Multi-day? Holiday? What happened to a few hours in the afternoon?

Happy Labor Day to those who are stateside! I love three day weekends, and I’m going to venture that this opinion is shared fairly universally among those who are lucky enough to enjoy them. In fact, I almost scheduled my wedding on Memorial Day weekend without realizing it. Had the in-family astrologer (read: my mom’s girlfriend) had not looked at the stars and determined that May 19th was the more auspicious day to wed, I could have hopped on the three-day weekend wedding trend.


Maybe trend is too strong of a word. People hailing from a variety of cultures have long held multi-day nuptial affairs, and the official American three-day wedding tends to be a celebrity-studded event. Sure, The Beard and I willingly (and sometimes not so willingly) participated in several pre- and post-nuptial gatherings, but these were mainly unofficial meals eaten by those who happened to hear about them in passing. Looking back, I think we were lucky that only one person did not understand the casual nature of these events and got bent as a result of their erroneous interpretation.

Anyway, planning one of these nuptial extravaganzas doesn’t exactly sound like my idea of a good time, but then again, I couldn’t afford a wedding planner or coordinator. There is the welcome party and the farewell brunch. And let’s not forget the rehearsal dinner. Some couples who go all out have planned activities that guests can opt into during off hours — these include poker nights, golf outings, spa treatments and shopping excursions, according to one out-of-date USA Today article. If you’re going to go that far, some people suggest putting up all of the guests in a small resort or lodge so they have easy access to the fun.

Marathon weddings are becoming mainstream, explain wedding experts, because ours is a peripatetic population. Few brides and grooms live in their hometowns, or even come from the same hometown, so they marry in the city where they live — or in a city where nobody lives: 26% of couples are hosting destination weddings this year, according to Bridal Guide magazine, which estimates that guests spend an average of about $900 to attend.

“It’s hard to have friends fly all this way across the country and spend money and have only two minutes with them. In a way, it doesn’t feel right,” says Josh Brooks, co-owner of Fete, a Manhattan-based party planning outfit that typically deals in six-figure, three-day wedding affairs. So couples reward guests with festivities spread out over days.

A long weekend wedding sounds great, right? But wait, do guests really want to devote multiple days off to the nuptial celebrations of a relative, friend, or acquaintance? I myself have never been asked to attend any wedding that lasted longer than a few hours, and I haven’t yet been asked to sacrifice a holiday (or holiday weekend) to witness two people wed.

Have you? Was it a blast or was it a bore? StuckInCube has this to say on Etiquette Hell’s boards:

I think many people don’t like holiday weekend weddings (myself included) because those are rare times off. Many people just want to relax and enjoy those weekends without being required to give it up for a wedding. If it’s a family member you often don’t really have a choice, but it can be very annoying to be required to travel, fight holiday traffic to get there, pay a ton more for hotels due to the holiday, etc…

5 Responses to “Multi-day? Holiday? What happened to a few hours in the afternoon?”

  1. amy says:

    I went to one over a holiday weekend. Although it was nice that everyone had that day off, the wedding was on the holiday itself, which made it difficult for some guests to get back in time for work on Tuesday. Additionally, it was impossible to find a cheap hotel or plane fare because all the prices were hiked in anticipation of everybody traveling.

    It was fun to see everyone and engage in various activities for a couple of days, and I’m all for planned activities for guests who want to opt into them, but I can’t say I’m a fan of a holiday wedding.

  2. 7nina says:

    I’ve been to one-4th of July weekend in Chicago. None of the bride or groom’s family,and not many of their friends lived there,and they were moving shortly,so they used the wedding as an excuse to do all sorts of chicago stuff. They bussed everyone to Taste of Chicago,instead of a rehearsal dinner,everyone went to a Cubs game,etc. It was great fun(and no she didn’t have a coordinator),but I wouldn’t want to do it myself.

  3. Toni says:

    We planned a three-day affair, but it was not a holiday weekend, and it also doubled as our annual family reunion. Therefore, our traveling families were already accustomed to spending 2-3 days hanging out and visiting, and most of the guests that were not related to us lived within two hours of the location, and could therefore easily just attend the parts that they wanted to.

    We threw a large pool party on Friday night, and then my parents hosted a luncheon/memorial party for my grandfather that had passed away a month before on Sunday. As a bride, I found that those two events made the reception itself less stressful, because I didn’t feel like I had to fit in quality time with every single guest, since I had seen many of them the night before, and would see them again the next day.

  4. Never teh Bride says:

    That sounds lovely, Toni. Now I’m starting to regret not doing the whole three-day weekend thing…

  5. jabes says:

    Not only did I have to deal with attending a Labor Day weekend wedding, the wedding was Sunday night, so I couldn’t get away for even two days of the three-day weekend. And that was just the beginning of the many problems with the wedding — so there wasn’t even the consolation of attending a wonderful event to make up for the last weekend of summer being interrupted!