Just Engaged? Tips + Considerations for Setting a Wedding Date

It’s a predictable pattern: once friends and family receive the news of your engagement, their responses, in quick succession, are typically How did he propose? followed by, So when’s the wedding?

  Photography:    Shea Castricone

Photography: Shea Castricone

It’s hard to fault your loved ones for their interest and excitement on your behalf. Yet it’s alright to feel overwhelmed by the prospect of choosing a wedding date, let alone planning for it. If you’re newly engaged and wondering where to begin, start by arranging a meeting with the priest at the parish or chapel where you plan to enter into marriage.

At your first meeting, your priest will discuss practical matters like if and when you and your fiancé have received the sacraments, give an overview of the marriage prep process, and will likely send you home with an interview or inventory like FOCCUS to illuminate areas of your relationship that could benefit from deeper examination.

Sometimes when setting the date, the process is as simple as choosing from a list of available days and times. It can be overwhelming, however, to see endless calendar blocks open to you. Here, to aid in your discernment and decision-making, considerations for choosing your date.

The liturgical year

If a particular saint or feast has been significant in your relationship, consider bringing that significance into your wedding date, by way of a saint’s feast day or a solemnity. Spoken Bride’s Business Director, Andi Compton, was married on September 8, the birth of Our Lady, and Creative Director Jiza Zito was married August 15, the solemnity of the Assumption.

Bear in mind that most dioceses do not permit celebratory sacraments, like matrimony and baptism, during Lent. On the other hand, weddings held during the Christmas and Easter seasons convey a beautiful image of new, fruitful, glorious life.

Your personal responsibilities

While, like many major transitions in life, there’s never an ideal, conflict-free time to dive in--and the joy of entering into marriage drowns out those small matters--it is worth considering if any major obligations on the horizon could add stress to your wedding plans. Busy seasons at work in the finance, education, and retail fields, for instance,can be difficult to leave at the office, and if one or both of you is serving on mission, wherein you’re expected to prioritize your work and apostolate, setting your wedding date for a relatively calm time of year can minimize burnout.

Family obligations

If anyone in your immediate family or prospective wedding party will be traveling abroad, on a military deployment, giving birth, or undergoing major surgery or medical procedures in the upcoming months, understand the strain these circumstances might place on their ability to attend your wedding. Of course, it’s impossible to set a date where no guests have prior obligations, but for those closest to you, it’s a gesture of consideration, and a gift to you as a couple, to set a date they’ll be able to attend.

Circumstances and needs at this time in your lives

A short engagement can work well if neither you nor your fiancé will be relocating to a new city or state after your wedding, if one of you is already living in the home you’ll eventually share, or if you’re both well into your post-college lives and careers. A slightly longer time of preparation might be practical if you’re still in school, will need to make arrangements for your living situation, or have concerns that could benefit from pre-marital counseling.

All that said, every divinely ordained relationship, and every unrepeatable person within it, has unique needs, strengths, and challenges. It’s alright to move forward in faith even without all the answers, to get married while going to therapy, or to celebrate your marriage in the midst of professional or family-related whirlwinds. When we step out into the deep, Peter-like, Christ is present and won’t leave us to flounder.

More on discerning the length of your engagement and choosing a wedding date:

Christina Dehan Jaloway’s reflections on a short engagement and on being an “older” Catholic bride | Elise Crawford Gallagher’s tips for thriving during a long engagement | Holiday weddings

How did you and your beloved go about setting your wedding date? Share your thought process with other brides in the comments and on our social media.