I solemnly swear to NEVER get married on a College Football Saturday.

Beyond that vow of pigskin solidarity, it’s unlikely that I will attend any wedding on  a College Football Saturday as well.

At this point in the calendar with Christmas, New Year’s, and Valentine’s Day a lot of you guys & gals are going to state your future intentions to one another.  You or someone you know, is going to get engaged.  During this betrothal, plans are made and so are compromises.  This is meant to be a guide to help you hold firm on a very important aspect of wedding planning:  “Protect the Football: Don’t Get Married on a College Football Saturday”.

You Are Not Alone

Getting Married in the Fall makes complete sense with college football out of the picture.  The colors are amazing, the weather is mild, and generally it is enough time to plan from an engagement that happens during ‘engagement season’ (aka Christmas, NYE, & Valentine’s Day).   Nuptials in autumn are perfectly fine.  Vows on a College Football Saturday are Not!

This stance has been the subject of many conversations during my lifetime as a college football fan. But as collegiate pigskin fans we need to unite to ‘Protect the Football”.  Folks often focus on the traditions, customs, & etiquette of a wedding, while casually ignoring the etiquette, customs, and traditions of College Football!

Getting a wedding invitation on a College Football Saturday is the worst piece of mail a College Football Fan can receive.  Letters from the IRS, bill collectors, even jury duty is more welcomed in the postbox than your wedding invitation on a ripe October Saturday.

Still there are many couples who either ignore or simply aren’t aware of the anguish they are inflicting on their invited guests.  As a bride or groom, it’s your job to “Protect the Football”. The uninitiated will respond to objections to a wedding on College Football Saturday with: “What’s the Big Deal?” OR “It’s Just One Saturday” OR “It’s Just One Game” OR “I Don’t Care About Football” OR the ever popular, “Whoever is meant to be there, will be there”.

The problem is that College Football on Saturday is a big deal, weddings in the fall will not stop at “Just One Game/Saturday”, we care about football, and my guess is that if you individuals received an invitation to your wedding you care about them as well.

Potentially every date has issues, but hear me out on why getting married on a College Football Saturday is a bad idea and how you can help “Protect the Football”:

#1 Everyone Already Has Plans

Most Americans LOVE college football.  In 2012 48,958,547 people ATTENDED college games and an average College Football TV audience on a given Saturday can range from 45-55 Million people EACH WEEK!  A recent study by ESPN found that 162.6 Americans self-identify as college football fans, 44.7 million of those being classified as ‘avid’.

Here in the state of Kentucky a given Saturday may have 55,000 people at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, 68,000 fans at Commonwealth Stadium in Lexington, and 22,000 people at WKU’s Houchen’s Industries L.T. Smith Stadium.  That’s potentially 145,000 people here in Kentucky that already have plans.  Not to mention nearby Indiana or Cincinnati or the transplants from other areas that routinely make their pilgrimage to follow their favorite college football team or plan to watch their favorite team play on television.

Why is it so important?  The season closes in December, bowl games wrap in early January and we wait….and wait……and wait.  All of those other weekends when reasonable people are having weddings the college football public waits for Labor Day weekend and the start of the college football season.  Once the season is here, fans get to see their team play 12 games, 14 games if things go really well.  And of those few games, even fewer are at home.

Think about it.  REAL college football fans have season tickets and have had them for several years. In the case of my family we have 8 tickets in The Crunch Zone (naturally) and have had season tickets since before I can really remember.  Do the math: 8 tickets, $41 per ticket x 7 games = $2296.  The amount of money is invested each year over the course of 20-30 years (or more).

Remove the money invested from the equation, College Football fans also have a lot of time invested: REAL college football fans can watch up to 17 hours of live football each week (more if they withhold suspense and watch on a DVR).  Over the course of 16 weeks + championship + bowl season, that can range up to 400 hours of football each season. Scheduling your Wedding on a College Football Saturday puts a season ticket holder in the dilemma of missing your wedding or missing out on a dividend of a major investment.

For me I reason with this:  I’ve been a fan of the Cardinals for 32 years…..You met your fiancee` last summer, I’m the one showing REAL commitment.

