Time to Get Married

Ready to set the date? Choosing a nontraditional day or time can yield unexpected benefits.

A predawn wakeup call didn’t spoil the magic of the early-morning Epcot wedding of Aaron Guyer and Erin Richards.

A predawn wakeup call didn’t spoil the magic of the early-morning Epcot wedding of Aaron Guyer and Erin Richards.

Courtesy of rootweddings.com

When guests gathered at the Maitland Civic Center for a New Year’s Eve party in 2008, they were expecting a typical celebration with champagne and party hats. So it was a complete surprise to everyone except hosts Randi Davis and Steven Scherer when Randi, who had slipped away for a bit, reappeared in a wedding gown. It was 9:30 on a Wednesday evening—not exactly a traditional day or time for a wedding—but the New Year’s Eve nuptials worked for this Orlando couple, who wanted to share their newly wedded bliss with family and friends while keeping things simple and stress-free.

Hosting a New Year’s Eve party was the perfect ruse—no one suspected a thing until Randi made her grand entrance dressed in pale ivory satin embellished with beading and lace. She and Steven then said their vows, exchanging wedding rings not long before ringing in their first New Year as a married couple.

For Richer or Poorer
The element of surprise was a key component of Randi and Steven’s wedding, but there are surprising benefits to choosing a nontraditional date even if you alert your guests to your wedding plans in advance. The biggest advantage to marrying outside of the usual Saturday night nuptials is economic, says Susan Southerland of Just Marry!, an Orlando-based wedding planning business. “It can save the couple a ton of money,” she says. “I have seen mid-week weddings put together at less than half of the cost of a Saturday night wedding.” The Scherers saved almost $1,000 on the venue rental and photography costs on their Wednesday wedding day.

Why the deep discounts? Demand, of course. There are only so many Saturdays each year during the prime wedding seasons of late fall and early spring in Orlando, and a finite number of venues, caterers, florists and so on, and the demand for these limited resources drives up the price of weddings on that most-popular day. By selecting a weekday instead, brides and grooms have more bargaining power with vendors eager to supplement their weekend incomes. Couples don’t need to be shy about asking for a midweek or off-hours discount on wedding goods and services.

Some vendors and venues have already eliminated the need for haggling by proactively offering weekday discounts. The Orlando Wyndham Resort, for example, has a special Monday-through-Friday-only wedding package that’s considerably cheaper than its weekend offerings. Disc jockey Bruce Walrod, owner of Orlando’s Got Talent, will throw in sound and lighting extras for couples who book him during the week.

Save the Date
Saving money is great, but there are other reasons to consider an atypical wedding date or time—to coincide with a birthday, anniversary or other auspicious occasion, or to catch a romantic sunrise or sunset. The latter was one of the reasons Charaleigh May and Derek Faria chose an atypical 3 p.m. start time for their November 2007 wedding. “We had an outside wedding and wanted our photos to be at sunset,” says Charaleigh, whose wedding also included such unusual touches as Superman ties for the groomsmen (as well as a cape for the groom) and blue butterfly wings for the bride. The resulting postnuptial shots capture the couple’s sense of whimsy while taking full advantage of the golden afternoon light as the sun slid toward the horizon.

Southerland also points out that it can be easier for out-of-town guests to fly in and out during the week instead of contending with busy and overbooked weekend flight schedules. There are travel benefits for the newlyweds as well, adds Southerland: “If the couple is taking a cruise or group tour for their honeymoon, having a weekday wedding makes Saturday departures available to them so they don’t have to wait a week to travel.”

Another reason for unusual timing is to avoid the crowds that some of Orlando’s popular venues attract. For photographers Nathan and Jensey Root of Root Weddings, many of the weddings they shoot on Walt Disney World Resort properties take place during the week at unexpected times. “I’d say half of them seem to happen on a Monday through Thursday. Regardless of the day, the actual ceremony time can be just as varied,” says Nathan, who adds that weddings at Epcot often take place at 8 a.m. and must be wrapped up an hour before the first guests are admitted to the park.

Erin Richards and Aaron Guyer are all too familiar with the early-bird aspect of Epcot weddings; their nuptials took place on a September Saturday morning in 2009 at the Italian Pavilion. “The ceremony may not have been until nine, but we had to be in the limo to Epcot by 7:15,” says Erin. “This led us to the wakeup time of 4:15 a.m. to get ready.”

Other Considerations
There are a lot of pluses to avoiding the Saturday night rush to the altar, but there are potential drawbacks to keep in mind as well. Some guests, particularly those who are coming in from out of town and require travel days to do so, may have trouble taking the extra time off work. When children are involved, they may have to miss school, sports or other activities if the wedding occurs during the week. And Southerland points out another possible pitfall that only a seasoned wedding planner could anticipate: “Sometimes guests feel more inhibited to drink and dance on a weekday versus a Saturday night,” she says. Her antidote for uptight weekday wedding attendees? Hire a top-notch disc jockey or master of ceremonies to help guests relax and enjoy the event.

Consideration for your guests—keeping their ages, schedules and comfort in mind—is a key component to a successful off-hours wedding, and it was the main reason Randi and Steven didn’t wait until midnight to tie the knot on their New Year’s Eve surprise wedding. They had discussed the pros and cons of waiting until the clock struck 12, but concluded that midnight was simply too late for some of their guests to stay up, much less drive home afterwards. “We decided to start the surprise ceremony around 9:30 p.m. because we knew that the older people at the wedding—grandmas and such—would not be staying much past 10 p.m. and it was important for us to have them there,” says Randi.

Like other couples, Randi and Steven had to take myriad factors into account when setting their date. Such an unconventional day and time isn’t for everyone, but it worked for them, says Randi: “Nontraditional and no lead up to the wedding was perfect.” n