Tacky, or just good old fashioned fun?

A look at the attitudes people have towards a longstanding Manitoba tradition — the wedding social

Robert Huynh

Talk to anyone who hails from outside Manitoba and watch their brow wrinkle in confusion at the term “wedding social.” But while it’s a foreign idea to outsiders, we Manitobans are as familiar with wedding socials as we are with winter.

“I’ve only ever known one couple who [didn’t have] a wedding social,” said Tara, a 27-year-old who asked that her last name not be used. She added that she attends around 10 wedding socials per year.

“Everybody likes to go to a social,” she said. “I mean, I certainly do.”

Tara and her fiancé, Mark, are getting married in June. They decided to have a wedding social last Halloween primarily as a means of financing their wedding.

“For us… it was strictly that we needed to make money for our wedding. Having a wedding is very, very expensive.”

She explained that even though she and her fiancé are well established, they still needed a way to raise funds in order to have the wedding they wanted.

“We have our own house and our own furniture, but when you are talking about a 200-person wedding, you are looking at a cost of around $20,000.”

With a trend towards marrying at a later age, some feel that wedding socials are unnecessary and just another way for couples to sink their hands into the pockets of anyone and everyone they can. And on top of wedding shower gifts and wedding gifts, things can really add up for family and friends of the couple.

Everybody likes to go to a social. I mean, I certainly do.

Tara, fiancee

A local business owner who asked not to be identified, feels exactly this way.

“I wish I could say ‘You already have everything you want. You found the love of your life – what else do you want?’” she said.

While many Manitobans, like Tara and Mark, have a special place in their hearts for wedding socials and would gladly help couples out with their wedding expenses in exchange for a night of cold ones, KUB bread and cold cuts, others like the business owner refuse to embrace them.

“I think [wedding socials] are tacky,” she said. “Especially in this day and age. We are adults and we can take care of ourselves.”

The young entrepreneur explained that her negative views towards wedding socials stems partially from the incessant requests she receives for wedding social silent auction donations.

“We get…probably at least two or three [requests] a week. I don’t understand why [a local business] should pay for your wedding.”

She explained that she has a hard time wrapping her head around raising money for the “personal gain” of two people.

“If you are raising money for a real reason …like for cancer…[socials] are a good way for the community to support something together. I would rather help a cause.”

Though some love ‘em and some hate ‘em, there are also those who are altogether indifferent to the idea of wedding socials. Newlyweds Ang and Luke Enns didn’t even consider having a social.

“It was just not in our traditions to do that,” Ang said. “People in our families who get married don’t have socials.”

Ang explained that they were lucky enough to have their parents cover the costs of their wedding, so raising money wasn’t an issue.

When asked if the couple would have considered having a social had they been in financial need, Ang responded that they would have made do with the money they had.

“We would have had a cheaper wedding.”

While there are mixed attitudes towards this Manitoba tradition, one thing about the wedding social cannot be denied – it is a sure way to make a nice chunk of cash.

Let’s face it, there is something about the combination of loud music, rec centers, cheese cubes, silent auctions and excessive amounts of liquor that never fails to attract a crowd of Manitobans.

And unless that changes, this longstanding social tradition isn’t likely to wane.

Published in Volume 63, Number 25 of The Uniter (March 26, 2009)

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