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We’ve talked a lot about which decisions you need to make early on in your wedding planning process, and it’s no secret that finding a date that works for you, your partner, and your desired venue is one of the most critical decisions you’ll make.
When deciding on a wedding date, many couples ultimately choose to wed on a holiday or long holiday weekend, but is this really the best idea? We asked the members of our vendor directory for their expertise, and here’s what they had to say.
Your Guests May Have More Flexibility with Travel
One of the biggest reasons that couples choose long holiday weekends for their weddings is to take advantage of the fact that many of their guests will have an extra day of vacation off from their jobs, giving out of town guests more time to travel to and from your wedding celebration.
“I personally think it's a great idea!” says North Carolina wedding planner and floral designer Erica Greenwold Reisen of Folie à Deux Events. “It gives your guests more time to travel! I had my own wedding over 4th of July weekend and it made a huge difference for my friends who had a ways to travel.”
This can also allow your guests to more easily extend their stay, especially if you’re having a destination wedding where guests may want to enjoy an extra day or two exploring the area. Overall, scheduling your wedding during a time when many will already have time off work is a great consideration, but it’s always important to remember that your guests without 9-5 jobs might not receive federal holidays and may still have to take (sometimes unpaid) time off to come to your wedding.
The Cost of Travel and Hotels May Go Up
The biggest downside of scheduling your wedding over a holiday weekend, especially ones like Memorial Day and Labor Day, which are major vacation holidays in the U.S., is that you will be competing with a number of other vacationers when it comes to air fare and hotel rates.
“Holiday weddings not only bring out other couples, it also brings out vacationers!!” notes Washington, D.C. wedding planner Sharia Barksdale of Eclectic Fête. “So while you may have gotten a great deal on the wedding, your guests are stuck with higher plane ticket costs and higher hotel fees just to attend.”
While couples often choose to secure a block of hotel rooms at a bulk rate for their guests, this may still not be enough to counteract the increased demand.
Richmond, Virginia wedding planner Jonelle McLeod of Bryck and Lace Designs suggests really comparing the rates before you make a decision on the date. “I worked for a hotel, and even if you get a discount for booking a certain number of rooms it may only come back to ‘normal rates’ for your guests.”
For some guests, these increased prices could be a deciding factor when choosing whether or not to attend your wedding. Do what you can to provide as much lead time as possible for your guests to help them better budget and explore options.
“I recommend my clients give extended notice when planning a holiday weekend wedding,” shares Erica. “Send those Save the Dates and invites a bit earlier so they have time to plan!”
Guests May Have More Conflicts or Even Be Annoyed
If your guests have limited time off of work, holidays may be when they plan to take their own vacations, and as such, you may find that some guests already have plans or are not willing to sacrifice their limited vacation time to attend your wedding.
“Not everyone has the luxury of ‘free time’ away from their jobs,” notes Sharia. “So, while many may feel like their wedding can be a vacation for everyone, guests may not want to spend their free time or dinero with you; especially if they’ve already made mental plans for their holiday.”
This can definitely be true depending on the holiday. Again, some holidays like Memorial Day and Labor Day are often targeted as vacation time by people, and some other holidays, like Thanksgiving and religious holidays are likely going to be set aside on guests’ calendars for time with family.
“You may run into a smaller attendance for your wedding, and that may be a pro for you!” remarks Jonelle. “People make plans for major holidays like Christmas and 4th of July, so you may see less yes responses to your invitations if your wedding is around these days.” Again, Jonelle recommends sending out Save the Dates as early as possible to your guests in these instances, as many people will verbally respond to let you know if the date is already booked for them, and that’s one less invitation to send!
Depending on the Holiday, Wedding Costs May Go Up or Down
Because of the possible increase in demand, you may also see an increase in costs for holiday weekend weddings, especially if your wedding venue is a hotel or if you are competing with people who may be hosting other large parties. In December and around New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, you may see a steep increase depending on the venue and vendors you’re working with.
“Staffing costs are typically higher on a holiday,” reminds Sharia. “That may not be a big deal initially, but when you begin to solicit proposals from vendors with added surcharges because of the holiday, you may rethink that holiday weekend extravaganza! I had a client who wanted to have a New Year’s Day wedding. While the venue itself was cheap, all of their other costs, especially third party catering quotes, were about $3,000 higher than if they picked the day after or a regular weekend.”
While you may face an increase in fees if you’re asking your vendors to work on a holiday, these rules don’t apply to every holiday equally. Again, it’s all about demand.
“I had a Labor Day Monday brunch wedding and we got the venue for less than half price!” shares Columbus, Ohio wedding photographer Rachel Joy Barehl. “One of our friends had their wedding on Labor Day Monday a year or two after. The venue they loved was booked solid for weekends, and it was perfect.” Weekday weddings generally lead to a decreased price tag, so depending on the venue, you may still be able to save big on such holidays.
On three day weekends, Mondays may be the only time you really stand to save money. “Many venues charge regular Saturday rates for Sunday weddings on holiday weekends,” notes St. Louis wedding planner Cindy Savage of Aisle Less Traveled. “If you're trying to grab those lower Sunday rental fees, they may not be available over a holiday.”
Depending on the Holiday, You Might Be Able to Save on Decorations
Since many venues, especially hotels, often decorate for some holidays, you may also be able to save a bit on decorations by having your wedding around a holiday. This is especially true in the fall and winter when venues are more likely to be decorated.
“Not everyone celebrates the same holidays,” notes Connecticut wedding photographer Teresa Johnson. “Holiday weddings can sometimes lead to big savings. For example, I photographed a beautiful Arabic wedding celebration on Saturday, December 23. The couple are devout Muslims and held a traditional reception in separate halls, so they were able to get a beautiful venue with a LOT of space, for a fraction of the cost. While we did have to work around some of the holiday decor in their indoor photos, twinkle lights and greenery provided a beautiful backdrop to a gorgeous event. Additionally, because this couple hosted a traditional Zaffa entrance, they were able to take over the lobby and hotel halls completely for this incredible kickoff to their celebration.”
This is just proof that if you know where to look, there can be huge saving to be had by having a holiday wedding!
Remind Guests about Increased Traffic and Holiday Delays
Finally, it’s important to remind your guests that more vacationers can also mean increased traffic and delays, and it may take them longer than usual to move around town, especially in large cities.
”Another thing to think on is holiday traffic!” reminds California wedding photographer Cherlyn Wagner. “Watch for concerts and other big events that are happening around the time of your event that will cause big hangups on travel time.” Guests may need to factor this in, especially if they are hoping to do some sightseeing while in town for your wedding.
No matter when you choose to have your wedding, do some research on pricing options and give your guests as much planning time as possible and your wedding will be a hit!
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Jen Siomacco is the CEO and Editor-in-Chief of Catalyst Wedding Co. She works to mesh together her love of feminism, love stories, accessibility, equality, and design into the Catalyst brand. When she’s not traveling the country working to make the wedding industry a more inclusive place, she’s writing on her couch and snuggled up with her husband and SUPER lazy cats.
Photo by Tiffany Josephs Photography