Planning a wedding can get really expensive really fast—that we all know—which is why more and more couples are forgetting about booking their ceremony and reception on prime Saturday nights, and looking to piggyback on long holiday weekends, planning their nups the Sunday before Memorial Day, for example, or smack in the middle of Christmas break.
It’s not that it’s a bad idea—sometimes it rings up cheaper—but a casual poll of my own network confirmed that it can also be inconvenient for your guests who have to pay top dollar to travel during a holiday, give up their own days off for your wedding, or both.
“There are a lot of bonuses to this kind of [event], but there are a lot of drawbacks too,” said Kellee Khalil, the founder of wedding website Loverly. Here, she lays out the pros and cons of tying the knot during peak holiday weekends.
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The problem: Travel is a nightmare.
Trying to time a wedding to a holiday for which most Americans will be traveling—whether that’s Christmas, Thanksgiving, or Labor Day—spells disaster for guests. “Everything costs more. Hotels are more expensive; flights are more expensive,” says Khalil. And it’s a cost that’ll probably affect the bride and groom, too. “Vendors see a lot of holidays as a peak day, so they don’t charge less,” says Khalil. She recommends planning up to a year and a half in advance for a holiday wedding so you can avoid some serious price gouging.
The problem: Your guests might already have plans.
You have to be aware that you may be disrupting your guests’ other holiday weekend plans. Maybe they usually go on a cruise over New Year’s or attend an annual Memorial Day BBQ that’s the highlight of their summer. That’s doesn’t mean they wouldn’t be happy to celebrate, but it’s something to consider.
Time is of the essence in cases like these, Khalil says, who suggests sending out save the dates a year in advance if you can swing it. Make sure to book hotel blocks as soon as possible to snag any early-bird deals. You typically want to work a few months ahead of what you would for a non-holiday weekend.
Plus, there’s always the option of turning your big day into a party that’s just too good to pass up. Want to get married on New Year’s Eve? Send a tiny bottle of champagne for a Save the Date. Then pick a killer location that begs for a black tie wedding, and voilà! Instant New Year’s Eve plans for you and your friends that are way better than paying a ridiculous cover charge at a bar.
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The problem: Guests still can’t make it.
Even if you got the message out early and stayed local, odds are there are a lot of people who won’t be able to make your Christmas/Labor Day/Thanksgiving/4th of July wedding. But, as a bride, Khalil says, “you have to anticipate that some people just can’t come.”
All you can do then is say, “I totally understand; I appreciate your letting me know, and we’ll be sorry to miss you.” If you’re hoping for a huge turnout, the solution is pretty simple: Pick another weekend where more guests are likely able to come.
One sneaky silver lining to holiday weddings is that the guest list will often whittle itself down because of guests’ prior commitments—without any great rifts in family dynamics. “This is a great way to create a more intimate experience without burning bridges,” she says.