Brides check the college football schedule before choosing a wedding date

COLUMBIA, S.C. ? When Kendall Burch informed her father she was
planning to get married this fall, he consulted the
University of South Carolina
football schedule he keeps in his
wallet and told her the wedding would be on Oct. 2. The father of
the bride usually steers clear of those sorts of details. But fall
is
football season.

“I had to have our wedding (that particular) Saturday to ensure
that my father and brother would be there for our big day and not
at a USC game,” Burch said. As Burch and lots of brides understand,

college
football can put a crimp in fall
wedding plans. It’s best to schedule nuptials when the home team
has a week off, as USC did on Oct. 2. Lori Smith at Aubreigh Len
Event Planning and Consulting in Lexington, S.C., said
football is a huge factor for
brides. “They know if people have to choose between the game and
the wedding, it’s the game,” Smith said. She has worked at many
fall weddings where “the bridesmaids and groomsmen are listening to
the game while they’re getting dressed, and they run back right
after the ceremony and listen to it during the reception.” Jen
Barclay and Jeremi Madden of Columbia, S.C., discovered the pull of
USC
football. They originally had
planned to get married at Holden Beach, N.C., on Oct. 9. “But our
bridal party, families, co-workers and friends threw a fit and told
us they wouldn’t be at the wedding if it was the day of the Alabama
game,” Barclay said. “Jeremi and I don’t miss a Carolina game ? we
are both USC grads ? but somehow we thought our big day would be
more important than a
football game. Boy, were we wrong!”
They moved the date to Oct. 2, and Madden was scheming to find a
way to watch the Alabama game online during their honeymoon in
Mexico. Liz White and Chas McCarthy wanted a fall wedding. Carolina
grads now living in Washington, D.C., they opted for Saturday
because any other week would have meant planning a wedding around a
game time that could be switched in the last week because of
television coverage. “We are both happy we chose the bye week for
our wedding, although my fiance is a little disappointed about
missing the ‘Bama-Florida game,” White said. “But that’s what smart
phones are for, right?” They will put off their honeymoon for
several months “so next Saturday we (could) be watching the ‘Bama
game with Carolina alumni back in D.C. for the first time as
newlyweds.” Shawn Kirk let the
football schedule help set her big
day, for the sake of her family and friends. “No game (that)
weekend was definitely one of two reasons I chose Saturday for my
wedding date,” Kirk said. “Just trying to get home to Irmo (S.C.)
on a game day is a challenge for me, yet alone anticipating 150-200
guests to arrive on time in the same area. The other reason is
Saturday is my mother’s birthday. She passed away in ’99, so this
year we will celebrate tears of joy instead of pain.” Wallace Black
is a big USC fan, and her family tailgates at all of the games. “I
would have never scheduled (her wedding) on a game day,” Black
said. “Even if I did, the family would have vetoed it.” Her fiance,
Steven Waugh, is a
University of Tennessee grad. Black
admitted she “neglected to look at Tennessee’s schedule” when
picking Saturday for their wedding date. The Vols play Louisiana
State Saturday. Burch has one advantage over many of the other Oct.
2 brides. She is getting married in the small town of Pageland, so
there wasn’t any rush to book a location for the wedding and
reception. But in Columbia, popular sites such as Riverbanks Zoo
and Garden and Saluda Shoals Park’s River Center booked for this
weekend more than a year in advance. The Lace House, a popular
wedding site in the Governor’s Mansion complex in Columbia, got
about 60 calls or e-mails asking about the availability of this
Saturday for weddings. That’s about twice as many requests as
typical weekends, said Margaret Farish, events planner at the
mansion. Mollie Watson locked up the River Center for this weekend
before the 2010
football schedule was confirmed.
She called the USC athletics office and determined that there was a
chance the Gamecocks would be playing Furman on Oct. 2. She figured
that would be OK because it wouldn’t be a big game. She couldn’t
believe her good luck when the schedule was announced and she had a
Gamecock
football-free day. She joked that
if the schedule had been changed so that a Southeastern Conference
game was this Saturday, “the bride wouldn’t show up.” Alexandra
Martin and Ryan Sacko already are planning their fall 2011 wedding.
They did their research. USC has three home games and a road game
at Georgia set for next September. No games are scheduled yet for
Oct. 1 or Oct. 8, so they took a shot at Oct. 1. “At the least,
it’ll be an away game,” Sacko said. “There’s no way they’ll have
that many home games in a row.” Adrienne Huffman of Columbia is a
USC fan and her fiance, Ken Bellinger, is a Clemson fan. She wanted
a fall wedding and chose this weekend because USC was off and
Clemson is on the road at Miami. “Our venue was already booked for
Oct. 2, so we’re having a beautiful outdoor ceremony … on Sunday
afternoon,” Huffman said. “Who cares about pro
football?”