Save the Date

On September 11 — as the nation commemorates the third anniversary of that dreadful day in 2001 — wedding specialist Ted Daniels will be particularly depressed. Of course, he'll be gloomy for all the obvious reasons, but now there is an added problem. This year, September 11 falls on a Saturday. “No bride wants that date,” laments Daniels, who plans weddings for the Boston Park Plaza Hotel and Towers. “I couldn't pay a bride to take that date. I tried to get that weekend booked, but it was a non-negotiable date for all the brides I talked to. They all said the same thing: 'No, no, no — not the 11th.' I have been doing this for, oh, God, 20 years, and I have never seen anything like this for a date.”

The good news is that if, by some chance, you are still entertaining the possibility of getting married in Boston this month, it's hardly too late. Normally, you'd be tardy by about a year at most venues because, in New England at least, September is the primo wedding month. Not this year. Call any of the high-end hotels in downtown Boston — the Ritz-Carlton, the Fairmont Copley Plaza, the Park Plaza — and you will get the hard sell to book your special day on the second Saturday of the month. The only problem is that your guests might not want to fly that weekend, your family may complain that you've shown poor taste, and in future years, you'll be celebrating your wedding anniversary on a national day of mourning.

The question of whether it's okay to get married on 9/11 has become a topic of conversation lately, and perhaps nowhere is the debate fiercer than on the website Discussions there began last year when a 25-year-old woman from Washington State announced that she planned to wed on that date and posed the following question: “Do you think it would be bad or weird to be married on a day with such bad memories?” She was bombarded with replies, many of which attempted to discourage her from going ahead with her plan. “I wince whenever I hear someone say 'September 11,'” wrote one woman from New Jersey. Another from Long Island wrote: “I was just at the supermarket last night, and I wouldn't even buy the carton of eggs that expired on Sept 11!” Ultimately, it was a Bostonian by the name of Sarina who reverted to rationalism: “Unfortunately, there are a lot of days that are tied to huge tragedies, either nationwide, worldwide, or just personal. If you looked back through history to rule out any date that had a major tragedy happen, there probably wouldn't be an available date left.”

Of course, Sarina is right. If we rule out September 11, why not rule out December 7 (Pearl Harbor Day) or November 22 (the day John F. Kennedy was assassinated) or April 15 (when the Titanic sank)? Eliminating dates from the calendar is like retiring the numbers of great athletes: Eventually, you run out. The good news is that with time, even the most odious of dates lose their sting. Pearl Harbor Day is probably the most apt example.

Franklin Roosevelt declared that December 7 was “a date which will live in infamy,” and for a long time it did. No doubt, on December 7, 1946 — the first time Pearl Harbor Day fell on a Saturday — couples who married faced some unpleasant memories. Yet I suspect those memories were mitigated by the fact that we had won the war. In short, there had been some closure.

As it turns out, on December 7, 1946, the five-year anniversary of Japan's attack in the Pacific, the Boston Globe's front page made no mention of the historical significance of the day. The only wedding advice in the paper that December 7 came from Emily Post, whose column addressed the question of whether a bride was obliged to wear a hat and gloves on her wedding day. (The answer was no.)

The problem with September 11 is that we have no closure. The World Trade Center has not been rebuilt, the war on terror has run amuck, and Osama bin Laden is still roaming free somewhere in the hills of Central Asia. We are faced not only with the memory of the many people who died, but also with the continuing instability and fear this date has spawned. For some couples, however, this is no reason to cancel wedding plans.

Two acquaintances of mine, Tracey Buschenfeldt and Jason Keisch, are planning to wed this September 11 on the Cape. Buschenfeldt explains their thinking on the matter. “One of my bridesmaids actually lost two good friends on the flight that was headed from Boston to L.A.,” she says. “But she was adamant that we go ahead with our plans and make this a happy day.”

“People get married on Pearl Harbor Day, D-day, and the day that the Challenger blew up,” adds her fiancé. “Hey, life has to go on.”