We are so happy we chose to have a New Year’s Eve wedding, but in the early planning stages, we weren’t too sure about choosing that holiday date. I’d never heard of anyone having a NYE wedding, but I got the idea after seeing a New Year’s themed re-run of the show Four Weddings, and it seemed like fun.
When I first suggested it to Mike, his initial reaction wasn’t too positive. Would people want to give up their New Year’s Eve? After thinking about it a bit, he got on board. And that’s how it went with pretty much everyone. I heard the same thing from guests. I think once people realized that it meant their NYE plans were sorted and dinner and party plans would be taken care of for them, people quickly got excited about it.
One thing that we wondered, and that a lot of people have asked me about, was about New Year’s Eve wedding costs. Would a New Year’s Eve wedding be more or less expensive and more or less challenging to plan? Some people automatically assumed it would be more expensive, since it was a holiday, while others automatically assumed it would be less expensive, since it was in the winter and ‘off season’.
Based on our experience, the answer is: both! Planning a New Year’s Eve wedding had both costs and savings, challenges and benefits. So for any other brides out there considering the New Year’s Eve date, here is a breakdown of where we won out, and where we paid the price.
NYE Wedding Venue
We started shopping for our wedding venue in January, so we only ran into a couple that had already been booked for New Year’s Eve. Keep in mind that you’re not only going to be going up against other weddings competing for a space, but also New Year’s Eve parties. While a few venues offered their weeknight rates, many charged many thousands of dollars more for the New Year’s Eve date.
For our New Year’s Eve wedding, we held our ceremony and reception at the Rosehill Venue Lounge, which is located in Toronto’s midtown at Yonge and St. Clair.
This past year, New Year’s Eve fell on a Thursday. But our venue charged us their usual Friday/Saturday rate. We didn’t luck out with a cheaper weeknight rate, but we didn’t get hit with an extra holiday rate, either. Also, we were able to get in the day before to decorate because no other events were booked on the Wednesday. That would never happen for a Saturday wedding, and since we did most of the set up ourselves, that was super helpful.
NYE Wedding Catering
This is where our New Year’s Eve date cost us the most! Once the clock strikes midnight, employees are paid double-time and a half. This, of course, causes staffing costs to skyrocket. Except for our caterer, these extra staffing costs were absorbed by the vendors. For example, we didn’t pay any extra for our venue staff (coat check, security, etc.) compared with if we’d had our wedding any other Friday/Saturday night. Staffing costs were built into our fee. Our caterer, however, billed us hourly per staff, so our charges racked up after midnight. To minimize the damage, we worked with our caterer to reduce the number of staff that would still be working after midnight. We’d considered serving up a late-night snack, but decided that we’d cut that out since it would have kept the cook and servers there after midnight. We calculated that serving poutine for 50 people was going to cost nearly $1,000…almost entirely because of the staffing costs (cook, servers, dishwasher). No thanks!
For anyone planning a New Year’s Eve wedding, staffing is one area to watch out for. We’d gotten quotes from other caterers that wouldn’t have billed us this way, so additions like a late-night meal wouldn’t have had such a huge impact on the bottom line. This is just something to watch out for, and to ask vendors about up front.
NYE Wedding DJ
New Year’s Eve is a busy night for DJ’s, so there’s not much chance of scoring a deal here. DJ’s that we reached out to for quotes told us that they’d charge $200-500 extra for the NYE date, since there’s no shortage of parties for them to work that night.
The DJ we finally went with was recommended to us by our venue, and we weren’t charged extra because it was New Year’s Eve.
We had our photo booth, venue lighting and A/V included in the package that we negotiated with our DJ. This turned out to be a good thing because the original photo booth vendor he had lined up ended up pulling out due to personal reasons, but our DJ was the one who had to find a replacement. When we were shopping around for photo booth vendors, many did have surcharges for the NYE date, so we were lucky to avoid that, especially if we’d had to scramble at the last minute to find a replacement. Since it was part of our original agreement, our DJ took care of it, possibly taking a bit of a hit on his overall profits.
NYE Wedding Photography
Our photographers didn’t charge us extra for the New Year’s Eve date, but we did end up paying more than we would have otherwise for two reasons. Firstly, in order to capture day light, we did our first look and wedding party photos at 2:30 in the afternoon. At that time of year, the sun goes down early, so the early start time was a must.
Secondly, we needed them to stick around later to capture midnight. Usually people will send their photographers home after about an hour of post-dinner partying because, really, how many sweaty dance floor pics do you need? But we wanted them to capture the countdown, so we paid for a total of 10 hours of photo coverage. We loved our photographers (josephandjaimeweddings.com), but the extended hours of coverage that you might want for a New Year’s Eve wedding is something to keep in mind.
If I were to do it all over again, I probably wouldn’t have bothered with outdoor photos at all. I was nervous about the weather all week, and while we lucked out because the ground was clear of slush, snow and ice, it was really, really cold. Our photographers insisted on outdoor portraits, but knowing what I know now, I would have tried to scope out a really great indoor venue with lots of natural lighting for photos instead. Also, for capturing the midnight moment, I’d probably just ask a friend to snap some shots instead.
Costs and benefits of a New Year’s Eve Wedding
On New Year’s Eve you aren’t competing with a ton of other weddings, but you are competing against all the New Year’s Eve parties. Vendors that are wedding-specific (florals, cake) probably won’t hit you with extra charges, and you might be able to take advantage of off-season deals. Vendors that also do New Year’s events might get booked up sooner, so it’s important to shop early for availability and to get the best quotes.
Based on quotes we got from multiple vendors, here are the areas you’re most likely to spend extra or save a few bucks by choosing a New Year’s Eve date for your wedding:
Look out for extra costs:
- Staffing costs (tip: negotiate a flat rate instead of paying hourly)
- DJ (tip: book early)
- Photography (tip: consider limiting hours and having friends capture midnight festivities)
- Musicians/Performers (tip: schedule performances for earlier in the night so they can still do another NYE gig)
- Venue (tip: book early and push for the weeknight rate)
Look out for savings:
- Florals (tip: go with flowers that are in-season)
- Decor rentals (tip: instead of paying for same-night or next-day pickup, take advantage of the January 1st holiday, and negotiate to do your own returns a couple days later)
- Photo site/permit (tip: consider sites that don’t typically allow photos, since they might make exceptions for holidays when they’re not in use)
- Bridesmaid’s dresses (tip: there are so many great New Year’s dresses that hit the stores in November and December, so be patient and buy off the rack — I didn’t do this, but wish I did!)
- Bridal accessories (tip: take advantage of end-of-season sales in the fall when everything bridal goes on mega-sale including shoes, veils and other accessories)