When planning your wedding, choosing the best season can be a challenge if you’re based in the UK.
First and foremost, there is always going to be that risk of inclement weather whichever season you choose.
Even at the height of a summer heatwave, you may be unlucky enough to pick that one day the heavens open. It pays to be prepared with a few good-quality brollies all year round – after all, if they’re not needed to combat the rain, they may well be useful for shielding people from the sun if it is very bright and hot.
Although temperatures are usually much lower during the winter months, this is not always the case – in fact, as I write this in February, it is currently 20 degrees Celsius outside. Admittedly, this is highly unusual but, whether due to climate change or other reasons, many would agree that the seasons are becoming less clearly defined, weather-wise.
However, there are many distinct seasonal factors other than the weather that should be taken into account when deciding on which time of year to tie the knot.
For example, if you are considering either a summer or a December wedding, then it is particularly important to note that entertainment such as live music needs to be booked well in advance – 12 months or more to be on the safe side – since the festival season and the festive period are the busiest times of year for bands and other entertainers. Be aware that the best ones get booked up really fast!
Another aspect of your wedding that will be affected by the season you choose is photography. As all photographers will be aware, the best time of the day to get those all-important wedding photos taken is what is known as “the golden hour”. This takes place an hour before sunset and offers photographers the soft, warm light they crave to get the most beautiful, stunning shots. It’s when natural light is at its softest and most golden if the sun is out.
The timing of the golden hour varies greatly depending on the season. It takes place much later during the summer (around 8.30pm) and much earlier in the winter (around 3pm). However, if you intend to programme a photo shoot after your ceremony and reception but before any evening entertainment begins, then the timing is good during the Spring (around 6.30pm) and almost perfect during the Autumn (around 5pm).
Other key factors to take into account when considering seasons are: availability, cost, colours, flowers, outfits, food and travel / transport.
Take a look at our rundown below as we consider the pros and cons of how all four seasons impact differently on each of these factors.
The most romantic time of the year, Spring announces its arrival with a cacophony of colour through its vibrant floral displays and tree blossoms.
Pro: More hours of daylight and warmer temperatures.
Con: High possibility of showers and/or strong winds. Pollen can also be a nightmare for allergy sufferers.
Pro: People tend to feel more like venturing out once the clocks go back and winter is behind us.
Con: Some people are likely to be away during the Easter holidays.
Pro: You should find it easier to book venues and other wedding services than during the summer months.
Con: Spring is still one of the most popular seasons for bookings, so it may be difficult to find your preferred options with short notice bookings.
Pro: Wedding service providers often offer Spring discounts.
Con: A robust back-up plan will be needed for any outdoor activities due to the higher risk of inclement weather. This can add to the cost if you need to provisionally book two spaces.
Pastel yellows, pinks and peaches, lavender, mint green and pale blues.
Pro: The golden hour arrives conveniently during the spring; it isn’t too late or too early so photo shoots are unlikely to clash with any of the other festivities.
Con: Spring can be challenging, with harsh afternoon light sometimes interfering with lenses and sensors.
Pro: The gardens of your venue in full Spring bloom should provide the perfect backdrop for some stunning photographs.
Con: Windy weather or sudden Spring cold snaps can hinder outdoor floral displays.
Pro: It should be suitably warm enough by the Spring to go for a marquee and/or an outdoor ceremony. Outdoor weddings offer great scope for photo opportunities too.
Con: Inclement weather is more likely in the Spring than the Summer, so a robust back-up plan will be needed.
Pro: Whether you want to wear sleeves or go sleeveless, both options are usually a safe bet in the Spring.
Con: Unpredictable heavy rain showers and strong winds can leave your perfect gown or suit looking soggy and dishevelled.
Pro: There are many traditional seasonal dishes – such as lamb, new potatoes and spring greens – that will go down a treat with guests.
Con: Be aware that British Springs can sometimes be hotter than the summer months; temperatures frequently reached 25 degrees in April 2011, for example. Choose a wedding menu that will be suitable whatever the weather to avoid potential food spoilage.
Pro: A convertible vehicle will give you an open-top option if the weather is warm and fine. If the weather is not so fine, you can always keep the hood up!
Con: As the weather is often so unpredictable in the Spring, you will probably not feel confident enough to opt for an open-top mode of transport with no back-up cover.
The most leisurely time of the year, Summer appeals to our inner child and invites us outdoors to play and frolic in its long and lazy days.
Pro: The days and evenings are long and (usually) warm.
Con: Potential for major disruption to outdoor weddings should there be heavy rain on the day. Plus, warmer temperatures brings out the mosquitos and other bothersome biting insects.
Pro: People may be less busy with work and more able to take time off to attend.
