The winter—and especially the holiday season—is a popular time for couples to become engaged! This is one of the most exciting periods in a couple’s lives, but it also brings about a lot of new experiences and unchartered waters.
The first of those is setting the big date—the special date that will hold meaning for you and your future spouse for all the days of your life!
One thing to note: If you are planning a fall (September/October/November) or June wedding, there may be a little more competition for a Saturday wedding date, unless you are planning more than a year ahead of time.
Here’s the process I typically use to guide couples through the process of choosing a date.
The big question: Do you want your ceremony to be in a separate location from the reception location?
If you answered “yes” to that question, you will first direct your attention to churches, chapels, or gardens that are in line with your vision for your ceremony space. Gather possible dates from those places by contacting them and finding out which dates they have available in your desired season. Then come back to your and your fiancé’s immediate families to narrow down the best date.
If you answered “no” to that question (meaning you would like to have your ceremony and reception at the same location), then you will start by building your guest list.
You will have to make a pretty realistic guest list before looking for a venue because the first questions you will discuss with the possible venues are: 1) your desired wedding date/month and 2) how many people you plan on attending. By already having an idea of how many guests you expect to attend, you’ll be able to rule spaces in or out more efficiently.
To create your guest list, list all of the people you would like to invite. Be sure to consult your families too, especially if they will be contributing to the wedding budget. A good way to stay organized is to make a spreadsheet with Suffix, First Name, Last Name, Street Address, City, State, Zip Code and Response column (which comes in handy later when you’re mailing invitations and receiving RSVPs).
To estimate how many guests will attend, expect an 85 percent response rate—unless most invited guests live in town, in which case use 90 percent, or most guests will be traveling from out of town, in which case use 75 percent. You do not want to get to the final weeks before the wedding and be crunched for money, so these numbers are slightly overestimated to play it safe.
This may sound like a lot of work upfront, but the date and the venue dictate many of your other decisions… so once those are set, the rest is that much easier.
As long as you stay flexible and open-minded, you will be able to find the perfect location and set that all-important date that you’ll celebrate as your anniversary for years to come.
Christine M. Saxer