whoever wed in August be, many a change are sure to see,
Marry in September’s shine, your living will be rich and fine,
If in October you do marry, love will come but riches tarry,
If you wed in bleak November, only Joy will remember,
When December snows fall fast, marry and true love will last.
- Day of the week – ironically in another old poem, it states that getting married on a Saturday is unlucky which nowadays is the most common day for people to tie the knot. However it is also one of the most expensive days too. We chose a Friday which still had the benefit of being near a weekend for people to tag on holiday and was slightly cheaper. More people are now considering other weekdays as options and Sundays too (although this used to be deemed as a mark of disrespect which is probably why it is not mentioned in the version of the poem I sourced).
Monday: Brides will be healthy
Tuesday: Brides will be wealthy
Wednesday: Brides do best of all
Thursday: Brides will suffer losses
Friday: Brides will suffer crosses
Saturday: Brides will have no luck at all
- Date – superstition often forces couples to avoid the 13th of the month (especially if it falls on a Friday), your birthday, the day of a full moon, April Fool’s Day and it used to be forbidden to get married in Lent and Advent by the church. Some people think that 7 is supposed to be a lucky number whilst 4 is deemed unlucky in Japanese and Chinese traditions so dates with these numbers may be sought after or avoided by couples. Instead perhaps you want to pick a meaningful date to you such as the anniversary of the date you first met, a memorable date that you’ll remember like 12/12/12 or a nod to your heritage such as your grandparents’ wedding anniversary date.
- Time of day – as someone who is very much driven by their stomach, I would always advise to think about how meal times fit around the formal parts of the day. You don’t want to be having a ceremony when everyone’s tummies are rumbling and there’s no sign of a meal for hours. (As an aside, always keep your guests fed, watered and entertained.) Wedding ceremonies that took place before noon were said to be lucky versus the inverse in the afternoon. However, if you hold a later ceremony you could save money if you only have to feed your guests once in the day.
- Day or night – a wedding after dark used to be considered unlucky but you could split your guests up to have some come for the whole day and others just join you for the evening part of the day so you don’t have to pay for all of them to have a sit down meal.
- Duration – nowadays more and more couples are choosing to have a weekend long wedding over 2-3 days to enjoy the company of their friends and family for longer. This would obviously add cost and commitment from all parties if you were going for his option.
- What else is going on in the world
You may be living and breathing your wedding and everything else in the world is taking a back seat. However, things are still going on around you and some national, local and annual events may have an impact on your guests involvement, availability and enjoyment. For example:
- Public holidays – you may want to avoid them as they might increase traffic on the roads near holiday spots or because guests will have family commitments. Or embrace them as people will instantly have a day off.
- Sporting events – things like the Olympics this year, the FA Cup final and the Euros may be distracting if you’ve got any keen sporting fans attending your wedding.
- Royal occasions – it doesn’t look likely there’s a royal wedding this year (we were certainly worried Will and Kate were going to pick the same date as us in 2011!) but the Queen is celebrating her 90th birthday in June so people may have plans to mark that occasion.
- Other people’s occasions – no one really wants to share their big day with someone else’s thunder. So you may want to avoid other people’s birthdays, wedding anniversaries, and religious festivals. Unbeknown to us, there were two other couples that were guests at our wedding who got married on the same date as us (they are teachers too!). They actually liked it as it was a great way to celebrate their own anniversary. However, if it had been a milestone anniversary they might have thought differently. Likewise picking a date near a close friend or family member’s own wedding day might not go down too well either.
Take a look at a list of some events (in England) still to come in 2016 that could influence your choice of dates.
And here are the 2017 dates for your diary to consider.
Plus the 2018 dates for your diary.
Good luck on your quest to pick a date for your wedding day and therefore your wedding anniversary date for years to come. I know a lot of thought will go in to answering the question of ‘So, when is the big day?’ Remember to pick a date that works for you (and the holy trinity of wedding planning obviously!)
We’d love to hear your engagement stories please contact me with how you proposed or were proposed to.