smart spending

7 ways to save on an off-season wedding

Wearing white doesn't have to cost you a lot of green. That is, if you schedule your wedding ceremony, reception and honeymoon during the off-season.

During off-peak months, wedding vendors hunger for business. This opens the door for couples to negotiate better pricing and save on such big ticket expenses as the reception site and catering fees. The drawback? Off-season often means less-favorable weather conditions.

"The most popular marrying months are May through October," says Joyce Scardina Becker, wedding designer, president of Events of Distinction and author of "Countdown to Your Perfect Wedding." Weddings can be celebrated any time of the year, but if you set your big date in a less-popular month or during off-season, the savings can be significant.

Just like buying a car, however, you won't know if you're getting a good deal unless you've done your homework and approach vendors with an understanding of prices and demand for the product or service.

We spoke with wedding service providers, vendors, authors and wedding industry experts about the hidden financial savings of an off-peak wedding. Passing on their industry advice, here are seven tips that will save you money on your uniquely timed nuptials.

7 tips for an off-season wedding

  • The wedding off-season varies by weather.
  • Hotels and resorts have off-seasons, too.
  • Comparison-shop online before shopping in person.
  • Service providers want business during off-peak months.
  • Buy local, in-season flowers -- if you can.
  • Just say no to inflated prices -- nicely.
  • Shop year-round for bargains on wedding gowns and rings.

1. The wedding off-season varies by the weather.

Generally, weddings occur less often December through April, says Marilyn Oliveira, editor of

However, off-peak wedding months vary according to regional climate and the desirability of the weather.

"In warm-weather states, the off-season takes place during summer months, while in colder climates, off-season prices go into effect during the winter," says Phyllis Cambria, wedding book author and wedding coach with "The only time it's consistent that prices go up or off-season rates don't apply is during the busy December holiday season."

Of course, while a wedding costs less during off-peak times, consider the practicality of where and when it takes place. A winter outdoor wedding in freezing temperatures or a Southern wedding during hurricane season makes for an impractical ceremony, says Cambria.

"Since weather is often a factor in off-season weddings, be sure that your site offers a Plan B for that outdoor terrace you wish to use for the cocktail party," says Sharon Naylor, author of "1,000 Best Secrets for your Perfect Wedding."

Securing a separate party room or backup transportation in case of inclement weather makes for smart planning. "It's within bounds to ask the florist if their delivery truck is reliable if it snows," says Naylor.

For brides-to-be planning a wedding in an unfamiliar town, Naylor recommends discussing off-season weather planning with a wedding coordinator through the Association of Bridal Consultants.

2. Hotels and resorts have off-seasons, too.

If you are planning a wedding during peak season at a hotel or resort, which attracts convention business, you'll be competing with business travelers, says Becker. The weekends may also be untouchable, unless you are willing to pay top dollar.

Couples who desire a destination wedding during peak season and are budget-conscious might consider moving the wedding date itself from the weekend to a weekday. "If you're pondering the idea of a destination wedding and your guests are ready, willing and able to travel, does it matter to them if it's a Wednesday night wedding instead of a Saturday?" says Becker.

If you can wait until the best weather passes, you might be able to get off-season prices while the weather is still fair. Becker suggests calling the convention and visitors bureau in that city and asking when their business-travel slow season starts.


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