The wedding world continues to evolve, with new trends, innovations and creations making people’s special days even more jaw dropping. In the wedding guide, we present helpful info on nuptial etiquette, planning, timelines and more.

By Mary Willa Allen

Popular Dates

You’ll likely notice your fridge is extra full of wedding invitations during certain months of the year. The following are 2023’s most popular wedding dates, in order: 

  • September 23
  • October 7
  • October 14
  • May 20
  • October 20

Also, look out for three-day weekends: Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day are among the most popular times to schedule a celebration. 

Venue 101

Perhaps the most important element to have nailed down early during your wedding planning is your venue choice. Unless you’ve found a hybrid indoor-outdoor venue, you’ll likely be choosing one or the other. Pros and cons exist for both. 

Indoor venues offer a bevy of pros:

Security; you don’t need a back-up plan in case of bad weather.

Comfort; you won’t have to battle the elements, like a chill, humidity or pesky mosquitoes.

Noise; you don’t need to worry about noise ordinances if you’re inside a private venue. 

But a few cons exist:

Limited space; ensure you aren’t going over your allotted quota of guests. 

Higher demand; most people opt for indoor venues out of convenience, so you’ll have to battle others for the date you desire. 

More rules; if you book an indoor venue, you’ll likely have more regulations to follow to ensure the space isn’t damaged. 

Pros of an outdoor venue:

More space; no cramped guests here! People can spread out and enjoy the great outdoors. 

More freedom; with an outdoor space, there will likely be less rules and penalties re: damage. 

Better visuals/lighting; nature can do a lot of the aesthetic work for you.

Cons of an outdoor venue: 

Less security; whether you’re stressed out about a potential rainstorm or wedding crashers, outdoor venues offer a little less stability.

The elements; aside from weather issues, critters could play a potentially major role in your day depending on where your outdoor venue is. 

No grand entrance; if your wedding is outside, people will be able to see everything you’re doing behind the scenes. If you want that dramatic entrance, consider an indoor venue. 

A Quick Timeline

You nailed down your engagement; now it’s time to start planning! Here are a few rules of thumb as it pertains to time management.

A year or more out:

  • Book your venue
  • Book your caterer
  • Determine and finalize your budget 
  • Make your guest list 
  • If you want one, hire a wedding planner 

10-11 months out:

  • Hire in-demand vendors, like photographers, videographers, DJs, bands, make-up artists, etc.
  • Take your engagement photos
  • Create your wedding website and ensure all relevant info is included
  • Secure hotel room blocks for guests 

8-9 months out:

  • Send save-the-dates
  • Purchase your wedding dress
  • Confirm (and promote) your registry 
  • Meet with potential florists

6-7 months out:

  • Confirm your rehearsal dinner venue
  • Hire ceremony musicians
  • Hire or choose your officiant 
  • Confirm your florist 

4-5 months out:

  • Get the groom and groomsmen’ tuxedos
  • Book the honeymoon
  • Confirm transportation for guests and you and your spouse
  • Finalize your cake 
  • Schedule make-up and hair trials 

2-3 months out:

  • Send out invitations to the wedding and rehearsal dinner
  • Write your vows
  • Plan the elements of your goodie bags
  • Make your wedding playlists

1 month or less out:

  • Do final venue walk-throughs
  • Do final dress fittings
  • Perform general aesthetic maintenance – hair, nails, tans, massages, etc. 
  • Make all final vendor payments 

Trend Forecasts

It’s no secret that each new year brings with it a handful of wedding trends on the rise. While some will never go out of style, others are ephemeral. We explore a few.

Popular 2023 color schemes:

  • Emerald and sage green
  • Lavender 
  • Dusty rose
  • Blush pink
  • Earth tones and neutrals 

Hot wedding dress trends: 

  • 3D floral elements
  • Bows
  • Off-the-shoulder dresses 
  • Pops of color
  • Transparent sections (on sleeves or sections of the dress) 
  • Capes
  • Mini dresses for the reception 

In-demand florals:

  • Unique bouquets with less greenery
  • Floral arches and aisle accessories
  • Single flower varieties used en masse
  • Dramatic floral installations in the reception 
  • More living plants (think potted plants instead of bouquets) 

General trends:

  • Wedding maximalism – the more the better! 
  • Private last dances
  • More pops of color just about everywhere, from flowers to dresses and table settings 
  • Statement aisles

Wedding Party: To Do and Not To Do

One of the most important parts of your wedding is sharing the day with your friends/family members in the wedding party. Of course they’re excited to celebrate you, but what’s appropriate and not appropriate to ask your party to do for you throughout the process? A few do’s and don’t include:

Do expect them to show up to major milestone moments of your wedding journey – like the wedding itself (obviously), the rehearsal dinner, bachelor/bachelorette parties and (ONE) bridal shower.

