Is your wedding date already booked at your favorite venue? The first thing you need to determine is HOW IMPORTANT is the venue to you? Is this venue everything you’ve dreamed about and you simply cannot have your wedding ANYWHERE else? If that is the case then you need to move your date.
However, if your wedding DATE is the most critical thing to you, then find another venue. Sometimes you must sacrifice one or the other. I oftentimes tell my brides that before they even start shopping venues, that they need to be flexible with their date. Popular venues are typically booking at least 18 months out.
Below are some benefits of being flexible with your date. I promise it will really help you make a wise decision because the venue is the very first thing you will want to book. The earlier you start shopping, the better. Venues love it when brides book 18-24 months out. Trust me, venues WANT to give you the date you want, and they don’t want to lose your business.
Keep in mind that with flexibility comes negotiations and free upgrades if you’re willing to move your date. Here are some ideas that might help you:
1. Hold your wedding on an off-peak date. Here in South Texas, peak wedding season is October-May. Summer weddings are not popular here because of the heat. No one needs to see the bride’s makeup melt in the heat! Especially her!
However, you can get good rates from venues as well as other wedding vendors who are looking for business in the dog days of summer.
Another example of an off-peak date would be to have your wedding during the week. Sound crazy? You’d be surprised how many people would attend your wedding on a Wednesday or Thursday night.
Do you know how many people go to happy hour during the week? A LOT. And it’s safe to say that they would attend your wedding because they will get FREE food and beverage!!
Work with your Wedding Planner on timing the evening just right so your guests aren’t kept too late. And some of your guests will even thank you because they didn’t have to give up their precious weekend after a hard week at work.
2. Back in the day (ok, probably not TOO long ago), wedding ceremonies were held at a church and started at 11 am and they were an hour long. Then the reception was at a different location and didn’t begin until 4 pm and, at the end, the bride and groom would change clothes and the send off was with rice and they went immediately to the airport to start their honeymoon! And it was all done before the sun went down! If you’ve ever watch “Steel Magnolias”, then you know what I’m talking about!
So, why not do a day wedding? Ceremony at 11 am, with a nice brunch to follow, some toasts and dancing and a send off at 4 pm? If you plan it right, you’ll save a lot of money, and your venue and vendors will love you for it! You will get discounts all the way around!
The best brunch weddings I have planned were usually on a Sunday and were highly attended. This timeframe can also eliminate the possibility of one of your guests consuming too much alcohol.
This option is becoming more popular because of the savings on alcohol alone! Typically, the largest expenses for most weddings are the venue, the catering, and the bar! I have a lot of fun ideas for brunch weddings, so feel free to reach out and schedule a concierge call. I’d be happy to share my them!
3. Ask your venue for a discount if you change your date. If you don’t ask, you don’t get! If you are willing to change your date, then ask the venue what incentives they offer for you to do so. Remember, they WANT your business, so it never hurts to ask!
Be prepared for the venue not to offer anything, however. If your venue is in high demand and it is the most popular venue in your area, then they might not offer any concessions because they may not need to offer discounts. But ask anyway!
You’d be surprised what they might offer. Complimentary shuttle service to and from the parking lot? Free linens? Cake cutting service? Free decorations? They might even add in a Wedding Planner for you, so always ask!
Now, if changing your date is not an option and your favorite venue(s) are already booked, then you here are some options to consider:
1. Elope. This is especially a popular option if the ceremony part of your wedding isn’t a priority. Wedding Planners all over the world have elopement packages now thanks to Covid (never thought I would use "thanks" and "Covid" in the same sentence – ha!).
Elopements have become particularly handy given all the social distancing requirements, mask mandates, etc. Needless to say, eloping eliminates a lot of stress, headaches, and planning hassles.
Elopements are a fun option for the couple who doesn’t want to spend a year or more focusing on all the thousands of details involved in planning it. This is the most practical option. You can throw a party with all your friends and family later and celebrate with them on your 1-year anniversary! Now, that would be an anniversary party everyone would want to attend!
2. Have a destination wedding. Who needs that venue anyway? Mexico never looked so good! Many brides like this option because the biggest thrill is doing a beach wedding
snow- covered mountain backdrop with all the romance included! The pictures alone are worth it!
You can book a cruise or exotic location and hire a planner to make it all happen where you basically just show up, get married and have a honeymoon at the same time (my favorite option)! Family and close friends can be invited or not!
You will need to hire a Wedding Planner for this option or find a location that provides a planner for you. It’s not always necessary to have a planner onsite. It’s the pre-planning and logistics details that can be a hassle when doing a destination wedding. I offer satellite or virtual planning services and I can help get your started in the right direction with a quick 30-minute call.
Destination weddings can be difficult to plan if it is in another country. There is a lot of red tape that you will need to maneuver around, so make sure and hire someone who knows all the local laws and traditions that you will have to consider.
If you plan to have a destination wedding, don’t forget to research hotel accommodations for your friends and family who want to attend. You can go to Hotels.com or Kayak.com and find hotel deals there.
If you don’t have time to do hours of research on hotels, you can check out my Hotel Accommodations package and I do it all for you! I will send you the best hotel rates in your selected destination so you can decide which hotel has the best rates, amenities and offers. Oftentimes, I can negotiate some free hotel rooms for you, too.
3. Another option is to get married at the courthouse and book your reception at a venue the following year (you can do a mock ceremony, too). I had a bride do this and it turned out well. When her wedding date finally came the following year, she opted not to do the ceremony and started her evening with an awesome Grand Entrance. It was electric and so much fun. She kept all the other formalities of the reception including a sparkler send off.
4. My final suggestion is to do a small ceremony with just your very close friends and immediate family – no more than 15-20 people. Do a champagne toast, eat a piece of cake and call it a day. Have your reception at your dream venue in the future. I think the best part of this option is you get to wear your dress twice!
Consider all the options above and make sure and list your pro’s and con’s. I think you’d be surprised as to which option you will choose based on your list.
Most of the time, the bride is willing to change her date to get the venue she wants. You only get to do this once (hopefully!), so make sure your wedding is the way YOU want it!
The best advice I can give is that your wedding day is YOURS! This isn’t your mom’s wedding, your sister’s wedding, or your best friend’s wedding! It’s YOURS! If you want to have armadillo races at your reception, then do it! (And, yes, I actually had a bride do this).
Hopefully, the information I have provided will help guide you in the right direction or offer some peace of mind knowing there are other options. Again, if you need someone to help you make the right decision, I’m here to help you!
Cheers to your wedding, and Happy Planning!