Many of us have dreamed of having the perfect wedding. This desire for perfection can cause a lot of pressure and even stress, which is no fun when preparing for what’s supposed to be the happiest day of your life. Luckily, there is no such thing as the perfect wedding. The trick is finding the kind of wedding that is perfect for you.
Personally, I grew up envisioning an outdoor woodland fairytale wedding with lights strung throughout trees and guests eating their cake under the open stars. Then I got older and began regularly attending weddings. I sat through a sunny June ceremony and entered the reception with a terrible sunburn, I stood through a sweltering August ceremony visibly sweating through my bridesmaid gown, I sprinted for cover from a cloudy September ceremony as it began to rain, and I realized that an outdoor wedding was just not what I wanted.
This is not to say that outdoor weddings should be avoided. I’ve attended several and they were absolutely stunning. If you have your heart set on an outdoor event, by all means, go for it. Just realize that there are a lot of factors that will be beyond your control. For me, it wasn’t worth taking that kind of a gamble for such an important occasion.
Despite my childhood vision, I opted for a January wedding. Along the way, I discovered many benefits that would not have been possible if our nuptials had taken place during the traditional wedding season. Here are a few perks to tying the knot during the off-season.
1. Vendor discounts.
It’s no secret that weddings are expensive affairs. Money stress causes the worst kind of anxiety that can easily put a damper on your pre-marital bliss. That being said, anywhere you can find a deal feels like a tiny victory.
When we began calling different vendors for our January wedding, we were delighted to find that many offered a discounted rate for winter months. We ended up receiving a significant discount from our photographer, meal upgrades from beef to steak at no extra charge, and a venue discount that gave us a percentage off on top of a Friday night rate for a Saturday night wedding. All of these deals made a world of difference for our wedding without impeding our wallets.
2. Solo spotlight.
I’m sure many of you have experienced wedding season exhaustion. Summer months often include back-to-back ceremonies one weekend after another, leaving you in a bit of a post-wedding blur. Also, these weddings inevitably get compared to each other since recent nuptials are so fresh in everyone’s minds.
I like to think that our wedding was the talk of the town because it was just that amazing, but I’m sure it helped that we had a solid three-month buffer before and after our wedding where nobody in our circle had bridal showers or weddings. It let guests look forward to the event without feeling overbooked or exhausted, and it gave them time after to reminisce before gearing up for the next onslaught of weddings.
3. Quick photo return.
Getting married is an indescribable experience. It’s a tad surreal and tends to feel like it flew right by. Afterwards, you’ll be anxious to relive the day by admiring photos. Many guests will snap candid photos of important moments, but you’ll want to see your hired professional’s quality photos that document the entire day.
I’ve had many, many friends who got married then waited an unbearable length of time for the return of their wedding photos. That’s why I was so pleasantly surprised when we received our entire film roll, beautifully edited, less than two weeks after our big day. And I’m not just talking about a few artsy shots; our photographer caught every single moment on film and sent us over 800 edited pictures. She was able to get them to us so quickly because she didn’t have any other weddings that month, granting her free time to edit. Needless to say, my husband and I were thrilled.
4. No weather concerns.
You can’t control the weather. It kind of blows my mind that people will spend so much time meticulously planning every minor detail of a wedding, yet they’ll bank on having agreeable weather. What happens if it rains? Despite emergency backup plans, the honest answer tends to go, well, then, we just wasted a lot of money.
Rain isn’t the only concern when it comes to mother nature. Too much sun can cause squinting, humidity is uncomfortable, wind can ruin hair, chilly temperatures cause guests to leave early, muddy grass limits choices for footwear, the list goes on and on. You know our biggest weather concern? I hope it doesn’t snow three and a half feet so everyone can get here safely. That was a much safer gamble and, to nobody’s surprise, there were absolutely no weather issues impeding our guests on our wedding day.
5. Unique style.
Despite weather concerns, there’s no denying that outdoor weddings are beautiful. They’re wonderfully picturesque with natural light lending itself to gorgeous photography. You’ll likely end up with stunning photos of you and your newly betrothed walking hand in hand in a large meadow with the sun setting behind you. Just know that you won’t be the only ones.
Granted, I realize we did not invent the winter wedding. Every style has in some way been done before. Our wedding was primarily photographed in front of the stone church where we had our ceremony. It had a winter fairytale, Beauty and the Beast vibe to it that my husband and I strived for. I found that our wedding photos were vastly different from the grassy scenes I typically see on social media, which was refreshing. Do whatever is most reflective of your style, keeping in mind that you have options beyond the slightly overdone summer aesthetic.
6. Vendor availability.
You may have a dream venue or a coveted photographer that you’re dying to use for your big day. Some venues have wait lists that are years long and photographers can be booked well in advance. Availability conflicts can be a nightmare, especially when you have your heart set on specific vendors.
Getting married during the off-season multiplies the likelihood of availability. We had a brief three-month engagement, yet we were able to hire all of our first choice vendors because none of them were booked on our wedding day. Actually, none of them were booked for our entire wedding month. Avoiding scheduling conflicts made booking all of our vendors' worlds easier.
7. Holiday breaks.
Weddings take a considerable amount of preparation. You’ll want to get your bridal party together to plan events like the bridal shower, bachelorette party, and of course, the wedding. This isn’t always easy. The bigger your bridal party, the more schedules you have to balance. Plus distance can be an issue if someone has moved or goes to school further away.
Most of our planning happened in December, so I was able to take advantage of holiday breaks. Friends who were away at school came home and everyone had at least some time off for the holidays. The only tricky part was making sure everyone still had time for holiday functions. The key was planning early, setting aside days that everyone knew to keep clear for wedding purposes.
8. Decorated venues.
The holiday season can also prove helpful in regards to pre-wedding events. For example, the bridal shower is typically held about one month before the wedding. That meant my bridal shower was in December, the month when restaurants are at their most beautiful.
We had my bridal shower in a private room at a restaurant that was completely decorated with beautiful green wreaths, garland, and sparkling white Christmas lights. It was beyond gorgeous. It also alleviated some of our decorating requirements, leaving more time and energy to focus on the wedding.
9. Honeymoon in the winter.
After the wedding comes the honeymoon! It’s absolute bliss any time of year, but it was particularly enjoyable to fly out of dark, cold Pennsylvania for a week in sunny, warm Mexico. What better way to exit a snowy reception hall than by flying to a tropical paradise?
This also means our wedding anniversary will be in January, giving us the perfect excuse for future exotic getaways in the dead of winter. It’s a time of year that can often be glum due to post-holiday depression, so it’ll be great to always have something to look forward to in an otherwise uneventful month.
10. No sweat. Literally.
I don’t know about you, but I absolutely hate sweating. It’s an uncomfortable feeling any time, but it’s made worse when your hair is done, you’ve got a full face of makeup and you’re wearing an expensive gown. The last thing you want to be worried about on the day you look most beautiful is smearing your makeup or sweating out your curls.
Also, sweat stinks. That’s gross. Avoid sweat by sticking to temperature-controlled environments. Your guests (and your nostrils) will thank you for it.