It's a simple matter of supply and demand: If you get married during less popular times of the year, reception sites (and other vendors) will tend to have cheaper rates. Find out what the "off" months are below.
Once you've celebrated your engagement and had some serious conversations about what wedding budget makes sense financially—which likely has included some real talk with your families about how they might be able to contribute—it's time to think about when and where you'll be tying the knot. Your wedding venue is a big-ticket item. It's typically the biggest ticket item of them all—so deciding where to have your wedding and what size wedding you want to have will play a major role in determining what budget you have left to spend on everything else, from your florals and décor to your wedding dress and accessories.
As you're researching wedding venues, you might be wondering whether choosing a different time of year could help bring your costs down, and it's a good thought! Venue rates can vary widely by month, weeks, even days of the week, offering budget-savvy couples opportunities for significant cost savings. Our experts are here to give you the scoop about what time of year is considered peak wedding season for different regions across the U.S.—plus some tips for when venue rates will be at their most affordable.
During the planning process, which can take several months to a year, we recommend using this time to attend showcases during various seasons. Wedding showcases offer you a chance to explore a venue in a more relaxed setting with the ability to talk to the staff openly.
Generally, they will have wedding professionals (i.e. celebrants & photographers) there to help with any questions regarding their services and the formalities of the ceremony. You can not only get some advice but also ask for some tips at the same time.
Cutting your wedding costs by avoiding "wedding season" may be easier said than done.
In a recent Student Loan Hero survey, 8 in 10 couples planning to get married in the next year said they would be willing to choose a "less-preferable wedding date" if it would save money. That includes looking at weekdays and off-season months.
No wonder: New data from planning site WeddingWire finds that the average wedding, including the engagement ring and honeymoon, cost $36,000 in 2017. The ceremony and reception alone were $27,000.
Although both figures are $1,000 less than in 2016, they still represent a chunk of money.
Yet, there are still signs couples are overspending. WeddingWire also found that couples underestimated their budget by 42 percent, while Student Loan Hero notes that 74 percent plan to take on debt to cover their wedding bills.
There is certainly truth to the idea that there's a peak wedding season-the busiest time of year for all big-day vendors-throughout the country: In general, most engaged couples tie the knot sometime between late spring and late fall, but June and September are the most popular months of all. That's because the weather is comfortable and predictable, almost anywhere you go. As a result, weddings that take place during these months often come with a higher price tag. But there are still exceptions to this rule. While summer in New York is considered a great season to tie the knot, popular destination locales, like the deserts of Arizona and even the Caribbean, experience extremely warm weather, making their demand lower. That's when you'll often find the lowest rates for venues, vendors, and guest accommodations.
So, if you're looking for the most affordable time of year to tie the knot, thinking beyond typical wedding season dates is a good start, but you should also consider what it's like in your dream locale too. Here, we break down affordability by season, plus offer tips to help you get the most for your money throughout the year.
It's a simple fact of supply and demand. More popular months for weddings get booked faster and are more in-demand – so many venues will charge a premium for those most desirable dates.
Those peak months can vary depending on geographic location, but the most popular wedding dates tend to fall between May and October. The most popular months for weddings are May and June in the spring and September and October in the fall. If you have your heart set on having your big day during these months, you may end up spending more than if you chose another date. Plus, you'll also have more competition when booking your venue and vendors!
Table of Contents
- 1 Peak Versus Off Peak
- 2 When Is Wedding Season?
- 3 When are the off-season wedding months?
- 4 Reasons why marrying in the off-season is an awesome idea.
Peak Versus Off Peak
Peak season tends to be in Autumn and Spring, a time when the temperature is delightful, we experience long daylight hours, and the colours of the landscape are at their finest. For these reasons, peak periods often attract a higher price, with demand increasing around these times. The most popular months to tie the knot are March (autumn) and November (spring), with Saturday by far the most popular day to get married, followed by Sunday.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics reports the least popular months for a wedding are June and July. These months are considered low season, and therefore you may be to secure a special for that time of year. You could also consider booking your wedding mid-week, which will be less expensive and let's face it, who wouldn't take a day off to celebrate with you?
When Is Wedding Season?
In general, wedding season extends from late spring and continues through early fall, with weddings peaking in June and September. Most wedding venues—including those in destinations with year-round appeal such as California and Hawaii—have a peak (busiest) wedding season and a low or off-peak season. Winter is often much cheaper—unless you're considering a December wedding when you'll be competing with company holiday parties and other non-wedding events for those much-desired dates. Of course, your venue's location has a huge impact on when the prices rise and fall.
Peak wedding season (aka the most popular time of year to get married) varies slightly from year to year, but typically, late summer and early fall are the most popular times to get married. According to our Real Weddings Study, 73% of all weddings take place between May to October. To be specific, the most popular wedding months are September (15%), June (13%) and October (16%).
For many couples, things like warm weather, an outdoor venue or fall foliage are important. But obviously, this is the busiest time of year for venues and vendors, so costs will likely be higher.
The Midwest, Southwest and the South
In these regions, spring and fall are typically considered peak wedding season, as temperatures are comfortable but milder than the sometimes sweltering heat of July and August, which are considered off-peak months (unless, of course, you're eyeing lakefront venues in the Midwest, which are at their busiest during the summer). With mild temperatures and predictably sunny days, winter is a desirable time to get married in the Southwest and coastal destinations in Florida. On the other hand, outside of the holidays, a winter wedding in the Midwest will score you off-peak venue rates.
