Canny couples shun weekend weddings to save money on their big day
Thursday is the new Saturday for prospective newlyweds in Northern Ireland, it can be revealed.
Our main wedding venues are reporting a big surge in demand for Thursday evening receptions as couples break with the traditional nuptials day in order to cut costs, as the average price of getting hitched at the weekend is now a whopping £24,000.
Their claims are supported by new research which shows the number of couples choosing midweek weddings has risen by around a third over the past seven years.
The midweek big day is not so popular with some wedding guests, who are expected to take time off work.
Local wedding planner Sam Milligan said there has been a definite shift away from tying the knot at the weekend among Northern Ireland couples.
"We have found there's a new trend with people moving to midweek days, especially Thursday," he said.
"It's probably the most popular day now because you're getting good value for money. Some guests might object to having to book time off work but most are happy to make a long weekend out of it - particularly if they're coming from another country."
Mr Milligan, who has been organising weddings for 15 years from his Saintfield-based office, said the average Northern Ireland couple now spends £20,000 on a wedding. "At the minute room dressing is the new 'big thing' and we're finding some brides are spending more on the room than on their dress," he said.
Experts have said that Thursday is becoming ever more popular with brides and grooms because of the number of discounted deals on venue hire during the week.
Laura Hanna, events coordinator at the Slieve Donard Resort and Spa in Newcastle, Co Down, said there has been a surge in bookings for Thursday receptions.
"Midweek weddings are getting more popular because there's more added value," she said.
"Another trend is that guests want to make a weekend of it. We get people coming from England and Scotland who find it easier to get flights during the week and then stay a bit longer,"
Ms Hanna said the five-star hotel's cheapest wedding reception package is £9 cheaper per head from Sunday to Thursday, which is another incentive.
Keith Carmichael from the family-owned Rosspark Hotel near Kells said Thursday bookings at the Co Antrim establishment were up 30% year-on-year.
"More couples are signing up for midweek receptions because there's a better price offering than at the weekend," he said.
The wedding planning website hitched.co.uk indicates that some 21,700 weddings took place on Thursday last year - up 6,000 on 2008 figures.