When you get married, you want to be able to be fully present to enjoy the experience. And, for most people, that means requesting time off for your wedding. Weddings happen all the time and companies know that. However, there’s definitely a right and wrong way to ask. Here’s everything you need to know about taking time off for your wedding, including when to ask and how.
“There is no hard and fast rule for when to request time off for a wedding,” says Phil Norton, co-founder of PTO booking software Leave Dates. “But you should try to give as much notice as possible.” He recommends that, if you have a year to plan your wedding, submit your request for time off as soon as you know your dates.
Some companies don’t start scheduling time-off requests too far in advance—but even if your HR team isn’t accepting PTO requests for your wedding date just yet, it’s still a good idea to clear it with your manager as soon as possible. Plus, starting the conversation around when you’ll be out is an important first step so that your team gets used to the idea and it doesn’t creep up on anyone. “It’s too important to leave it to chance,” Norton says.
This can really vary. There’s no set amount of time you can request off for your wedding (and honeymoon, if necessary). How much time you can take off will largely depend on your organization and the PTO policies.
If your company has a more traditional PTO policy, you’ll likely be able to request off however much PTO you’ve accrued. So, if you have two weeks of PTO, you can request two weeks off. (If you need more time off than what you have accrued, you can try to negotiate additional unpaid leave).
If your company has an unlimited PTO policy, things aren’t as cut and dry. While many organizations say they offer unlimited PTO, even “unlimited” has its limits (they’re not going to let you request off three months). Plan your time off request based on the norm for your company. “Understand the limitations that might exist in the organization and past precedent on what has been allowed for wedding leave in the past,” says HR Consultant Matthew Burr.
Some experts also recommend coordinating your wedding and honeymoon back-to-back. That way, you’re stretch of time out happens all at once. Multiple leaves of absence can impact your team and other projects.
“Don't ask for 2 weeks off for the wedding and next month ask for 3 weeks for a honeymoon,” says Burr. “More than likely, you're going to upset management with that request. Map out what the days off look like and be direct about what you need.”
If you can’t go on your honeymoon directly following your wedding, it’s best to space them out (at least three to six months) so you’re not taking off two large chunks of time in close proximity.
Once you know when you need to take off—and how much time off you need—it’s time to actually request your wedding PTO.
Requesting time off for your wedding should be a simple, straightforward process. The chances of your boss denying your request are pretty slim, especially if you ask well in advance of your big day.
“This is your wedding, it’s one of the most important days of your life. You should be able to simply ask for the time off and your boss will bend over backward to give it to you,” says Norton. “Of course this isn’t always the case, but when asking for the time off, you shouldn’t feel the need to overly justify it.”
Just because your manager is likely to approve your PTO request doesn’t mean there’s nothing you need to do on your part, though. You need to make sure they understand the steps you plan to take the ensure things run smoothly while you’re out of office.
“You should do everything you can to help your manager approve your request. Put yourself in their shoes and answer the questions they are likely to have,” says Norton. “If you can explain how you will ensure that business operations aren’t impacted by your time off, then you increase your chance of having the time off approved. In particular, you should think about who will do your work while you are off and any handover activities which will be necessary.”
So, for example, let’s say there’s a big client presentation scheduled right in the middle of your wedding PTO request. You could say something along the lines of “I’m getting married on December 13th, so I’ll need to request time off from December 11th through the 20th for my wedding and honeymoon. I know we have the big client presentation scheduled for the 12th, so I’m planning on completing this portion of the work and prepping these coworkers to handle my part of this project.”
If you’re responsible for overseeing an important project, you might say “I’m going to need to request two weeks off in September for my wedding. I’ve already talked to Christine in the marketing department and she’s agreed to take over my project management responsibilities while I’m out of the office.”
The point is, the more you show your boss that you’re taking steps to make sure everything is taken care of while you’re gone, the better they’ll feel about your wedding PTO—and the easier it will be to get the time off. “The more proactive you are in requesting, the more likely it will get approved,” says Burr.
Once your wedding time-off is approved, you can start setting the proper expectations with your manager, colleagues, and clients. When you take off time for your wedding, you want to actually take time off—not spend the morning of your “I do’s” or the first day of your honeymoon frantically answering emails. That’s why setting expectations upfront is so important.
“If you’re usually the type of person who answers emails when you’re on holiday, they may not realize that you don’t want to do this on the day of your wedding,” Norton says. “Setting an out of office message is another good way of ensuring that everyone is aware of your stance. Why not even mention that you are getting married? This gives the recipient more information about why you won’t be checking emails and helps to reinforce the message.”
Otherwise, in the build-up to your wedding, be sure to delegate any major work assignments or projects as you can. Don’t wait until the week before your wedding and scramble trying to get your work covered.