Quiet Weddings are Blunders: 1907

bride & groom


Young Parties Contemplating Matrimony Are Advised to Make a Splurge for the Happy Event.

Church Marriage on Large Scale Said to Be Good Investment and the Just Due of the Bride

One of the greatest economic blunders in the life of any young couple is the “quiet wedding.” During recent years especially the custom of having simple, almost private ceremonies has increased greatly, proving more than anything else the necessity of a course in domestic science for men about to commit matrimony.

Such a blunder, at the beginning of a married career, argues that the young man, at least, does not understand social economics as applied to the married state. The saddest part of the “quiet wedding” fad is that the bride and groom almost invariably make the same statement. “We couldn’t afford a big wedding.”
Nothing in the whole range of domestic science is more absurd or false. As a matter of face, no young couple can afford not to have a big wedding. Financially a big wedding is one of the best investments a young couple can make. Socially it is a long step towards prominence, commercially it is simple retaliation. The false training of young people has led to what they call “the sensible wedding” –which means that they call a minister quietly to their home, repeat the vows, and settle down to a life of semi-retirement.

Quiet Wedding Poor Investment.

Primarily such a wedding is wrong because it robs the girl who has become a wife of the one great white day in her life. For the sake of a false economic idea she foregoes the triumph that comes to most women but once in a lifetime. If the wedding cost what they think it costs they could afford it, and it would be a good investment, for during all the years of monotonous existence that she must lead afterwards she will have that day to look back upon as the white day of her career.

But, form the viewpoint of the house husband—the man who must manage the household and finance it—the quiet wedding is an even more serious mistake. I have studied the question most carefully and have decided that a big wedding pays at least 100 per cent in actual intrinsic value on the investment. The bigger the wedding and the larger the original investment the greater the returns. Yet it is the man who insists on the quiet wedding—and urges the necessity for strict economy as his objection to it.

The average “quiet wedding” costs the groom about $175, as follows;

Engagement ring: $100; wedding ring: $8; carriage, etc.: $25; minister: $10; refreshments, etc., and flowers: $30.

Church Event Costs Little More

The average “big church wedding” costs much more. The following figures are taken from one groom’s account, and it is about the average:

Engagement ring: $100; wedding ring, $10; carriages: $45; flowers, orange blossoms, decorations, etc.: $60; minister: $25; bride’s gift: $100; gifts for best man and ushers: $30; farewell bachelor dinner: $60

The bride’s expenses were as follows:

Two farewell receptions: $60; luncheons, etc.: $125; wedding breakfast and reception: $250; gifts: $165; extra for dress: $200.

It will be noticed that most of the items are ones necessary even in small weddings. The bride’s estimate of the extra cost on the trousseau because the affair was to be a church one is fair. It would see, on the face of the figures, that a big church wedding is merely a costly pageant for the sake of gratifying social ambitions or the bride’s vanity. Most young couples who claim to be “sensible” look upon the matter in exactly that same manner—and they do not count the receipts at all.

The reason I chose this young couple as an example was that both after the honeymoon mourned the “useless expense,” and sat together and talked of what they could have done with the money. They furnished me with figures showing the enormous cost of the ceremony. Thereupon we got at a basis of calculation. We went over the figures and I ascertained that we could simply cut of the bride’s expense list, for she confessed that her father paid all the bills. Also, while he settled the bills, he did not deduct one cent from the check he gave her as a gift. Therefore, instead of being loser, she was gainer to the extent of $200 worth of extra dresses, and society was in her debt to the extent of over %00 in entertainment and gifts which, at some time, it would repay. The groom’s gift went to his bride, so was an even proposition. The groom’s attendants already had repaid him for his entertainment.

Practically, then, they were gainers instead of losers on the face of the first returns. But beyond that this is what they received:

Cash and checks, $1,860; house and lot, $5,200; jewelry, china and silver: $1,400; rugs, bric-a-brac etc.: $800; cash from sale of duplicates: $214.

