Getting wed on a weekday

Bride and groom cutting cake

More and more couples are choosing to tie the knot on a weekday. Is the tradition of weddings on Saturdays under threat?

A thick, luxuriant card embossed with joined up writing, slips out of the envelope. Your eyes light up - Sue and Mike are getting married in a castle and want you to be there on their big day. Then your face falls. The wedding is on a Tuesday.

The most recent figures from the Office for National Statistics - from 2008 - showed that 60% of couples in England and Wales marry on a Saturday.

Friday in second place accounted for almost a fifth of all weddings as couples sought to jump the queue for their desired venue. Sunday (5.5%) trailed in third. But since those statistics were compiled, there's been a lift-off for the mid-week wedding.

It's a definite trend, says Arabella Dupont, executive retail editor at Brides magazine. The main reason is cost, with mid-week events about a third cheaper. With figures published this month by Brides showing that couples spend an average of £24,669 on their wedding, it's easy to see why people are looking for savings, Dupont argues.

Start Quote

You hope your nearest and dearest will be just as excited about your wedding on a Tuesday as on a Saturday”

End Quote Arabella Dupont, Brides magazine

There's also the hook of better availability. Country House Weddings, a company operating four stately homes in Essex, Gloucestershire and Somerset, holds 250 weddings a year at each venue.

With only 52 weekends a year, and high demand, couples are opting for a formerly unfashionable Monday or Tuesday to ensure they get to marry in a historic house with large grounds, a spokeswoman says. It can also lead to savings of about 40% in high season.

At Guthrie Castle in Scotland, which holds about 40 weddings a year, mid-week weddings are the most noticeable recent trend, says Maeghan Cuthill, weddings manageress. The reason is that weekends book out a year or more in advance, meaning that anyone wanting to marry at short notice must choose a weekday. There is also the enticement of around 30% off, she says.

Bride and groom in car Sense of occasion: but would it work on a Tuesday?

There are tricky issues to be negotiated with the mid-week wedding. First up there's the fear you might have to share your venue with a David Brent-style corporate away day.

Then there's the thorny question of guests being expected to take a precious day or two off work. "It would have to be a very close friend for me to take time off work," Dupont admits. For that reason mid-week works best for smaller, more intimate weddings.

And it's preferable to go later in the week so people feel the working week is almost over. "If it's at the start of the week, people won't be able to let their hair down as much. They'll be thinking about how they've got to go back to work."

Traditionalists might argue that the sense of occasion is lost on a Tuesday afternoon. But a wedding should be able to transcend which day of the week it's on, Dupont believes. "As a bride you hope your nearest and dearest will be just as excited about your wedding on a Tuesday as on a Saturday."

Married on a Monday

Alan Bell married his wife Monique on a Monday in November 2010. They wanted to get married at Leez Priory, a Tudor manor house in Essex but there was a long queue.

"It was all quite last minute and Saturdays and Sundays were booked for months and months."

They discovered that by getting married on a Monday, they could jump the queue and save £7,000 on the cost of a Saturday wedding. There were also discounts on the catering.

They leapt at the chance. It meant that they wouldn't have to ask guests to pay for anything. And gave them a little more money for the honeymoon. "From my point of view, it became like a bank holiday."

But what about making their friends take the day off? "We thought that if people cared enough about us they'd take the day off. And if they didn't then we probably didn't want them there. In the end only one person couldn't come - and that was because they were on holiday."

Siobhan Craven-Robins, who plans weddings costing about £45,000, says there's little cause amongst her wealthy clients for mid-week celebrations. The trend is more towards holding longer celebrations stretching over three days.

It begins on the Friday night with an informal dinner before the wedding on the Saturday and a brunch or barbecue on Sunday. "It's to make it last longer, to get to see everyone and enjoy the experience. Especially as people are getting married further away from where they live."

But the financially-straitened times means that many people on average earnings are looking to make savings on weddings.

Travelodge reports an increase in wedding guests staying at its hotels, which offer rooms for as little as £29 a night. "Weddings are so expensive nowadays that people are making cutbacks," says a spokeswoman.

In 2009, hotel chain Holiday Inn offered couples a wedding package for £999 that included a civil ceremony, evening DJ , function rooms and finger buffet for up to 100 guests.

But the Reverend David Newton, a baptist minister in Leeds, has gone one further. He cites statistics showing that 75% of cohabiters want to get married. Many of them are being put off by the high figures quoted for the cost of a wedding, he worries.

So Newton recently set up the website to show that it can be done on the cheap. The Baptist church charges £67 for the wedding licence and says that with just another £33, a decent wedding can be arranged.

Which day? Weddings in 2008

  • Monday 3.9%
  • Tuesday 2.8%
  • Wednesday 3.5%
  • Thursday 5%
  • Friday 18.9%
  • Saturday 60.4%
  • Sunday 5.5%
  • Source: ONS

"One couple saved up their clubcard points and bought their wedding ring at Tesco," Rev Newton says. Other people have borrowed dresses, got friends to do the catering, or asked people to pay for their own dinner instead of buying a present.

The Church of England is backing another cost-cutting trend. A small but growing number of couples are choosing to have their wedding reception at the back of the church after the marriage service. "It works brilliantly for couples who want it," says Gillian Oliver, manager of the Church of England's wedding project. "It can help make it more economical. Especially as couples who get married in a church may be missing out on 'all-in' offers from civil venues."

