I agree with Melissa Faliveno in "Wedding Ache" (1/11/2008) that wedding expenses have gotten out of hand. People get sucked into the wedding machine, and the costs simply start adding up.
As a pastor, though, I wanted to offer three simple observations. First, even though weddings are expensive, they are enjoyable. There is something fun about throwing an extravagant party for your friends - if it doesn't inflict terrible costs on your friends and if you find a way to cover the costs in a timely fashion.
Second, I wish that couples would invest as much energy in their relationship as they do in their wedding. I conduct a marriage coaching program, and I think the time couples spend building on strengths and growth areas in their marriage is the most important thing they do to prepare for married life.
I recommend that all couples consider a coaching program (for example, Prepare/Enrich, www.prepare-enrich.com/indexm.cfm). Lots of people invest considerable time choosing a reception hall, menu, cake, dresses and photographer. But couples will benefit long term by talking about communication, conflict resolution, financial planning, children and parenting, assertiveness and active-listening skills, sexual expectations and spirituality.
Third, there are some great resources out there for planning simpler weddings. For example, Sharon Hanby-Robie's book A Simple Wedding: A Faith-filled Guide to Enjoying a Stress-Free Wedding. To keep expenses down, couples could even check it out from the library!
Pastor Clint Schnekloth, East Koshkonong Lutheran Church, Cambridge
It isn't the wedding industry that's out of control, but the couples contemplating marriage. Instead of putting their energy into marriage, most couples opt for wasting resources on a single wedding day. Glitz does not make a marriage: People do. Simple ceremonies, simple gifts and close family and friends are all it really takes to begin a marriage.
Charles McEniry, Stoughton
Although I realize Melissa Faliveno is disgusted with the entire business of weddings, I feel she unfairly demonizes wedding vendors for their prices. What everyone needs to remember is that DJs, photographers and caterers are not working a 9-to-5 salaried position. They price their services according to their costs, the experience they bring to the work and ultimately what they need to make a living. This is no different than any other business. It should not be viewed as the price gouging of poor, innocent brides.