how to choose your perfect wedding date

One of your first jobs as a newly engaged couple will be choosing your wedding date. This sounds pretty easy, right? Just pick a date and go. It turns out there's a bit more to it than that, though, and choosing the right date is pretty important. Your wedding date will influence the look and feel of your wedding, the cost, and more.

Choosing a wedding date is a very personal thing -- there's no one process that's right for every couple -- but I've listed several things below that I recommend couples factor in as they consider different dates:

Photo by Focal Point Photographics

Photo by Focal Point Photographics

season

What do you envision when you think about your ideal wedding? Wearing a gauzy dress at your garden celebration? Snuggling closer to your new spouse while snowflakes settle gently on your shoulders? Saying your I Dos in front of a hillside blazing with autumn color?

If you have a clear vision that involves a particular season, embrace it! You'll be setting yourself up for a wedding day that's totally you, plus you'll quickly narrow down your list of possible dates by 75%. Wasn't that easy?

your schedule

Think about your schedule for the next 12 - 24 months, and don't underestimate the amount of time and energy planning a wedding requires. If you have major stuff coming up on your calendar -- a big project at work, a critical semester at school, lots of mandatory travel or a move -- factor those things in. If this sounds like your schedule all the time, then definitely hire a wedding planner to help you out. You don't want to head into your wedding all crazily stressed out.

symbolism

I can look at a calendar and tell you which dates will be popular for weddings. Weekend days with repeating numbers in their dates (11/11/11, 1/4/14, 1/7/17) often book early because they're fun and some couples consider them lucky. It's probably no surprise that Valentine's Day and New Year's Eve are popular wedding days regardless of where in the week they fall.

Getting more personal, think about dates that have special meaning for you: The date the two of you met or said your first I Love Yous, your parents' or grandparents' wedding date, and similar days are popular dates around which to plan a wedding celebration if they happen to fall on a convenient day of the week.

The flip side of this is that there might be dates you want to avoid. The date of a beloved friend or family member's death might be too fraught with sadness for you or some of your guests. The same is true for established days of reflection, like Patriot Day and Holocaust Remembrance Day.

venue and other vendor availability

Some couples know before they even get engaged that they simply MUST get married at a certain venue, have a certain band, or hire a certain wedding planner. If this is true for you, get in touch with these vendors before you set your date. Find out when they're already booked, then eliminate those dates as wedding possibilities.

Photo by Amir West of Photo Fanatic

Photo by Amir West of Photo Fanatic

cost

Some dates will come with a higher price tag for various reasons. Vendors often charge a premium for dates they'd ordinarily be spending with family, like Thanksgiving or Christmas (yes, some people are interested in getting married on those days!). Here in DC, July 4th is often more expensive for both you and your guests because this is such a popular travel destination on that date. Valentine's Day and New Year's Eve often come at a premium price as well. This doesn't mean you shouldn't marry on one of those dates, but do take this into consideration.

On the other hand, some dates will save you money! Saturday is the most popular day of any weekend for a wedding, so Fridays and Sundays often cost less. Many venues also offer off-peak pricing during their less popular months, which is definitely worth asking about.

vip guest preferences

You obviously don't want to poll everyone on your guest list for potential conflicts before setting your date, but you probably have a handful of guests you really, really want to have at your wedding. If you'll be heartbroken to learn that some people can't attend, it's okay to ask them about the dates you're considering before you sign any contracts.

your honeymoon

Especially if you're planning on honeymooning immediately after your wedding, think about the ideal time to visit your honeymoon destination. You don't want to visit during the bad weather season or at a time when a special event will make your destination difficult to navigate. For example, the next NATO summit is scheduled for July 8-9, 2016, in Warsaw -- probably not the best time to be vacationing there.