Go On, No Matter What
Lazarus Sunday, October 21, 2001
The nation is at war, acts of bioterrorism are
being perpetrated, she lost her dot-com job a few weeks ago, and
Nancy Gottesman still pulled off the Happiest Day of Her Life yesterday.
everything, America's multimillion-dollar marriage business continues
to thrive. This is especially true at the moment in the Bay Area,
where our parallel-universe weather means more people tend to tie
the knot in the roasty-toasty fall than in the sub-Arctic summertime.
Gottesman's case, she refused to allow anything -- not the Sept.
11 attacks, not unemployment -- to interfere with her Big Day, held
at a temple in San Rafael. If anything, she saw it as her duty to
tie the knot.
day there's more bad news," she told me. "Anthrax, bombs.
But you can't let them win. I won't let someone stop me from doing
what I want to do."
matrimony in the face of adversity is music to Grace Young's ears.
As owner of the Bridal Galleria, San Francisco's leading purveyor
of wedding gear, she not only believes the show must go on, marriagewise,
but that a good wedding can in fact serve as Prozac for a depressed
all can use a warm and fuzzy feeling right now," Young said.
"It's a way for us to affirm what we value in America -- love,
freedom and relationships with one another.
don't want to say that getting married is a patriotic thing to do,"
she added. "But if it's patriotic for a wedding to keep a hotel
going, a caterer going, a photographer going -- so be it."
that everything's exactly the same as before. Gottesman said she
invited nearly 200 people to her ceremony, but several dozen simply
refused to set foot on an airplane.
Deva Sexton, who won't be getting hitched until April but is already
deep into her planning, is trying her best to accommodate the country's
fiance said we need to sit down and think about a budget,"
she said while trying on a shimmering, $4,000 gown. "I'm a
little disappointed, but I guess this was expected."
fact, Bay Area wedding budgets have been in a tailspin since the
tech boom went kerblooey. Bridal Galleria's Young said blushing
brides who once didn't bat an eye at the thought of spending $9,000
on a gown are today asking to see things more in the $2,000 range.
used to tell me they'd just sell off some stocks to pay for everything,"
Young said. "Now we discuss budgets right up front."
Whiting, whose San Francisco company, Now We're Cooking, caters
about 60 weddings a year, said budgets that previously ran as high
as $150 per guest now typically fall below $100.
tone of weddings is a little more somber, a little more in step
with the times," he observed. Nevertheless, Whiting pointed
out that almost all of his recent clients have requested pricey
beef dishes for the menu instead of more-frugal chicken or fish
in times like these, people are looking for food that will make
them feel better, if only for a day," he said.
Sorenson, one of the Bay Area's leading wedding planners, said that
a halfway classy marriage in these parts still runs about $45,000,
more than twice the national average. But she, too, has already
seen clients economizing, mostly by cutting back on the number of
who oversees all aspects of concocting a lavish and memorable ceremony,
said her business has definitely slowed since the Sept. 11 attacks.
"People are waiting to see what will happen next," she
the same time, she said,
many couples tend to become engaged during the holidays, so she
is keeping her fingers crossed that the threat of war and recession
will have subsided somewhat by January, when her bookings usually
want their wedding to be the most wonderful occasion of their lifetime,"
Sorenson said. "But it's hard right now. I tell clients that
this is what life's all about, that you just have to go on."
don't have to tell Gottesman twice. She and her new husband, Harold,
not only went ahead with their wedding this weekend, but are among
the few newlyweds who haven't been frightened from going abroad
for their honeymoon. They leave for Fiji on Tuesday.
so many people who don't even know where Fiji is, we figure it's
probably a safe place," Gottesman said, displaying the boundless
optimism of the newly married.
any case, we can't get our money back," she admitted. "I
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