It's a horrible time to be planning a wedding. Our last one of the year is this Saturday, which thankfully just escapes the latest revision to government guidance on weddings. Still, the couple is on something like Plan Q, having started at Plan A, for how the wedding day will work. They were on tenterhooks yesterday as they tried to work out what Boris was actually saying, and whether it affected them.
On one of the news channels earlier today, an interviewee spoke about the 'wedding industry', and how difficult lockdown is for this sector. The phrase struck me, and jarred with me too. How is there an 'industry' around a solemn and joyful public declaration of love and faithfulness? I used to do a stall at wedding fairs, fielding inquiries on behalf of the church. Whilst trying to be as polite as I could to my fellow stallholders, several of them were offering - for several £100s - a service which could be very easily done by a guest, best man, etc. There was something parasitic about the number of ways that money could be extracted from a couple, purely on the basis that they were getting married.
What's interesting now is that the people who wanted to get married, still want to get married. Legally, all you need is the couple, 2 witnesses and a licensed venue. And those who are getting married are finding that a simpler wedding service can still be just as joyful, special and meaningful, than an all singing all dancing £16,000 blowout (which was the average cost of a UK wedding in 2019). Shed no tears for the 'wedding industry'. If people are really providing a valuable service that's essential to wedded bliss, there'll still be a need for it during, and after covid. If not, you have to wonder if it was ever that important in the first place.
If covid kicks off a trend towards simpler weddings, that will be a welcome counterweight to the mushrooming expectations that the more money you spend, the more 'perfect' your wedding day will be. The Big Spender route certainly doesn't appear to be a great investment in the quality of your marriage. To be able to just focus on one another, with a small number of guests, rather than a mammoth organisational task that costs 50% of your annual income with 100 guests to stress over, might just be preferable. And it might even be a better start to the adventure of a lifetime.