This article originally appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle on December 14, 2012.
It’s a day that comes around only once in a century. And according to thousands of brides and grooms, it’s the perfect day to celebrate the love of a lifetime … even if it happens to be a Wednesday.
More than 7,500 brides and grooms nationwide tied the knot on Dec. 12, 2012, otherwise known as 12-12-12. Brian Beitler, chief marketing officer for David’s Bridal, a national bridal wear store that also tracks wedding trends, pointed out that last year, when Dec. 12 was not iconic, only 485 couples chose that day to wed.
Bay Area county officials were prepared to meet the unusual midweek demand for marriage licenses and city hall ceremonies this year. Matt Yankee, assistant county clerk recorder in Alameda County, said his office had to institute a reservation system for the date in place of the normal walk-in policy. They had 23 couples lined up – more than double the usual daily total of 10. They also had to open a second room for ceremonies and call in extra volunteer wedding commissioners to officiate.
San Francisco City Hall had 66 reservations, also twice as many as normal.
Cutting costs: Melita Memic, 24, and Jacob Nowlan, 31, said “I do” at Oakland’s City Hall after a three-year engagement. The Visalia couple had a $10,000 budget, a third of the cost of the average Northern California wedding, and marrying on the iconic weekday allowed them to treat guests to a plated dinner and cocktail reception at the Oakland Yacht Club – something Memic said she never could have afforded if she’d opted for a weekend wedding.
Memic and a girlfriend made a $100 bet over whether she could keep her wedding costs within $10,000. The friend had tried to keep her wedding to that budget but overspent by about $5,000.
“People said it was impossible,” Memic said, “but I can promise that’s not true. And on top of that, we get a unique date. It’s perfect because our whole relationship is unique.”
Memic said many guests first balked at the weekday wedding, but in the end, “we knew all our friends and family who mean something to us would show up.”
Family tradition: Sarah Kim, 32, and Joo-Hyung Yi, 33, of Santa Clara, carried on the bride’s family tradition with their choice of a 12-12-12 wedding date. Kim’s parents married on Nov. 11, 1976, at 11:11 a.m. Kim’s father thought it would be fitting for his daughter to tie the knot on 12-12-12 at 12:12 p.m. The only problem: Kim and Yi had only been engaged for six weeks.
Kim was reluctant at first to plan a weekday wedding in so little time, but after some thought, she and Yi decided to go for it.
“It’s so special to my family, and it’s a date that won’t come around for another 100 years,” she said. “Everything fell together.”
Some of Kim and Yi’s guests attended the wedding at the couple’s Campbell church during their lunch hour, negating the need to take time off work. And the couple engraved their wedding bands with 12-12-12.
Falling in love with special dates: This week was not the first time thousands of couples marked a once-in-a-century date with trips down the aisle. Beitler estimated that 4,000 brides and grooms married this year on Thursday, Oct. 11 or 10-11-12. And a whopping 65,000 couples exchanged rings on lucky July 7, 2007, 7-7-7, which happened to fall on a Saturday.
Special dates are such a big deal for couples that, in 2011, fall nearly surpassed summer for the most popular wedding season. According to survey data from theKnot.com and WeddingChannel.com, 41 percent of weddings usually take place in June, July or August, but in 2011, a year rich with iconic fall dates like 11-11-11 and 9-10-11, only 37 percent of weddings happened in the summer. Thirty-six percent took place in the fall.
Beitler said that Valentine’s Day and New Year’s Eve are reliably popular wedding dates every year, and many couples also choose dates that are anniversaries of the day they got engaged or of their first date.
And, as Memic joked, by choosing 12-12-12, “I know (Nowlan) will never forget our anniversary.”