How Friday Became a Great Day to Marry By ANNA BAHNEY Published: June 22, 2006 THE average wedding this year will cost more than $25,000, and most couples will pay for it themselves, so they can hardly be faulted for wanting it the way they want it. Christoph Hitz Even if it means that friends who wish to remain friends must haul their freckled skin to Cancún for three days or use an entire vacation to fly to South Africa for the nuptials. And if the invitation is to a much simpler event like a Saturday ceremony an hour's drive away? Opening the envelope can still feel like playing roulette with your leisure time. But before despairing at the sight of the invitation, it's a good idea to check the date. The wedding may actually be on a Friday. The end-of-week wedding, once only done as a "Friday Night Special" by those looking for deep discounts on the food, the flowers and everything else, is stepping up to a respectable prime time slot as a first choice of many brides and bridegrooms. "It sets the tone that your wedding is about the party," said Carley Roney, the editor in chief of The Knot, a magazine and wedding-resource Web site. "You could have even more cost savings on a Sunday afternoon, but that doesn't say 'We're cool.' " Ms. Roney and other wedding experts said Friday weddings can be more attractive to couples than a traditional Saturday soirée or a perfunctory Sunday afternoon event because they can have the sophisticated feel of a cocktail party. And a Friday event not only saves a little on the cost and reduces competition for caterers and photographers, but it can also be unexpected. It may be a little too unexpected for some guests, who consider taking a Friday off from work to attend a wedding an imposition. But many brides are finding that their guests are happier to cut into work time than personal time. "I just went to a Friday wedding this last week, and it really did open up my weekend," said Alexis Bettis, 24, a law student in Chicago. "I could recover all day Saturday. Then I still had my Sunday, which felt like my day." She is something of an expert guest this summer, with seven weddings between May and September. Of those, two are on Fridays. Which is good because she can take only so many Fridays off in a summer. "If everyone had a Friday wedding, I couldn't do it," she said. Alan and Denise Fields, the authors of "Bridal Bargains: Secrets to Throwing a Fantastic Wedding on a Realistic Budget" (Windsor Peak Press, 2002), said that they have seen an increase in Friday weddings. They estimate that in most areas couples can shave 15 to 20 percent off the cost of a Saturday-night wedding by choosing Friday. "It extends your options to move into Friday night," Mrs. Fields said. "When people want to get married in the popular months and they can't get the site they want or the caterer they want, they will go for a Friday to get them." There are no social taboos about a Friday wedding, said Elizabeth Upham Howell, a spokeswoman for the Emily Post Institute, the etiquette specialists. "People have weddings over Fourth of July weekend, Labor Day, New Year's Eve," she said. "There is no reason why a Friday-night wedding would be any less appropriate." There are a couple of things to keep in mind about a Friday wedding, she said. It is very important to send a save-the-date card if many of those on the guest list will be traveling because it will involve a weeknight and a day off from work. Also, Ms. Howell said, "If you're having a Friday-night cocktail event, it makes it clear it is for adults and not children." Like most modern brides, Paulette Brown knew she wanted her wedding to be different and special. "I loved the idea of having a wedding on Friday instead of Saturday," said Ms. Brown, a controller at a private equity firm in Washington who plans to marry on Friday, Aug. 18, in Upper Marlboro, Md. "It sounds posh, like an elegant party." And, she's quick to add, the cost was reasonable. Last summer she rented a historic house, Mount Airy Mansion, for her wedding for $900. Its manager, Marsha Schlossberg, said that was a special deal to attract interest in Fridays, but that this summer they have dropped the special rate and even raised the regular price, to $2,000. The interest is still strong, Ms. Schlossberg said: "The difference between $2,000 on Friday and $3,200 on Saturday is still substantial." But because of the popularity of Fridays many of the top wedding sites in the New York region are discontinuing Friday discounts.