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Skip Saturday Weddings to Save Money

NC Brides on a Budget can opt for Friday and Sunday Night Events at Local Wedding Venues

Big Saturday weddings are not likely to lose their luster anytime soon, but more couples are considering alternate days or months outside of spring or fall as a way to save money or make travel more attractive to visiting guests.

Such flexibility is essential if  you are determined to have your wedding at the Carolina Club during football season. Event planner Elizabeth Rubio will pencil in a bride for a hoped-for fall Saturday with the option to switch to another date if it proves to be a UNC game day.
UNC theme weddingPhoto: Neil Boyd Photography

“The rest of the year is easy, but we’re right next to Kenan Stadium so we can’t book private events until the football schedule comes out,” Rubio says, citing a practice used by other venues affiliated with college campuses. “Honestly, a lot of brides would rather be anywhere but Chapel Hill on a football Saturday. Traffic is terrible and it makes everything more expensive, including room rates – if you can even get rooms.”

Many venues offer a price break on Fridays and Sundays to make the choice more enticing. Prestonwood Country Club in Cary has lower food and beverage minimums those days, making a dreamy ballroom reception available to some brides who assumed it was a budget buster.

Sondra Johnstone, Prestonwood’s director of catering and sales, says Friday nights are increasingly popular with couples who want to be married in a Catholic church.and have their party immediately after. “Catholic churches usually do Saturday weddings only in the morning or early afternoon, but many will do a Friday ceremony in late afternoon, making it perfect for a Friday night reception,” Johnstone says.Prestonwood Country Club in Cary NCPhoto: In His Image Photography

Choosing off months, including the heat of summer or chill of winter, typically helps if a couple is set on a Saturday wedding. But if your preferred venue is open-air, there are only so many temperate Saturdays. If you simply have to have one, planners say you need to inquire about that hoped-for date right away.

“A lot of our brides like getting married down by the lake, surrounded by the woods. It’s best when it’s not too hot or cold,” says Sarah Leach, coordinator for Angus Barn’s Pavilion event space. The rustic Raleigh banquet hall, built with  the original stones from Fayetteville Street and timbers salvaged from Sherman’s March through the capitol during the Civil War, already was booked for several in-demand 2018 wedding dates by fall 2016.

“The majority of our brides are flexible about the day because they want to get married with us,” Leach adds, saying that Fridays can be an easy sell when a desired Saturday is already claimed. “Maybe they’ve been to a wedding here before or another event. It becomes the standard they want.”

Some couples opt to forego any semblance of traditional wedding standards by “flipping” their celebration. They’ll have a large rehearsal dinner with friends and family anight or more before the wedding, then opt for a more intimate reception following the ceremony.
Angus Barn wedding receptionsPhoto: Graham Terhune Photography

“We’re seeing a lot of Thursday rehearsal dinners for folks getting married elsewhere on Fridays,” says Jessie Koppenhaver of Bridge Club, Chef Ashley Christensen’s event space in downtown Raleigh. “On a Thursday, you can have your pick of bands, flowers, you name it.”

Dashi, Durham’s exceptional ramen house, typically does not make the restaurant available for private parties. However, its stylish upstairs bar, a Japanese gastropub setting known as an izakaya, is favored by food savvy couples who want to treat guests to an umami-rich, small-plate feast. If you want it on a Friday or Saturday, however, you’ll pay much more than what it costs earlier in the week.

“I think that renting Dashi’s izakaya is a steal and a wonderful experience for private celebrations,” says partner Rochelle Johnson, noting the bargain rental of $500 Monday-through-Wednesday compared to $900 for Thursdays or $1,200 on Fridays and Saturdays. The tempting bar menu features an exotic array of fried and grilled nibbles and snacks complemented by sake, sochu and especially creative cocktails. Distinctive settings like the izakaya also are hot  for wedding after parties.
Mandolin restaurant Raleigh Photo: Joe Payne Photography

Carolina Club’s Elizabeth Rubio says she’s seeing an uptick in non-Saturday after parties for local couples who get married elsewhere; in the bride’s hometown, for example, or at a destination wedding.

“A lot of times, parents will throw them a second party so more friends can attend, or the couple might even do it themselves,” Rubio says. “Some are as elaborate as weddings while others are much more low key. Either way,” she adds, “the stress is off and everyone enjoys it more.”

So, if you’re looking to pinch some pennies, or perhaps redirect dollars for unimagined splurges, flexible scheduling could make your budget sufficient to realize the reception of your dreams.

Article contributed by Jill Warren Lucas

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