Bridal Affairs

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Wednesday, January 19, 2011


Today, Paul Pannone was so kind as to include me in his eWedNews story on the decline of the middle class and it's impact on weddings- and marriage. Of course, the present economic times are only a part of this decline and the decline of polite behavior and family values. I am pleased to have been a part of this article. And, thanks to Paul for keeping us abreast of the trends and the pitfalls of this business.

By Paul Pannone

Readers responding to an eWedNews story regarding the decline of the middle class and the impact on wedding planning conclude the behavior that once governed the process for staging an average wedding has been cut down to reality. No longer are selfish wedding planners and vendors able to up-sell brides with a set budget to include the trappings of “reality weddings” that were depicted on television, simply because they weren’t real.

Planner Wendy Hartigan told eWedNews, “Those are some grim statistics. It is sad that all of the niceties of life have gone by the wayside, only to be replaced by rude, slovenly and ignorant behavior from the very people that should be holding a higher standard. I see it at weddings, when guests have no idea how to dress, act or eat in polite company. I see in the way people dress for church, the theater and dinner out. As for the wedding industry, it seems those with money don't necessarily have taste. And, the focus is not, it seems, on the life they are beginning, but the party, the dress, the opulence. I have done many "middle class" weddings that were just beautiful. A discerning couple doesn't have to have a 6 figure budget to produce a smashing wedding. Those marriages may last longer than the ones that are built on the party theme and not the life journey. Sadly, marriage, as many things in life nowadays, is disposable. Perhaps, if we got back to basics, life could return to a more manageable and meaningful time.”

Hartigan has been following eWN reporting and concludes the changes that have taken place were just cause for her to step up her game and reexamine her own business score. Positive moves by Hartigan are being watched, as she implements ways to separate herself from the rest. In doing so, she plans to to offer her clients even greater value for their dollar.

Growing concern for the middle class continues to be heard and is showing up in survey results, confirming suspicions that date back decades. Wedding expert, Sheryl Davies, responded, “The middle class is being pummeled, as the necessities of life- heating their homes, fueling their vehicles and paying their increasing water bills eat up the budget. There is little left for luxury items and it takes longer today to save for a wedding. Credit has been pulled back. The days of borrowing for a wedding are diminishing as it is harder to secure cold, hard cash.

As for the values of society- I agree Wendy- there is no benchmark for behavior today- calls it protocol, etiquette or good taste- it has been tossed out the window and I often wonder if divorce and extended family are the primary reasons. Family values are not consistent and children are not being taught "good graces." The adult members are too busy with their own lives to teach the children well. And, no money doesn't give you good taste, never has, never will. You either have it or you don't.

I have always believed that you can do something very tasteful no matter what the wedding budget. Brides are more into the party than the commitment that they are making to the rest of their lives. It is a shame that their rose colored glassed.”

Discussions with Davies and other wedding professionals have been tracking what they’ve called the dumbing down of standards. But seeing the idea solidified in the recent survey results hits closer to home. In some parts of the world the results of the recent University of Virginia study has always been a way of life. Wedding travel expert, Jacqueline Johnson, weighed in saying, ”Lifestyle changes, generational, technology, all contribute to the changing face of today's marketplace. Weddings like all other categories will see shifts in behavior and spending. Wealth was always controlled by a small group - and this is worldwide: However, the business of weddings always had a social and class status attached to it. You always had to impress the family, the neighbors and at times the co-workers. Hence the cost of weddings skyrocketed - it is an emotional event.

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