Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Weddings and the Recession

It's no secret that the country has been in a recession. Almost every facet of our existence has been impacted either directly -- with the reduction of income or the loss of jobs -- or indirectly in the form of the emotional toll that hard times take on the collection consciousness.

Initially, many wedding services and vendors clung to the folk wisdom that weddings (and funerals) are "recession-proof." What I have observed is that although people are not refraining from dying during the downturn (although many funerals are definitely feeling more hands-on and homespun than they have in recent years) -- many couples are definitely postponing the wedding until better days. That doesn't necessarily mean that they aren't getting married. But the celebration itself -- the dresses, cake, flowers, and photographs -- are often being pushed into the future.

Although many couples are choosing prolonged cohabitation over a civil ceremony, others are still tying the knot legally. A genuine deterrent, at least in Arizona, has been the steady increase in the cost of the license itself. By the time a couple leaves the courthouse, they are out about $100 just for the license itself. If they choose to complete the job before they leave the tender embrace of the courthouse, there are additional costs, and a marrying atmosphere about as tender as the department of motor vehicles.

I encourage couples who want to marry but can't afford a wedding to procure their license, and then find a sympathetic and affordable officiant (I am one) and a couple of witnesses to seal the deal. It can be a day that feels like a real wedding, but costs exactly the same as a stripped bare civil ceremony.

The recession will eventually ease up, or people will decide that life goes on, regardless of what the economy does. I predict that we will figure out again how to observe the special times and celebrate them. As a society, we always do.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Use Your Gifts

"Use your gifts." When my mom said it, she usually meant my creative gifts, or something equally as abstract.

As an officiant who sees a lot of wedding presents in the course of my work, I say, "Use your gifts," and I am talking about the coffee cups, tea towels, and all the nice things marrying couples get to celebrate their new life together. Except for many, the celebration never gets off the ground with the very items people have chosen lovingly.

I went to an estate sale recently, and noticed that many of the items appeared to be wedding gifts from the 1950s, still in their original boxes -- unopened, saved, and put away until later. The antique dealers who definitely came later in this couple's life were delighted. I wondered how many holidays, or just rainy Tuesday afternoons, might have been made more special if somebody had worked up the courage to break out a stack of dessert dishes or light candles in the silver candle-holders.

Use your gifts. Get them out, put them on the table or in the bathroom, and make them a part of your existence. Life is very, very short. Observe every day as if it is a gift, too. Because it is.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Remembering Missing Loved Ones at a Wedding

There are many ways to honor the ones who can't be present in body at your wedding, but are either there in spirit, or as a treasured memory. For example, a chair with a single rose can be used to symbolize somebody who is absent from the celebration. Or, a table can be set up with photos and/or items that represent missing family members. One bride with limited space displayed a single colorful bouquet with vastly varied flowers in a dramatic crystal vase. To each flower, she tied a person's name. The rose was for her mother, the daisy for her grandmother, etc. She also found some very ornate rooster feathers to complete the arrangement, for the groom's grandfather who had been a farmer.

If a visual representation isn't exactly what you have in mind, how about offering a selection of music that is meaningful? This can be done either during the wedding itself, or at the reception. If you can't face having a father/daughter dance without Dad, why not consider having a slide show during the song that reminds you of him?

Just because somebody you love is beyond the reach of your arms, doesn't mean that your heart can't hold him or her close.