NEW YORK - The pandemic forced 30-year-old Stephanie Harnen to twice postpone her wedding. When she finally did get married, in June last year, she settled for a Thursday because her venue was fully booked on weekends.
That turned out to be just fine with Harnen and her husband, Trevor. Most of their 163 invited guests made it, thanks to pent-up vacation time and flexibility working from home. Plus, she saved at least $10,000, in part by taking advantage of reduced rates at the Middletown, New York, country club where they wed outdoors under an open tent overlooking a golf course.
“We didn't want to change venues,” said Harnen, who lives in Stamford, Connecticut. “It was perfect for us. Thursdays are going to be the new Friday.”
She isn't wrong. With some coveted venues still backed up because of rescheduled weddings, and with more couples traveling again for destination ceremonies, an uptick in weekday nuptials has carried into 2022.
“I've already been in a Thursday wedding as a bridesmaid,” said Harnen. “Personally, we preferred it.”
Weekday weddings are expected to rise by about 2% this year when compared to pre-pandemic 2018 and 2019, according to a survey of couples using the wedding planning site TheKnot.com. Though most weddings among Knot users planning for this year will take place Fridays through Sundays, about 10% will be held on Mondays through Thursdays.
When it comes to destination weddings - events curtailed by travel restrictions during the early months of the pandemic - 13% took place on weekdays last year, The Knot data showed.
Kim Forrest, senior editor for the wedding marketplace WeddingWire.com, said the average number of weddings in a year is typically 2.2 million in the U.S. This year, that number is expected to increase to 2.6 million. With only 53 Saturdays in the year, and some venues and vendors struggling to clear pandemic backlogs, “we're going to see a lot of couples who are encouraged to have their weddings on a weekday,” she said.
“Some people want to get married right away,” Forrest added. “With more people working remotely, it's not so much that people won't come to a weekday wedding now."
Thursdays are a popular weekday for both destination weddings and those closer to home. Holding the ceremony on a Thursday allows for a full weekend of wedding activities for guests.
Ann Ragan Kearns, 30, in New York plans to get married April 28, a Thursday, at an all-inclusive resort in Cabo San Lucas in Mexico. She said she and her fiance, Cory McGlone, wanted to give guests a chance to relax on a real vacation after months of sticking close to home.
“We love a destination wedding. But when you fly in on a Monday or a Tuesday and the wedding is on a Saturday, by the time you get to the wedding you're like, I want to go home now, this has been a lot,” she said.
The two invited about 110 people and are banking on about 100 attending their outdoor ceremony and reception. Some are staying Monday to Monday, with the wedding couple planning lots of excursions, including golfing, deep sea fishing and a sunset sail.
Kearns hasn't seen some of her guests since before the pandemic.
In Long Branch, along the New Jersey shore, Wave Resort has 65 weddings on the books for this year, with 25 on weekdays.
In the Dominican Republic, the luxury Casa de Campo offers a weekday wedding package that includes an extra hour for receptions, 10% off group room rates and two complimentary honeymoon nights to be used within a year of the wedding.
Lindsay Forseth, director of weddings and special events at the Salamander Resort & Spa in Middleburg, Virginia, has been fielding about 50% more inquiries for mid-week weddings than before the pandemic.
“Most are relatively short term, booking within one to two months of their date,” she said. “Mid-week weddings do tend to be of a more intimate size and therefore more flexible on the day of the week.”
Shelley Kapitulik-Jaye, 41, said she and her husband, 42-year-old Stephen, got engaged in March 2021. When she began calling venues and vendors last spring, “many told me that if we were looking for a weekend, they had no availability until 2023.”
They didn't want to wait that long.
“When we finally selected our venue, with the vendors to follow, we looked at the calendar and selected a date that read easily and would provide us with peak fall foliage in New England,” she said.
They wed Oct. 20, 2021, a Wednesday, at The Inn at Graybarns in Norwalk, Connecticut, with a cocktail party four days before in New York, where they live part time. They hosted 20 guests in person for the wedding, with a livestream for those who couldn't make it. They chose a 4 p.m. wedding time to make it easier for working guests to attend.
“It gave us the chance to have a few days of downtime before returning to work on Monday,” Kapitulik-Jaye said. “This was especially nice because we did not hire a planner, so we were exhausted coming off of the planning and execution.”
Other types of vendors are doling out weekday discounts with success. Andrea Smith, founder of The Band Method, which dispatches singers, musicians and DJs, said weekday gigs offer needed extra income for her artists. In return, she gives couples breaks of 10% to 20% on the cost.
“Musicians and singers on the weekdays, we're doing a bar gig here and there, but that's even out now because of COVID,” said Smith, who works in the South Florida and New York City areas.
In Toronto, Jordan Kentris does custom invitations, along with design and styling for events. He has 13 weekday weddings on the books so far this year, many on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and many small affairs for 15 or 20 guests.
“They're investing in a lot more details with the money they save,” he said. “They're doing a lot more personalized gifting and things like signage to make their guests feel even more welcome since they're asking them to come during the week.”
Kevin Dennis, who provides lighting, decor and other rentals in the Tri-Valley of Northern California, has seen a rise in couples forced to choose a weekday after three or four postponements due to the pandemic. Those couples are competing with couples engaged more recently.
“I joke, we're becoming like Las Vegas,” he said. “A good 25% to 30% of our calendar is now during the week. It's starting to feel normal."
Follow Leanne Italie on Twitter at http://twitter.com/litalie.