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Recent wedding bells ring on smaller budgets

Jan. 27, 2010

By Racquel Joseph
Reporter

There are three things constant in this world regardless of recessions: death, taxes and weddings.

On Sunday afternoon about 1,500 wedding enthusiasts, brides-to-be and their entourages arrived at Waco Convention Center for a bridal show equipped with lists, pictures, and, most importantly, budgets.

Though attendance at the With This Ring bridal show was not of what was expected, many aspects of the wedding business have been affected by the recent dip in the economy.

Bruce Waters, owner of Tuxedo Junction and the organizer of the bridal show for the past 21 years, said that recently weddings have been smaller, which means fewer tuxedos, bridesmaid dresses and guests.

Even the wedding dress is struggling to withstand bugdet cuts of discerning brides. Ivy McCarn, the co-owner of Pat's Gowns, said that among her customers, rental is becoming a more popular option.

"You can rent a gown, tiara, veil, slip and get alterations all for about $190, " McCarn said of prices that are less than most off-the-rack wedding dresses.

Brides are also being more selective when purchasing wedding essentials and doing more comparison shopping.

"They're not just saying 'this is my dress.' They're looking around and making sure they're getting the best price.," McCarn said.

"They're ordering bridesmaids dresses in ivory and prom dresses."

McCarn notes a trend toward simple earth tones and also, at the opposite end, lots of glitz.

"In the roaring '20s and then the '80s when the recession hit, they added glitz and shiny. So now, they buy a simple dress and hit the sparkle."

For Baylor alumna and newlywed Callie Dorroh, keeping it simple was the order of her big day. Dorroh was married in December and when it came time to write her budget she "made decisions about what mattered most."

For Dorroh, that meant finding a church that was already decorated for Christmas to avoid pricey florists' bills and choosing a top tier photographer to preserve memories.

McCarn does think brides are being more conscious about money but believes they are keeping what matters in mind.

Tuscon, Ariz., senior Anna Meier is in the process of planning her May wedding and said her thrifty decisions were more concerned with keeping the meaning of the day in mind than a dampened economy.

Meier attended the bridal show and felt that many of the vendors were selling extras that she and her fiance did not need.

"We don't need a carriage," Meier said. "Other people might see that as something necessary but I don't need a bridal massage or facial."

Meier plans for her bridesmaids to do her hair and makeup and she will wear her mother's veil.

"I want people to see us and our love and the love and support of our family and people who love us in the details of our wedding."