No one wants to land in the red for a walk down the aisle. Although the Wedding Report Inc. found that in 2011 American couples spent an average of $25,631 on their 2011 weddings, smart scheduling can keep your budget in line with your financial situation. Being flexible and open to the savings potential of picking a date that falls in a traditionally slow wedding period will stretch your dollars. Off-season -- or off-peak -- weddings have gained popularity among budget-conscious brides and grooms. You can pinch pennies when your ceremony, reception and honeymoon take place in a non-traditional month, on a non-traditional day at a non-traditional time.
Wedding designer and author Joyce Scardina Becker told Bankrate.com writer Leslie Hunt that the most popular wedding season begins in May and ends in October. In 2010, nearly 84 percent of weddings in the United States took place during that period. Couples who tie the knot during those months pay peak venue, photographer, musician, caterer and florist costs. However, climate determines wedding seasonality. Summer months in the Midwest, South and Southwest are off-peak and economical because fewer people want to deal with scorching temperatures and humidity. Snow and ice bring off-season pricing to winter weddings in cold-weather states. Prices in December, considered a prime wedding month, remain consistent across the country due to holiday celebrations.
Scheduling your wedding for the off-season lets you take advantage of the law of supply and demand, particularly in January and February. Venues and wedding service providers not only lower their rates but often are more receptive to price negotiation when business is slow. A winter honeymoon at a winter resort will likely cost less, with the added bonus of an improvement of your odds for getting the best hotel suite. Opting for an off-season wedding also benefits out-of-town guests who can book off-peak travel and accommodation rates. Keep in mind that your savings will diminish if you pick a date that is also a holiday, such as Valentine's Day, or coincides with a hotel-filling convention or trade show.
The most popular and therefore the most expensive day of the week to get married, regardless of time of year, is Saturday -- especially Saturday evening -- according to "Forbes." An off-season wedding strategy that does not include Saturday night will keep any budget down. San Francisco wedding consultant Nicole Lisanne told writer Laura T. Coffey of TODAY Weddings that “Fridays are kind of the new Saturday,” with Thursday night rehearsal dinners. Restaurants, caterers and reception facilities will usually offer better rates for mid-week events that enable them to fill scheduling gaps.
Time of day for the ceremony and accompanying reception is another variable to consider as you seek a way to control costs. Luncheons and brunches complement morning or afternoon ceremonies and cost less than evening meals. Daytime reception guests tend not to drink as heavily, which keeps your bar tab in check. The money you save on food and alcohol can either fund a wedding luxury you otherwise could not afford, or reduce your overall expenses.
Off-peak Destination Weddings
Choosing a weekday wedding date can lower destination wedding costs during the high tourist season. According to the 2011 "Brides" magazine study of American weddings, 15 percent of all couples choose to marry in a location away from their hometowns. "The Big White Book of Weddings" cautions, however, that "off-peak" at a destination resort could mean renovation is in progress; amenities such as restaurants, pools and spas are closed; and tours are unavailable. Still, being flexible can help you save: Try to book during the days immediately following the last "peak" week. Facilities remain staffed and open in these "shoulder seasons."
- The Wedding Report: 2011 Wedding Cost Update 3.4% Decrease from 2010 Spending
- Bankrate.com: 7 Ways to Save on an Off-season Wedding
- The Wedding Report: Weddings by Month 2005-2010
- Free Shipping.org: The Best Time to Buy Guide for 101 Products and Services
- Premier Bride: Wedding Budgeting and Planning; for Love or Money
- Forbes.com: How Much Should a Wedding Cost? Here's How to Lower It
- MSNBC: Today Weddings; Knotty problem - Whether to Wed Midweek
- Wedding Industry Statistics: Home; 2011 American Wedding Study Brides Magazine
- The Big White Book of Weddings: A How-To Guide for the Savvy, Stylish Bride; David Tutera; 2009
- Comstock/Comstock/Getty Images