Con: People may already have holidays away booked.
Pro: More potential options when it comes to indoor vs outdoor weddings.
Con: Fewer dates to choose from for everything (over a third of all weddings take place in summer).
Pro: Taking advantage of the warm summer weather by booking your honeymoon in the UK can save money.
Con: Many service providers charge more as the summer is considered peak wedding season.
Orange, yellow, gold, fuschia, aqua, sand.
Pro: More hours of daylight to choose from for photo sessions.
Con: Squinting in bright sun can ruin photos.
Pro: A huge range and wider variety of blooms and colours to choose from.
Con: Flowers need more water and can wilt quickly in hot weather.
Pro: Option to host the ceremony outside in beautiful gardens (more romantic than a registry office) – perhaps in a garden pagoda – if you feel that way inclined.
Con: The venues with the best gardens get booked up way in advance for summer weddings.
Pro: A wider choice of dress options due to warmer weather – e.g. more scope for backless / strapless / sleeveless dresses and strappy shoes, etc.
Con: Brides can feel pressure to look “summer perfect” – i.e. a perfect tan and a lithe figure – and this can cause considerable stress if not easily achievable.
Pro: People tend to eat lighter in summer, and dishes such as salads and finger buffet options can work out less expensive than multi-course set meals.
Con: The summer heat and creepy-crawlies can play havoc with your food if you plan to eat outside.
Pro: It is more feasible to consider open-top modes of transport, such as a horse-drawn carriage or convertible sports car.
Con: The cost of hiring many classic wedding vehicles tends to skyrocket in the summer months.
The most magical time of the year, Autumn offers up a rich natural tapestry of colour and an abundance of comforting, wholesome crops – a time for gathering before retreating with loved ones.
Pro: The vibrant colours of Autumn are particularly stunning when the sun is shining and the air is crisp, and this can provide spectacular photo opportunities. We often get a bit of an “Indian Summer” in September, which can be a bonus.
Con: Although slightly more dependable than Spring, Autumn weather can still be quite difficult to predict. It is often quite chilly after sunset, even in the earlier part of the season.
Pro: Fewer people tend to go on holiday in the Autumn.
Con: Weddings that clash with seasonal festivities such as Halloween and Bonfire Night can be stressful for families with children to prepare for.
Pro: Availability of venues and other wedding service providers increases greatly once the peak summer season is over.
Con: Autumn weddings – particularly September weddings – are becoming more popular in the UK, so you will still need to book well in advance to avoid disappointment.
Pro: Although not guaranteed, you might find that certain suppliers are more willing to negotiate, and will often lower their prices a little for an autumn wedding.
Con: You may find you will need to spend more on outfits and food than in the summer months when it is easier to keep things light.
Try soft blushes and nudes against warm, classic autumn palettes of rustic oranges, bronzes, plums and burgundies.
Pro: There’s no backdrop quite like that of an autumn scene with its changing of the leaves and abundance of yellows, oranges and reds. It’s why so many stock wedding photographs have that ‘autumn glow’ to them. Plus, it’s the best season to catch that “golden hour” at the most convenient time.
Con: As the weather changes, our hair and skin tends to dry out and lose its summer shine and glow. Blemishes, spots and dry patches can suddenly appear, which can affect confidence during the photo shoot.
Pro: When it comes to gorgeous flowers and captivating textures for a wedding venue, Autumn takes some beating with its burnt oranges, stunning reds and deep purples. You can also add some additional interest with seasonal foliage, berries, seed heads, acorns, chestnuts and wildflowers. A decent florist should be able to help you with the perfect autumn arrangement.
Con: Flowers tend to drop their petals and leaves earlier in the Autumn, so you may not be able to admire them for quite so long after the event – but they will be just fine for the day itself, so this shouldn’t put you off.
Pro: Rustic-themed weddings are a popular option for the Autumn months. The spectacular colours and foliage of the season offer tons of inspiration for some stunning DIY décor when it comes to dressing your chosen venue, whether it be a barn or a country house.
Con: You may need to discount country venues that are primarily set up for alfresco weddings, due to the risk of cold / wet / windy weather. The ground can become muddy very quickly in the Autumn, due to damper mornings and evenings and more farm vehicles driving on country lanes.
Pro: Autumn offers the opportunity to indulge in some lush seasonal colour schemes for your bridesmaids, ushers and page boys.
Con: Heels and open-toe shoes and sandals may seem like a bad idea if the grounds around your venue become muddy – there is usually more mud around in the Autumn than in any other season.
Pro: Hearty, spicy autumn dishes with comforting scents such as pumpkin soups and flavourful stews always tend to go down well with guests. Pair with root veggies and complement with a range of colourful seasonal fruits.
