| Feb 14, 2008

Feature Article - February 14, 2008

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Bridal Edition - February 14, 2008 Bridal Edition

Weddings are Here to Stayby Jeff Green

A Wedding Dress: The Fabric of Marriage

St. Valentine and the Giftof Love by Jean Brown

Relax, It's Only One Day

Financial Tips for NewlywedsSubmitted by Jason Willis, Financial Advisor, Edward Jones

Weddings are Here to Stay

By Jeff Green

Twenty to thirty years ago, weddings were starting to look like quaint rituals that were destined to be relegated to the cultural minor leagues, like dancing around the maypole or debutante balls. The institution of marriage was under siege, with divorce rates skyrocketing, and the traditional venue for weddings, the local church, was losing its role in people’s lives. Society was changing, and laws were changing. The stigma over having children out of wedlock was losing its sting, and the legal status of common-law relationships has gradually come into sync with the legal status of marriage

Yet, even though divorce rates continue to rise, church attendance has certainly not rebounded in the three two decades and marriage rates have dropped, the wedding industry has continued to flourish.

What has certainly changed about weddings, and this is what makes the industry so dynamic, are the options for couples. From an intimate dinner with 4-10 people, to a large potluck at an old farmstead, to a lavish extravaganza in a hotel ballroom or wedding palace, people have a myriad of options when it comes to planning their weddings and a wide price range to consider.

Weddings are an expression of the personal style and the religious and ethnic background of the couple who are marrying, and as we become more comfortable with the cross cultural reality of our society we have begun to celebrate our diversity at weddings instead of sweeping them under the carpet.

And we're having more fun at weddings.

One thing hasn't changed, however, and in this matter I can speak from experience; advanced planning goes a long way to ensuring a less stressful, more successful wedding.

In my own case, it would have been a good idea to have finalised the seating arrangements before the guests began to arrive. The good news is that we found seats for 106 of the 108 people who arrived. The bad news is that cousins John and Judy, whom we considered the least likely to complain, ending up eating at a makeshift desk by the front door of the hall. As it turned out, the evening was unseasonably warm over 30 degrees Celsius on an April 28 evening, and John and Judy had the benefit of a breeze. And we ended up with a story to tell afterwards

The articles in this bridal issue are intended to help people avoid the pitfalls of inadequate planning, and to celebrate the fact that weddings are here to stay.

(We did find our cousins’ seats eventually – they are the two empty place settings at table 13 in the wedding photos)

A Wedding Dress: The Fabric of Marriage

Queen Victoria in her wedding dress, by Franz Xavier Winterhalter, 1842

Weddings performed during and immediately following the medieval era were often more than just a union between two people. They could be a union between two families, two businesses or even two countries. Many weddings were more a matter of politics than love, particularly among the nobility and the higher social classes. Brides were therefore expected to dress in a manner that cast their families in the most favorable light, for they weren't representing only themselves during the ceremony. Brides of an elevated social standing often wore rich colors and expensive fabrics. It was common to see such brides wearing bold colors and layers of furs, velvet and silk. Brides of a lower social standing often copied the elegant styles of wealthier brides as best they could.

Up until the late 1930s wedding dresses reflected the styles of the day. From that time onward, wedding dresses have traditionally been based on Victorian styles.

Over the centuries, brides continued to dress in a manner befitting their social status---always in the height of fashion, with the richest, boldest materials money could buy. The poorest of brides wore their best church dress on their wedding day. The amount of material a wedding dress contained also was a reflection of the bride's social standing and indicated the extent of the family's wealth to wedding guests.

Wedding dresses have traditionally been based on the popular styles of the day. For example, in the 1920s wedding dresses were typically short in the front with a longer train in the back and were worn with cloche-style wedding veils. This tendency to follow current fashions continued until the late 1940s, when it became popular to revert to long, full-skirted designs reminiscent of the Victorian era. The trend has continued until today.

Today, western wedding dresses are usually white, though 'wedding white' includes creamy shades such as eggshell, ecru and ivory. One of the first women to wear white at her wedding was Mary Queen of Scots, when she married Franis II of France. However, white was not then a tradition but rather a choice and one considered inauspicious, since white was the official colour of mourning in France at the time.

