Weddings have been big news recently. It seems that a day doesn’t go by without another feature about wedding budgets and how couples choose to celebrate their marriages. Why are weddings such big news at the moment and what’s the real truth behind those screaming headlines? We spoke to wedding industry expert Tamryn Lawrence for her thoughts…
The Great Wedding Budget Debate
I’ll be honest; features like this don’t even make me cross anymore. I expect them on an almost annual basis so just tend to roll my eyes but they still irritate me, mostly because they couldn’t be more out of touch if they tried. Not only do the features seem to write off the talents and brilliance of the fantastic suppliers you’ll find in the wedding industry but all the ‘advice’ that they contain is just so wide of the mark.
Now I’m pretty sure that the video that’s doing the rounds about wedding fairs that basically encourages you to visit them not for inspiration or to connect with suppliers but to get as many freebies as you can was supposed to be funny. Well I hope it was because otherwise, it’s even more dire than I first thought. If you want to know how to choose suppliers, get some practical budgetary advice or anything useful, don’t bother watching but do check it out if you want such tops tips as giving fake email addresses and binging on cake.
Country Life also joined in the wedding bashing and this feature was everywhere from the BBC to all the main newspapers and, of course, it wasn’t pretty. Country Life seems to think that weddings are out of control, have turned into an ‘arms race’ and are a ‘nightmare’ for guests. Yes, Country Life was telling us all that something is over the top. There’s an irony there so deep, I can’t even talk about it.
So, what’s the truth?
Well, the truth is actually pretty simple. At the root of all of this is a deep misunderstanding about modern day weddings and to find out what’s really driving couples you need to look way beyond the budgetary bottom line.
Firstly, lavish weddings really are nothing new. Flick through the pages of any social history book from the early Twentieth Century and you’ll find plenty of huge weddings that, in real terms, cost way more than weddings today. Before the war, even families whose weddings would never make the society pages still spent big chunks of income on family weddings. Nowadays it’s true that some couples pay for their weddings with credit cards but years ago, weddings were paid for by visits to the pawnbroker so really, nothing’s changed.
Secondly, weddings are so often seen as an easy target. We’ve all heard stories of Bridezillas, we’ve all laughed at films and TV where people have obsessed about weddings and we might even know someone who went a little mad planning their own wedding. For lots of publications, this time of year just calls for a little wedding bashing. It’s easy to print the ‘average’ cost of a wedding in bold, it’s not easy to tell the stories behind weddings.
Couples today want different things. They want to be themselves, they want to celebrate with their family and friends and most of all, they want to have their day in whatever shape or form that might take. Weddings of just a few decades ago were in no way representative of the couple getting married. They followed a formula. Nothing was different, nothing was really personal, and nothing was new or unexpected. You could almost have swapped in one couple for another and no one would have been any the wiser.
Fast-forward to now and things are different. People travel more, live and work in different places to where they were born and we’re all encouraged to be ourselves more. We place value on hobbies and passions – we describe ourselves as ‘foodies’, ‘sports fan’, ‘animal lovers’ and ‘feminists’ in ways that wouldn’t have been possible a while ago. We’ve seen more, done more and experienced more than previous generations so we’re bringing A WHOLE LOT MORE to our wedding plans.
And weddings, until very recently, have been very traditional. In fact, when you look at the rate of change of society as a whole, weddings have got a lot of catching up to do. People live together before they’re married now, have kids before they wed and women can have careers, vote, go to university and even, shock horror, keep working when they’re married, but despite all that advancement, someone will still say ‘it’s not right’ if a woman wants to make a speech or be accompanied up the aisle by someone other than her father. It’s astounding really and not in a good way.
So, you’re left with the question, are all these articles really prompted by budgets and money or are they just an easy opportunity for a dig at the choices that others have made? I think I’ll just leave that one with you.
Let me tell you a love story…
But, what all of these features always fail to look at, and I’m guessing it’s because they’re harder to write than costs and numbers, are the love stories. The love stories that sit behind weddings don’t get a look in.
Weddings now are more about love than they’ve ever been. Women don’t have to get married anymore to avoid poverty and ridicule. Same sex couples have fought for the right to say their love matters too and people who’ve been divorced are prepared to do it all again with someone who’s repaired their heart. All that takes a special kind of bravery that, in my eyes, earns you the right to have whatever kind of wedding you please.
So, if you’re planning a wedding, read the features that are helpful, join the Facebook groups that are supportive, make the choices that suit you, be glad that you live in an age where you can decide how, when and where to get married and most of all, give the one you love a hug and tell them that you can’t wait to get wed. Because as long as love wins, nothing else matters one bit.