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.

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