If you’re one of the many couples who got engaged over the Christmas period then you’ll probably be thinking about when you’d like to get married.
But where do you start working out a date for your big day? Wedding planner Isabel Smith guides us through the options.
Look at your finances – and your time - first
It may not sound like the most romantic part of the planning process, but if you know what you have to spend, it’ll make things a lot easier. Then if your budget and your ideas don’t match up, you’ll know you might need to plan a date further in advance so you have more time to save.
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“I am a huge fan of short engagements,” says Isabel. “They create a whirlwind of excitement and prevent you from constantly changing your mind about things every time you read a new wedding magazine.
"But you have to be realistic too: planning a wedding takes up a huge amount of time, so if your jobs keep you at the office 7-7, you simply won't have the time to plan anything too elaborate in just a couple of months.”
Picture your big day
Do you imagine yourself sipping Champagne on a beautiful lawn, or mulled wine beside a roaring fire? Most brides have some idea of how they imagine their wedding will look, which should help narrow down the best season.
“Summer weddings used to be all the rage - after all, they give you the best chance of good weather in the rather unpredictable climate,” explains Isabel.
“But winter weddings are coming into their own with only January and November appearing to be less popular. Winter weddings are great where an evening meal is the focus - lovely warming food in a room with a fireplace.”
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Think practically too – friends and family may be on holiday during the summer months, so you’ll need to send Save the Date cards as early as you can, or risk them not being able to attend.
“And don’t forget, in winter there’s a lot less daylight, so you may need to start proceedings early as it might be too dark for photos mid-afternoon,” says Isabel.
“May to September is usually considered peak wedding season, where venues will charge their top rates, so sometimes just tipping over to the extremes of the season like April or October can mean a great saving or better availability.”
Decide how flexible you can be
Weddings can often be about compromises – you’ve found a venue you love, but you’d like to get married in July and there are no Saturdays free until 2015 – so you need to think about your priorities and what is most important.
“What about marrying on a Sunday?” suggests Isabel. “As long as it’s not a bank holiday, a Sunday can often mean lower prices as well as greater availability during the summer. Even if some guests duck out a bit early because of work the next day, you'll find out who your hard-core friends are that won't mind heading in with a hangover!”
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And if you’re sticking to a tight budget, or want to marry sooner rather than later? “You could consider a weekday wedding when huge savings can be made,” says Isabel. “Just be prepared for a higher than average number of guests to turn down the invitation if they need to take a day off work.”
Is there a date of particular significance?
Perhaps your parents and grandparents married on the same date and you’d like to carry on the tradition, or you’ve always dreamed of getting married on Valentine’s Day.
If you have a date in mind and it’s really important to you then be prepared to be flexible about other aspects of the wedding - your preferred venue or band may not be available if you are only interested in one day out of 365!
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“Dates like Valentine’s Day and New Years Eve are very romantic choices for your wedding date - but they’ll come at a cost!” warns Isabel. “
Venues and florists are the most likely to hike up the prices or struggle with availability on Valentine’s Day, and you should expect all your suppliers to charge a supplement for working on New Year's Eve.”
Still stumped on when to say I Do? Go online or check out wedding magazines for inspiration as something really simple like your favourite flowers might give you the starting point you need. “Flowers forced to bloom out of season are never as pretty or reliable as the real thing,” explains Isabel. “So if you love tulips, stick to Easter time. If Hydrangeas are your favourite, a summer wedding could be for you.'