Noel Nuptials

By Sharon Naylor

September 4, 2009 5 min read

Everyone's talking about Christmas weddings -- and not just because the song calls it "the most wonderful time of the year." In 2009, Christmas falls on a Friday -- a very popular weeknight for weddings and the weekend celebrations that visiting guests get to enjoy -- and in 2010, Christmas falls on a Saturday, the prime day for weddings. The favorable positioning on the calendar means that a greater number of family members plan to travel to their hometowns to celebrate with their relatives, which makes it perfect timing for weddings. Travel expenses deliver double the fun.

With offseason weddings on many brides' radars as the ideal way to save money on the big day, the Christmas weekend is looking especially attractive to budget-conscious couples. Before you book your Christmas date, though, there are a few important financial considerations to keep in mind. The first of which is that these aren't just any winter-season Friday and Saturday, so prices might not be as low as you'd expect. According to Summer Hutchens-Colgin of Summer for Your Memories wedding consulting firm in Houston, Christmas weddings usually present some higher fees. "Hotels will generally raise prices at least 25 percent during the holidays, but with that come different menus, not just higher prices. A $70 regular menu item will not cost $90 automatically. It will be a new menu item with a $90 value. Other hotels will not change or increase their menu prices, but it will cost you more to book because food and beverage minimums are increased upward of 30 percent for holiday dates," says Hutchens-Colgin.

While it is true that many sites and vendors do raise their prices for attractive holiday event dates -- which they have long done for New Year's Eve and Valentine's Day, owing to the popularity of special holiday weddings, in expected supply-and-demand mindset -- Christmas wedding couples do enjoy a wide range of budget-saving strategies. Here are just a few of the freebies enjoyed by couples planning Christmas weddings:

1. Churches, hotel ballrooms and banquet halls usually have their own holiday d?cor arranged to be present for your big day. A church that is filled with hundreds of poinsettias and white roses will need no additional d?cor, saving you hundreds of dollars in d?cor expenses. Very often, mood-setting candles are included in the d?cor, as well. Hotel ballrooms often feature dramatic wreaths, decorated Christmas trees and exteriors decorated professionally with strings of Christmas lights. The scene is set for you for free.

2. Winter weddings lend themselves well to one-location weddings, such as a ceremony that takes place in one hotel ballroom and the reception just a few steps away in the next ballroom. With a one-location decision, you don't have to rent limousines, and guests don't need to brave the elements for travel between sites. Also, valuable time is saved when on-the-clock professionals, such as photographers and videographers, lose no paid work time in travel.

3. D?cor elements are simple. Hutchens-Colgin says: "The holidays can provide easy and inexpensive wedding d?cor. Elegant silver or gold wrapping paper can be used to wrap boxed 'gifts' as centerpieces and even large boxes for room d?cor." Inexpensive holiday ornaments, such as silver or clear glass balls, can be placed in glass vases for centerpieces that are less than $20 apiece. "Small holiday items from the $1 rack at Michaels (or other arts and crafts stores) make great d?cor for guest tables," says Hutchens-Colgin, "as well as for wedding favors."

An intangible freebie is the celebratory mood that your friends and family are in during the holiday season. It's a time for togetherness, for family traditions and rituals, for feasting and gifting, and reflecting on the many blessings of a life filled with loved ones. Planning a wedding for this time of the year injects a sense of excitement that often is missing among guests who face the summertime 'wedding crush' of too many scheduled events, travel and hot weather. In contrast, a Christmas wedding enjoys an elevated enthusiasm among guests, who are excited about this new, unique celebration in what might have been a rut of same-old Christmas celebrations in their family circle. Plus the winter months are quite gloomy and dark; a wedding is cause for joy.

Brides also say they love the unique wintry opportunities for their weddings: arriving in a horse and sleigh, snowy landscapes providing ideal photo settings, a cake shaped like a snowman, and fun holiday songs replacing "Electric Boogie" in their reception entertainment. For weddings, this is the most wonderful time of the year!

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