Holiday Wedding: An outdoor snowy wedding ceremony set-up with pine trees in the background. There's a wedding arch adorned with greenery and red florals.
SPOTLIGHT

What to Know About Planning a Holiday Wedding 

The Ins and Outs of Seasonal Celebrations
BY HALEY JENA / 09 28 22
Photo by Eric Kelley

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…wedding season, of course! When it comes time to pick a date for your big day, you might plan around your favorite season, an existing anniversary, or your family’s availability, among other factors. Another thing to consider? Whether or not your celebration falls on a holiday weekend. Many couples opt for a holiday wedding, like a 4th of July wedding or Labor Day wedding—and there are a few things you should know before you lock it in.

Hosting a holiday wedding comes with plenty of pros. For instance, the chances are better that guests will have an extra day for celebrating or traveling. (Having a Memorial Day wedding, for instance, means many loved ones would have a three-day weekend thanks to the federal holiday.) 

Not to mention, you’re in good (not to mention, famous!) company if you opt for a holiday wedding. Celebrities Miranda Kerr and Emmy Rossum, for instance, both said “I do” over Memorial Day, while Seth Meyers, Gabrielle Union, and Ashlee Simpson all hosted their receptions over Labor Day

At the same time, there might be a couple of drawbacks, such as potentially higher travel costs for friends and family or pre-planned trips that limit their availability. If you’re unsure that you want a holiday wedding, fear not: We rounded up all the benefits and a few potential factors to consider, plus helpful holiday wedding ideas to make the event perfect for you and your guests. Check out all the must-knows of having your special day on a special weekend below.

Holiday Wedding: Two grooms spraying champagne and smiling while loved ones surround them, cheering with sparklers.

The pros of holiday wedding weekends

Holiday weddings come with tons of upsides, from potential venue benefits to more time with your loved ones. There’s also plenty of flexibility when it comes to holiday wedding ideas and dates, including but not limited to a:

Presidents’ Day wedding: Celebrated on the third Monday of February, this federal holiday provides an extra day off for tons of people across the country—making it the perfect date for an idyllic winter wedding.

Memorial Day wedding: This federal holiday is observed on the last Monday of May, right near the start of summer—meaning the weather for your big day will likely be *chef’s kiss*. Memorial Day wedding ideas are abundant too, from summery signature drinks to red, white, and blue signage.

July 4th wedding: Host a festive soirée on the nation’s birthday when many of your friends and family will have an extra day off work. (We’re envisioning a dreamy, unrushed beach ceremony, but any style or location will be perfect.)

Labor Day wedding: Cap off the summer in the best way possible: getting married to the love of your life with your closest friends and family in attendance. This federal holiday recognizing the American labor movement will free up many of your loved ones’ work schedules on the first Monday of September.

Holiday Wedding: A bride standing with her wedding party against green foliage with fall-inspired florals.
Holiday Wedding: Outdoor reception set-up with wooden chairs and tables, string lights and fall-inspired florals.

Halloween wedding: Host a delightfully spooky bash on October 31st for the ultimate party. While not as many people will have the day off work, you can lean into the day’s theme as much or as little as you want. You could fill your reception’s photo booth with Halloween wedding decorations, give guests fun candy to take home, play on-theme music (hello, “Monster Mash” and “I Put a Spell on You!”), and more—the Halloween wedding ideas are essentially limitless.

Thanksgiving wedding: Quite a few companies give employees the Friday after Thanksgiving (aka Black Friday) off of work, providing some extra time for a late-November reception.

Christmas wedding: How cozy would a wintertime ceremony be—especially when it’s bookended by joyful end-of-year holidays? Christmas weddings might be especially convenient if you’re getting married in your hometown and lots of your loved ones are already planning a trip to the area.

New Year wedding: New Year’s Eve lends itself to all the excitement and dazzle of a wedding: dressing up, champagne toasts, the excitement of new beginnings… and maybe even fireworks! And besides, what better way to ring in a new chapter than with a New Year wedding surrounded by your closest friends and family celebrating you and your new spouse?

Feeling inspired? Check out a complete list of holiday wedding benefits below.

Holiday Wedding: Pumpkins lining the aisle of a wedding in an indoor-outdoor space.
Holiday Wedding: A bride standing and holding a bouquet, with a tall Christmas tree in the background.
Holiday Wedding: A bride and groom wearing New Year's Eve accessories and kissing while loved ones throw confetti and cheer around them.

Having the Luxury of Extra Time

First and foremost, time is on your side. If your wedding weekend falls near a holiday, there’s a solid chance that several of your guests will have a three-day weekend, providing a cherished extra 24 hours. That means loved ones have a whole extra day to travel to your venue, partake in your festivities longer, or recover after the reception is done—all without needing to take precious time off.

