Cheap Weddings: Is That An Oxymoron?
I am overwhelmed by weddings this year.
My hubby and I went to a destination wedding in Costa Rica in March. My coworker just got married in Florida over the weekend. My brother-in-law is tying the knot at the end of this month. Hubby's high school friends are walking down the aisle just one week later. And a college friend has invited me to her nuptials in New Orleans in October.
All of these weddings have one thing in common: They're expensive, both for the bride and groom and for the guests.
According to The Wedding Report, a market research firm, about 2.2 million people are expected to get married this year. But the recession is apparently weighing on love: The average couple is expected to spend $20,398 on their wedding, down from $21,814 last year, a 6.5 percent decline.
Some folks have tried to get sneaky about cutting costs. I talked to one wedding coordinator recently who told me that brides-to-be are telling hotels that they're merely planning a big party -- they're afraid mentioning the "W"-word will result in higher rates. Meanwhile, some companies are embracing recession chic. Windows Catering in Washington recently launched a "wedding stimulus package" of eight pre-set menus that start at $80 per person, with a free 100-person wedding cake thrown in.
“With an unpredictable economy upon us, we want to make it easier for brides to make choices as well as save time and money”, chef and proprietor Henry Dinardo said.
For those of us whose attendance has been cordially requested, SmartMoney has a useful guide to wedding gift-giving etiquette. The advice basically amounts to just sucking it up, but remembering your budget. Not Made of Money also offers some good ideas for alternative, low-cost gifts, such as nicely framed photos.
Personally, I don't see anything wrong with handing over a check with a thoughtful note. The one thing my hubby and I needed more than anything after our wedding was cold, hard cash. (Actually, we could still use cash. So if you haven't sent us our wedding gift yet, now is the time!) In Vietnamese culture, all the guests try to give an amount that is equal to the cost of their attendance, typically about $100 per person. This often results in the bride and groom actually making money from their wedding, rather than losing it.
I know this idea is anathema to many Americans, but to me it's just practical. I bet any bride would appreciate even a $25 check more than a fancy cheese grater.
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