Getting married on a Saturday may be the norm, but this prime weekend evening isn't your only option. Whether your dream venue is booked every Saturday from now until next year or your calendar and schedule just fit a Friday or Sunday night better, there are all sorts of reasons to have a wedding on an off day. Of course, this little twist in scheduling does mean you'll need to plan accordingly. So what should you do differently? We asked Anne Book, founder and owner of Anne Book Event Design in Washington, D.C., to walk us through the upside to marrying on an off day, as well as all the details you'll need to consider.
"If you're looking at a date in prime wedding season, which here in D.C. is April to June and September to November, you might find your favorite venues are booked over a year out for Saturday nights," Book says. "Shifting your focus to a Friday or Sunday can really open up your options." With such high demand for prime nights, venues have the luxury of charging a premium for Saturday nights in the high season, while less popular Fridays and Sundays can often come with a shorter wait—not to mention—a lowered rental price.
Which leads us to...
"Having a Friday or Sunday wedding can save you some money, but it's important to go through all the numbers," Book advises. "Your venue may offer a reduced fee, including a lower minimum for things like food and beverages, but this is a selling point only if it's in your favor." Book explains that a reduced minimum helps only if your guest count helps you meet—but not drastically exceed—the minimum. "For example, if the normal minimum is $20,000 and the per-person price is $150, 200 guests would cost $30,000—way over the venue's minimum, whether or not they lower it for an off day.
However, if you have 100 guests (a count that wouldn't meet the full-price minimum) and the venue will reduce the minimum to $15,000 for a Friday or a Sunday with the same per-person price, you're meeting the minimum exactly and you've just saved $5,000."
While your venue may be willing to negotiate in order to make a profit on multiple events on the same weekend, some of your other vendors may not take a second client on a weekend they're already booked. Choosing a Friday or Sunday wedding, however, won't automatically give you the pick of the litter for vendors like planners and photographers. "I personally take only 12–15 weddings per year and devote the entire weekend to my clients, regardless of which day the actual wedding happens," Book says.
A florist or baker may be open to doing multiple events on the same weekend, depending on the scale, but the date of delivery does not usually impact prices as much as the design and size of your event.
It's easy to assume your guests will be inconvenienced by a Friday or Sunday wedding, but if you're not asking them to travel too far, you'd be surprised by how nondisruptive it actually is. "Most guests are already planning to take a day off of work to travel for your wedding, so traveling Friday morning for a Friday night wedding doesn't make much of a difference as long as the festivities start late enough that everyone can arrive in time," Book says. The same goes for a Sunday wedding: Guests can travel on Saturday, celebrate with you on Sunday, and take Monday off to travel home.
By choosing a nontraditional day for your wedding, you're giving yourselves the opportunity to break out of the "ceremony, dinner, dancing, after-party" mold. "Treat that as a win for creativity," Book says. "I love the idea of having a Sunday brunch wedding, with Bloody Marys, mimosas, and spiked coffee alongside an indulgent brunch spread. Or have an early-afternoon ceremony, followed by a dinner-party-style reception." And for Friday? Embrace your location. "Start the weekend off with a ceremony and cocktail party on Friday night, then fill the weekend with activities like baseball games, a cookout or pool party, sailing, or however else you like to enjoy those days off."