Congratulations, you're engaged! You have hugged your family and friends, gushed about the proposal and stared at that gorgeous ring for more time than you would openly admit. But there is that one question that stumps you. There you are, sipping champagne and telling the proposal story one more time when they ask you. "So... did you set a date yet?"
Let me start with what I consider to be the best wedding advice there is - learn to tune people out. People have their opinions - good opinions, bad opinions, opinions that make no sense. Remember, those opinions are theirs and theirs alone. There are two opinions that should matter when it comes to your wedding day - yours and your fiancé's. Other than that, pick and choose from what other people have to say. It's that simple. Don't let them stress you, don't let them bully you, don't let them get you down. It's your wedding. It's your vision. It's your date to choose.
Probably the easiest first step in picking the date is selecting which season you would like to get married in. They all have their pluses and minuses. Like all the choices of your wedding day - it's completely up to you. For me, one of the easiest ways to weigh my options for big decisions is to make a list of pros and cons. So I've put together a few of the pros and cons of each season to help you as you get the ball rolling. Don't worry - they are always more pros than cons. And after working hundreds of weddings, we know how to turn any con on it's head. As an added bonus, we're thrilled to have the input from one of NYC's premiere floral designers (and one of our recent brides), Samantha from The Mini Rose Company who shared with us which flowers are in bloom during each season.
One note: It is important to be flexible, too. You might fall in love with a venue that just doesn't happen to have any spring dates available this year. Fall could be a great back up. So take a look at our list below and take notes of what you like and what you don't. And remember, there are no hard and fast rules. It's your wedding. If you want something that's typically "Fall" at your summer wedding, do it.
As soon as you really start making your day your own, the planning will become that much easier. I promise. Plus, once you "Set the Date" you can cross the very first item off your "To Do" list. And that always feels good.
December, January, February
Pros: There's something inherently romantic about wintertime. There's a chill in the air, you hold each other close and cuddle up by candlelight. And a few flurries outside? Well, that could just be a bonus, especially if you don't mind the cold. Even better, winter is considered "off season" by some wedding venues. Because of that, you will probably have an easier time getting the reception venue and vendors of your choice since you won't be competing for the "most popular" wedding dates which tend to be in the spring and fall. Some venues even have lower per guest rates for winter weddings. If you plan on a church ceremony in December, you can save on some of your floral budget since the church will already be decorated for Christmas.
Cons: Weather. There could be a blizzard, it could be unseasonably warm - you can't really know for sure. A friend of mine got married on January 1, 2011 and it was 60 degrees in Long Island. The week before there was a blizzard that shut down NYC. Hope for the best, but plan for the worst. You could also save your guests some travel stress by opting to have your ceremony and reception all in the same location.
How to Make the Most of your Winter Wedding
Venue: Winter is the perfect time of year for a wedding in a elegant ballroom. Uplighting, candles, branches and full floral centerpieces can transform even the simplest ballroom into a winter wonderland.
Photography: Pick a stunning venue or a separate indoor location as a back-up for your photos in case it's just too cold (or too wet) to be outside. Be willing to brave the cold for at least a few minutes though, the bare trees can actually make for dramatic and beautiful photos. And if there does happen to be snow, embrace it. Head outside, cuddle and get some shots of the two of you surrounded by the falling snow.
Flowers in Season (From Samantha of The Mini Rose Company): Amaryllis, Hyacinth, Narcissus, Evergreen and Pine. Colors that are prominent are whites, greens, deep reds and purples. Fun elements like birch wrapped vases, pine cones and winter greens in floral arrangements give a funky and custom winter look.
Winter Accessories: A dramatic cape, cozy wraps for your bridesmaids, a faux fur stole
Food: Hot Cocoa to greet your guests at cocktail hour, comfort food for passed hors d'oeuvres and a warm dessert to send them on their way.
March, April, May
Pros: The warmer weather means people are eager to head outside and welcome a reason to celebrate. It’s a busy floral season, so you'll have a wide range of gorgeous blooms to choose from for your bouquets and centerpieces. If you're the ultimately girly girl, this is the season for you. Pastels and hues of pink and purple are a natural fit against the lush green backdrop of spring, adding a pop of color. Touches of lace, crystals and pearls can adorn your tables (and you and your maids).If you are more into preppy-chic, mix it up with patterns in your linens or invitations. Select fragrant flowers for your centerpieces to add one more layer of atmosphere to your reception or ceremony.
Cons: It just might rain. But, believe it or not, in our experience it hardly ever rains for the entire day. We always check the forecast and look for the best pocket of time when the skies will clear. With umbrellas in hand, we take that time (even if it's just a few minutes) and head out with the bride and groom to get some outdoor shots. So, prepare for some showers, but don't obsessively check the forecast for your wedding day as the date approaches. It always changes. Usually, for the better.
How to Make the Most of your Spring Wedding
Venue: Spring is the perfect time of year for a wedding at an estate. A dramatic tree-lined front entrance, expansive lawn or terrace for cocktail hour and then on to the dance floor for an evening of dancing.