In going over this list the bride and groom agreed that if they had planned a quiet wedding her father would not have “come down so handsomely.” He gave $1,000 because he knew people would ask, whereas if he had been giving at a quiet affair his limit would have been $500. The richness of the other gifts was due largely to the fact that it was a big wedding. Indeed, the value of the gifts to couples that get married is directly I proportion to the elaborateness of the ceremony. That is a fixed rule.

There is another element to be considered, and that is that in time to come the young couples must repay to other wedding parties part of the gifts. But they would have had that to do under any circumstance, and, furthermore, they will be in better circumstances to afford to give to others than they would be to buy for themselves now.

Presents May Pay Expenses.

In contrast with this is another couple of my acquaintance. They decided that a big church wedding was useless expense, so they went to a minister’s house and were married. They both figured that her father, having been saved the expense of a big wedding, would donate that much to them. He didn’t. In fact he gave a measly little $250 check—and they knew it would have been at last $500 if it had been a big function, where somebody would be likely to ask what the birdie’s father gave. Nobody else gave anything. They were forced to buy rugs, china, silver, bric-a-brac and such things. They got no linen showers, or tin showers, or kitchen showers, or any showers at all. They paid out in actual cash $740 for furnishing modestly a little home that they bought on the installment plan, whereas if they had splurged and had a $1,500 wedding, they would have received all these things besides many others, and much more cash.

The wise young man, who has studied the economies of matrimony, when the plans for the wedding are being laid, will insist upon having as expensive a wedding as he can afford. He will realize that all weddings are in the nature of commercial ventures and that both he and his wife owe it to themselves to force the couple circle of their friends to “pony up.” Probably each has been making wedding gifts at least twice a year for eight or ten years. Every one to whom they have given will respond when they are married. Furthermore, all their old friends will donate, some for the pleasure of giving and some because they think they must.

Realize Well on Old Man’s Outlay.

The bride and groom themselves bear the minor part of the expense of a big wedding. The bride’s father, of course, gets the bulk of the burden, but he bears it willingly. He is a man of business, and he realizes that he can afford to pay $1,500 in “splurging” on the wedding of a daughter who is costing him at least hundreds of dollars a year for gowns and other expenses. He will not kick. He will raise the limit if necessary.

It will be seen therefore, that the difference in actual expense to the contracting parties falls wholly on the groom, and that his expenses are not greatly increased, no matter what kind of a wedding it is to be. Furthermore, the investment yields, in actual cash, at least double the outlay.

From a social standpoint the big wedding is advisable, for any bride and groom start in life at the niche of society in which they are married. They are newcomers and society has no basis of classifying them except the importance of the wedding. The young man, also, must not overlook the fact that a big wedding gives him a standing in the commercial world. He may be a $1,500 clerk, but he increases in importance in the eyes of his employer simply because he has been the secondary figure in a big society event. The boss may not care for society, and probably knows nothing about it, but he likes to have a young man around who has shown by the fact that he had a big church wedding, that either he or his wife amounts to something in a social way.

The Seattle [WA] Daily Times 11 April 1907: p. 24

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: An astonishingly blunt piece on the tit-for-tat nature of the wedding exchange. Mrs Daffodil understands that in certain cultures it is considered appropriate to help pay for the wedding entertainment by a gift of cash, either in an envelope inserted in a beribboned box, fastened to the bride’s gown, or placed in a jewelled tree. But that is a straightforward and well-defined transaction, not the sordid calculation of how much Crate & Barrel a guest “owes” the happy couple for their investment in a signature cocktail, grilled organic salmon with locally sourced green beans, and an Ice-Cream Sundae Station.

Mrs Daffodil remembers the happy days of silver fish slices, handsome cheques, and diamond tiaras from Garrard’s, all displayed on immaculate damask-draped tables with no thought at all of getting one’s money’s worth in cake and champagne at the wedding breakfast.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,”where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes.


One thought on “Quiet Weddings are Blunders: 1907

  1. Pingback: What to Do with Duplicate Wedding Gifts: 1895-1899 | Mrs Daffodil Digresses

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