8/20 Off-Peak Weddings & How to Swing Them

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Yes, a Friday Wedding in January can be this much fun. Photo: B&G Photography

Ah, the pleasure of having options. By now, you’ve already found out that most wedding venues have off-peak days. They’re  less expensive on Fridays and Sundays and less expensive for lunch than for dinner. And there’s off-peak seasons, too. Here In Los Angeles, for instance, winter is usually pretty open. We like outdoor weddings here, and that’s not really something that you can do in the middle of January. And August is not that popular a month in Midwest and Southeast, when the heat is rivaled only by the humidity. This is where air-conditioned indoor venues come in handy.

And you can make your own off-peak wedding day, too. A photographer I worked with a few weeks ago floated the idea of creating your own three day weekend by having your wedding on any given Monday. Your out-of-town guests can fly in on a Saturday or Sunday, have a great time in your city and then fly out on Tuesday, when airfare is generally cheaper. In-towners only need to leave work early to join in the fun. And it’s also another strategy to cut down your guest list, since there are lots of folks who won’t be able to do it, and insures that those who really want to be there will be there. I know, I know, it sounds a little cutthroat, but all’s fair at $79.95 a person!

So, where do you start?

First of all, you need to figure out what “off-peak” means in the city you live in. Any given wedding vendor, from a photographer to a hotel manager, to a florist can tell you that, just like I told you about L.A. Then you need to decide what other parts of “off-peak” you’re comfortable with. If you want to have an outdoor wedding, February in New York is not going to work. Your wedding on a weeknight? Lunch instead of dinner? The last one gives you a little more time at the end of the day to hang with your sweetie and with your friends, but the idea of dancing until dawn has some powerful mojo, too.

From there, start venue shopping, and the usual rules apply. Confirm what their off-peak times are. Start with your budget, cut half of that, let them know that’s what you have to spend on your wedding and reception, and see what they can do.

And your guests. First of all, give them plenty of notice — this is where Save the Dates come in handy. And, there are two tactics you can employ to explain why your wedding is on a Tuesday in the middle of November. The first is a story: I coordinated a wedding on September 21st a few years back, picked because the couple liked the song by Earth, Wind and Fire (“do you remember/the 21st night of September … “). Or, Wednesday, July 14th is Bastille Day. Or you’re having your wedding on Monday to celebrate the first weekday of the rest of your lives, by making everyone take it off. Come up with something fun and/or memorable. The second explanation is the truth, whatever it is. You’re trying to save money, you can’t take the weekend off for some reason, most of your guests are in town, any variation of those. Pick one, stick to it, don’t over explain, tell them that you hope they can make it. Because that’s the truth, too.

So, how did you have an off-peak wedding? Or what do you think of any of the ideas here?

See you at the end of the aisle,

Liz Coopersmith is the owner of Silver Charm Events, a wedding planning service in Los Angeles. She's also a regular contributor to the Huffington Post and the author of "DIY Your DOC: Do-it Yourself Wedding Day Coordination." Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
  • MM

    I am doing an off-peak wedding — Sunday brunch in March in New England. I'd like to second the idea of going back to a vendor and being upfront about your budget to see if they're flexible. That's how we got our venue — the sticker price was too high, but they were willing to negotiate and we got the package in our price range without giving up anything.

    I politely replied to the vendors that I was truly interested in and let them know that I'd love to learn more but their proposal was just out of our budget. Most replied with an offer to review their pricing and see if they could work with us — that's when I disclosed the amount we were dealing with. Certainly not an example of a hard-fought negotiation, but it goes to show you never know until you ask! Don't assume there's no flexibility on the packages.

  • I'm getting married on a Friday night in October, still peak season, but the Friday night made it such a bargain. I couldn't have gotten a better venue at a better price. I set the ceremony for 7pm for people who didn't want to take a day off from work. I love the idea of a night time wedding too.

  • all really great options. I'm a bit unsure of how great a Monday wedding would be, but Friday and Sunday work very well.

    Great blog 🙂

  • Thanks so much for this great advice! This is a HUGE way to save money on your wedding, and also gives you room to be a little creative and let your wedding stand out as personal, quaint, and different. Check out shopsavvycinderella.com for more ways to save!

  • Theresa

    We were married on a Saturday in February. Feb=off-peak in Chicagoland, and so we were able to save quite a bit of money on the caterer/banquet space and our DJ. We also didn't have to worry about booking way ahead of time-our date was ALWAYS available! It was also nice to celebrate something when there weren't many family events going on. There were no summer barbecues/block parties to work around, which are two huge events my brother had trouble with for his July wedding. Winter is also my fave season, so I didn't mind the prospect of snow or rain, or cooler weather here in Illinois.

  • The Boy and I got married the weekend AFTER Valentine’s Day, and it took me until I started doing this for a living to figure out why everyone was being so accommodating. That 9/21 we’d I mention got ther site for a song. It works.

  • MrFrostings

    Great article Liz! In our business we find that Nov.15 thru Jan.15 is slow. It's a great time to shop for a cake with us because we have more time to really work our design magic. The consultations are more relaxed also.
    Loved your perspective on this subject, as I always do

  • eva

    I love this! I want to have a destination wedding in Hawaii so why not save money and get marries during the week? Everyone that comes will be on vacation anyway!