For brides eyeing mountain venues—from the Rockies, Sierra Nevadas, and the Cascades in the West to the White Mountains, Adirondacks, and the Blue Ridge Mountains out East—summer months are peak wedding season as venues at altitude promise generally comfortable temperatures and a plethora of activities to keep guests entertained. Look to spring and fall dates to score off-peak rates. Spring is less desirable as the snowmelt (and chance of late-season snow) makes an alfresco wedding a little tricky, but fall can be quite comfortable, and the colours of the season make for a stunning backdrop!
Couples on a budget should skip winter—especially if your venue is in a popular winter sports destination—as hotel rooms and travel prices skyrocket again as mountain towns fill up during ski season.
The Northeast and East Coast
In these regions, late spring and early fall are considered prime wedding season as they're predictably the mildest (and often some of the prettiest) times of the year. Summers can be hot and humid—although waterfront weddings do benefit from a lovely ocean breeze—and winters can be incredibly cold and snowy, with plenty of overcast days, too. But if you're prepared to face the chill—or cheat Mother Nature a bit by having your ceremony and reception entirely indoors, whether at a lush botanical conservatory or perhaps even at the same hotel where your guests are also staying—you'll be able to score a deal in January, February, and March.
When are the off-season wedding months?
In most parts of the country, the deep winter months (January, February and March) are the least popular for weddings. In fact, only 9% of weddings take place during winter, according to our study.
Since there's less demand, you'll likely get quoted lower prices on your reception site, not to mention most of your other wedding services, like catering, photography and flowers (except around Valentine's Day and Easter, of course, when roses and lilies are at a premium because they're in high demand).
Reasons why marrying in the off-season is an awesome idea.
If you choose to marry during the wedding off-season, be prepared to save some money in the process. While not all vendors offer off-season rates, many are willing to be flexible on pricing during their downtime. Venues, in particular, often run special rates during the winter, potentially giving you your dream space at a fraction of the price. However, when approaching the subject with either a venue or vendors, always remember to be courteous and respectful rather than demanding discounts of any kind.
If you've begun the planning process, you might have already had your heart set on a few of your favourite vendors. Maybe you've been following your favourite photographer on Instagram for years or daydreaming about the venue you have to have. But as couples soon discover, those amazing vendors and venues are often booked months, if not years, in advance for the most popular wedding dates. Marrying during the wedding off-season gives you a much better chance that top vendors will be available on your chosen date. Less competition means more pros on the vendor lineup to make your dream wedding come to life!
While lovely in their own right, Saturday weddings in the summer often lead to scheduling conflicts with your guests. Think weekend vacations, family reunions, not to mention the many other weddings on their calendar—all of this potentially leading to fewer loved ones in attendance than you'd hoped. By hosting your nuptials during the wedding off-season, you're more likely to have all your favourite people available to celebrate. Just swap the ice cream bar for a hot cocoa stand, and you'll be ready to embrace the season with family and friends.
Of course, there are many things to consider when hosting a winter wedding. But if the weather isn't a dealbreaker for your big day, off-season weddings can be seriously romantic. Imagine a fresh snowfall outside, a candlelit reception, fresh garlands adorning each table, and all your guests sipping mulled wine into the wee hours of the night. Consider it a major bonus if you choose a wedding date around the holidays for elegant decor options. Your venue may already be dressed up for the holidays giving you more bang for your design budget.
If you're not scared of cold temperatures and a chance of snow, consider setting a date in December, January, or February. But if you were thinking of hosting a destination wedding somewhere that's popular in the winter (like Vermont or Colorado), know that this is their busy season, which means higher rates at venues and hotels. If you're looking for somewhere that's experiencing low-season during the winter, anywhere in the middle of the country or the east coast is a good bet. The weather may not be perfect, but it'll be a quiet time of year to get married.
Choosing a winter wedding date can save you some major cash, as most venues don't do as many events during that time. Choosing an off-peak date can save you money on your other vendors as well – so be sure to inquire about seasonal discounts!
Hotels often have off-seasons, too. Choosing to have a winter wedding could also save your out-of-town guests some money on their accommodations. It's like a big win all-around, and I'm sure your guests will appreciate it as well.
Lowered Honeymoon Rates—Sometimes
Like the wedding off-season, most hotels and resorts offer lowered travel rates during their slow months. Depending on where you're travelling, of course, you can score a great deal on a dreamy honeymoon with fewer crowds in the December to March time frame. Be sure to do your research on what your destination is like during the winter months (note that many warm destinations are in high-season during the winter) and shop around for a travel package that best suits your honeymoon style.
Getting married during the wedding off-season isn't for everyone, but it offers some big advantages for those willing to embrace the magic of the winter months. With thoughtful planning and just the right vendor team by their side, couples can wed off-season with confidence while saving major money in the process.
Expect a limit to savings.
A vendor's underlying costs contribute to how much give there is (or isn't) is offering a deal for off-peak timing.
"The price of tilapia doesn't care if you're getting married in January or on a Thursday," Carnevale said. "And people who get hourly wages get paid the same rate regardless of what time of the year or day of the week it is."