Unfortunately, all this economizing is only decreasing the cost of a wedding by about a third; and trends such as couples getting together to purchase one pricey cake-topper to share, passing it along from wedding to wedding, show that the focus isn't--yet--on simplicity and restraint, but on having that big bash at a discount.
NEW YORK (AP) -- Maria Ayson and Nolan Green Jr. should be married by now.
The couple set a date, picked their reception hall, bought the dress, booked the photographer and ordered the cake for a Saturday last August. Then came the bad news.
''When he got laid off, we were kind of caught with our pants down,'' said Ayson.
Rather than trying to plan a wedding while Green was looking for a new job in electronics retailing, the couple decided to push their date back a whole year. Ayson said putting off the wedding ''was the best thing for our sanity and for ourselves.'' Especially since his new job forced a move to Los Angeles, while she remained in San Francisco.
The delay until Aug. 9, 2009, also gave them time to rethink their wedding plans and try to find ways to scale back the party, without sacrificing on the celebration.
That's a step that countless couples are taking, as economic reality confronts one of consumer culture's most cherished institutions, the dream wedding. From do-it-yourself decorations to dancing to an iPod instead of a DJ, couples are scouring for savings.The numbers tell much of the story: This year couples are expected to spend an average of $20,400 on their weddings, down 6.5 percent from 2008. The forecast also marks a 29 percent drop from 2007's average of $28,700, according to The Wedding Report, a market research company based in Tucson, Ariz. [...]
Joyce Scardina Becker, president of the Wedding Industry Professionals Association, said she started to hear from members last year that business was slowing down. Becker, who owns Events of Distinction, a wedding planning service in Marin County, Calif., advises couples to be honest about how much they have to spend, so that they can work with planners to economize in certain areas.''In the past, brides and grooms liked to hold their budget as if they're playing poker,'' she said. ''They need to be more forthcoming, and lay their cards out on the table.''
And while the Wedding Professionals Industry might be concerned at a drop in spending, seeing weddings go from $30K to $20K in two years' time, some of us think that $20,000 is anywhere from ten to fifteen thousand dollars too much to spend on a single party, except for those few individuals whose annual incomes support such an expense and whose social positions make it an expectation.
Let's face it: most people don't spend twenty or thirty thousand dollars so that all their extended family members can simply gather to witness the beginning of a lifelong marriage between two people who are part of that family. Most people--well, let's look at an average breakdown of costs for a $20,000 wedding, from this site:
Estimated Costs for a $20,000 WeddingGifts, here, mean attendant's gifts; the "ceremony" quote is low, considering some Catholic parishes now "charge" at least $1,000 for the parish's costs involved in a wedding. And the website itself points out that some other fees and costs weren't included in this list--one obvious one is that the average cost of a diamond engagement ring today is somewhere between $3500 and $4000, and so the "rings" in this list are only the wedding bands.
As someone whose whole wedding cost less than the price of an average engagement ring, I can't really feel too much sorrow at the idea that an economic slowdown might mean the end of the over-the-top wedding extravaganza (for most people, anyway).
And for those who think that the huge wedding, the catered reception, the live band, the photographer, and the flowers are traditional and required regardless of economic concerns, consider what Rebecca Mead, author of One Perfect Day: The Selling of the American Wedding, had to say:
But I think brides and grooms will be surprised to discover how many elements of a wedding that are thought of as essential now were not seen that way not so long ago. I came across one survey done in the 1930s of middle-American, middle-class brides and grooms, and of them, one third had not had an engagement ring, one third had not had a reception in addition to a wedding ceremony, and one third had not had a honeymoon. Of course, these "traditions" of NOT having a ring, reception, or honeymoon are not ones it is in the wedding industry's interests to promote!It's too early to tell whether the present economic realities will cause a permanent decrease in the opulent and ostentatious display known as the American wedding. But if the pressure on brides and grooms, and their families, to order embossed napkins and ice sculptures and skyscraper cakes and similar excesses can lessen a bit, I think it would be a good thing.