Former Conservative MP Gyles Brandreth says the whole nature of weddings has changed for the better. Brandreth introduced the private members bill that led to 1994's Marriage Act, which allows weddings to take place outside a church or register office.

Once upon a time, weddings were about a virgin bride and the legal joining of husband and wife. The reception, consisting often of just a cup of tea and a slice of cake, was something of an afterthought, he says.

Today people get married later and are often living together already. Protocol, including what day of the week you get hitched, has been jettisoned in favour of fun, he believes. "Weddings used to be very simple affairs. Now people can truly celebrate with family and friends on a great, joyous day."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 237.

    8Anto8...surely only virgins should marry? (235). To suggest otherwise is ridiculous.

  • rate this

    Comment number 236.

    I got married on a Sunday this year in June. From my own and other Sunday weddings I've been to they make for a calm and relaxed day. I can understand people going for a weekday wedding due to the cost, but I'm sure there'll come a time where weekdays will be expensive. Fridays and Sundays used to be cheaper but vendors picked up on the new trend and made them as expensive as a Saturday.

  • rate this

    Comment number 235.

    Oh dear Peace (205), what century are you living in? Even the Church of England guarantees “more and better sex” after marriage. You can’t continue to peddle dogma that restricts marriage to virgins only. Interpretation of the Bible’s message as with all religious texts MUST move with the times. Only blinkered fanatical religious dinosaurs would disagree.

  • rate this

    Comment number 234.

    I am due to get married next Thursday and have found that not being in a crowded market gives you a lot more bargaining power. My advice to anyone getting married would be do it on a weekday. When it comes to hiring suits, cars and all the other stuff you can expect up to 40% off. Don't be scared to ask and don't be scared to play hard ball.

  • rate this

    Comment number 233.

    We married on a Sunday last year. We had very few people refuse to come because of the date and a number of our guests turned it in to a long weekend. Rather than having to travel after work on a Friday they had a leisurely Saturday and could still come to the wedding.

  • rate this

    Comment number 232.

    my husband and I got married on a Thursday in 2008. Why? Because we were young and didn't even know it was traditional to get married on a Saturday, we liked the date and wanted to get married before my birthday. I usually work on Saturdays anyway...

  • Comment number 231.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 230.

    So, the Saturday thing. A tremendous amount of people do work weekends, so the "it's rude to expect people to take holiday for a midweek wedding" argument just doesn't wash. Many people I know would have to take 1 or 2 days off to make it to a Saturday wedding.....
    Also, the teacher thing... one of my friends teaches, and she managed to get married on a Friday. In term-time. And the school knew.

  • Comment number 229.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 228.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 227.

    I failed to attend my sister-in-law's mid week early October wedding, as did my three secondary school children. It was in a castle in Scotland (she doesn't live there and nor do any of her relatives or friends). The majority had to fly there and had to book at least two nights in a hotel involving a total of three days off work. I am a university lecturer. It was an absolute no to time off.

  • rate this

    Comment number 226.

    I got married on a Friday in May with 3 bridesmaids, 2 work for the NHS 1 is a teacher and all of them made it with no trouble getting the time off and certainly without making me feel guilty for asking them to take a weekday in term time. I am private sector and have attended 2 Friday weddings in the last few months, when you care about people you make the 'sacrifice' as you feel it worthwhile.

  • rate this

    Comment number 225.

    I assume that Christians don't get married on Sundays for religious reasons. Jewish weddings are almost always on Sundays, since they're not permitted on the Jewish Sabbath.

  • rate this

    Comment number 224.

    What rubbish you spout.
    If my friends invited me to a weekday weddng, I couldn't attend as I teach and I have no choice when I take my holidays.
    Honeymoons have to be taken at the most expensive times so long teaching holidays isn't all its cracked up to be.
    The commitment of t marriage is what is important, whenever you do it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 223.

    When I booked my own wedding at Caxton Hall in 1966, the registrar commented "nobody marries on a Monday and as for August!"

  • rate this

    Comment number 222.

    Does it matter other than to those involved I wouldn't think so...end of !!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 221.

    "It would have to be a very close friend for me to take time off work," Dupont admits.

    Brilliant - I would only consider inviting a very close friend to my wedding anyway - who on earth invites so-so friends?

  • rate this

    Comment number 220.

    My daughter and son in law got married on a Friday but one of their guests, a friend of the groom who was coming on his own, didnt check the day and assuming it was a Saturday, turned up a day late, he was gutted! He did go round to their house when he realised there was no wedding going on and managed to see them just before they went off on honeymoon!

  • rate this

    Comment number 219.

    Too many weddings are a triumph of marketing. providing a show of opulance takes precedence over the reason for the occasion.

    If the sentiments are right it makes no differrence if you are married on a wet Wednesday at a registry office or a Saturday afternoon in a castle.

  • rate this

    Comment number 218.

    I got married some year's ago and had a difficult time marrying the wedding budget with the costs. It was a fantastic day but the two things we carved up were, wedding photographs and (expensive) honeymoon. We had a modest weekend break which was fantastic but the Photographs produced by a friend left us feeling a bit flat.
    I sincerely regret not appointing a Professional Photographer.


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