Photography: Plan out enough time to really take advantage of the gorgeous surroundings of spring. If there does happen to be rain, have fun with it. Have a cute pair of Wellies tucked aside just in case and head outside for some romantic shots under an umbrella. If you're planning to marry in an area where there are particularly gorgeous blooming trees, keep an eye on the peak season for those blooms. New Haven native, Chrissy, selected her wedding date to be in the prime of cherry blossom season because she loved the blooming branches since childhood.
Flowers in Season (From Samantha of The Mini Rose Company): Peonies, Ranunculus, Tulips, Anemone, Blooming Branches such as Cherry Blossom and Quince, and Lilac. Colors for this season lean in the purples,peaches, and pastel tones. Soft garden textures and tall blooming branches are always a hit.
Spring Accessories: A pearl or crystal clutch, patterned cardigans, a lace bolero
Food: Mint Julep in classic silver cups, mini sandwiches for d'oeuvres, peach parfaits for dessert
June, July August
Pros: If you're dreaming of an outdoor wedding, this is your season. Summer nights are perfect for tented weddings with guests free to roam the grounds at your reception that has no walls. If your fiancé is more keen on wearing a light-weight suit than a formal tuxedo, summer is perfect for him as well. Also, people tend to be willing to stay up a bit later and party a bit harder in the summer, so if you know you want a lively reception, this is your season.
Cons: It could be pretty hot, so be sure to have fans and cold water waiting for your guests if you choose to do the majority of the events of your day outdoors. To combat potential heat, see if you can have an A/C option for your tent. Summer is in the middle of prime wedding season, so nail down your vendors as early as possible, especially those that book up quickly. Many guests plan summer vacations, so send out Save the Dates early so they mark their calendars, especially if you're marrying on a holiday weekend.
How to Make the Most of your Summer Wedding
Venue : You can chose to say your vows with your toes in the sand or set up a tent in your backyard of your childhood home. Either way, incorporating the outdoors is the way to go. Your guests will want to spend time out in the night air (talking, dancing, drinking, etc.) so make sure that wherever you choose has easy access to the outside so they can come back and forth without breaking the momentum of the party.
Photography: If you plan on having your ceremony at the same place as your reception, we highly suggest doing a first look. Cocktail hour will begin very shortly after your ceremony ends and you're going to want to join your guests. We will help you schedule your day so that you can have a sweet, emotional first look that will in no way take away from the moment you walk down the aisle.
Flowers in Season (From Samantha of The Mini Rose Company): Sunflowers, Hydrangea, Wildflowers, Coxcomb, Amaranthus. Vibrant tones such as yellows, oranges, crisp greens and bold blues are common for summer flowers.
Summer Accessories: Flowy, flirty bridesmaids dresses, a long dramatic veil to blow in the summer breeze or a floral crowns for you (they are perfect for summer brides)
Food: Serve up your favorite summer fare. Fresh squeezed lemonade to greet your guests, BBQ sliders for passed hors d'oeuvres, milkshake shooters passed around the dance floor before last dance.
September, October, November
Pros: Fall has actually become perhaps the most popular season to get married and for good reason. The sky is bright blue (especially in October) and there is, quite literally, a cascade of colors all around you. The weather is typically "just right," not too warm, not too cold and comfortable for the gentlemen donning three-piece suits. If you love golds, oranges, purples and reds, this is the season for you. And if you're a foodie, the harvest season has so many rich flavors that you can incorporate into your menu.
Cons: You will probably have to set the date further in advance to ensure a Fall wedding date. In the early fall (September and October) you might have the chance of rough weather coming on the heels of hurricane season (either for your actual wedding date or if you were planning a Caribbean honeymoon). The later fall (November) might mean a day that is a bit on the chilly side.
How to Make the Most of Your Autumn Wedding
Venue: Fall is the perfect time for two very distinct locations: a classic New England-style barn or a vineyard. Each has their own distinct charm and they have one very important thing in common: tying in the natural elements of the season into your wedding day.
Photography: If photographs among the foliage are really important to you, seek out advice for when peak season will be at your particular venue. Have a wrap or cardigan on hand to keep your warm in between shots and/or to have a different look. If a windy day is scheduled, talk to your hair stylist about the best way to keep your hair looking perfect even against strong gusts (maybe even have a back-up hairstyle planned out, just in case). If your wedding will be taking place after daylight savings, make sure to plan your day to ensure plenty of time for photos before the sun sets.
Flowers in Season (From Samantha of The Mini Rose Company): Hydrangea, Dahlias, Autumn foliage pods and berries, Bittersweet. Autumn tones are fabulous and give you tons of flower and textural options in this season. Rich and deep flowers and funky elements like pods, and berries are great.
Autumn Accessories: Colorful accents look beautiful against the rich tones of Fall. Think of a dramatic headpiece for you, patterned linens for your cocktail tables and gold clutches for your bridesmaids.
Food: Hot apple cider to greet your guests, butternut squash soup shooters for passed hors d'oeuvres, warm apple cobbler for dessert.
So, pull out your calendars, make some appointments for venue visits and, most importantly, remember to have fun. Wedding planning doesn't have to be stressful. It can actually be fun. You're planning a day that's all about the two of you and how you feel about one another. Enjoy it!