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Thoughts On The Economy And Weddings


by Meg Keene, Editor-In-Chief

I know that many of you are struggling these days with planning a wedding in the most painful and uncertain economy in a generation. If you are like me, you’re feeling mild envy at last summer’s crop of brides, and wondering why us? Why now? Some of you have just been laid off, some of you are afraid that you might be laid off soon, some of you are just sad about the myriad of ways the terrible economy is going to impact your celebration. So for all of us today, I have two kindnesses:

1) I read this week that one of the many beautiful pieces of symbolism attached to the breaking of the glass at the end of the Jewish wedding is an old saying from Moroccan Jewish villages that “A difficult beginning is a good sign.” You can’t say it more beautifully than that.

2) I was worrying out loud recently about all the people who might not be able to afford to travel to the wedding. A much older friend pointed out that because of the economy our guests would be thinking through why they wanted to come. Did they feel they should go out of obligation, or did they have an emotional need to come celebrate with us? And that in the end, with times being as tough as they are, the less people would make the trip out of obligation, leaving us with guests who had a strong emotional tie to us. And I realized I’d been thinking about it the wrong way, that in some small ways having our wedding this year was a blessing.

Marriage isn’t easy or perfect. Our weddings are not the day of our dreams. They are a real personal emotional moment when we make one of life’s most serious commitments, followed by one heck of a good party. And if that day is infused with reality, this is a good thing.

So chins up! My grandmother says, when she looks back at the 80 years of her life, she sees that all of the hardest things ended up allowing something surprising and good to come into her life. Maybe getting married in 2009 is a bit like that.

A difficult beginning is a good sign.

Meg Keene

Meg is the Founder and EIC of APW. Her first book, A Practical Wedding: Creative Solutions for Planning a Beautiful, Affordable, and Meaningful Celebration, was published in January 2012, and has been a top three bestseller on the wedding bookshelf ever since. Meg has her BFA in Drama from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She lives in Oakland, CA with her husband and son. For more than you ever wanted to know about Meg, you can visit MegKeene.com.

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  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09673896395330316583 Catherine

    Great post! Such a nice thought about only being surrounded by the people who really want to celebrate with you.

    I expected something about the Oscars though. How ’bout all those wedding dresses on the red carpet?? ;-)

  • http://www.sochicsocheap.blogspot.com chic on the cheap

    Too true! Thanks for the encouraging post. :)

  • christine

    These sentiments need to be spoken more often these days! I know that my fiance and I struggle everyday with our wedding because of the economy.

    This post will definitely be going on the fridge, to keep the bigger picture in check.

    ; )

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10010855220044881380 Krista

    That’s a lovely sentiment … I love the Moroccan Jewish saying that gave way to the glass breaking. And I especially love your older friends take on guests attending.

    Thanks for putting it into perspective :)

  • julie Ehrlich

    Thanks for the great thoughts. I love the Moroccan take on the breaking of the glass. Can you tell me where you read that? I would love to think about using it in our ceremony…Thanks!

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the encouraging post! The economy issue has definitely been a pressing concern for me, especially considering how many out of town guests I expect & the number of friends who will have just had babies (one new baby is due within weeks of my date!)… I often ask myself if we should even bother since I feel horrible asking friends/family to waste money unnecessarily for travel and other expenses.

    I think I will definitely find a way to put that Moroccan Jewish saying in the wedding.

  • http://practicallymarried.wordpress.com Leika

    What a wonderful post. Having had almost half of my wedding party back out because of the economy and travel expenses, I definitely needed this reminder! And I love the Moroccan saying. Definitely want to find a way to work that in!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04865356200239213281 Elizabeth

    thank you for this post

  • Lovely Blogger

    I am having a larger invite list due to wanting all my friends and family to be around (and not wanting to hurt feelings), but I am planning on the economic “obligation folks” not coming and celebrating in it.

    Invite who I want, No hurt feelings, and you closest “emotionally tied” friends/family are the ones who join us… I can’t think of a better situation! :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06939935590766216936 Bridechka

    I always love your posts but for this one especially I just want to say, thank you.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09731426268019406064 Ten Thousand Only

    yo meg. thanks for bringing this perspective to top of mind…it’s a kind reassurance during these difficult times.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17468276901563947172 Kristy

    Thanks, Meg. I think I needed that today.

  • http://sergeilovestonya.wordpress.com/ sergeilovestonya

    Great post!

    I am actually kind of liking the recession as an excuse! I am having a very small and intimate wedding, by design!, but I know that there will be people in my world that will feel left out. To them I can now say- sorry! I had to keep the guest list *very* small so just my family and very best friends. ;)

    Those are the only people I want around me on my special day anyway, and now I don’t have to feel bad for leaving people off the list!

  • laura

    I was married in 1979. Our area of the country was hard hit in an ‘economic downturn’. My husband and I were at times both without real jobs. We did yardwork for hire, we painted buildings, we grew our own food, etc. It was difficult but it was also a time I would NEVER wish had been different. When you are with someone you love, hardships are lessened and joys are amplified.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06206689296805893265 east side bride

    <3

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01105755263373802813 invisiblyrose

    thank you for this post, lovely as always.

    the only thing keeping my head up with wedding and economy is that in difficult times, it is even more important to celebrate the happy times! it doesn’t give me an excuse to buy unnecessary things, but it focuses the wedding on the people and not the material stuff.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10044595180736126664 Melissa

    This is one of my favorite posts :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09526722516550185150 Meg

    Awwwwww…. Laura! Thanks for sharing with us all.

    As for where I found the saying, it was in a friends wedding program. I don’t know the original source. Many of these Jewish traditions become oral tradition, in the end.

