Everything About Holiday Wedding Planning, Right this Way
I can’t help but think of a Countdown to Christmas Hallmark Channel or GAC movie every time the words “holiday wedding” pop into my mind. Probably due to years of watching winter wonderland dances and romantic scenes watching the Northern Lights. Ok, so now you know my dirty little secret, I love a good cookie-cutter romance. Anywayyy, whether you’re dating and know they’re going to pop the question any day now or are recently engaged and itching to start planning your big day, you no doubt at one point or another considered the idea of a holiday wedding. It’s the most magical time of year, ofc! However, you should be prepared before you actually set your sights on a holiday wedding. More than any other day of the year, holiday weddings have a lot of ins and outs, nuances, if you will, that you want to make sure you know about before you tell your S.O. “babe, this is it!”
Meet the Experts
Valerie, Owner and planner with Vintage Luxe Events Montreal
Jenna Fayad, Owner and lead planner with Eros Events Co.
Jennifer Borgh, Owner and wedding planner at Borghinvilla Wedding Venue
When to Have a Holiday Wedding
Before you get started sending out those save-the-dates, you’re going to actually need a date. But what day is best to host a holiday wedding? The general consensus seems to be Sunday, however you can also consider Friday or Saturday. Fayad specifically says, “For holiday weddings, consider hosting on a Friday or Sunday to increase venue and vendor availability.” You know, because Saturday is the most popular day for weddings as it is.
Borgh recommends, “For destination weddings, the most expensive week to travel is between Chrismas and New Year and [most vendors] are always booked with multiple weddings that week. It would be best to consult with your wedding planner on this as it would depend on location and what wedding items you are ordering. For example, some areas would have wholesale floral shops close on certain holidays and it may put more strain on the flowers to be delivered a day or two early. It’s also harder to recover if anything goes wrong. If something doesn’t show up and all the stores are closed, then it may cost more or not be possible to fix. From a wedding vendor perspective, holidays add way more issues for this reason.”
Now, let’s be honest, lovies, wedding weekends are seeing an all-time high right now and they’re only growing in popularity (thanks to all the celebrity weddings of late). And it’s the holidays, so why not host a wedding weekend? It’s double, even triple the fun! Plus, your guests are more likely to be off from work, so it may just work. However, Fayad suggests, “You might want to send out save-the-date cards even earlier than usual to give guests ample time to plan and budget for travel.”
Although, if you’re hoping for the max amount of guests to show up (of course you are), then “it’s important to look at your guest list and discuss with your ‘must-have’ guests ahead of time to avoid disappointment,” Borgh says, since “some people would never miss Christmas with their families, so having a wedding that week, would immediately take them off the guest list. [While,] other people, such as teachers or people with kids, may love that week as they already have the week off. It really depends on what your guests do for work.”
When Should I Send Them Out?
Fayad says, “Send out invitations for a holiday wedding around 6 to 8 months in advance. This allows guests ample time to make travel arrangements, especially if they need to book flights or accommodations.”
What About the Dress Code?
Borgh recommends, “Avoiding any dress code which is very specific, [like] wear a certain color, however guests do like to know if it’s casual or formal. The invitation can provide this information based on the style, however, a lot of couples opt to write this on the invitation to avoid confusion. This can avoid your uncle showing up with a floral vacation shirt to a formal wedding.”
Fayad expands, noting, “For example, a winter holiday wedding could suggest formal attire with a touch of sparkle, a fully black-tie event.”
Holiday Wedding Theme Ideas
I know what you’re thinking. It’s a holiday wedding, what more do you need to say for the theme? Isn’t it obvious? Err… not necessarily. Just because it’s a holiday wedding doesn’t mean you *have* to go Christmas crazed. You know, red and green as the colors, mistletoe everywhere, Santa Claus chairs at the sweetheart table, you get the picture. Fayad says, “While it’s not necessary to go overboard, incorporating subtle holiday elements can enhance the atmosphere without being too obvious. For example, using seasonal flowers, incorporating traditional holiday foods, or including small nods to the holiday in the décor and color.”
However, as Valerie notes, “it depends on the couple, but you can do Christmas in a very elegant way.” Borgh adds, “If couples and their guests celebrate Christmas then I think they should include some Christmas traditions such as a Chrismas tree, Christmas lights and some other subtle décor, but they don’t need to overdo it and deck the halls.”
The takeaway: less is more and all the experts agree! So what are some theme ideas without screaming holiday wedding?
- White Christmas: Utilizing gold and white as your colors. [source: Valerie]
- Winter Wonderland: Embrace a snowy, magical atmosphere with white, silver, or gold décor. [source: Fayad]
- Nutcracker: Using the color palette as inspiration. [source: Valerie]
The holidays are a busy time for everyone, vendors included. So on that note timing is everything. “Couples should secure their wedding vendors at least one year in advance. Depending on the location and availability, some vendors are booking several years in advance. Focus first on the vendors that can only do one wedding per day, [such as] wedding planner, photographer, videographer, and book these vendors once you have made your decision. If your desired venue only does one wedding per day, they should also be secured early,” Borgh says.
An up-charge for vendors at a holiday wedding really all depend on the vendor. As Valerie notes, “Every vendor is different, some might charge more and might some charge less. If they do charge you more, it can be 15-20% more than what the regular price would be.”
That’s why Fayad says, “It's a good idea to have some flexibility in your budget to account for potential holiday surcharges that some vendors might apply. Time-and-a-half is common for on-site vendors, so are set mark-up fees for the holidays.”
Tips to Save Money
If you always thought holiday weddings couldn’t be cheap, then you were right. They aren’t (see above). That’s why we asked the experts for some tips on how you can have your dream holiday wedding and not break the bank.
Photo courtesy in order of appearance: Vanessa Joy Photography (cover), Eros Events Co., Hope Nguyen Photography, Eros Events Co., Ola Photo
It’s a Holiday Wedding (read: Party)