8 tips for scheduling a wedding around a holiday

Scheduling a wedding around the holidays as seen on @offbeatbride
Christmas save-the-date by PL Papers

Planning your Halloween wedding, Christmas wedding, New Year's Eve wedding, Arbor Day wedding? That last one probably isn't such a big deal, but the other biggies certainly can be. You're likely running into pre-made days off for more wedding frolic with your pals, but might also run into folks already on their own vacations.

Here are some tips that we gathered for scheduling a wedding around a holiday to avoid extra costs, extra guilt, and gain extra fun.

Give as much notice as possible

Try to send your save-the-date as soon as you can to give guests time to book flights in a potentially busier and more expensive travel season. You'll also want to make sure you secure guests' time before they book their vacations and time off from work.

Accept that you may lose a few guests

More of your guests are likely to decline the invitation than at a non-holiday timed wedding. Fixed plans, company events, and family obligations are hard to avoid. Giving a lot of time to plan and not being too sensitive to declines should soften the blow.

Painted Mason Jars from To Have And To Hope

You may gain some out-of-towners

Holidays are often easier to extend time off, so you may offset the low RSVP rate with some extra out-of-towners. Feel free to peruse some of our wedding weekend posts to prepare to host non-local guests.

Prepare for more +1 requests

Guests will probably want to spend their holiday time with family, kids, and partners, so you may see a spike in requests for a plus-one. No matter which way you're going (letting them or not), just be sure to have your answer ready to avoid the dramaz.

Offer something festive at the reception

Take advantage of the spirit of the season, whether it's spooky at Halloween or peace on Earth around the winter holidays. Think cranberry signature cocktails for Christmas, a horror movie theme for Halloween… you get the idea. If you're taking guests from their usual festivities, try to make sure they don't miss out on the seasonal fun. You don't have to go all-out with a seasonal theme, but a few touches can make all the difference for holiday-lovers.

Take advantage of seasonal food and foliage

Any time you can go seasonal for food and flowers will save you some cash. You can choose some festive, seasonal options and nobody will be the wiser that you did it for budget reasons.

Allow for higher costs from vendors

The flip-side to the budget issue is that holidays can often be a higher cost time for vendors, especially venues. Either allow for it in your budget or consider cost-saving options like morning/brunch weddings or cheaper days like Fridays or Sundays.

For a New Year's Eve party, start it later than usual

This tip is holiday-specific. If you're planning a New Year's Eve party, don't forget to start it a wee bit later since you'll likely be partying well after midnight.

More holiday fun

Are you planning a holiday wedding? What tips did we miss?

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  1. A hike in declines is something that we experienced with our Halloween wedding. We hosted a child free event and ended up losing about nine guests who otherwise would have been there because they chose to take their children trick or treating instead. Naturally we understood but it was still a bit of a bummer.

  2. My personal experience that while people are doing a favor by having over a holiday weekend. Sometimes it can backfire.
    Example, my cousin had her wedding over 4th of July weekend in 1999 (4th of July I think was a Sunday that year and so a lot of people had that Monday off). So hence to say while people did not need to use an extra day of vacation if they wanted to leave late Sunday or Monday, airline ticket prices over a major holiday weekend, esp. to FL. was higher than normal. Same when her youngest kid her Bat Mitzvah over Labor Day weekend this year. While I skipped that, when I did look up airline tickets 6 months prior, I almost fell over (as I said, that was six months out). My sister in law in Maine has an annual "Hawaiian" theme party they started three years ago they do over Labor Day. Same thing (this case we drive), drive up the 95 corridor over a MAJOR three day weekend sucks ass. Hence to say we have only been once and limit our holiday travel for Thanksgiving and Christmas (since his side are Christian).

    So I have to disagree with the posting, as I think while it is nice to "hook up" the out of towners on a three day weekend. But in reality, esp. if they have to fly (or even drive depending on what three day weekend (meaning Labor Day, 4th of July (if on a weekend), Memorial Day, or like this year, Xmas and New Year being on a long weekend. Not so much on holidays like Presidents Day, etc) that sometimes it might actually force people to not to come, as airline ticket prices depending how early they look or how long of a drive it is (esp. if you drive the I-95 corridor) that it might actually deter people from coming, esp. if you live in a school district that still has school after Memorial day, people might not want to pull their kids that Friday if they have finals.

