Enter the phrase weekday wedding into a Google search, and the always revealing “People also ask” feature will serve up an especially telling pair of questions. A hefty portion of people who Google for more information on getting married during the workweek seem to be wondering two things: Do people have weekday weddings? And is it okay to have one?
Apparently, more American couples than ever have decided the answers are yes and yes (or, at the very least, yes and “Well, we think so”). According to data from the 2018 Real Weddings study, conducted by the wedding-planning website The Knot, approximately one in five weddings has taken place on a Monday through Friday for the past seven years. Kristen Maxwell Cooper, the editor in chief of The Knot, believes weekday weddings—the whole-enchilada kinds of weddings, with a ceremony, dinner, and reception, but held on a weekday—are much more popular now than they were a decade or so ago. And despite what many assume, that’s not just because they’re cheaper (though frequently they are); American weddings are transforming to reflect the individual tastes of brides and grooms, and when they take place is just one variable that engaged couples today feel empowered to customize.
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.
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.)
Of course, one of the primary reasons people get married on weekdays is to cut down on the cost of the event—which in many cases has been skyrocketing in recent years. As Maxwell Cooper points out, Saturday weddings are generally longer events than weddings that take place Monday through Thursday, since festivities often have to be curtailed in time for guests (and perhaps even the new spouses) to get to sleep and make it to work or school the next morning. Wedding-adjacent services that charge by the hour will naturally be cheaper if the event is shorter. Plus, wedding venues and vendors—photographers, DJs, caterers, florists, stylists—often charge less for their services on nonpeak wedding days. Cline, a florist, knew from experience as a wedding vendor herself that a Tuesday wedding would be cheaper than a weekend wedding. For many vendors, weekday work functions sort of like “bonus” work—extra money that can be made at off-peak times. (Sometimes, however, couples expect vendor services to be cheaper on weekdays only to find that the prices are the same. Nisi points out that since vendors’ primary workdays are weekends, they might have otherwise taken the day off.)
There are drawbacks to getting married on a weekday, to be sure. As Howard notes, despite the increasing commonality of weekday weddings, many guests who receive an invitation to one are bewildered, or even annoyed. “Wouldn’t weekday weddings create a hardship for wedding guests who would have to either get time off work or stay up late to attend?” she wrote. “I suppose many people don’t work [9 to 5, Monday through Friday], but still … the marrying couple would have to expect smaller guest lists.” Indeed, smaller guest lists are a known hazard of weddings during the week; just about every guide to planning one warns potential weekday brides and grooms to expect fewer guests to be able to make it.
On the flip side, this can be a delight for some engaged couples, in that it narrows the guest list to just the people who are close enough to the marrying couple that they’re willing to take off from work or travel during the week. When some of Emily Cline’s wedding invitees declined because they couldn’t take a day off from work, “it was kind of nice to filter out some people,” she says with a laugh. “[We were like,] Oh, bummer.”
The rise of the weekday wedding, however, is just part of a larger trend that Maxwell Cooper has observed over the past five years or so: the abandonment of the traditional wedding format in favor of a celebration tailored to what the marrying couple finds meaningful or special. This might come through in couples’ choices of reception food (“Perhaps it’s just, you know, ‘Our first date was at this amazing Chinese restaurant, so for our main course, we’re actually going to serve Chinese,’ or ‘We go to Mexico every year, so we’re going to have a taco truck,’” Maxwell Cooper says) or in a nontraditional choice of wedding day. “In the past five or 10 years, we’ve seen couples really move toward this idea of doing something that represents [them],” she says. “Like, ‘My friends and I love getting together on Thursday nights, so we’re going to throw our wedding on a Thursday night, because that feels like us.’”
That was precisely the thought that Todd Wiege, 45, a commercial-building engineer, had when he got married in 2012 in Seattle. He and his then-fiancée had been to a lot of weddings together: “The typical Saturday wedding just kind of becomes routine, you know? There’s a schedule that they all seem to follow.” They were also growing weary of how a single wedding could eat up an entire weekend, with all its formalities and adjacent events. So Wiege and his now-wife planned their wedding for a Friday night in the industrial sector of the city, served dinner and drinks before the ceremony, and made it a point to throw an event that felt like a great Friday-night party from start to finish.
At the time, Wiege remembers, the vendors were a little thrown off by the requests. “They probably have their system all dialed in,” he says—usually there’s the ceremony, then guests are ushered into a cocktail hour, then ushered into dinner. “We kind of threw them a curveball, I guess.” Still, the vendors eventually got their plans mapped out, nearly all the invited guests were able to attend, and seven years later, Wiege says the nontraditional timing and structure of his wedding was the best thing about it. He remembers it as a raucous end-of-the-week party rather than a cookie-cutter affair. In the end, Wiege says, “we were really proud of it.”