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Choosing a wedding date: When you're feeling indecisive

He -- or she -- asked, and you answered in the affirmative. Now's the time to bask in the romance, and enjoy the first phase of your new life together. But soon, you'll need a response for that timeless question: "when's the wedding?"

For some couples, it's easy - they know just when they want to tie the knot. For others, it's less clear. After all, you have a lot of options. Even more than you might think, since it's really not necessary to get married on a Saturday. Friday and Sunday afternoons are good choices too, and less expensive.

So if you're looking at the calendar ahead and seeing a hundred alternatives, all about equally attractive, here's how to narrow them down.

Must-have venues
No matter how flexible you are, there's bound to be things you won't compromise on. Maybe it's a particular church, temple and officiant for your ceremony. Maybe it's a special venue for your reception. And there are certain indispensable guests, like your parents.

Luckily for you, putting just these three things together is bound to reduce your choices. Once you call on the church/temple, ceremony venue or reception hall, you'll probably find many dates already filled, especially if you call less than nine months in advance. Good. That makes things easier!

Must-have ambiance
But maybe you don't have a must-have venue. Maybe you just have an image in your mind of the perfect wedding. Maybe it involves falling snow, ermine mantles, a horse-drawn carriage, and a crackling fireplace. Maybe it involves stacks of shiny apples, heaped pumpkins, a scattering of leaves and the scent of cranberry-apple cider. Or delicate pastels, gossamer pashminas for the bridesmaids, and a dove release. In this case your time of year is set: all that's needed it to work out the logistics of venue, local climate and the availability of your most important guests.

Must-have flowers
Some people know exactly what floral arrangements they want at their wedding. Flowers are such an enormous part of the wedding budget, if particular ones are important to you, you might want to arrange your date around them. Unless you're an heiress, for example, you'll want to avoid buying roses for your Valentine's Day wedding. On the other hand, December and January are great months to buy calla lilies. To study flower availability charts, Google for "flower availability by month."

Must-have honeymoons
If you have your heart set on a certain destination, you'll probably find the honeymoon helps set the date for you. Chances are, some dates are good for travel but others involve the risk of hurricanes or lengthy rains.

Limited budget
For now, winter is the slow wedding season. So it's often (though not always) true that you can get a break on expenses by having your ceremony during the holidays. Brides often find that by marrying near Christmas, they benefit from already-decorated churches and don't need to add much themselves. Plus, if they shop the year before, they can stock up on decorations at incredibly discounted post-holiday sales. The trick is to avoid competing with office parties for reception venues and limousines (New Year's Eve is particularly competitive).

Another factor to consider, besides the possibility of dismal weather, is how many guests are due from out-of-town. Flying in for a holiday wedding can strain any family's Christmas budget, plus airlines often charge extra during the season.

If you need to keep expenses in check but want to avoid winter, make sure you steer clear of proms, graduation, "parents' day" at colleges, major sporting events and other local events.

"Life" dates
You might find your own life gives more guidance than you think. Are you a teacher, with set vacation times? Are you graduating from college or ending an internship? Are many of your relations students, available only during the holidays or the summer? If you're working, is your vacation time limited to a certain time of year? If many guests are flying in, will Labor Day weekend or Memorial Day weekend give them time to get acclimated and enjoy your big day? If none of these apply, is there a date that has special significance to you as a couple, such as the date you first met or first dated?

"Auspicious" dates
Many people find little extra jolt of comfort in picking auspicious days for their wedding. In India and China, this is standard practice. But even in the West, people often find it reassuring to pick numbers or dates with personal meaning. A Chinese custom is to select a date with as many even numbers as possible (such as 2-18-2006). The Irish believed that New Year's Eve is luckiest for weddings. The Romans (and consequently, modern westerners) favored the month of June. For Victorians, it was lucky to marry on the groom's birthday.

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