Wednesday, May 15, 2013

June Weddings

February is always sold as a time for lovers because of Valentine's Day. And why not? This far north of the equator it's still wintery cold and February is that dreary mix of frost and mud. So a box of chocolates, a funny greeting card and a little time with someone you love is a good diversion from the realities of the season.

Sooner or later comes the crucial issue in any relationship -where is this whole thing going? I was listening one couple talk about their upcoming marriage, a traditional marriage in June. This isn't universal but at least for many European and European influenced cultures June is the ideal month to get married in.

Getting married in June goes back to the days of Ancient Rome. The month June itself is named after Jupiter's wife Juno, she herself the goddess of marriage and childbirth. For some reason the month of May was dedicated to the unhappy dead. What a concept that is, I'm sure if the dead could talk to us few of them would be happy about the situation. Still May was not the month to get married in if you could help it.

The tradition of the June wedding carried on into medieval times. June is usually a slow time on the farm. All the heavy work of plowing and planting is done. It's easy to estimate the future yield, providing nothing bad happens between June and harvest time. June can be a short rest and a time of celebration. One of the most raucous yearly celebrations was the feast day of Saint Audrey on June 23rd.  There would usually be fair with plenty of drinking and entertainment. It was said that there were so many drinks in her honor the slurred toast "to Audrey" became the root of the word tawdry.

All the full moons of the year had a name; there is wolf moon, the hunter moon and the harvest moon. The first full moon after the summer solstice was known as "the honey moon".

The whole idea of romantic love in historic terms is relatively new. Most marriages were just as much a business transaction as it was anything else. Up until the mid 1800s it was pretty common for first cousins to marry, it was a way of keeping property in the family. Many royal families of Europe had generations of cousins marrying each other.   

Daughters were both the property and responsibility of the father or male head of household. Another concept that went back to Ancient Rome. In the Roman Empire a father had absolute legal power over his family which also included putting his child to death, if the father deemed it necessary. So it was required the father give the bride away at the ceremony. 

If the bride came with a substantial dowry then there would be a possibility of kidnapping. To prevent that the groom would call upon his right hand man -like in a good right handed punch. That right hand man, the best man, was there to help protect the bride -even if that meant doing it by sword point.

Over the ages weddings have become so much more civilized than that though I can remember one that ended in both families fist fighting in the parking lot of the reception hall. The meaning of marriage has changed but it can still be an emotional event.

I like weddings and receptions. Since I'm pretty relaxed as a public speaker I have been asked to say a few words in the past. I have two standard speeches. One is a drawn out and very vulgar story with the moral that a man can make a marriage successful if he is able to handle humiliation gracefully. That story is saved for the bachelor party.  

The other speech is suitable for all ages and starts off with the question what's one think you shouldn't really talk about at a wedding? The past, it's certainly tacky to bring up old history, especially the bride or the groom's. But talking about the past violates the very spirit of marriage which should be all about the future. Where two single people stop looking backwards and merge their fortunes together as a new entity, as a married couple.  

So good luck for all those couples who plan to formalize their futures together. No matter how much changes in the world the basics remain the same but they will cost you.

Key Average Wedding Statistics
Wedding Spend (excluding honeymoon): $26,984
Most Expensive Area to Get Married (excluding honeymoon): NYC (Manhattan), $70,030
Least Expensive Area to Get Married (excluding honeymoon): Utah, $13,214
Wedding Dress Spend: $1,099
Percentage of Destination Weddings: 24%
Bride’s Age: 29
Groom’s Age: 31
Number of Guests: 141
Average Wedding Spend (on a per guest basis): $194
Number of Bridesmaids: 4
Number of Groomsmen: 4
Length of Engagement: 14 months
Most Popular Engagement Month: December (16%)
Most Popular Wedding Month: June (15%)
Most Popular Wedding Color: White/Ivory (43%)
2010 Average Wedding Budget Breakdown
Overall Wedding (excluding honeymoon): $26,984
Ceremony Site: $1,393
Reception Venue: $12,124
Reception Band: $3,081
Reception DJ: $900
Photographer: $2,320
Videographer: $1,463
Wedding Gown: $1,099
Florist/D├ęcor: $1,988
Invitations: $351
Wedding Cake: $540
Ceremony Musicians: $503
Catering (cost per head): $61
Wedding Day Transportation: $667
Favors: $222
Rehearsal Dinner: $1,127
Engagement Ring: $5,392
Figures based on respondents who hired a professional vendor for the service.
Top 20 Most Expensive Wedding Areas
1. NYC (Manhattan): $70,730
2. NY (Long Island, Hudson Valley and NYC Outer Boroughs): $51,811, $45,695, $44,718
3. Northern/Central NJ and Southern NJ: $49,347, $36,694
4. Rhode Island: $41,169
5. Philadelphia, PA: $36,294
6. Santa Barbara/Ventura, CA, and Los Angeles, CA: $36,233, $33,745
7. Boston, MA: $35,458
8. Chicago, IL: $35,389
9. Connecticut: $35,197
10. Southern Florida (Miami, Fort Lauderdale and surrounding areas): $33,810
11. Washington, DC, Northern Virginia and Suburban Maryland: $33,727
12. Orange County/Inland Empire, CA, and San Diego, CA: $31,954, $30,687
13. San Francisco Bay Area, CA, and California/Nevada (Sacramento, Tahoe and Reno): $31,173, $26,567
14. Baltimore, MD: $30,073
15. Houston, TX: $29,129
16. Pittsburgh, PA: $28,408
17. Dallas, TX: $27,823
18. Vermont: $27,333
19. Hawaii: $26,722
20. Austin/San Antonio, TX: $26,329

A few favorite songs for the reception  

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