Planning a wedding can be tricky enough as it is...

...especially if you're not super familiar with the wedding industry.

Not all of us have it in the budget to work with a professional wedding planner (and I promise that's okay, you got this!)

Choosing your venue, finding your vendors, picking a color scheme, outfits, catering.... it's definitely a task in itself! A do-able task if you have the right help and resources, of course, but picking one of these wedding dates can present you with a few challenges you might not have thought about! That's why I'm here to help - you may know already that I am a photographer who covers weddings as one of my favorite services, so this will be a little heavy on the photography side, but it can apply to your other vendors as well... we're all humans!

I should probably disclose that the photos used in this blog post have nothing to do with any of these dates that I am about to mention, and honestly you wouldn't be able to tell much if they did... unless it was a Fourth of July or Christmas wedding. So they're just hanging out with us to break up the text, because no one wants to just see a bunch of text.

Choosing a venue first? Or our wedding date first?

I highly suggest choosing your wedding venue FIRST, because, if you have your heart ABSOLUTELY set on a certain style of venue (as most of us are, we have our vibes that we like and don't like), are on a more strict budget, and don't want to involve too much travel... choosing your venue and then seeing what dates they have OPEN is typically the easier way to go.


If your heart is set on a particular date for any reason, you can expect to be doing a little more research, possibly a little more travel, and it could even possibly throw you over budget. First we'll talk about "wedding seasons", what that means to vendors, and how that can affect YOU.

Wedding "Seasons"

Okay, sure, there's not technically a such thing as a specific wedding season. People get married all the time, every day! Your location can also affect this... for example if you're in Pennsylvania but want some warmer weather for your wedding day ... you might not choose November (obviously, lol). However if you're in North Carolina, and you don't want to be sweating profusely all day... you'll probably avoid months like July and August, so take your geographic location into account!

I'm not going to dwell on this part because, you know what type of weather YOU are going for, and you know the climate YOU live in. So, moving on... let's talk about some of the unofficial "seasons" us wedding vendors have seen.

Let's also keep in mind that ON AVERAGE, a couple will spend AROUND a year being engaged. Some are quicker planners or their dates just line up to be sooner, while some take a little while to bask in the glow of being a fiancé before they begin to even plan.

Engagement Seasons

It's no secret that a lot of folks get engaged around Christmas time and Valentines day.

It's just kind of a thing that has existed for a while now. Again, people get engaged all the time, and the engagement date could seem totally random for an outsider but be an incredibly monumental date for the couple: it could be one of their lucky numbers, it could be an anniversary, or it could even depend on an event that's taking place on a certain date and popping the question just makes sense to them.

But for the purpose of this entry, we are focusing on late December and the middle of February.

Trust me, it happens..... a LOT. And this brings us to..... (drumroll please).....

Tax Return Season

The average American couple doesn't have a mattress made of cash.

I have seen (REPEATEDLY seen and even done once myself actually) folks waiting to do any sort of wedding vendor securing until their tax refund hits.

I mean, it kind of makes perfect sense, does it not?

So, because tax season runs from January through April, you can expect a LOT of your favorite vendors to get booked during this timeframe. I feel like that's all I need to say on that matter, you get it!

Bridal Expo seasons

Just like weddings, engagements, and memorable dates for the couple can and DO exist all thorough the year... because of the unofficial engagement seasons combined with tax returns flowing in... you will see a heavy dose of wedding expos and open house events occurring in the FIRST half of the year. Because of this, you'll see a lot of vendors who might have had several available dates when you reached out to them the first time, to suddenly closing their books for the current year, and beginning to open up for the following year. Please understand that your vendor isn't technically BOOKED with you until they receive your signed contract and your retainer fee payment.

((oh uhm, by the way, if ANY of your vendors don't require those two things.... please see this as a huge red flag))

Trophy Brewing Company - Trophy Wife canned beer being served while the groomsmen get ready.

Popular Wedding Dates

Two of the most popular wedding weekends are those two weekends where just about everyone gets that awesome three-day weekend, yep, Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day weekend! But why? Well, I gave it away already... three. day. weekend.

Most folks don't have to worry about returning to work on those Mondays, and some can even set aside an extra vacation or PTO day to cover Friday as well. This makes these HEAVY wedding weekends! Your guests will have a little extra wiggle room for travel and nursing a hangover (if you're a drinking crowd).

What does this mean for someone planning a wedding?

Every single vendor is going to book up fast for these weekends.

In 2023 I myself worked a "double header" with a wedding on Saturday AND Sunday. You might find that some vendors will only book one day that weekend, and will NOT do the said "double header". For me personally, when I open up my 2025 books, I'll be opening up these weekends first and planning about a month around them.

Why??? Well, for a photographer with a six-week turnaround time for wedding galleries, could you imagine if I booked one the weekend before, two the weekend of, AND one the weekend after? Okay that woulnd't be SO bad if I closed my books for the next four weeks so I could focus SOLELY on editing what I've already shot so that I'm not breaking my own contract and making couples wait for their photos "because I'm so busy" (eew, gross).

I'm not going to overload my brain even though my bank account would love it.

If you have your heart set on one of these weekends, PLEASE allow yourself extra time to secure your vendors, and it would be wise to have a little wiggle room on your venue/vendors as well - just in case!

Groom surrounded by friends, family, dancing, and foam glow sticks at a reception,
Friends and family enjoying some dancing with foam glow sticks at a reception.
Groom enjoying a Busch Light belting out a song with friends, family, and foam glow sticks at a reception.

Tricky Dates to Book

A couple other potentially tricky dates to book, would be those like the Fourth of July weekend, Christmas time, and New Years Eve. Again, IF you have your heart set on those dates, make sure you have plenty of time to plan! You may find some of us without kiddos and large family gatherings DO have their books open for those kinds of dates, but on the flip side you may discover your FAVORITE vendor refuses to book those (and they're allowed to open or close their books whenever THEY want). We are humans too, and we have the right to schedule a vacation or a holiday off that we feel is important to be around our families for.

Another thing you may or may not run into is a extra fees/accomodations for a holiday booking

This is not something to turn your nose up at if you want a specific vendor to work with you on a holiday, but you should know that it's a possibility! If your vendor is traveling a little distance to get to your event on a holiday, you may find yourself putting them up in a hotel for a night or two. Again, NOT something to be upset about.... you have to think of all the people trying to get where they're going for these holidays.

You'd MUCH rather put your photographer, videographer, DJ, live painter etc up in a hotel room close to your venue VS having them get delayed from traffic or an accident and show up late to your wedding!!!! Trust that we are not just trying to squeak extra money out of you, we are trying to stay safe, and keep the day of your wedding smooth and calm and be able to deliver our BEST work.

Now put this blog down and get to planning, my friends!!!

Wedding planning tips blog about popular wedding dates by Deanna Justine Photography - Erie PA photographer.