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?”