Once you’ve thoroughly celebrated your engagement and had some serious conversations about what sort of wedding budget makes sense financially for the two of you—which likely has included some real talk with your families about how they might be able to contribute—it’s time to think about when and where you’ll be tying the knot. Your wedding venue is a big ticket item—in fact, it's typically the biggest ticket item of them all—so deciding where to have your wedding and what size wedding you want to have will play a major role in determining what sort of wedding budget you have left to spend on everything else, from your florals and décor to your wedding dress and accessories.
As you’re researching wedding venues, you might be wondering whether choosing a different time of year could help bring your costs down—when exactly is "wedding season," anyway?—and it’s a good thought! Venue rates can vary widely by month, weeks, even days of the week, offering budget-savvy couples opportunities for significant cost savings. Our experts are here to give you the scoop about what time of year is considered peak wedding season for different regions across the U.S.—plus some tips for when venue rates will be at their most affordable.
Defining 'Wedding Season'
Most wedding venues—including those in destinations with year-round appeal, such as California and Hawaii—have a peak (busiest) wedding season and a low or off-peak season. In general, wedding season extends from late spring and continues through early fall, with weddings peaking in June and September. On the other hand, winter is often much cheaper—unless you're considering a December wedding, when you’ll be competing with company holiday parties and other non-wedding events for those much-desired dates. Of course, the location of your venue has a huge impact on when the prices rise and fall.
The Midwest, Southwest and the South
In these regions, spring and fall are typically considered peak wedding season, as temperatures are comfortable but milder than the sometimes sweltering heat of July and August, which are considered off-peak months (unless, of course, you're eyeing lakefront venues in the Midwest, which are at their busiest during the summer). With mild temperatures and predictably sunny days, winter is actually a desirable time of year to get married in the Southwest and coastal destinations in Florida, too. On the other hand, outside of the holidays, a winter wedding in the Midwest will definitely score you off-peak venue rates.
For brides eyeing mountain venues—from the Rockies, Sierra Nevadas, and the Cascades in the West to the White Mountains, Adirondacks, and Blue Ridge Mountains out East—summer months are peak wedding season as venues at altitude promise generally comfortable temperatures and a plethora of activities to keep guests entertained. Look to spring and fall dates to score off-peak rates. Spring is less desirable as the snow melt (and chance of late season snow) makes an al fresco wedding a little tricky, but fall can be quite comfortable, and the colors of the season make for a stunning backdrop! Couples on a budget should skip winter—especially if your venue is in a popular winter sports destination—as hotel rooms and travel prices skyrocket again as mountain towns fill up during ski season.
The Northeast and East Coast
In these regions, late spring and early fall are considered prime wedding season as they're predictably the mildest (and often some of the prettiest) times of year. Summers can be hot and humid—although waterfront weddings do benefit from a lovely ocean breeze—and winters can be incredibly cold and snowy, with plenty of overcast days, too. But if you're prepared to face the chill—or cheat Mother Nature a bit by having your ceremony and reception entirely indoors, whether at a lush botanical conservatory or perhaps even at the same hotel where your guests are also staying—you'll definitely be able to score a deal in January, February, and March.
It’s not just venues that are more affordable in the off-season; many vendors will also offer lower prices or are open to negotiation during seasons when their business is slow. Don’t go in expecting a huge discount—they do still need to be fairly paid for their work—but it never hurts to ask if there's any wiggle room, given the date of your wedding.
One last perk: An off-season wedding will be a big money-saver for your wedding guests. If they’re traveling to your wedding during a time that isn’t the destination’s high season, flights and hotel rooms will be nowhere near their peak rates. Of course, keep an eye out for local events in the area, as well as holidays that might fall on or near the same weekend. Avoid major conventions, sporting events and holidays, and your out-of-town guests will be able to reap the benefits of your off-season wedding, too.