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engaged - wedding date

Engagement To-Dos: Picking the Perfect Wedding Date

How do you choose your wedding date? Very carefully! Here are some tips to pick the perfect day to walk down the aisle.

Photo: Philippe Cheng

You're engaged?! Congratulations! When's the date? This delicate decision is different for each couple, but a year-long engagement is often about right. It gives you time to get your dream wedding dress (which can take six to nine months) and your dream wedding reception venue (some are booked a year in advance!), yet doesn't drag out the engagement. Consider the following to pick a day that is both practical and personal.

Symbolism

How romantic would it be to marry on the date your eyes first met, on the date you officially became a couple, or on your grandparents' anniversary? Some cultures use traditional methods to choose a date -- Japanese families use the koyomi, an ancient astrological calendar, to pick the most propitious day, while ancient Greeks divined pig entrails! (Pork rinds, anyone?) You may not be able to marry on the exact day you want -- the venue you want may be booked or that special date could fall on a Monday -- but you can probably get pretty close. Make sure you tell your guests about any significance of the timing in your ceremony programs!

How romantic would it be to marry on the date your eyes first met, on the date you officially became a couple, or on your grandparents' anniversary?

Season

Weather not only affects your wedding's style and location, but may set a completely different mood. If it's snowing outside, or it's 90 degrees, people will behave differently. Consider your wedding personality, then choose your season accordingly. Free-spirited fun, sun-dappled settings, wild and sweaty dancing: Stick with a summer wedding. Opulence, snowfall, holiday sparkle: Try a winter wedding. Rich colors, nostalgia, mulled apple cider: A fall wedding is for you. Freshness, pastels, a daffodil bouquet: A spring wedding is your thing.

Price

Budget may affect your choice. June, August, and September are the most popular times to marry, so, prices are inevitably higher. But if, for example, you're planning a wedding in January, March, or December, it may cost less because 50 other couples aren't lined up behind you offering to pay top dollar. Days of the week also matter: Saturday nights carry a hefty price tag, but marry during the week and the world is your oyster (venues may even bid against each other to get your business)!

Holiday

If you've always wanted a Nutcracker wedding, or you're hot for a heart-covered wedding cake, sounds like you're a holiday wedding couple. If you're Irish, opt for March, when everyone is already in the St. Patty's Day spirit. Try a wedding party in pastels and an Easter egg hunt in March or April. Have a Fourth of July celebration with flags, barbecue, and fireworks. A plus: Some holidays fall on long weekends, which might make it easier for out-of-town guests to attend. On the flip side, some guests may not want their holiday weekends upended by a wedding, so take that into consideration as well.

VIP Preferences

Speaking of guests, but only of the top-tier, wouldn't-get-married-without-them variety: If you have limited preferences, you may want to ask your nearest and dearest about date conflicts and plan accordingly. Be forewarned that this is a slippery slope if you ask anyone outside your essential circle of parents, siblings, and honor attendants. Keep it simple and don't budge once the date's set.

No-No Days

There are definitely wedding dates to avoid. The weekend before tax day is not the best time to tie the knot -- especially if one of you is an accountant or tax attorney! No matter what your career, you probably have your own crunch time at work (inventory always happens in July, the new fiscal year begins in September), so don't marry then. You'll either be stressed or you won't be allowed to take off for your honeymoon. Also, your religion may dictate some times of year, or even days of the week, that are off-limits.

-- Tracy Guth

See More: Just Engaged?