What’s more, if you’ve been eyeing a multi-day celebration, a long weekend is your friend. A third day provides extra time in your wedding weekend itinerary for a slew of festivities, and that could free up time for additional ceremonies or a post-reception brunch the following day. Take inspiration from Kate Bosworth, for instance, who had a four-day event stretching from Thursday to Sunday of Labor Day weekend back in 2013, complete with a gorgeous Montana backdrop. Even if you don’t schedule four days worth of activities, you could book your rehearsal dinner, ceremony and reception, and a final brunch over the course of three days without requiring all your guests to take a day off to attend.

Not to mention, you’ll benefit from a holiday wedding even after your bash comes to a close: if your fête falls on a long weekend, chances are, so will your anniversary at some point over the years to come. (That’s what we call a win-win-win!)

Holiday Wedding: A bride smiling, pointing, and dancing with friends.

Choosing a Location Where Guests Live or Travel to Often

While the holidays can involve lots of travel, you can strategically set your date for a time when many guests will have existing plans to visit the area. For instance, if you know you want to get married in your hometown, hosting a Thanksgiving wedding could mean that tons of friends and family will likely be there and could easily make it to your ceremony later that weekend. Or, if many family members make a summer voyage to the beach, you could see if a nearby venue you love has availability for a 4th of July wedding so guests can knock out two events with one plane ticket or road trip.

Holiday Wedding: A newly married couple walk back down the aisle together while holding hands and smiling at guests in the audience.
Holiday Wedding: Two newlyweds smiling at each other and walking outside, surrounded by their bridal party.
Holiday Wedding: A bride and groom slow dancing in the middle of a dance floor with greenery hanging overhead and guests looking at them in the background.

Booking Wedding Weekend Venues More Easily

Depending on the season, holiday weddings might actually make it easier for couples to book wedding weekend venues. For instance, if you met your future spouse during college and want to get married near your alma mater, a 4th of July wedding could mean increased availability, since most students aren’t on campus and there would be fewer competing events like football games or alumni weekends. All of that means more venue options for you and plenty of lodging options for your guests, making it more simple to finalize your wedding weekend itinerary.

It might also be easier to score your dream venue during a holiday wedding in the off-season, sometimes referred to as “shoulder season.” While it varies from location to location, shoulder season categorizes the off-peak travel months of the year—usually fall and spring—when people aren’t vacationing quite as much. Less competition for nearby hotels, venues, and restaurants can mean increased availability and even lower costs. Unconventional wedding ideas—like a Christmas wedding thrown at a venue traditionally known for summertime events, for example—can help you navigate the booking process for a holiday weekend.

Of course, the opposite can also be true: A beach venue might be much harder to snag for a 4th of July wedding, for instance (more on that later!). For dates that are in high-demand any time of year, considering more unique, unconventional wedding ideas will help simplify your planning process.

Holiday Wedding: A bride and groom crossing the street during a snowy, winter day.

Saving on Your Venue, Potentially 

Like we mentioned earlier, one of the biggest pros of a holiday wedding is the three-day weekend that often comes with it. The extra day not only affords you more time with friends and family, but it also provides a bit of flexibility with what day of the week you choose for your soirée, which can help cut costs when you’re researching wedding weekend venues. Saturday is the most expensive day to get married, so planning a Friday or Sunday wedding (or even a midweek bash) is a great way to potentially pay less—and a holiday wedding makes it easier for guests to attend on an “off-day” than it would be during a standard work week.

For example, if you plan a Memorial Day weekend event and know that most of your guests will have the following Monday off work, you could host a Sunday wedding without loved ones needing to leave your reception early or take a subsequent vacation day to travel home. Or if you plan a Thanksgiving wedding, you could consider a post-Turkey Day celebration on Black Friday, accounting for the fact that many of your attendees may not need to work that day. Not to mention, a Friday fête also comes with additional benefits, like additional time for more ceremonies or celebrations in your wedding weekend itinerary. Plus, it frees up windows of time for guests to explore the city you’re getting married in, or to simply recover after the festivities.

That said, each venue is different, and some might charge Saturday prices on Sundays that fall on long weekends, so check with each location to coordinate.

Holiday Wedding: Chairs lining a grand room in Fairmont San Francisco
Holiday Wedding: A reception table set with rustic chairs and tableware.

Guaranteeing Extra Excitement

Some days provide extra incentive to celebrate, which can make your soirée’s vibe even more joyful. New Year’s Eve, for instance, already goes hand-in-hand with celebration and new beginnings—both perfect themes for your big day. (And besides, a New Year wedding means starting a fresh chapter surrounded by your closest friends and family—can you think of any more quintessential way to ring in the new year?) Bonus points if there’s a free fireworks show that lines up with the end of your event!

But extra-festive holiday wedding receptions aren’t limited to December 31st. We love how Ashton and Andy’s Halloween wedding embraced the holiday with fun props like Batman masks and flapper headpieces during their hora loca, a Latinx wedding tradition that keeps the party going and energy high. Or take Jackie and Ethan, who hosted an on-theme July 4th wedding complete with presidential cookies, an American flag cornhole set for cocktail hour, patriotic push pins that propped up escort cards, and a jaw-dropping fireworks show to cap off the evening.

