Thoughts On The Economy And Weddings

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.

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  • 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?? ;-)

  • 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.

    ; )

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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! :)

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

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

  • Thanks, Meg. I think I needed that today.

  • 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.

  • <3

  • 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.

  • This is one of my favorite posts :)

  • 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.

  • 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.

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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 :)

  • 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

  • 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.

  • What a great post!!
    So true!


  • 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.

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

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • I absolutely agree. Thank you for this post.

  • 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.

  • Cheers to 2009! Deep breaths.

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

  • 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!