Like many brides, Alexis Kreimer on her wedding day will get her hair and makeup done, step into an elaborate gown and pose for photos with her soon-to-be husband before they walk down the aisle. But in addition to all the usual wedding-planning details choosing the flavor of their cake, the color of the flowers in her bouquet Kreimer had to decide whether to observe a moment of silence. That's because she and her fiancé chose to wed on the 10th anniversary of 9/11.
"I've always considered it a day of mourning, of remembrance," says Kreimer, 24, a speech pathologist from Long Island, New York. So why choose that day to get married? Because she wanted to tie the knot in September and because the New Jersey venue she had her heart set on an event space in New Jersey, just a short drive from where the attacks occurred in Manhattan only had Sept. 11 available. "We definitely had to think about it," Kreimer says, even after the venue, which was having trouble booking an event on that day, offered her a discount of about $50 a head. In the end, she and her fiancé decided to mark the day with a joyful occasion. "We remember the lives that were lost, but you have to keep living your life," she says.
Their decision makes them something of a rarity, at least in the parts of the country near Ground Zero: of the 30 or so New York Citybased wedding planners TIME contacted for this story, the vast majority said they were not planning a wedding on Sept. 11. But elsewhere in the U.S., more people are choosing to marry on Sept. 11, according to statistics from the wedding-planning website, TheKnot.com. The site, which tracks wedding trends based on data that couples input when they are registering on the website, reports 1,712 registered weddings this year on Sept. 11 that's nearly double the number of weddings the last time the date fell on a Sunday, in 2005. Similarly, last year, when the anniversary fell on a Saturday the most popular day of the week for weddings there were 9,210 ceremonies registered on the site, a significant increase from Saturday, Sept. 11, 2004, when there were 5,303. "What we're seeing is a lot of couples are reclaiming the day as a happy event," says Anja Winikka, an editor at TheKnot.com.
That's what Antoinette Perrie and Philip D'Ambrosio decided to do when they booked a beach venue for this Sunday on Long Island. Perrie, 57, a chiropractor and acupuncturist in Queens, said she and her fiancé sat down to plan their wedding about six months ago. At that time, their favorite venue was essentially all booked up. "The manager looked at me, and she said, 'Well, I do have one date, but no one wants it,'" Perrie says. "Once she told me, I thought, you know, I am not going to be spooked by this day. I thought if I said no, the terrorists would win."
Perrie and her fiancé plan to have the chaplain say a few words about 9/11 during the ceremony, and they will fly American flags on the beach in remembrance. Kreimer decided to include a moment of silence.
But for at least some Sept. 11 brides, the date has cast too dark a shadow on their big day. "I wanted to turn it into something good," Vanessa Castillo, who lives in Miami and runs a construction company with her husband, says of getting married last year on Sept. 11. "But now we're celebrating one year and everyone says, 'Wow, I can't believe you've been married a year, but can you believe it's been 10 years since 9/11?' There's always a but. Forget me and my husband celebrating. It's going to be a sad day."
Her wedding planner, Cheryl Fielding-LoPalo, president of Cheryl J. Weddings & Events, says she has tried telling Castillo that the 10th anniversary is a special case and that down the road, there won't be quite so much attention paid to it. Nevertheless, Castillo and her husband plan to celebrate their anniversary in future years on March 18, the day they were legally wed at a courthouse. "She's feeling like she isn't allowed to be happy" on 9/11, Fielding-LoPalo says. "That's too bad because I don't think anyone who was impacted would ever wish that someone else couldn't find joy on that day."