White did not become a popular option until 1840, after the marriage of Queen Victoria to Albert of Saxe-Coburg. Victoria had worn a white gown for the event so as to incorporate some lace she owned. The official wedding portrait photograph was widely published, and many other brides opted for a similar dress in honor of the Queen's choice. The tradition continues today in the form of a white wedding, though prior to the Victorian era a bride was married in any color except black (the color of mourning) or red (which was connected with prostitutes). Later, many people assumed that the color white was intended to symbolize virginity, though this had not been the original intention. (It was the color blue that was connected to purity.) Today, the white dress is understood merely as the most traditional and popular choice for weddings, not necessarily a statement of virginity.

St. Valentine and the Gift of Loveby Jean Brown

Valentines Day is fast approaching, and we are dreaming of candy, flowers, romance, but does anyone actually know who St. Valentine was?

St Valentine was a well loved priest near or in Rome in about the year 250AD during the reign of Emperor Claudius. and many people of all walks of life attended his church services.

At that time in history, Emperor Claudius was heavily recruiting men to serve as soldiers for his war, but without much success. The men preferred not to leave their wives, families and sweet-hearts to fight in foreign lands. Claudius became angry and declared that no more marriages could be performed and that all engagements were cancelled.

Valentine thought this was unfair and secretly married several couples. When Claudius found out, he threw Valentine in jail, where he sent out letters signed "from your Valentine". When Valentine died, friends of the priest retrieved his body and buried it in a churchyard in Rome . Years later in 496, Pope Gelasius declared a special day in honor of St. Valentine and through the centuries the holiday became a time to exchange love messages and St. Valentine became the patron saint of lovers.

Today it is a day to send notes, cards, give candy, propose marriage, and also to remember and honour God our Creator who is the author and giver of love.

Relax, It's Only One Day

The greater the number of decisions people have to make, the greater the level of stress they experience. Hundreds of decisions are involved in planning a wedding, and so it is no wonder that the dream of a lifetime can sometimes become, if not an outright nightmare, a less than enjoyableexperience. Just as newlyweds go hand in hand, stress and wedding planning can also go hand in hand.

Here are some tips to help you avoid wedding burnout:

Remember that the perfect wedding doesn’t exist; there are some things you have no control over.

Remember that you cannot please everybody, and you should not have to feel guilty.

Plan a wedding within your budget. Few people have many thousands of dollars at their disposal, and nothing is more stressful than anticipating paying the bills after the big day.

Be honest with yourself, your fiance), family and friends

Decide which things are the most important to you and be willing to let the others go.

Delegate responsibility when you can.

Communicate effectively and without anger if things go wrong.

Remember that people are unpredictable

You are not to blame for family feuds and problems that your guests have; you do not have to mediate.

A wedding may take a long time to plan.

Try not to be discouraged.

Keep sight of the goal. Nurture your relationship. A wedding is only one day in a lifetime of many.

Don’t work on wedding plans 24/7.

Take time to rest.

Financial Tips for NewlywedsSubmitted By: Jason Willis, Financial Advisor, Edward Jones

A marriage is a new financial start. When couples get together there are adjustments to be made, goals to be set, and financial adventures to take.

Share information. Both partners should be fully aware of each other's financial situations, from spending to debt to investments. With full financial disclosure, you'll be better equipped to plan together.

Review and establish goals. The sooner you set financial goals, the better your chances of reaching them. Do you want to buy a new home or move up in the housing market? What about a retirement savings strategy? How much will those goals cost and how long will it take to reach them?

Budget. Create a budget that will allow you to save and invest enough to reach your goals. A good budget will help identify how much you earn and spend, and how to divert more income to savings. Decide how finances will be managed. Will one spouse be responsible for a larger percentage of bills and expenses, or will they be shared equally? Will you have joint savings and investments? Who will physically handle financial transactions?

Pay down debt. If you owe money, particularly high-interest debt such as credit card balances, formulate a plan to pay it off. Consider ways to reduce borrowing costs-for example, setting up a home equity line of credit if you own a house and quickly paying off any amounts you borrow.

Assess insurance needs. Life insurance is a necessity when you're married. The last thing you want is for your spouse or family to be left in dire financial straits if something happens to you. Consider disability and critical care insurance as well.

Make or update wills. Both partners should have up-to-date wills. This means jointly discussing estate planning needs and goals. You should also have powers of attorney for financial and personal care, in case one of you is unable to manage your financial or personal affairs because of illness or injury.

Establish an emergency fund. Keep six to nine months' combined living expenses in an emergency fund. If you run into financial difficulty-perhaps one of you could fall ill or lose your job-an emergency fund can help you get through.

One final tip. It's a good idea to get help from financial experts. At this stage of life couples can benefit from professional advice. With the right advice you can ensure your financial life together gets started on the right note.

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