While most fall Saturdays are normally booked solid by now, many businesses that cater to wedding receptions still have open dates on the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
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updated 5/27/2004 3:03:30 PM ET 2004-05-27T19:03:30

Nobody wants to get married on Sept. 11.

While most fall Saturdays are normally booked solid by now, many businesses that cater to wedding receptions still have open dates on the anniversary of the terrorist attacks. Sept. 11 falls on a Saturday this year.

With the infamous date still months away, the calendar hole is a hot topic among those who provide venues for special events.

"I know from hearsay that people aren't booking weddings and other festive occasions on Sept. 11," says Louise Upshaw-McClenny of Achievers International, an organization that provides sales training to the hospitality industry. "I've heard a buzz around the city that if you need a ballroom, they're available Sept. 11."

By way of explanation, Upshaw-McClenny asks rhetorically "Who wants their special memories connected with that date?"

A spot check of hotels and other reception and banquet facilities seems to confirm the theory.

Popular wedding reception venues in the Houston area — The Houstonian Resort & Conference Center, Warwick Hotel and The Southern Plantation — reportedly had no weddings booked for Sept. 11 as of last week.

"It is unusual for us not to be booked this close in," says Tom Williams, director of catering at the Warwick.

By early April, the Sugar Creek Country Club in Missouri City was already booked solid for wedding receptions throughout September, October and November — except for Sept. 11 and Thanksgiving weekend, according to catering director Jennifer McDaniel.

A weekend without a wedding is a big financial hit for many of these places — particularly those that exclusively cater to weddings, like The Southern Plantation.

A spokesperson there said some people have called and asked whether the venue is offering special discounts for Sept. 11 bookings.

The Warwick's Williams thinks that would be a good idea.

"It would be a good day to negotiate with hotels," he says.

Upshaw-McClenny sees it as an opportunity for nonprofits.

"Hotels typically look for low-demand periods to negotiate lower prices to get events booked into those periods," she says. "Like in the summertime, hotels here are less booked with conventions and they can offer better prices."

However, fall is a busy season for conventions. In fact, the Four Seasons Hotel downtown has its ballroom booked for convention groups that weekend, says Kevin Foster, director of catering.

Although some venues may suffer a hit to the bottom line that weekend, the calendar hole could be good news for bargain-hunters looking to book events.

© 2007 Houston Business Journal

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