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Happily walking down the aisle, recession-style

Winter is the season for wedding shows. Throughout January and February convention centres are filled with the “oohs and awes”…

By Rebecca teBrake , in Bride & Gloom: A social commentary on weddings , on January 19, 2009 Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Winter is the season for wedding shows. Throughout January and February convention centres are filled with the “oohs and awes” of brides seeing the hottest new trends for 2009.

This year’s new trend?

It’s not the green wedding. 

It’s not the destination wedding.

It’s the recession-friendly wedding.

With the numbers of job cuts rising and unemployment rates climbing, many Canadians are worried about their finances. In November, the Canadian economy lost 71,000 jobs. The trend continued in December, with 34,000 new job losses and an unemployment rate of 6.6 per cent.

The average Canadian wedding costs $25,800. That’s serious dough in a time of financial volatility.

Extensive news coverage of wedding shows in Canada and the U.S. reports that the economy isn’t stopping brides from walking down the aisle. It is however making them reconsider what their “dream wedding” includes. Take some of this month’s headlines for example:

“Penny-wise wedding plans amid recession”

“Recession weddings”

“How to tie-the-knot without strangling your budget”

Brides are cutting guest lists, taking on do-it-yourself projects or scaling down their honeymoon plans.

For me, it was giving up my dream photographer who was $500 over my budget. In other times, I might have justified overspending. Now, I am confronted with the fact that my fiancée is leaving his job in Ottawa to move to Vancouver in a shrinking job market. That $500 might come in handy for rent if he doesn’t find work right away.

Retailers at wedding shows are catering to brides like me who are feeling the squeeze. Many are dropping their prices or creating packages that will fit into lower budgets.

The recession means sacrifice for brides and adjustments for retailers. In the end though, a recession-style wedding might pay financial and social dividends.

Spending less on your wedding means more disposable income to start your life together. It also means preventing you or your families from accumulating debt. Those are both good moves during a recession.

While I often romanticize the idea of getting married as a student and living off love and my Visa card, I hope a recession-style wedding can help me avoid the financial calamity of unmanageable debt.  

A recession-style wedding also strengthens the left-side of your brain. Saving money takes creativity and creativity results in a memorable wedding for you and your guests. For example, my fiancée and I have asked artistic family members to contribute pieces of art to decorate the church instead of flooding it with costly flower arrangements.

Yet, the single greatest dividend of a recession-style wedding is undoing a monstrous myth that is at the root of the bridezilla complex-the myth that the wedding is all about “me.”

The myth that a wedding is all about “me” is constantly reinforced by advertising, romantic comedies and wedding vendors. The myth entices brides to be indulgent and self-absorbed.

A recession-style wedding puts some perspective back into wedding planning. It allows brides to create a special and meaningful day for their guests, while keeping the personal demands of the bride within reason.

It seems to me like this is a positive move. A wedding is about expressing that life isn’t just about me anymore. Instead it’s about us. A recession-style wedding might just be one of the keys to putting this reality back at the heart of a wedding.

Who knows? If brides experience the payoff of a recession-style wedding, the trend may stick around long after unemployment rates start to fall.