- Weddings are supposed to be happy events but sometimes not for college football fans
- Scheduling around fall football games can be tricky for couples planning outdoor weddings
- Couples may need to accept that guests may choose game over wedding
It happened to football fan Donald Hall.
His sister-in-law's wedding fell on the day of the 2008 SEC Championship. Luckily for Hall, the bride's Alabama Crimson Tide was facing the groom's Florida Gators in a high-stakes battle that would decide bragging rights till death did they part.
What's a couple of superfans to do?
Naturally, they rolled a television into the church and reception hall so no one had to miss the game.
"If they had not been interested in football, it would've sucked bad," said Hall, who was pulling for Alabama but saw his team lose to the Gators 31-20. "But because we were all football fans, it helped the situation, and it made the wedding that much better that we could all hang out and B.S. about football."
The aptly named fallweddingssuck.com sums up the tension between the start of football season and the end of peak-season weddings.
Some couples schedule around football season, but mild weather, attractive fall foliage and off-peak prices for weddings and honyemoons make it hard to disregard completely, said Sharon Naylor, author of 35 wedding books including "1001 Ways to Save Money and Still Have a Dazzling Wedding."
In fact, September (16.5%) and October (13.5%) are the two most popular months for weddings after June (16.7%), according to TheWeddingReport.com.
To superfans like Hall, a self-described "Southern male" who was raised on sports, it's kind of annoying.
"It becomes Southern sacrilege for any male to be required to attend any event, much less a wedding, when the alternative is sitting around watching football, drinking beer, eating wings and talking about all of the ways that I could have done a better job throwing, running and tackling during the last play," said Hall, who scheduled his May wedding partly to avoid the football season.
But it's not just SEC fans, and definitely not just men, which means more couples are incorporating elements of football into their wedding weekend, Naylor said.
"The big goal in weddings is to personalize the day to the couple's interests and love story, and if they're superfans, it just makes sense to build football season into the day."
Couples might schedule the wedding at noon so everyone can catch the 8 p.m. game or allow televisions at the reception, Naylor said. Others might actually build the football theme into the rehearsal dinner or welcome party with a tailgate menu, football décor, even a cake decorated with their team's logo or colors. There's also the tradition of the groom's cake, often in the shape of a football dedicated to their team.
"Incorporating football-themed items into the many wedding celebrations gives a fun, festive mood to the events, and guests will appreciate the couple giving them a taste of football season, if not the chance to watch the game live," she said. "It's a smart move for brides and grooms to understand their guests' interests and not invite disaster by declaring their wedding a TV and phone-free event, especially during the playoffs."
Some guests just learn to adapt.
Daniel Blumenthal (who follows the University of Georgia, the University of North Carolina and the NFL's Atlanta Falcons) records games and avoids texts and phone calls from certain people when he's not watching a game live. Watching it on DVR allows him the big bonus of being able to skip commercials, he said.
"I used to be a lot more up in arms about this kind of thing. The change probably has something to do with fact that my teams are not really winning or competing at such high levels," he said. "But it's on my mind if there's a game I want see. The only time it really jumps out is when it's a friend who I know is a football fan and who probably scheduled the wedding on that day against his will."
Becoming a dad helped changed his ways, too, but he still understands that fanaticism.
"Anyone who went to a school where college football is so huge, it's an event," he said. "Every game has championship potential. Someone's gonna finish the season undefeated or with one loss, so for a team to have hope for championship, it can't afford to lose."
It's a balancing act for any couple that chooses to be accommodating. But guests always have the option to not attend or to sneak away at their leisure, Naylor said.
"They need to realize that placing their wedding in the middle of football season requires them to consider the effects football fandom will have on their wedding," she said. "Sports fans tend to find their own solutions, so my advice to brides and grooms is to provide a few opportunities, measure the distractions that could take place on their wedding day and enjoy the creative opportunities that football themed-parties present."