Something old, new, and sponsored too: Some couples are seeking corporate support for their weddings
Let's face it: weddings aren't easy. The planning, the family politics… and the expense. Some couples may choose to elope or head straight to the courthouse to avoid the politics, some use a wedding planner to help with the logistics… and some get a type of help that was once reserved for the likes of celebrities like Star Jones.
They have sponsors for their weddings.
Meaning, they arrange to have vendors and corporate brands provide goods and/or services in exchange for publicity and exposure at the wedding.
There is great incentive today for brands to sponsor an 'influencer's' wedding — a person with a large social media following. Instagrammer Melissa Celestine Koh's wedding details, from bridesmaids dresses through to the tea service with dinner, were sponsored, to the dismay of some guests.
"I felt cheated. The sponsorships cheapened the wedding, made it insincere, and I felt as though she had made money off me through her weddings," said one guest to Singapore's Straight Times.
Perhaps transparency would have been the way to go. "You need to be upfront about it," says Carly Hackert, lead planner and owner of Platinum Events Group in Toronto. "You need to have an open talk so everyone is aware. Inform them on your website, say 'hey this is sponsored.'"
One Saskatchewan couple is being quite open about their quest for aid in putting on their wedding. Jason Mielke and Rebecca Winter are asking for the contributions of companies and their community to help support their event.
The couple, who will marry later this month, share personal details of the hard times they've faced along their journey on a website used to spread the word that they were in search of sponsors for their big day. After their story was published in the Moose Jaw Herald, the buzz began and soon their story and call for sponsors went viral. Businesses have chipped in in a big way, sponsoring items like Rebecca's wedding dress, jewellery and church decorations.
"It's about taking the burden off of individuals, couples and moms and dads who feel they have that responsibility to put on the $30,000 wedding. We want to bring the community back into families, into couple living," says Winter.
"Some people feel they don't have the right to ask for help or they feel ashamed for asking," and she notes that she and her fiance are "trying to show you can let that go and find the value that bringing in community as family can have."
Hackert's noticed a shift in the way people view and host weddings, which are becoming more about spectacle, keeping people entertained and oftentimes making it so guests "forget they're at a wedding altogether." Despite planning luxury weddings with budgets of $80,000+, she notes that with the average price for a wedding in North America falling between $30,000 and $40,000, many people need outside help to make it happen.
And for those that simply say the couple should just go to the courthouse and say I do?
"To us a courthouse is a place mostly of contention, hurt and pain. It doesn't give us the opportunity to put ourselves forward in our celebration—celebration is about people," says Winter. And, although the wedding has its sponsors, Mielke says the wedding will still be "sacred and private."
The Mielke-Winter wedding takes place on November 25, 2017 in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. There are some portions of the wedding still awaiting sponsorship.
Kathryn Kyte is an arts, culture and life writer based in Toronto. She has previously contributed stories to the Huffington Post, ET Canada and Yahoo. Follow her @loadedlove.