Unexpected Seasonal Wedding Costs Every Couple Should Know About
Yes, when you choose to get married could impact the overall cost of your celebration.
It's understood that the unofficial wedding season falls between early spring and late fall—while many couples do get married in the winter and early spring, a quick glance at your social calendar will prove that the majority of your friends and family choose to tie the knot when the weather is comfortable, more flowers are in bloom, and guests aren't busy with the holiday season. In fact, a 2019 report found that nearly 40 percent of weddings take place in the fall, with late spring dates in May and early June clocking in as the second most popular options. Longer days and pleasant temperatures make those times of year popular for outdoor ceremonies and tented receptions, while the vacation vibe of late spring and summer adds appeal to destination weddings. But alongside the regular peak wedding season are other location-specific peaks, and knowing about them (or not) can have a major impact on your plans—and budget.
Autumn in the northeast means offers abundant sunshine and crisp weather perfect for outdoor weddings, but if you want to secure your chance for stunning photo backdrops as the leaves change colors, you'll be choosing from a limited selection of "peak foliage" weekends. In Washington, D.C., early spring provides a romantic setting: "Washington, D.C., affords the ability for couples to capture iconic moments in front of well-known landmarks such as the Jefferson Memorial and the Washington Monument," says Diana Venditto of Eventi Weddings. "When cherry blossom season arrives, the gorgeous blooms add in another layer of historic beauty." And in Aspen, says Virginia Edelson of Bluebird Productions, springtime is considered peak foliage—but winter, off-season for the rest of the country, is the most in-demand time to tie the knot.
While planners say most vendors don't charge a premium for choosing a peak weekend within the peak season, you will find that some do. And, in general, wedding venues will charge more for a peak date, either in the form of a higher site fee or a greater cost per person for food. And even if your venue or vendors don't charge you more to tie the knot during a popular season, you can still run into unexpected charges: For example, Edelson reminds couples that they may need to plan for transporting rentals and décor up the mountain via Snowcat during a winter wedding in Aspen. A popular weekend may not change the quotes from your photographer, caterer, or band, but it will affect your plans in other ways. You—and, more importantly, your guests—will be competing with a larger number of tourists who also want to see the vibrant scenery of New Hampshire or the unforgettable blooms of the cherry blossom, which can mean higher prices for flights and hotel rooms, more difficulty booking restaurants for your rehearsal dinner and morning-after brunch, and less availability for group transportation options.
Holiday weekends—whether you prefer the party atmosphere of New Year's Eve or the three-day convenience of Memorial Day—are obviously popular dates for weddings, but you should also pay attention to more regional holidays; Piper Hatfield of Piper & Muse in Houston has seen "insanely expensive" hotel room rates in Galveston, Texas, during Mardi Gras (which takes place 380 miles away in New Orleans). Even when you try to avoid a peak weekend, you can still end up with a citywide event planned after you set your date: "Houston has hosted the Super Bowl, NCAA Tournament, and the Astros went to the World Series," says Hatfield. "Some of these are planned and on the calendar, and some are unexpected."
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