Elsewhere in the world, of course, getting married or attending a wedding on a weekday is perfectly unremarkable. Indian weddings, for example, are multiday celebrations and often take place on weekdays in addition to weekends, just by virtue of lasting upwards of two days; in Israel, weddings are casual weeknight events. American wedding norms, however, have historically favored the Saturday-afternoon wedding, with a reception to follow. (That is, for formal wedding celebrations; courthouse or city-hall weddings generally have to take place during the week, during regular office hours.)
Vicki Howard, who teaches history at the University of Essex in England and wrote the book Brides, Inc., about the wedding industry, believes that the Saturday-wedding norm has historically been influenced by the work schedules of both the couple and the guests. Throughout history, “agricultural seasons, factory hours, and other work constraints shaped the month and date people could take time out to marry,” she wrote to me in an email—hence the popularity of the weekend wedding, and likely also the summer wedding. The tradition of Saturday weddings is probably also rooted in the tradition of having weddings at churches, which generally do not hold weddings on Sundays because of weekly services. Church weddings, however, have been on the decline in recent years.
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Couples cite a few common reasons for choosing a weekday wedding. Some find that the venue they’ve had their hearts set on is booked for months or years in advance on Saturdays, but is available on relatively short notice on a weekday. Emily Cline, 22, got married in May 2017 at the Salt Lake Temple in Salt Lake City, Utah, the largest temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—on a Tuesday. Her husband, Jordan, is in the U.S. Army, and because he was leaving for training that summer, the couple wanted to marry before he left. Given those two priorities, the venue and the timing, they opted for a weekday wedding, and it came with perks: The vendors they wanted were all available, Cline says, “and then the reception center we wanted was available, and it was about half the price.”
Other couples find themselves attached to a particular wedding date. Mary Nisi, the owner of Toast & Jam, a Chicago-based DJ company, has seen an increase over the past five years in the number of weekday weddings she and her colleagues have DJed for. A number of those couples, she recalls, chose the day of the wedding because they wanted a particular date for their future wedding anniversaries. Certain types of couples, she notes with a laugh, love getting married on purposefully spooky days, such as Halloween. “Whenever there’s a Friday the 13th, those are usually huge dates to get married,” she says. “They’re quirky people—like their cake will be black, or whatever.” (Nisi has also witnessed firsthand the effects of work schedules on weddings: Because Chicago has a vibrant theater scene, stage actors and other theater workers, whose days off are traditionally Mondays, often book Toast & Jam’s services for Monday weddings.)