#2: Guests Who Attend Will Be Distracted

Having your wedding on a College Football Saturday means distracted guests.  The time and effort you spent on floral arrangements and decorations will go down the drain as Guests will be scoping out the nearest TV instead of appreciating the beauty of your work.  That faint sound you hear during quiet points in the ceremony?  That’s a dedicated individual listening on the radio with headphones.  Your grandfather isn’t praying for an extended period of time, he’s checking his cellphone to find out the score.

Groomsmen will come up with hand signals to people in the congregation.  Unexplained gasps will be heard.  Babies will be pinched for an excuse to go out into the hallway.  It’s chaos.

Your guests will take the long way to the reception, once there your guests will harass and bribe the bartender to put the game on the TV.  While you are throwing your bouquet a good number of people will be huddled around someone’s phone clinging to 6% battery for a crucial 3rd down.

#3: The People You Hire Are College Football Fans

When a couple put together their wedding inevitably they will hire college football fans. Your priest/pastor isn’t going to be a happy camper if he is doing your wedding and the Cards are down 17-10 at halftime.  While you are reciting your vows, he’ll be thinking, “What am I doing here?  These two will be in couples counseling in 36 months….Tops.”

The likelihood of potential missed details your caterers, waitstaff, bartenders, photographers/videographers, limo driver, DJ, and administrators is staggering.  Odds are good that at least 50% of these will identify as avid college football fans, and while their income & reputation is dependent on doing a good job, they also know that you probably won’t find anyone else willing to work on a College Football Saturda.  So if your photographer happens to miss the garter coming off the bride’s leg while checking the score, that just comes with the territory.

#4: As  A Groom (or Bride), It is Important to Get Things Started on the Right Foot

And that means putting your foot down.

If you are a College Football Fan and you find yourself compromising for a wedding on an Autumn Saturday, what’s next?  Gardening during games?  Laundry during Monday Night Football?

This compromise has already started things on the wrong foot.  Have a backbone, it is your wedding too and you know you’ll want to be watching all of the action at the bar with us rather than talking to your bride’s aunt from out of town you’ve never met while trying to casually indicate to her that she has a piece of spinach between her right central & lateral incisor.

Bottom line, if you allow this compromise there is no telling where it will end.  As a college football fan, if you are OK will the slow deterioration of your relationship with Pigskin, then by all means, make the compromise.  But I’m guessing that is not the case.  It’s important for your spouse to understand the importance of college football now.  There is no sense in blurring the lines now for confusion later.  Draw the line.  You like College Football, and your fiancé loves you for you.  If the idea is to change you, or affix you to the ball & chain let’s re-think the whole idea.  Eventually everyone stands up for themselves.

 #5: Other Dates Are Available

A wedding on Christmas morning doesn’t make sense.  No one in this state would schedule a wedding on the 1st Saturday in May, or any Thursday-Sunday from Mid-March to the First weekend in April.  That’s madness.  College Football schedules are released early January-early February there is plenty of advance notice to plan your wedding.  Plus, we already know the general guideline that the College Football season goes from Labor Day until the first weekend in December.

There are 104 Friday’s & Saturday’s in a given year. 16 of which are College Football Saturdays.  There are plenty of dates to choose from.   The schedule is released in plenty of time to make arrangements and the College Football season is the perfect time to elope & throw a great tailgate party.

#6: Additional Guidelines

-Understand how College Football works.  While planning understand the bowl season and the conference championship schedule.  The worst thing you can do is plan your wedding during championship week only to have an even more distracted audience. Take time to consider your guests.

-Don’t make your wedding a football themed wedding and think that will be OK.  Unless the theme of your wedding is based in the parking lot of Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium with the sights and sounds of college football followed by a reception where I sit in my seat and watch the game. If your themed wedding is anything short of me ending up inside the stadium watching my team, your theme wedding is awful. Don’t think that setting up TVs is OK either……just don’t have your wedding on a College Football Saturday.  Also don’t plan your wedding during a Road Game and think that is acceptable. We travel.

#7: Exceptions

-FCS games (I am categorically against FBS schools playing FCS schools.) You may feel otherwise,  but that’s a personal preference.