  3. I think you might get a mixed bag with the holidays = time off thing, depending on what sort of jobs your guests have and how close to the holiday the wedding is. People who work retail tend to have a tough time getting off around holidays (especially Black Friday). As a teacher, I can't take a personal day attached to a school holiday or first and last two weeks of school without superintendent approval, which means it pretty much has to be an immediate family member (meaning that traveling to my cousin's Labor Day wedding in Colorado from Connecticut was sadly out of the question for me).

    Having the wedding on a Saturday, while the most expensive day, makes it easier for your guests to travel. Move this to Sunday for a wedding taking place on a three day weekend. (Another cousin got married on Sunday of Memorial Day weekend in Ohio, so my family and I were able to take all day Saturday and Monday to travel without having to take off from work).

    For timing of save-the-dates, as suggested in another post, don't go much over 11 months out from the wedding date. That prevents confusion on what year the event is happening (yes, that happens to people), and keeps the cards from being mistaken as holiday cards. I'm having a mid-December wedding myself, and will be waiting until probably late January to start sending my save-the-dates. That should give me first dibs on calendar spots, without confusing anyone.

  4. Ahhh! So much of this. We're gearing up for our wedding on the 30th December (which we will continue partying into Hogmanay)…. I can second the higher costs from vendors, but actually the thing that threw was was that so many vendors didn't even want to entertain the thought of an event the day before a major holiday in Scotland. I've also had a nightmare of time trying to find hair-makeup-nail-"girly-thing" vendors, as they're just all booked up already. The other thing that we've been having to deal with is that so many vendors and the registrars office (where we have to pick up our marriage schedule) close from say the 23-24 December until the 4th-5th January. So we're having to pick stuff up early (kilts, linens, etc,) and pay more for it because we've got it for longer days than normal. On the flip side, we're saving on a lot of decor, because the steam train that we're getting married on and the village hall where we're partying afterwards is already decked out for Christmas and that works for us (e.g. we're LAZY!!!). A few guests who have waited until the last minute are now also struggling to find places to stay due to the time of year, but that's really not our issue, because we gave them 11.5 months warning. Still, I know a lot of folks are quite excited for something to do between Christmas and Hogmanay, as there is that normal lull, so they're even offering to help us set up, for something to do!

  5. Seconding Terry re: the choice of wedding day! We also have some friends who are getting married on a 3-day holiday weekend – but they scheduled their wedding on the Friday, so guests have to take off an extra day (Thursday) for travel to their remote location. We're still going, but it's made it more difficult…

  6. Wishing there were more conversation about this! I'm seriously considering a NYE wedding but can't find many resources/advice. My thought is, what better way to ring in the new year than with all your friends and family and an open bar? What better offer could people have than that? But I'm nervous that we'll have less than a year to plan it, and that (as mentioned in this post) people will not want to interrupt their holiday plans. My vision for this NYE celebration is hard to give up though.

    • My husband and I went to a NYE wedding a few years ago. Once piece of advice I would suggest is allowing all the singles to bring a plus one. We had just started dating that fall and wanted to spend NYE together so he invited me to the wedding. When he looked twice at the invitation he realized that he wasn't given a plus one option. He seriously considered not going to the wedding because he didn't want us to spend our first NYE together apart. He ended up contacting the bride and basically asking if I could be B-listed. She agreed, and thankfully a spot did open up for me but if it hadn't my husband probably wouldn't have gone, so I think for a lot of singles not being given a plus one option could be a deal breaker for attendance at a NYE wedding.

      • Plus ones are a definite, and our wedding will be fairly small even with plus ones (under 100, we don't know many people!) so it should be manageable. Luckily, too, all of our friends are mutual (which helps with the small guest list), so as long as nobody has crazy plans in place already, there shouldn't be anyone who legitimately can't go. The main problem is whether or not I can do it in less than a year!

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