So often, people wonder if they should plan the wedding of their dreams,,,,,with old relatives they haven't seen in years, new in-laws as bridesmaids, a fairytale gown, sparklers, music, food and booze.........OR if they should save the money and go to the courthouse. Or a drive through chapel in Vegas. Or their local courthouse. You get the picture. How can you decide if you should have a wedding or elope?
It can be a tough decision. With the possible exception of luxury brides and grooms, most people think about the expense. With the average standard wedding in the US costing almost $26,000 according to the Wedding Report, Inc. ($29,668 in Los Angeles County, California), it is a consideration. And of course, that is just for standard weddings. For what would be considered a premium wedding, you can expect to pay between $30,000 and $95,000. For a luxury wedding, you can expect to pay between $95.000 and up. Most luxury wedding couples spend between $105,000 and $150,000 on their weddings.
A common refrain is that the wedding budget could be a great down payment on a home. This is true. The wedding budget could be used to pay off all outstanding debts of the bride and groom. This is also true. Of course, the money could be invested on their behalf. Possibly riskier, but also true.
Another argument for not having a wedding is the failure rate of marriages. The good news is that the divorce rate in America has fallen fairly steadily since the 1970's, when it spiked dramatically after "no-fault" divorce laws were passed, and when women entered the workforce in huge numbers (impacting home life in a new way.) If you are interested in statistics regarding divorce, check out current divorce rate statistics here ~ it has all the deets.
So why have a wedding? Let's take a step back and look at the overall picture rather than just the money and the future possibilities.
One of the main reasons to have a wedding today is for the ceremony and the celebration. Many families are now far flung from each other. Many relatives don't get to see each other very often. Even with the advent of social media, most people do not get that wondrous face-to-face time with each other.....visits with depth and dimension....stress and joy....hugs and kisses. In fact, other than weddings, one of the main times that families unite is for funerals. We recently planned an encore wedding (third time for both the bride and the groom) with 100 guests, black tie, and amazing food and drink. They both wanted to wedding so that all of their friends and family would have a reason to get together other than someone passing away.
There is a certain distance that has permeated our culture. A busy-ness that consumes our days. Pressure that shifts our focus so easily from extended family to the pressing matters of day-to-day life. Faith Popcorn refers to this phenomenon as "99 Lives". In her TrendBank, she describes it as having too fast a pace, too little time, causing societal schizophrenia and forcing people to assume multiple roles. (www.faithpopcorn.com for more information) Having a wedding creates a break in the flow, a step outside of the ordinary. A time to reflect on where you are in life and love yourself.
Our society has also experienced a loss of formality (in some ways ~ hooray!) Casual Friday has seeped into everyday. A wedding is an opportunity to show that you can still "clean up real nice" so to speak. Most people actually take the time to preen and prepare for a wedding. We all improve our personal curb appeal for the event! How often does that happen? We have worked with a client that wanted a full Marie Antoinette wedding theme. She offered information for rental companies for guests that wanted to dress in full regalia for the wedding, as well as letting people know that it was optional. More than half of the guests came in Louis XIV attire! Talk about an escape from your everyday. It was memorable and magnificent. (If you opt for this wedding, make sure your wedding planner allows space among the tables for the huge dresses!)
In a similar vein, our society has also become heavily reliant on technology for communication and socializing. Television watching is still the king when it comes to American's free time (In the last three months of 2011, the average American with a TV set at home spent 153 hours and 19 minutes watching “traditional TV” according to Neilson.) Game playing and watching television on computers and tablets are not even included in that figure. Going to a wedding coerces the cocooning hordes to disconnect from their technology and interface with humans! The gamers will have to come out of the basement and breathe the fresh air! They will take the time to smell your wedding flowers so to speak.
To me, these are all great reasons, and we have not even mentioned the bride and groom yet! There is a public and open statement made when two people in love vow to do their best to make this union thrive. They are making a declaration that they are in love, and that they are willing to stick their necks out to say we are meant for each other, and we want everyone to know. Faith Popcorn also explores the concept of "EGOnomics", where in an attempt to offset a de-personalized society, consumers crave recognition of their individuality. What better avenue for two people in love to show their individuality than having a wedding to proclaim their love?
Many people think that an encore wedding should be more subdued than a first wedding. (For more of An Amazing Affair's thoughts on this, check out our blog post on Encore Brides) We say pish tosh. Especially if children are involved, it may be more important to have the ceremony, the formality, the recognition that a new family is being established on this very day of the wedding. And if you believe in love enough to get married again after a marriage that did not work out ~ celebrate it!
One last reason to have a wedding ~ they are fun and entertaining! And when they are not fun and entertaining, they are something to talk about! Much the same way that any press is good press, any wedding will have it's own stories. There is a reason that nearly every episode of "America's Funniest Videos" has not only one wedding video but a MONTAGE of wedding videos. The possibilities are endless when multiple generations of two different families with friends that parents may like or not like thrown in for good measure are all together. Make your loved ones laugh. Have a wedding.
I have no idea what happened at this wedding ~ clearly they needed the help of An Amazing Affair Wedding Coordination!
I just returned from Denver after attending the Association of Bridal Consultants Annual Conference. When I arrived in Denver, I ended up sharing a ride downtown with a French woman in Denver for another conference. Although she is French, she has lived in the US for many years, mainly in Vermont with her American husband. Inevitably, we started chatting in during the ride (could Denver International Airport be any further away from downtown Denver?) She asked what I was in town for, and I excitedly answered that I was attending the ABC Annual conference.
Her oh-so-French response? (Let me preface this by saying I am a francophile and je parle français aussi) "Oh my.....big weddings are such a waste of money." Then she went on about the best wedding she ever attended...one for her nephew. She literally described in as magical. She told me about the food and the music and the decor....and how sad she was when it was over. She added that in France, when people have a party, they party until the sun comes up and that we should learn from them about that idea ~ I agree! Let's enjoy life more! Her eyes actually took on a faraway look, a sparkle, as she described the wedding to me.
That description, that memory that she could relate to a stranger of the sights, the sounds, the atmosphere, the food, that recollection that took her away to another place in her mind ~ that is why we have weddings.
Let's celebrate life and love!