If you're of a certain age, each year around the same time, your mailbox gets inundated with gorgeously-calligraphed notes, inviting you to another celebration of marriage. And each year, from Memorial Day through Labor Day, you will inevitably spend at least a weekend a month schlepping to one of these celebrations. Yes, summer has long held the title of prime wedding season, but as with many other aspects of nuptials, there's a bit of superstition to that. According to folklore, July is traditionally an unlucky month for a wedding, but, as with the majority of superstitions around weddings, it definitely shouldn't impact your plans for your big day.
The idea of July being an inauspicious month for a wedding dates from a rhyme that's on the older side, which goes through every month and details what the fates of their married couples will be. "Marry when June roses blow, Over land and sea you'll go," the rhyme notes, and then adds, "Those who in July do wed Must labour [sic] for their daily bread". The superstition is also present in American folklore records from the 1930s, which say that July weddings will lead to marriages that "are apt to be crisscrossed with sunshine and shadow". But how unlucky has July traditionally been?
Like many similar rhymes, it's most likely that this ditty emerged during the 1800s in England, which specialized in inventing traditions where there weren't any. But as an idea, it's only been influential for quite a short period. The Encyclopedia of Superstitions, Folklore & The Occult Sciences, which was first published in 1903, records a huge quantity of superstitions surrounding weddings, but only has one in particular for July: couples in America who dare to wed on July 4, it says, "will live a life that is largely homeless." And we know that in the early 20th century people weren't that concerned about July; at that time, May was thought to be the unluckiest month, with one London chronicle in 1909 declaring that "the West-End churches will be busy" from the start of June to the end of July.
In fact, if you're truly worried about unlucky and lucky months in history, you should probably focus on May and June instead. Ancient Roman poets suggested that people should marry in April or June, because April was sacred to Venus (goddess of love) and June to Juno (goddess of marriage). They also noted that you shouldn't dare get married in May — partially because the two goddesses on either side were apt to get angry at the slight, but also because May was the time for the Roman celebration of Lemuria, a festival of the dead where offerings were made to dead ancestors, and women were supposed to abstain from ritual bathing and temple-going. Parts of July were off-limits because they contained "mourning" days (July 18, for instance, was when everybody remembered a Roman battle defeat) where you couldn't do anything religious. But it was May that was thought to be the big no-no.
In the fifteenth century in Europe, things were dictated by the Christian feast calendar, and one book declared that January was the worst time to wed (because it had seven sacred days that didn't allow marriage) and October the best (because it only had one). July only had two no-go days. But there was another factor that affected when people got hitched: agriculture. Anybody who got married "between sickle and scythe" — in the summer months, between the start of the planting season and the harvest — would "never thrive", according to a rhyme recorded in the U.S. in 1870. Probably because the betrothed were needed around the farm, or because in a superstitious world, crops needed all the luck they could get without people using it for their nuptials. July was ruled out.
So if you're planning a wedding and want to pay attention to superstition, what months are off limits? It depends on your perspective. If you want to obey age-old tradition stemming from the Romans, May's a bad plan; if you're more concerned about ideas around summer and the harvesting calendar, July is off the table. And if you're broke from attending destination weddings all summer long instead of taking a vacation, the specter of bad luck might cheer you up a bit. But seriously — plan your wedding for whenever, wherever. Just make sure you spring for a tent in case it rains.