During the summer months, it’s not uncommon to see brides and grooms decked out in their wedding finery walking through The Enjoy Centre. Light streams through the 30-foot ceilings, refracting into colours as though coming through stained glass.
Saturdays in the summer are booked at least a year in advance. But on this day, a Wednesday, the bride and groom and their intimate party of about 50 have a quiet backdrop to their big day. The groom works in Fort McMurray and decided a weekday wedding would be the ideal way to make use of his 10 days off – starting the celebration in the middle of the week, and leaving right afterwards for the honeymoon.
It’s a practical way for the couple to celebrate, but it ends up working out for them in other ways. Booking on a Saturday in the summer would have been incredibly difficult, seeing as those days are always the most prized on the calendar. But when it comes to the middle of the week, those days are generally free even just a couple of months beforehand, and the cost savings are beyond what many couples imagine.
A couple that books a weekday wedding could easily cut their costs in half, says Julianna Mimande, general manager of the Glasshouse Bistro & Cafe and events manager at The Enjoy Centre. The Moonflower Room, which goes for $10,000 on Saturdays in peak season, would be $5,000 during the week even in high season, while the smaller Park Room decreases from $3,000 to $950.
Meanwhile, the Oasis Centre in west Edmonton sees so much opportunity for these types of celebrations that, last year, it developed a package dedicated to weekday weddings. “I’m from the [United] States, and there are a lot more people there, and a lot less dates, so they do a lot of weekday weddings.Here, it’s kind of a novelty, and not a lot of people have even considered it,” says Anne McLennan, wedding director at the Oasis.
Wedding planner Jennifer Bergman says the entire cost of the wedding may be decreased on weekdays, not only because venue rental rates are generally cheaper, but also because some DJs, limousine services and photographers also offer deals, depending on the specific vendors. And the benefits can even extend to the guests. Typically, she says, a couple wants their wedding on a Saturday, since it’s seen as the most convenient for guests. But in some cases, weekdays have benefits for those attending – those coming from out of town, for example, can save money on hotels during the week.
While Saturdays have always been the creme de la creme of wedding days, McLennan is starting to see Fridays become more popular among couples. Having a Friday evening wedding can give out-of-town guests an extra day to relax rather than rushing to the airport the day after the wedding. Thursdays are even becoming more popular, since it can mean extending the weekend, creating more time to celebrate and unwind afterwards.
The Hotel Macdonald is a favourite wedding venue among Bergman’s clients, which isn’t surprising considering the iconic 101-year-old building was named the Fairmont chain’s most popular hotel for weddings in 2013. Summer weddings are of course always popular, but this year, senior catering manager Monica Reyes saw festivities spill into October, having witnessed eight weddings across the hotel’s five spaces over the Thanksgiving long weekend.
Having an off-season wedding can afford some of the same benefits as a weekday celebration – from decreased cost to ease of booking. And it’s just one of the ways couples are looking to shed traditions in favour of celebrations that mean less hassle.
Many couples are streamlining their weddings to make them as stress-free as possible. One option is to do everything in the same place – the ceremony, the reception and the photos. Since photos can be especially time-consuming, finding ways of smoothing out that process can greatly decrease stress for couples.
“A big trend is for couples to do a first-look photo session, whereby photos are done prior to the ceremony. Logistically, it often works much better,” says wedding photographer Sharon Litchfield. Many of her customers are getting married in places like the Hotel Macdonald or Fort Edmonton Park, where there are many photo opportunities without having the leave the grounds.
Litchfield says people should also realize beforehand that different photography destinations have their own requirements. Generally, if you’re getting married at the venue, you have access to the grounds without payment; if not, some places will require fees, that you book spots, and that you check in prior to taking shots. These private destinations will also have rules for how you conduct yourself – no blocking doorways or taking photos on escalators, for example. Public places, such as parks, the North Saskatchewan River valley or street scenes, do not require any special permission.But Litchfield says that, if couples are going to a public spot that is especially busy, there is one thing they often overlook: Couples usually don’t think about how they’ll feel with many inquiring eyes on them during the shoot.
“Because there’s not just us there, but tons of people, and if I’m asking them to be more snuggly or romantic, it might be awkward,” she says.
Litchfield has taken photos all over Edmonton, but ultimately she says the destination is less important than couples might think. “I could go to the most mundane, boring, random place, but if they have a good connection, it just works. And I could take someone to the perfect location, and they might not perform.” The same rule applies to the photos as it does to the rest of a wedding day: Relax and enjoy, and the picture-worthy moments will follow.