updated 2/19/2004 12:30:41 PM ET 2004-02-19T17:30:41

When Melanie Lawrence got engaged last month and started making wedding arrangements, she quickly discovered a common problem facing brides who want to get married this September.

Reception halls, florists and churches often are booked for all Saturdays that month except one: Sept. 11, the third anniversary of the terrorist attacks.

Many couples are picking other weekends or holding ceremonies other days of the week. Lawrence decided to get married on Sept. 5 instead, although it falls on a Sunday.

“I didn’t want people to think of 9/11 before they thought of my anniversary,” said Lawrence, 22, of Pittsburgh. “We decided we’d switch the day of the week rather than settle on a date we didn’t want.”

Many couples are reluctant to get married on Sept. 11, said Sue Berning, director of catering at Eagle Ridge Inn & Resort in Galena, Ill., three hours west of Chicago.

“I’ll say, well, I do have Sept. 11 open, and they say ’Yeah, so does everybody else,”’ Berning said. “They don’t want to be rejoicing on that day when the country is mourning.”

Sept. 11 discounts
Some reception halls are offering discounts. But that hasn’t helped the Ashbourne Country Club in the Philadelphia suburb of Cheltenham, which offered a 10 percent discount for any couple who will have a wedding on Sept. 11.

“They would just give me a look, or then I would get the whole response, ’Oh, no, no,”’ said Laurie Thompson, Ashbourne’s wedding coordinator.

Since people no longer seem to shy away from Dec. 7, the day Pearl Harbor was bombed in 1941, Thompson and others hope the fear of having weddings on Sept. 11 will eventually pass.

Bride-to-be Rebecca Haines, of Maple Shade, N.J., tried that logic with her fiance, Brian Murphy. She said he avoided being in the World Trade Center on the morning of the attacks because he got stuck in traffic.

“It was weird because I kind of felt, let’s kind of have something good to remember that day by,” Haines said. “He didn’t even want to entertain the thought.”

The two spurned offers of several hundred dollars off catering, limousines and florists. They settled instead for Sept. 25.

Malissa Parrish knows she’s one of the few getting married on Sept. 11. The idea doesn’t bother her, although the 27-year-old from Terrell, Texas, has gotten weird looks from relatives, and even a double-take from the preacher.

“Really, for myself and my fiance, we just wanted to make it a good day because it’s such a tragically bad day,” Parrish said.

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