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Love in the time of recession

By APRILL BRANDON
Aug. 11, 2009 at 3:11 a.m.
Updated Aug. 13, 2009 at 3:13 a.m.

Aprill Brandon

It's official. I have been engaged for 10 months. So far, I have the groom, the dress and an elaborate schematic of a working tequila fountain complete with decorative swans carved out of limes (which I drew on a cocktail napkin one night during karaoke).

Unfortunately, having those major details hammered out isn't enough to stop the barrage of unnecessary and ridiculous questions from family and friends, such as "When are you getting married?"

When? WHEN? Talk about a silly question. First things first, folks. The "when" will be decided with the "where" and the "how" just as soon as the tequila fountain is up and running. It's all about priorities.

Of course, other reasons explain why my wedding planning has yet to get off the ground. Reportedly, the average wedding costs about $29,000. By the same token, the average reporter earns less than your average 8-year-old working in your average South American sweat shop. Throw in the worst recession our country has seen since the 1930s, divide by pi, carry the one, and you have the perfect equation for a wedding planning nightmare.

Despite all that, however, it seems more and more people decide to take the plunge despite the economic climate, even ones who swore they never would.

For instance, my friend Lesli, who swore she'd never get married, got married in July. In September, I'm going to be a groomsman in the wedding of my friend Ben, who swore he'd never get married. My "I-don't-think-I'm-the-marrying-kind" friend Michelle got engaged a few months ago. Yesterday, I found out my college roommate Jess just got engaged to a man who used to have more commitment issues than Mr. Big. And my friend Misty, who I used to spend hours with talking about how marriage and kids were our worst nightmares, is probably going to get a ring on her finger any day now from her boyfriend.

Is there a federal cash-for-marriage-license program I don't know about?

But this isn't just an isolated incident among my friends. Across the nation, the recession hasn't slowed the number of couples from getting engaged or the number of people looking for love. In fact, online dating Web sites report increases in business despite the recession, according to a Yahoo! News article.

It seems hard times bring people closer together. It also has people reexamining their priorities. The $60 billion-a-year wedding industry is taking a hit as more couples scale back and spend less on their nuptials. A recent survey by David's Bridal found that 75 percent of weddings are being downsized to save money.

Bummer for them. Good for us.

I can't tell you how many weddings I've gone to where the couple spent tens of thousands of dollars to make their "Big Day" a big, uncomfortable, stuffy affair in which they celebrated the wedding more than the marriage. Cut to today, where my friend Lesli had a small, intimate ceremony in her backyard and the bridesmaids wore khakis and flip-flops.

Guess which one was more fun? Better yet, guess which marriage is going to stand the test of time?

So while my fiance and I still have no clue when it comes to wedding planning, the recession has taught us that our wedding should be more about us and less about fancy appetizers no one can pronounce and centerpieces that cost as much as our rent. And I think a lot of other engaged couples are coming to the same realization.

I'm even thinking about toning down the tequila fountain and not requiring that the lime swans be life-sized.

And that is love, my friends.

Life Happens is a column by Advocate reporter Aprill Brandon. It will appear ev ery two weeks. Contact her at 361-580-6514 or abran don@vicad.com, or com ment on this story at www.VictoriaAdvocate.com.

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