Peak Season vs Off Season: Choosing Your Wedding Date
November 9, 2023
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Have you decided to tie the knot at a faraway destination? How exciting! You probably have a wedding vision in mind, whether it’s a tropical paradise or a cozy ski retreat. You might even know exactly where you want to say “I do.” But before you start booking vendors and ordering invitations, you have one more question to answer: When?
Unless your heart is set on a significant date like your anniversary, your preferred wedding season will be your biggest consideration. Peak season comes with many perks, which is why it’s the most popular time of year to travel. But don’t overlook off-season, which can offer its own set of benefits.
Be mindful that peak and off seasons vary by location, so you may need to do a bit of research into your wedding destination. A destination wedding planner or travel agent can help you learn more about seasonal trends to plan accordingly.
If you’re debating both options, keep reading for the pros and cons of each side so you can make an informed decision for your big day.
Peak Season: Pros
From sunshine on the beach to snow on the peaks, peak season is about capitalizing on your destination’s best weather. The Garter Girl’s Julianne Smith notes that peak season “will have more favorable weather conditions for your location, which can mean more guests will be able to join you.”
Thanks to the preferable weather, peak season is the busiest time for visiting travelers. That means you won’t have to worry about any off-season shut-downs, as “the location will be fully staffed, allowing for more experiences from welcome drinks, porter services, turndown service, or local excursions,” assures Samantha Leenheer of House of Joy.
Plus, peak season offers a “buzzy” atmosphere that you won’t find during quieter months. So, if you want your guests to experience the full breadth of your destination’s local culture, you’ll find much more to do when it’s catering to fellow travelers.
Peak Season: Cons
Peak season means peak pricing, so don’t expect your budget (or your guests’) to stretch as far. Sarah Chianese of Mangia and Enjoy! explains that “more travelers are planning their events and vacations at the same time,” so you and your guests will find that “costs are likely higher, and flights and accommodations get booked faster.”
While your budget is a primary concern, don’t forget to consider your guests’ comfort level. What might seem reasonable for you may be cost-restrictive for your loved ones, so keep that in mind as you pick a wedding date.
Travel can get particularly challenging if you’re competingwith local festivals, sporting events, and other tourist attractions. Jamie Chang of Mango Muse Events warns that couples must factor in “crowds and fighting for resources for both wedding and non-wedding items like travel and activities.”
In addition to travel and accommodations, you may also have a harder time securing event professionals — especially if you’re planning on a shorter timeline. So, if peak season is a must, prepare to do some extra research when planning to ensure a comfortable, stress-free experience from the booking process to your time onsite.
Off Season: Pros
If you want to host your dream destination wedding without breaking the bank (or your house fund!), you’ll find it much easier to do so during off season. Celebrating your nuptials during quieter months can often be “up to twice as cost-effective as a peak-season celebration,” confirms Elena Gera of Focus on the Moment Photography.
“You can potentially save 30 to 50% on wedding costs, as wedding vendors, airlines, venues, and photographers offer substantial discounts,” Gera continues. Lower demand also means you’ll face less competition when booking travel, accommodations, and excursions, so booking off-season is a great way to get the best bang for your buck.
Cost savings aren’t the only advantage of an off-season wedding! Bite Catering Couture’s Vijay Goel also reveals that event professionals have more bandwidth at slower times of the year. Not only will you have an easier time booking your top choices, but “you may get some of their best work simply because they are better able to focus,” he says. You may also have a faster turnaround time for your wedding photos and videos!
“One thing that you’ll notice during the busy season is that you’re usually beholden to an influx of other tourists, which can make things such as transportation and overall foot traffic difficult. However, the off-season is perfect for couples who don’t want strangers in the background of their wedding photos, and you won’t necessarily need to work in extra time for delays throughout your stay,” suggests Kevin Dennis of Fantasy Sound Event Services.
And while the off-season might not offer all of the busyness of peak season, couples who prefer a more relaxing, low-key wedding experience will love feeling like they have their destination to themselves.
Off Season: Cons
A potential for inclement weather is an obvious drawback of celebrating in the off-season, but there are other obstacles to note if you’re considering this route.
For instance, Kelley Nudo of Momental Designs notes that the off-season is typically during the school year. “If you anticipate inviting children, adult learners, or guests who are educators, this time of year can be a tough time to get away for a wedding,” she says.
Likewise, planning a wedding during the holiday season and asking your loved ones to use their time off can be difficult. So, if you want to maximize your guest list attendance, be mindful to plan around possible scheduling challenges.
Off-season weddings are also not a great fit for couples who want to round out their guest experience with tourist attractions, excursions, and other off-site plans. “With fewer people visiting, seasonal businesses often close, so there may be fewer activities, restaurants, and shops,” adds Sara Bauleke of Bella Notte. However, with an all-inclusive venue, you may not find the need to venture beyond the comfort of the property!
Every wedding is unique, so there’s no right or wrong answer regarding your ideal destination wedding season. The key is to find what works for your budget, schedule, and guest list without sacrificing your dream celebration. A destination wedding planner can help you answer essential questions and navigate the planning process so you don’t have to figure it out alone.
No matter what you choose, your destination wedding is only the beginning of your beautiful love story — so keep your eye on the prize: marriage to your favorite person. The rest are details!
About the Author: Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast.