Marriage rates in the United States have hit an all-time low. Economic forces and social shifts have pushed couples to delay or avoid matrimony, according to an analysis by the Pew Research Center.
Just 51 percent of people over 18 are married today, compared to 57 percent in 2000 and 72 percent in 1960, with trends pointing toward wedded couples becoming a social minority within a few years.
Young girls dream of their wedding day, a day they will plan themselves, an occasion to give the beautiful Dutchess Kate Middleton a case of the green eyes.
The same event will give the bride’s father the blind staggers without tasting a drop of champagne and earn Miss Soon-to-Be-Wed the undying resentment of six or eight of her closest friends.
The cost of the average wedding tops $28,000, Pew researchers report. Tradition lays that burden on the father of the bride, but dad won’t be the only one stung. Extras that are not really extra can add thousands to the bill.
Take the bridesmaid dresses, for example. Each of the girls is expected to buy her own. These are usually and intentionally dowdy frocks. It wouldn’t do to outshine the bride. Not one is ever worn a second time. Quality bridesmaid dresses run $150 to $300. Add up to $100 for alterations, another $200 to $350 for a plane ticket to the scene of the crime. Shoes and jewelry can run $50 to $100, plus $125 for beauty and spa treatments (don’t want to follow the bride down the aisle with rough elbows or dull hair).
Gifts for the bachelorette party, shower and wedding will run another $150. And, be sure to save something for cab fare and $90 to $140 for a hotel room for the night of the wedding.
Meanwhile, the bride’s father is shelling out hundreds and thousands for flowers, a hall to hold the reception, limo rental, jewelry, gifts for almost everyone and things he never dreamed were required, such as 36 pounds of rose petals, a $3,000 fireworks display, $2,000 for a photographer who will shoot the bride and groom with stars in their eyes as the fireworks light the sky.
Poor pop. He reckoned on $3,000 and winced. He had only his own wedding for comparison. In those Olden Golden Days when he and Mom were still in graduate school at the University of Montana, $3,000 would fetch a Universal Life Minister to appear at dawn on the banks of Rattlesnake Creek, wearing nothing but a necktie. The price would also cover enough acid to set the mood and cash for a honeymoon in Spokane - a town three times as big as Missoula and four times as boring.
But here’s some good news, Dad: The $28,000 figure is the product of some fancy figuring. Everyone in the wedding industry - everyone from the vendors of those little sugar candies in cup cake papers to caterers, jewelers, plus the butcher, baker and wedding dress maker fudges the total a bit. Sometimes quite a bit.
Trim 200 names from the guest list, serve Bud Light and brats at the reception and cancel the limo. Three thousand still won’t cover everything, but $5,000 might.
One heavy item might not be trimmable – the honeymoon. Come on, dad. The kids can’t just hang around the house or go to a rodeo after saying their “I do’s.” And, remember, Spokane no longer serves as a honeymoon spot.
A proper honeymoon in these proper days should be in January (not June). The honeymoon destination should be someplace north of the Tropic of Capricorn and south of the Tropic of Cancer - someplace that serves rum-based drinks garnished with paper umbrellas. Puerto Vallarta, Cozumel, Fiji, Tahiti, Bora Bora, Mahi Mahi or Walla Walla will do.