Don’t expect them to come to every single wedding-related event, like dress fittings or vendor appointments.

Do feel free to ask them for advice on wedding elements.

Don’t expect them to have nuanced opinions on every portion of your wedding – they have lives, too!

Do ask them for small favors in the weeks/days leading up to your wedding, like coffee runs or floral pick-ups.

Don’t expect them to be your personal assistants and run a bevy of errands for you in their limited free time.

Do ask them to look their best on your wedding day.

Don’t expect them to spend unnecessary money to do so, like fake tans, professional make-up and hair, or over-the-top shoes, bags or jewelry – unless you’re willing to foot the bill.

Favors People Will Actually Like

Wedding favors often take up a big chunk of the budget but don’t get a lot of use. What are some favors that will give you bang for your buck? We offer a few suggestions: 

  • His and hers candy 
  • Coasters 
  • Olive oil
  • Coffee or tea
  • Custom playing cards
  • Custom candles

How to Incorporate Children 

If you have kids, nieces, nephews or other beloved kiddos coming to your wedding, how can you incorporate them into the ceremony or make them feel included? 

  • Appoint them as flower girls or ring bearers 
  • Give them ‘day-of’ gifts
  • If they’re a bit older, let them do a short speech at the rehearsal dinner or reception
  • Include them in the ‘first look’ if you choose to have one
  • Add them to your wedding party

Cake & Floral 101

Some of the most fun you’ll have when wedding planning will revolve around cake tastings and floral appointments. But how can you get started?


First, you’ll want to do a bit of research on bakers in your area. Confirm good reviews, what kind of flavors and fillings they offer, general prices and their portfolio. Other logistics to confirm are how far in advance you need to order, how much a tasting will be, deposit necessities and how big of a cake you’ll need.

Second, visit for a tasting. You’ll have endless combinations to try – a few popular ones include vanilla, buttercream and raspberry; red velvet and cream cheese; lemon, vanilla and butter cream; and carrot, cream cheese and candied pecans. 

Third, confirm the style of your wedding cake. How many tiers do you want? How about floral accents or fruit? After you’ve decided on all of these goodies, place your order. 


Much like cakes, you’ll want to do research into potential florists before making a consultation. Have your budget and general needs ready to go. Additionally, have style ideas at the ready, as well as preferred blooms and your ideal color palette. 

At the consultation, confirm availability, price, delivery fees and general timelines. Bring mood boards for inspiration. Remember that your florals aren’t just bouquets – there are also boutonnieres, centerpieces, arches, aisle/ceremony decor and corsages. Plan accordingly! 

Speech Etiquette

If you’re a person with passionate or outgoing friends and family, it’s only a matter of time before they ask when, exactly, they’re giving their speech for your wedding. But before you’re handed the mic, remember some speech etiquette. 

When is it appropriate to give a speech? 

Bottom line: it’s only appropriate to give a speech if you’re asked to give one. Don’t attempt to weasel your way to the microphone if you’re not given express permission to do so. The only other time it’s appropriate is if the couple opens up the mic to anyone.

Who should be expected to give a speech, and at which event? 

The simple answer is that the bride and groom get to decide that on their own. But tradition dictates that parents and the maid of honor/best man speak at the wedding reception, while other special members of the wedding party/family speak at the rehearsal dinner. 

How long should you keep your speech?

The sweet spot for toasts is around 3-5 minutes. You want to have enough time to include tear-jerking memories, sentimental anecdotes or jokes, but not so long that you start to lose your audience. 

What is appropriate to mention in your speech?

Do mention: Great memories, compliments, and bride-and-groom-approved jokes or subject matter. 

Don’t mention: Any problems you have with the couple, not-safe-for-work memories, any mention of exes, or politics. Profanity is a maybe – but remember who’s in the audience! ■

Previous articleKeeping the Joy
Next articleThe Game of a Lifetime