-If it is either the bride or groom’s 5th or more wedding (the action may be better than anything on the field).

-IF you scheduled your wedding on a Friday evening and a game that was originally scheduled for Saturday was moved to Friday you have my sympathies and are omitted from any undue criticism….you tried. But I still may elect to miss your wedding.

-An important Relative won’t survive the Winter. But if that is the case do you think they would rather miss the game or go to your wedding?  There is always Friday.

-Pregnancy? It’s not a good idea to get married while pregnant. Eventually your kids will do the math, your parents will be disappointed anyway, it is better to have that baby & give yourself a goal for a Spring/Summer wedding, and maybe when your child is able to walk and have a ring bearer/flower girl.  Everybody wins. No one is going to say anything when you still wear white…..it’s 2013 after all. Plus when you tell them the original date was on a College Football Saturday and you opted for a Spring wedding the entire congregation will be pleased as punch to encourage the affair as is traditionally intended.

#8: If You Insist on Getting Married on a College Football Saturday

-Acceptable if the wedding is within the 1.5 mile parking radius and has a floating start time based on kickoff time. There are two great examples of people who successfully pulled off nuptials in this way during the 2013 season.  Card fans Vonnie Allen & Jeff Miller made the pact while tailgating before Louisville vs. Florida International  and there was even an on campus tying of the knot in Knoxville this season:


#9 Advice to those that choose to attend.

If your your mother threatens to kick you out of the family if you don’t show your face at a particular wedding, you still have options.  It won’t be the same as being inside the stadium with the sights and sounds of college football, but the following is better than getting shutout altogether.

-Have a plan. Every wedding is different.  But you need to get creative with how you will be able to get information and/or watch or listen live.

-Charge your cell phone.  This is key for several reasons.  Your phone  can bring you several instant update mechanisms like GameTracker, Live Broadcasts available to your mobile device, and Twitter.  But your cell phone can also be your link to escape.  Either through communication to someone who has quick access to a television OR it could be used as an excuse to step out into the hallway.

-Wireless headphones (preferably ones that look like hearing aids).  If you can’t watch the next best thing is to listen to the game broadcast.  There are now Bluetooth devices that are extremely small ear pieces that appear to look like hearing aids.  NOTE: Maintain your excitement or displeasure while gaining information in this format and this is the only acceptable use of bluetooth ear pieces found to date.

-Identify other tortured parties who share your need for College Football info.  Develop and discuss various hand gestures and indicators that will help you and others communicate under the radar during the ceremony.  Be sure to avoid large motions and limit cough and sneeze sequences to 3 occurrences.  Also if you are a groomsman, winking sequences should be avoided……trust me.

-Be prepared to issue some sort of bribe to the bartender for control of the television.

-It’s controversial but weddings on College Football Saturdays are acceptable occasions to ‘re-gift’ items from your basement.  You have already given up something that you really wanted…..you might as well make room in your basement. A spring wedding is a gift and shall be rewarded justly for proper planning & courtesy.

Full Disclosure

I feel better now that we are all on the same page.  But it is important to note that I had to use a lot of these same arguments to avoid my own wedding on a College Football Saturday.  This fall, I had to ‘protect the football’ after proposing to my extremely tolerant girlfriend of several years.  Writing and covering as much as I do for UofL, Emily knows the drill when it comes to the calendar.  But she’s always wanted a Fall Wedding, and it is  going to happen for her……..on a Friday.

In fact, we even have an agreement that if Louisville plays Notre Dame the next day that the first day of our marriage will happen in South Bend, IN.  I know what is important to her, she knows what is important to me.

The “Protect the Football” series will continue as real-life experiences occur and it becomes clear that a public intervention is necessary.  You should be able to handle yourself during showers, birthdays, anniversaries, and other occasions, but some of you may require guidance in other sensitive situations.  We’ll cover those as we go.  If you have a great addition or occurrence when it is necessary to “Protect the Football” please let me know.

FallWeddingsSuck.com has a guest book of people sharing their experiences and hate for weddings that have caused them to miss CollegeFootball.

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@UofLSheriff50. Louisville native, University of Louisville Business School Grad c/o 2004. Co-Founder of TheCrunchZone.com

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