Holiday Wedding: A groom in a Batman mask and a bride wearing a flapper headpiece kiss on the dance floor while loved ones dancing around them.
Holiday Wedding: Bride and groom with their arms around one another looking at fireworks in the distance
Holiday Wedding: A wedding gift bag labeled

What to keep in mind about holiday wedding weekends

While there are tons of benefits to holiday weddings, there are a couple factors that could affect your event planning too. From possible price increases to fewer “yes” RSVPs, it’s worth considering these potential challenges before finalizing your wedding weekend itinerary. But worry not: There are plenty of workarounds to make your celebration fall into place with ease, no matter when you tie the knot.

Paying More for Travel and Lodging

Wedding weekend or not, it’s no secret that the holidays can drive up the cost of airline tickets and hotel reservations, which might add financial strain for guests hoping to attend. Unfortunately, that trend doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. For instance, this past Independence Day weekend prompted domestic airfare flight costs to increase 45% from 2019, as reported by Forbes. 

That said, if you opt for a travel-heavy wedding weekend, it’s particularly important to send a save-the-date as soon as possible, advises wedding and events planner Mindy Weiss. That way, guests can book early (hopefully before prices surge) or at least have more time to prepare for any increased costs.

A holiday weekend can present unique challenges for guests when traveling between your wedding weekend venues as well—for instance, they might face heavier traffic going from your ceremony to the reception. Thankfully, there are workarounds to make the day run smoothly. “Consider providing group transportation or shuttle buses to the destination to ensure everyone arrives on time and they’ll thank you for the ride too,” Weiss shared on her website. “You might also cushion your ceremony start time just a tad more than usual.” Or you could consider picking a venue that can accommodate both your ceremony and reception, so then there’s only one location for everything.

Holiday Wedding: A reception set-up in a wood-paneled room with dark tablecloths and chairs.
Holiday Wedding: A snowy outdoor ceremony set-up with mountains and a pine tree in the background. There are black chairs and white and green florals lining the aisle.

Receiving More Declines

Long holiday weekends are popular times for quick getaways, annual vacations, or family get-togethers that might already be penned in your guests’ calendars, resulting in more “no” RSVPs than otherwise anticipated. While standard wedding etiquette advises sending guests save-the-dates three to six months ahead of your big day, it’s not a bad idea to send them out even earlier for holiday weddings.

“Families often plan personal travel and vacation time so be sure to give your guests as much notice as possible so they can keep their costs down and their calendar clear for your big day,” Weiss recommended.

Holiday Wedding: Red seating escort cards stamped with table numbers in a wax seal. Pinecones are sitting next to the escort cards.

Having Fewer Venues or Vendors Options 

Just like some of your guests may have pre-scheduled plans, your desired vendors or venues might have decreased availability on holiday wedding weekends too. Your dream wedding planner, for instance, could be booked up or simply have personal vacation plans. Similarly, a rooftop venue for a big city bash would probably be harder to book for a New Year wedding than it would on most other weekends in the winter. 

Just like with your guests, communicating early and booking well ahead of time is key for a smoother planning process. And as we mentioned before, unconventional wedding ideas like weekday or Sunday weddings are another smart way to plan around any busy vendor and venue schedules.

Holiday Wedding: Two newlyweds kissing and holding hands with a city skyline in the background.
Holiday Wedding: A bride and groom smiling and coming out of a church with their wedding party cheering them on

Other Considerations for Holiday Weddings 

Beyond the benefits and potential challenges that come with a holiday wedding, there are a couple additional factors to take into consideration.

First, your fête could take place any time, and couples could opt for a Halloween wedding or a Memorial Day weekend bash—but if the main goal of your holiday wedding is to take advantage of company time off, make sure the holiday is actually observed in most of your friends’ and family’s workplaces. For instance, a 2018 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics survey showed that 91% of private industry workers and 96% of state and local government workers received Labor Day as a paid holiday, but those numbers went down to 14% and 20% respectively, for New Year’s Eve. (And Halloween, for instance, wasn’t included in the survey at all.) Long story short? Consider whether or not most of your loved ones will have the time off, or if the holiday won’t make a huge difference.

Something else to note is any religious considerations important to you. For instance, couples hoping to get married in a Catholic church can’t do so on Good Friday or Holy Saturday (the two days before Easter). Think about if there are any religious or spiritual aspects important to you to keep note of while planning your event.

Holiday Wedding: Bride and groom smiling and looking into one another's eyes as they stand in the middle of the street.
Holiday Wedding: Two grooms walking arm and arm down an outdoor path lined with palm trees.

No matter when you have your ceremony—whether it's a holiday wedding or a regular ‘ol weekend—it’s important to consider what’s a priority for you. A holiday weekend comes with tons of benefits, from more time off work to celebrate or an extra-festive energy in the air. But, like with all things wedding planning, there are considerations to factor in before finalizing a celebration on a holiday, from potentially higher costs to reduced venue availability.

Whenever and where your big day happens, though, know that your event will always feel like a holiday to you—federally recognized or not!