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Understanding How Dates and Times Affect Wedding Costs

3 of 10 in Series: The Essentials of Budget Weddings

Your wedding date and the time of your reception can affect wedding costs for everything from the catering to the photography bill by 30% or more. Vendors charge their highest prices when their services are most in demand, such as for a June wedding on a Saturday.

Evening weddings are the most popular and usually the most expensive. An evening wedding typically is more formal, which means more expensive attire, accessories, flowers, decorations, and food. And, of course, Saturdays are the most popular days for weddings. So a Saturday evening in June or September is likely to be the most expensive option for your wedding.

The cheaper months for weddings

June and September are the most popular wedding months in large part because, in most areas of the country, the weather is neither too cold nor too hot. January, March, April, and November can be far less expensive months for marrying. Venue prices may be lower, and vendor prices are likely to be significantly lower simply because the demand isn’t as great.

February and December aren’t value priced because of St. Valentine’s Day and Christmas. In December (and on New Year’s Eve), your competition may not be other marrying couples but holiday parties that use many of the same venues and vendors that weddings do. July and August dates tend to fill up fast with couples who didn’t book their June or September dates early enough. And May and October are popular wedding months in the Midwest.

Meetings and conventions can ruin your plans, too. Call your local chamber of commerce or convention bureau to find out when these kinds of gatherings are scheduled so you can plan around them. Also check dates for local college or high school reunions, spring or fall breaks, and homecoming weekends.

The cheaper days of the week for weddings

Ceremony and reception site rental rates are typically least expensive on weekdays and Sundays. Hotel rates usually are lower Sunday through Thursday, too — something to consider if you’ll be paying for your own wedding suite or for a room for a VIP guest from out of town (such as a relative or friend who’s serving as officiant).

Airfares are typically cheaper on weekdays, too, so you could save money on your honeymoon travel costs if you get married on, say, a Tuesday and leave for your honeymoon on Wednesday.

The main reason most couples get married on a Saturday is because they figure it’s easier for guests to attend. But if you get married on a Thursday, your out-of-town guests can get cheaper airfares, and your local guests should be able to arrange to take the day off from work if you give them the usual six to eight weeks’ notice.

The cheaper times of the day for weddings

Food and drink gobble up the lion’s share of most wedding budgets. However, you can cut these costs dramatically simply by changing the time of your wedding. For example, you can explore the following options:

  • A 9 a.m. ceremony followed by an elegant brunch: Breakfast food is much cheaper than lunch or dinner fare, and you can fill out the menu with fresh fruit, made-to-order omelet stations, and delicious breads and pastries.

  • A 2 p.m. wedding with a cake reception: Serve cake and a variety of beverages (punch, coffee, tea, and soda). You also can include a chocolate fountain with fresh fruit, graham crackers, and pretzels for dipping.

  • A 4 p.m. wedding followed by a cocktail party: Arrange for butler-passed hors d’oeuvres and stations with cheese, crackers, fruit, and veggies.

If you get the timing right, you can give your guests a wonderful experience at a fraction of the price you’d pay for a traditional sit-down meal — or even a buffet dinner. Of course, timing is key: You don’t want to serve only hors d’oeuvres when your guests expect a full meal. If you’ve set your heart on a 6 p.m. ceremony, you have to give your guests dinner afterward.

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