Read more about the 2022 wedding boom in our ongoing Year of the Wedding series.
Esther Chang and Todd Okamoto, a couple from San Francisco, said their “I do’s” not on a Saturday or even on a Sunday. Their big day was a Wednesday.
They became engaged in December 2019, and, like many others, postponed their planning because of the pandemic. When they decided to finally book their nuptials in 2022, they landed on Jan. 26 — a Wednesday.
They opted to host a destination wedding in Kaaawa, Hawaii — Mr. Okamoto’s hometown — because “we wanted to enjoy our wedding week,” Ms. Chang, 31, said. They wanted the wedding to feeling like a vacation for their guests too.
So the couple hosted 115 vaccinated friends and family at Kualoa Ranch on the island of Oahu. Ms. Chang, an event planner at Shannon Leahy Events, said that she and Mr. Okamoto, 37, a field director at Genentech, immediately fell in love with the natural landscape of the ranch; it had been one of the filming locations for “Jurassic Park.”
The couple put on events like a rehearsal luncheon and pre-wedding parties with their bridesmaids and groomsmen. While they did face some planning challenges related to the pandemic and their midweek date, they ultimately viewed the Wednesday wedding date like any other: a joyful celebration.
While weddings customarily occur on weekends, Ms. Chang and Mr. Okamoto are hardly alone in their decision to host a wedding on a nonpeak day in order to get it done. There’s been a pandemic uptick in weekday weddings because they are easier to schedule — and reschedule, if needed.
And now, with the increased number of weddings expected to take place in 2022 — 2.5 million, a number not seen since 1984 — and competition for vendors and venues at an all-time high, weekdays are sometimes the only option.
The online wedding planning company Zola has tracked this rise in interest for midweek weddings based on booking dates and a recent survey of 3,309 couples, finding that the number of 2022 weddings planned for Monday through Thursday is up 20 percent from 2019. Minted, a design marketplace popular for wedding invitations, has tracked an 11 percent increase in 2022 of non-Saturday weddings compared with pre-Covid times.
“I have had prospective clients and friends ask me if a midweek wedding is socially acceptable,” said Brittany Lo, the founder of the event beauty company Beautini in Manhattan. She said the greatest concern is whether people will be able to come, and, if they do, if they’ll still have fun — especially if it’s school night, so to speak.
“I always remind couples that we have been locked up for a long time because of the pandemic,” Ms. Lo said. “Any excuse people have to dance and party, they will be more than excited to be a part of it, whenever it takes place.”
Weddings have traditionally been held on weekends for obvious reasons: Guests don’t need to skip or rush from work to attend, nor do they have to wake up to go to work the next day. But that is, of course, what makes snagging a Saturday such a competitive endeavor.
“So much of what we consider to be necessary and correct is defined by wedding traditions, but you can turn the rules upside down and embrace a weekday wedding,” said David Pressman, who owns David Pressman Events in Los Angeles. He pointed out that a weekday wedding will be “no less memorable” — and advises clients to remind family who may push back that the day will still be special.
Knowing some guests may be waking up for work the next day doesn’t have to be a buzz kill: Here are some tips for keeping your weekday wedding as feverishly fun as any Saturday night.
Who are your guests?
Ms. Lo suggests taking a look at your guest list to determine what date is best. If most of the attendees are local to the venue, then a weekday wedding could be a great fit. And if it’s not a nighttime event, aim for midday — anything to help guests avoid rush hour traffic.
Alternatively, if guests are willing to travel for a destination celebration, like Ms. Chang’s, then a wedding on a Wednesday matters less since guests aren’t planning to go to the office the next day anyway.
And, many professionals are working remotely these days, which means guests could theoretically work from a hotel room right up until the festivities begin “without missing a work day,” Ms. Lo said (even if a Zoom meeting may not be their first choice of pregame fun).
Annie Lee, the principal planner at Daughter of Design and the founder of the event planning platform Plannie in Miami, said that when choosing a date, it’s important to consider what your guests do for a living. Not everyone works Monday to Friday, 9 to 5.
A bride Ms. Lee recently worked with, Sydney Shulman, is a professional equestrian who married Michael Desiderio, also a professional equestrian, on a Monday at the Breakers in Palm Beach, Fla. For Ms. Shulman’s community on the equestrian circuit, Monday is a day off.
Many professions — like health care, hospitality and retail — involve nontraditional hours, making it easier than most couples think to find a day that’s convenient for their must-have guests.
Party a little or a lot
Guests don’t necessarily have to stress about suffering the consequences the next day. “It’s a matter of how hard do you party,” Ms. Lee said. And what time. Guests may leave earlier during a weeknight wedding; it doesn’t mean they are miserable. Ms. Lee has at times adjusted the timeline so if guests do want to say farewell after dinner, they feel like they got the full experience.
She recommends making small changes, like performing the first dance at the start of dinner or cutting the cake before opening the dance floor. Couples may also shorten the cocktail hour to 45 minutes or end the reception at an earlier hour, like 9 p.m. or 10 p.m.
Additionally, couples may want to set the expectation of no after-party. If a couple wants to keep the vibe going, opt for a chill cocktail lounge or a casual hotel suite hangout with the V.I.P.s. Go for intimate, said Bryan Rafanelli of Rafanelli Events in Boston.
In fact, couples hosting a midweek wedding may want to abandon the dance floor altogether, especially if they aren’t big on the boogie themselves. Mr. Rafanelli said that live music during a five-course tasting menu is an elegant format for a weeknight wedding and just the right mood for many couples. His own wedding was a food-focused luncheon with no dancing.
If dancing is important, look for a Thursday night, or as Ms. Lee calls it, a “weekend-adjacent day,” so guests can more easily take paid time off to nurse the hangover — and sore muscles.
Take the stress off the guests
Dress code is another area where couples falter when planning a weekday wedding. Black tie takes commitment from guests, especially for women who may want to have professional hair and makeup and wear freshly steamed designer gowns. While the timing may be right — black tie is traditionally reserved for 6 p.m. on — specifying cocktail attire is likely more accommodating.
It’s easier for guests to come straight from work or change quickly after a day of meetings that possibly end at 5 p.m. “It’s all about what makes you happy — it is your wedding,” Mr. Rafanelli said. “But I would recommend women in cocktail dresses and men in suits and ties.” No one wants stressed-out guests rushing into the ceremony.
Guests, also, should not feel obligated to attend a weekday wedding if they just can’t swing it with their schedules. Mr. Rafanelli noted that 20 percent of wedding guests decline invitations for health and business conflicts for weddings in general; it’s not frowned upon for you to mark “no” on the R.S.V.P. card.
That could lead to perks for couples, who may find that they can splurge for some add-ons when the guest list shrinks by a few more people.
“Two fewer tables at a wedding — weekday or weekend — can easily translate to an extra hour of open bar, late-night snack or even fireworks,” Mr. Pressman said.
Some of Ms. Chang’s and Mr. Okamoto’s invitees declined because of complicated work schedules and ambitious flights, but the vast majority had the flexibility to attend. Ms. Chang said their guests were “overjoyed” to vacation with them in Hawaii, especially after the tough pandemic times for the past two years. In the end, the day of the week didn’t matter one bit.
“Ultimately, the mood and tone of a wedding is set by the couple,” Ms. Lo said. “As long as they are in high spirits and enjoying themselves, everyone will follow suit.”