The cost of wedding’s have skyrocketed in the time that I’ve been a photographer.
Having been in this profession for the best part of four decades, I’ve been given the unique opportunity of witnessing the progression of the modern wedding.
The most notable change is the cost of the events. Weddings used to be simple affairs. All that was needed was a church, a priest and a hall. As communities were so much smaller, especially back in the 60s, the organisation of a big wedding party was handled by a committee of Mothers.
With Mothers in charge, costs were kept reasonably low and an attention to tradition, decorum and class were high priorities.
Since that time, the importance of the Wedding day itself has risen in stature. For modern couples getting married, thousands of pounds will be spent on their one special day in the hope that the memories will remain in their guests minds, as well as their own, for the rest of their lives. As the organisational responsibilities shifted away from the parents and moved onto the bride and groom, I’ve noticed a greater focus on fashion and novelty experiences over tradition and economy.
When I married my June, back in 1968, her dress was the dearest thing about the occasion. The design was timeless and she looked stunning. My suit was a hand me down from my father, he’d worn it at his wedding and passed it on to me. Passing away during the war, my Father’s suit was a beige-brown affair that I loved dearly for it’s sentimental value, but it was by no means sharp. The hall we hired for our party was available at a discount rate, my family arranged all the food and my friends bought us two cask of ale to whet our whistles.
The whole affair cost less that £400, there are only a few photographs to commemorate the day – but I’ll always cherish the memories I have of it.
Of course, in the modern age of ‘sharing’ and ‘tweeting’, the priorities of the wedding couple have changed. Guests will seize the opportunity to dress up and arrive in suits and dresses that cost twice as much as my entire wedding. Page boys and brides maids will be kitted out in designer childrenswear from Liverpool, the venues will resemble country estates from the television and the wealth of booze on offer will act as a status symbol – showing the guests the affluence of the parties contributing to the event.
Although I might sound like an old fuddy-duddy, tutting from the sidelines whilst I photograph the whole circus, I’ve enjoyed watching the escalating extravagance of the modern wedding. The bells and whistles might be nothing more than passing fads, but the intentions behind them are always pure. The young (and old!) people getting married in the 21st Century are still bound by the same love and commitment that has been bringing people together for centuries.
They share the same kind of love that June and I had when we married and it’s always a wonder to see.