  • http://inspiredbride.net Maddy

    That’s a really nice perspective on it. I certainly am feeling the pinch between my parents’ and my reduced budget but I approached it as a good opportunity for me to weave more personal elements into it by making more items I didn’t want to lose by myself.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10276075762993940219 The Professional Bridesmaid

    Great post. A great reminder to appreciate what you have.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03463468394602351113 cevd

    well said.

  • Anonymous

    Great post. Our entire weekend was spent agonizing over whether to pay for the wedding & reception largely ourselves and ask family members to chose a few smaller elements to contribute to. In the end that's what we decided. Never in a million years did my upper middle class fiance think his family would not be able to help out significantly but in these times, such was the startling case. It was the worst feeling ever to live with the anxiety that we'd be putting our loved ones through financial hardship. We feel good about starting our married lives together a bit more broke but financially independent and in total control of the event.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12997875522614810785 Mouse

    This is a beautiful way of looking at it. And I love the bit about the difficult beginning. So true–it shows that your love isn’t just something easy, and that it can last through this and whatever else life dishes up. Go, you.

  • http://teaandwhimsy.blogspot.com Rosalie

    Thank you for this post, on a particularly worrying-about-the-budget day in which we handed over our venue money, it came just when I needed it :)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06013133591910982327 Jill Equestrienne

    Very true! We cut back from a destination wedding to an at-home wedding in light of the economy, and in truth, that has been one of our best choices (despite the stress of planning a wedding in 4 months, since we only moved our date back a week).

    Its good to get some encouragement, even in these tough times- sometimes we need perspective!

  • Tanya

    You have no idea how much comfort this post gave me today. Thank you

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/18158492409598444709 Terry

    I want to add another nice reason to be getting married in a recession.

    When we got married this fall, I knew we were giving a lot of our freinds who’d hit upon hard times a change to feel celebratory, fancy, and special. In this economy layoffs can be a blow to your feelings of relevance, cutbakcs on less-neccisary items like new clothes and makeup and such can upset your perceptions of yourself, and and a reduction in nights-out can make you feel like a creature confined to all work and no play. I found that being able to throw everyone even a modestly priced party really helped people feel special and alive again.

  • amy

    Thank you Meg! I know this stuff somewhere inside but need these reminders once in a while. Okay, every other day. :) New mantra must be it's okay, it's NOT going to be the best day of your life. I sure hope not. Why is it I only hear this via your lovely blog (& others) but not the people around me?

  • Blue12rain

    Thanks for the post. I’ve been getting worried about this lately and this is such a great way to look at it. As long as you have the love of your life there, everyone else is just icing on the cake.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10682352489559747442 Wedding Corner

    What a great post!!
    So true!

    ~Lilian~

  • Amy

    Agreed. I haven’t really thought much about the recession. In that it’s messing with my wedding budget. However, I believe this years bride’s are more cost saavy and that is good. I don’t see being smart with money as a negative. However, when it comes to weddings some do!

    I saw an advice article in a wedding magazine recently that made me sick… “How to get more money for your wedding from your parents” SERIOUSLY?!?!

    So, I give you much respect for this post.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08856166208723376386 Chic.Personal.Fun

    Thanks for the lovely post, Meg. I think the economy definitely makes you take stock of what’s truly important in the planning process.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12026869048374033734 Cantor Debbi Ballard

    Hi Meg!
    Loved your post, and I posted a new blog entry on my blog in response. I am not sure if the trackback worked, so if you don’t mind, I’m posting the link here.

    Keep up your great work! I am always sending my brides over to your blog, to help them navigate their way to more meaningful weddings!

    Cantor Debbi Ballard
    http://www.mypersonalcantor.com

    http://cantorballard.wordpress.com/2009/02/24/todays-economy-a-curse-or-a-gift/

  • Liz B

    You have no idea how timely this post it. I was JUST crying to my fiance about the incredible guilt I’m feeling about planning a wedding when people are losing jobs, 401Ks and homes.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06421997839879080174 Accidental Housewife

    When my fiance got laid off this January I was disappointed in myself when one of my first thoughts was “Should I be putting off the wedding?” But we’ve been together 10 years. We’ve been through much tougher than this, and we are stronger for it. Through other layoffs, children, eating nothing but mac ‘n cheeze for six months to scrape together a downpayment on a home, through family tragedy, and great success, we’ve stuck it through. There is NO WAY that a lack of money would stop us now. Should I run out of money TODAY we will still be married, come July 11th. In my $25 dress, with my iPod turned up, possibly with a potluck supper should it come to that, I WILL marry this man. period. Because, really, marrying him is what I want to do. A wedding is just so much icing.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/08060606277113247652 The Less Than Domestic Goddess

    I absolutely agree. Thank you for this post.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15449302175595855512 Karol

    My fiance and I are still both employed, and I realize this is a real blessing so I hope what I’m about to say doesn’t sound obnoxious: I’m finding this to be the best economy in which to get married. *Everyone* is willing to negotiate on price. We got a venue that would have been 3-4 times the cost even a year ago. We’re setting the price points for everything. We’re negotiating with everyone for everything.

    I spent the day at the outlet mall yesterday with my mom and fmil and the sales were outrageous. We got my ffil a suit for $150! I bought my mom a rehearsal dinner dress at *SAKS* for $22!!! It was marked down from $450! So while it’s a scary time, the bargains just could not be better.

    I guess that’s the bright side of these bad times.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/15132372625902153610 K. Anela Deisler

    Cheers to 2009! Deep breaths.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03021533905165085758 Nicole

    thank you – i really needed to read that after a stressful week.

  • http://agoodtraveler.wordpress.com/ agoodtraveler

    Great post! Medicine to my heart as I enter the beginnings stages of planning a wedding. I'm new to your blog and it fills a profound need. Thank you!