Con: It can be more difficult to source foods which are out of season, and this can bump up the price if you opt for salads or summer fruits, for instance.
Pro: Wedding transport bookings in off-peak seasons can be up to 50% cheaper than peak seasons.
Con: Tractors and other farm vehicles abound in rural areas during the Autumn. Getting stuck behind one for any length of time can cause seriously delays, so allow extra time if your wedding is taking place in the countryside.
The most enchanting time of the year, Winter is the time for roaring fires, comforting food, and cosy times with family and friends – a time to renew and reflect before the Spring rebirth.
Pro: Winter landscapes can look beautiful, especially when covered in a blanket of snow.
Con: Many wedding venues are located inside large, old, draughty buildings with high ceilings which can be beneficial during the summer, but can feel uncomfortable when winter temperatures plunge. To keep your guests warm and happy, make hot drinks readily available and come to an agreement with the venue that the heating will be maintained at an optimal temperature.
Pro: With the exception of the Christmas period, most of your guests are unlikely to be off on holiday at this time of year.
Con: December can be a difficult month as everyone is preoccupied with Christmas. January can also present a challenge as many people are financially strapped after the festive season, meaning they may not be able to easily afford presents, wedding outfits, or drinks at the afterparty.
Pro: As winter is considered off-peak for weddings, you should find you have an excellent range of options for your chosen date when it comes to that all-important venue.
Con: The exception to this is the month of December, as most venues and caterers will be fully booked well in advance for the Christmas period.
Pro: You tend to get the most for your money in the Winter, as it is generally considered off-peak season for weddings. From photographers to venues, you should have the pick of the bunch.
Con: You may find you will spend more on outfits and food, given the need for thicker fabrics, cover-up garments, and hot dishes.
Dark, warm tones such as burgundy, red, black, gold and tartans against crisp white will add a rich feel to your big day. Try adding a hint of natural evergreen for a festive winter touch. Candles can also enhance colours with a warm, romantic glow perfect for those dark winter evenings.
Pro: The golden hour light in Winter is often spectacular.
Con: You may be restricted to an indoor photo shoot as the weather is more likely to be unsuitable for an outdoor shoot. If an outdoor shoot is possible, you will most likely need to get this in as early as possible due to fewer hours of daylight.
Pro: The interesting textures and classic colours of Winter flowers can exude style, class and glamour.
Con: There is likely to be less choice than in the Spring or Summer, particularly when it comes to certain colours.
Pro: Many wedding venues are particularly enchanting and magical during Winter, especially those with good atmospheric lighting.
Con: You may be restricted to a venue in which you can both get married and celebrate afterwards, to avoid your guests having to travel between the two in potentially bad weather.
Pro: Winter presents a great opportunity to indulge in fabulous accessories such as faux fur veils, chic shawls, elegant elbow-length gloves, tweed waistcoats and velvet blazers. Long-sleeved wedding gowns are also a popular choice for the winter months. And when it comes to the afterparty, bear in mind that winter is the season for sequins and glitter too!
Con: If your preference is for a short-sleeved or sleeveless outfit, or garments made from thinner, lightweight fabrics, you’re in for a challenge! To stop your teeth chattering and your body shivering consider taking along a pashmina to keep out those winter chills. Also, if you decide to opt for heels on the day, make sure you keep a pair of boots handy in case you encounter any mud during the photo shoot.
Pro: A Winter wedding offers a great opportunity to serve up warming dinner dishes, complete with seasonal roasted vegetables. Your guests are bound to appreciate mulled wine, complementary Baileys and hot drinks too.
Con: If you have your heart set on a cold finger buffet, this may not warm people up enough if the weather is very cold on the day.
Pro: The roads are likely to be less busy outside of the peak holiday periods, meaning fewer potential delays.
Con: You will, however, still need to allow for extra travel time in case of difficult driving conditions and disruptions due to the winter weather. For guests who don’t have their own transport, travelling a considerable distance in the middle of winter can be a challenge. If you have a number of guests travelling from the same place, you could always suggest that they hire a minibus. In most cases, it is possible to drive a minibus with a regular car licence.
As you will no doubt already be aware, there are pros and cons for each season when it comes to deciding on that all-important wedding date. Perhaps the best place to start is to hone in on what is most important to you.
Is it that as many of your intended guests as possible will be available to attend? Do you want to maximise the chance of fine weather, first and foremost – perhaps because you have your heart set on an alfresco wedding? Are you strictly limited by cost when it comes to booking your venue? Or do you have a particular colour scheme, food menu, or dress style in mind that will only really work well in a specific season?
Once you have decided on your priorities, you will be able to weigh up the pros and cons for each season to ensure that your big day meets your expectations.