When do you want to get married? Just because you're engaged doesn't mean you have run right down the aisle. Choosing the length of your engagement and how much planning time you need is entirely up to you. Giving yourself at least six months will make your life easier, but there are no rules as long as your date and your venue are available.
Sometimes, it's obvious: you want snow-capped mountains? Wintertime. You want to escape winter weather with your friends and family? Choose a tropical destination. If you're getting married in your hometown, you know what time of the year you love and when it's too miserable outside (hot or cold) for anybody to look forward to visiting your town. It's totally up to you.
Once you've picked the season, you need to get more specific about the date. Here are some factors to consider:
1. Are there any dates that are off the table because of you or your fiancé's careers?
Accountants don't usually get married between New Year's and May. Teachers tend to get married in the summertime. People in politics get married in between campaigns.
2. While you can't arrange your wedding date around all your guests' schedules, you'll need to take professional and personal obligations into account for your parents and immediate family too.
Maybe even your wedding party attendants. It depends on how badly you want these people to be there on your big day.
3. Different times of the year cost different amounts of money for wedding events.
Mid-December through May is priciest in the Caribbean. Winter at big ski areas costs a mint. Stay off the Atlantic seaboard from May through October if your budget is tight. In some places, getting married on a Friday or Sunday can be less expensive, so it's a question to ask and something to explore.
4. What other activities do you want to hold, in addition to the ceremony and reception?
Welcome parties? A rehearsal dinner? Perhaps a farewell brunch? You've got to look at all of that on the calendar before you lock in a date. Have a clear understanding of what you're committing to for you and your guests.
5. Know your wedding date when you first contact a planner or a venue.
Actually, it's better to have two to three wedding dates in mind if you really want that planner or that location. Your first choice may already be booked by another bride and groom. If you call a venue for information but have no wedding date, you're asking someone to potentially waste a lot of time if he or she won't be able to accommodate you after all.
Owner of Weddings in Vieques, a destination-wedding-planning company off the coast of Puerto Rico, Sandy Malone has helped countless couples plan their big day since 2007.