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Wednesday, June 22, 2005

A Matter of Perspective

My father turned 90 yesterday, and I didn't even get it acknowledged timely in the blog. However, at least part of that was because I made a quick trip up there to see him Tuesday. Since I left in time for a morning commitment here 144 miles away, I didn't see him much at all on his actual birthday, but hey, I was there for part of it, even if the major activity was sleeping!

Mother is cleaning closets, etc., and had some wonderful prizes, for I got presents for Daddy's birthday. She had things for all of us, the four daughters, that she really thinks the grandchildren will appreciate perhaps more than we will. My stack includes report cards and grades from the first grade through college. It will confirm what I've always joked about that the only C's I got in college were in band!

Two that really should go to all of us, and that I took home only with the idea of their being held in trust for the four of us I just have to report here. A month from today David and Dezi will be married. I know the cost will be substantially more than the weddings I'm about to tell you of, but the contrast is so drastic, perhaps if not now at some point Dezi and, more to the point, her parents can see this as humorous!

One of the treasures will eventually go to Kathy, for she is the author. It is a typed paper with a bibliography showing sources of Life magazine for June 25, 1971, Business Week for May 18, 1974, and "Personal records at home." Those personal records are obviously set out in the first two pages quoted here:


Because I am the youngest of four girls in my family, I have been quite well-acquainted with marriage and with the costs of a wedding.

My oldest sister, Mary Ellen, got married in September, 1963. Carol, my youngest sister married in August, 1969. My other sister, Barbara, got married in March, 1974. The differences in the costs of these three weddings, all of which were approximately the same size, is outrageous. I begin to really wonder how high the prices will be when I get married.

In 1963, only twelve years ago, the prices for a wedding of about 200 guests were as follows:
    Dresses, head pieces, etc. $62.17
    Petticoats, buttons, etc. $9.00
    Flowers and decorations $58.60
    Invitations $66.16
    Cake $35.00
    Stamps $12.50
    Punch, ice., etc. $5.29
    Maid services for reception $20.00
    Tablecloth $9.45
    TOTAL $299.21
Only six years later in 1969, the prices had risen to be as follows:

    Dresses for the attendants
    (the bride used the same one as her sister)
    Flowers and decorations $93.71
    Cake $38.00
    Stamps $24.00
    Punch, ice. Etc. $7.42
    Maid services for reception $24.00
    Tablecloth $13.21
    TOTAL $397.71

By 1974, five years later, the prices had gone "sky-high" and were as follows:

    Dresses for everyone $99.48
    Flowers and decorations $217.70
    Invitations $147.00
    Cake $55.50
    Punch, ice, etc. $9.29
    Maid services for reception $24.00
    The same tablecloth was used _________
    TOTAL $704.97

These prices, of course, did not include the groom's cost for wedding and engagement rings, or for the rehearsal dinner. They also do not include some items like pictures of the wedding, gifts for attendants, thank-you notes, or engagement announcement pictures because we did not have full records in these areas.

The dresses were all made by Mother or Carol, so the cost of dresses reflects material and patterns basically. Kathy goes on to say that a simple civil marriage service would cost $20 with $5 for a marriage license, $5 each for blood tests, and a $5 tip for the Justice of the Peace. Of course marriage licenses now cost $42, but the blood tests are no longer required. Kathy's research indicated a fairly elaborate affair with 250 to 350 guests "can climb up to $25,000."

Kathy married November 24, 1978, and her daughter Karla may be making wedding plans in the near future. Carol's daughter Elizabeth will be married before then year ends.(Congratulations!) Both my boys chose 2005 to become husbands. Mary Ellen's fourth grandchild will be born this summer. (Congratulations, Michele!) Mary Ellen was the first and last of the sisters to have married, and she and her second husband --- oops. No, Kathy was last. The date I stopped to look up is September 11, 1976. We have durable marriages in the family. The most durable one, though, is the other treasure I found. It involves a simple wedding that probably cost less than the $40 fee Kathy noted. The marriage license was obtained in Parker County, because the groom couldn't get to Hardeman County in time to get it there. He was in the United States Army, and the world was at war, to be joined shortly by the United States. Here is the announcement of the event:

Happy birthday, Daddy. You chose well, Mother.

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