Anyone who has had the thrill of a heartfelt proposal will never forget it. After the delighted “Yes!” the triumphant suitor is on a complete high and the woman he loves is instantly transformed from an ordinary woman into a fiancée and bride-to-be. But not long after all the happy-dust settles, another big question has to be asked – when will the wedding take place?
Let me share a secret with you – having written for many years and become more than a little familiar with the ins and outs of organising an incredible wedding (particularly after my years spent as Deputy Editor on a fashion magazine), I was looking forward to writing a few articles about every aspect of weddings . Then, a few days after I had started writing, something amazing happened – my partner of several years, Pete, popped the question and we are now engaged to be married. Not only do I have the man I completely adore and an amazing, indecently sparkly ring which tells me that it’s mutual, but if I was looking forward to holding forth about weddings before, now just try and stop me!
Even in the midst of this fog of happiness, I am aware that, quite soon, I will need to attempt sensible thought. With upcoming nuptials there are a whole host of exciting decisions to make –which will be the perfect dress for your special day, the ideal type of venue, what the guests will eat… However, all of these delectable wedding plans cannot possibly get started without the engaged couple making the first major decision – setting the date.
The natural reaction following proposal is often to want to wed as soon as humanly possible. Like the immortal line from When Harry Met Sally:
“…when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”
In the first waves of excitement, it seems to be entirely the right thing to do – to get the venue booked as soon you think it is possible to pull a wedding together. However, after the initial euphoria has eased into something calmer which allows you to enjoy more practical thoughts, it is well worth giving some serious consideration to all the other factors – apart from genuine eagerness and impatience - that affect precisely when you should actually get married.
In the first instance, you may need to factor in all the realities of your financial situation. Not at all romantic on the surface, but vital to making sure that you don’t overstretch you, or your partner, or your parents - whoever is picking up the tab for the wedding should certainly be allowed a very big say in the date that you ultimately choose. Largely depending on your personal circumstances and the type of wedding you want, you – or your parents - may need to save to fund the big day. The majority of younger brides often have considerable parental input but an ever-growing number of us are marrying later and shouldering all the financial responsibilities ourselves. Unless it is an engagement that has been planned for a while, this may mean saving for a good while before a wedding day is possible.
So far, so practical. But - just throwing it out there - let’s imagine that money is not the primary deciding factor in when you choose to have your wedding. Which is the perfect season for a wonderful wedding - spring, summer, fall or winter?
The instant thought of most brides to be is to go for a spring/summer wedding, which is of course the main wedding season. Naturally, the biggest plus at this time of year is the weather, as few brides want to walk into their church, hotel or other wedding venue soaked from a heavy rain shower. For many, the idea that the summer sun is likely to shine on your special day eclipses everything else. From the entry into the venue, to the photo sessions and canapés on the lawns, to the stroll around the grounds during the reception for a private five minutes with your new spouse… al fresco celebrations do allow for a touch of exuberance and expansiveness that go so well with having the best day of your life.
Even so, there is something to be said for every season. The next most popular season in which to tie the knot is the fall. It can be a stunning time of year visually, an unhinged explosions of colours with exotic labels – burnt orange, ochre, taupe, vermillion. A New England wedding in the fall can be simply unforgettable… exchanging vows in Vermont against a riot of reds and browns would be breath-taking. Also, fall is the season beloved by poets, a less obvious romantic season perhaps, but no less marvellous for all that.
After that comes spring, the eternal mating season, filled with hope of new life, new generations, new love. Spring entrances us with its promise of crystal clear blue skies, gently warming afternoons along with the brand new beginnings. It is excellent for brides who want to remain looking unflustered in the heat, yet untroubled by wet weather and at the same time enjoy the romanticism of genuinely inviting green shoots, birdsong, buds and blossom.
Last of all, but no less enticing, comes winter. Sharp frosts, dark early evenings, snow in places… all of this may either seem simply like harsh external conditions, or an opportunity to experience a time that is gloriously romantic in its own way. Candlelit ceremonies are extremely special, particularly when held in an old historic building. Also, the winter is laced with its very own promise – the magic of Christmas. Planned carefully and creatively, a winter wedding that embraces the best of the season can be absolutely unforgettable.
So what is a bride to do? Spring, summer, fall and winter – each one boasts its own unique charms and it is nigh on impossible to plan for a rain-free day a year or more in advance, whatever the season. So, which one to pick?
Well, at the end of the day, every single bride and groom must select a season that ideally matches the qualities within their own unique relationship. If you are both outdoors-loving sun worshippers, then you are bound to be happiest with a hot, sunny wedding day, or if you get uncomfortable in the heat and long for a more mellow and thoughtful backdrop to your special day, give the fall a go. Alternatively, you may wish to base your wedding day on other factors, tying it in with certain anniversaries, birthdays or other significant times of year.
The trick is to prioritise – what are your must-haves in terms of weather, or atmosphere? If you have always pictured yourself entering an ancient church in a fake fur cape, don’t let anyone else put you off a December wedding. If the sweltering heat is imperative for that long dreamed-of wedding barbecue, then set the date for summer without delay. On the other hand, you may simply want to wed whenever your dream venue is free, which is always a good starting point.
Whatever your own personal preferences, make sure you talk it over together, be honest about your most heartfelt wishes and get ready for the best day of your whole life – whenever you decide that will be.