A wedding in a recession may be the ultimate showdown
of fantasy vs. reality.
The "Wonderful World of Weddings & Occasions"
show Sunday at Wisconsin State Fair Park offered plenty of both.
For those looking to save a few bucks, one florist
touted classes for make-your-own bridal bouquets while a boutique
offered a free three-day honeymoon with the purchase of a bridal
gown, and an Internet discount jewelry business peddled fairytale
wedding necklaces for less than $35.
Meanwhile, Don Doege of Keehn's Limo Coach could
see his frozen breath as he stood by a shiny white limo bus parked
at the curb outside the show, hoping to lure brides and grooms with
$50 off all limo bookings made within two weeks.
"Business is a little slower these days,"
Many of the couples at the wedding show were looking
forward to their big day with a budget in mind.
"We've scaled back big time," said Christina
Rome, a 29-year-old bride-to-be, as she and fiancé Aaron
Williamson, 37, perused the booths of area businesses specializing
in wedding gowns, cakes, flowers and honeymoons.
"Our companies didn't give bonuses this year,"
"And who wants to start off a marriage in debt?"
added Williamson. The Wauwatosa couple said they plan to pay cash
for their June wedding, now budgeted at $5,000 to $7,000, including
butterflies shipped on dry ice to be released after the ceremony.
The butterflies are a couple-hundred-dollar splurge Rome said she's
not willing to sacrifice because they're part of the theme.
Still room to splurge
Couples on a budget aren't necessarily giving up
on fairytale weddings.
"We have to have doves," said groom-to-be
Eric Ortiz, 25, of Madison. "It's for peace and love. And I
want to have a helicopter to fly around in, too."
Yes, he was serious, though his betrothed, Crystal
Leas, 30, of Milwaukee isn't quite on board with the helicopter
Others will say yes to the dress, but not other
"I still want the dress of my dreams,"
said Katie Wear, 23, of Milwaukee, referring to the A-line ballroom
gown she has plenty of time to find before her May 15, 2010 wedding.
"That's one thing we don't want to skimp on."
So her sparkly necklace and earrings may come from
Wedding Accessories for Less, the new online business of Michelle
Weber of Slinger. Wear also may make her own invitations and reception
centerpieces, rent decorations instead of buying them, and take
a class in floral arranging.
While Wear and fiancé Kevin Pynaker, 29,
also of Milwaukee, plan to pay most of their wedding expenses, the
bride's parents will contribute their share. "She's not excessive,"
mother of the bride Kristen Wear said. "You have to bite the
bullet because it's a onetime thing. We're not going to sacrifice
what she really wants."
Wear and Pynaker stopped by Kummer's in Bloom to
check out the Oak Creek florist's do-it-yourself wedding packages.
The bride can purchase flowers wholesale, then save the 25% to 30%
labor costs if she's able to make her own bouquets after the class.
About a third of the brides who made their way to
the booth Sunday were interested in making their own bouquets, said
owner Karen Korene. Not every bride has the natural ability to arrange
flowers, though, Korene cautioned. "They need to be comfortable
with it," she said.
Lynn Hoffmann, 39, of South Milwaukee and Shane
Bakken, 34, of Watertown got engaged over the holidays and were
making their first wedding shopping foray Sunday.
They stopped by the Brookfield Wedding Cakes booth,
where couples found they could save 70 cents a slice by choosing
a smaller tiered display cake, then buying back-up servings that
are identical, but not tiered.
Bakken, an ironworker, joked about also saving money
by welding their own wedding rings.
"It's all so new and overwhelming," Bakken
said. "I've been in weddings before, but never my own."
Average U.S. wedding in 2008