I’ve spent quite a bit of ‘paper’ space muttering under my breath about the tendency of the American wedding market to get WAY out of hand. When women begin planning weddings without either a partner or a date in mind, this is a sure indicator that things are anything but healthy.
And my fear is, of course, that South African women will adopt the American wedding culture without question; without exploring the alternatives. For this reason, I draw your attention to Scandinavian countries.
According to the World Economic Forum, all the Nordic countries (except Denmark, and it isn’t far behind) closed over 80% of the gender gap across health, education, political and economic participation in 2012.
Iceland came in at top spot for the third year in a row and has very good examples of women in political and economic positions of leadership (their Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir, for instance).
The Global Gender Gap Report shows that the emphasis on gender equity and women’s health make Scandinavia THE place to be – they have corporate gender quotas, very generous state-sponsored paternity leave, and generous parental leave for both sexes.
They also have systems in place that allow everyone to earn his or her living – well designed child care and geriatric care, gender-neutral parental insurance, generous school opening hours etc.
So, how does this translate into weddings? In Scandinavia:
- Weddings are not the be all and end all – in other words, the institution is not given quite the status that it is in other countries
- 94% of couples live together (some have children) before marrying
- They do marry, but later – Scandinavians marry at an average age of 31, whilst Americans marry at 26
- Women keep their last names when they marry
- The average Swedish wedding costs a lot less, and only 5% of couples pay for it on credit (the average American wedding costs three and a half times as much!)
- Scandinavian couples tend to foot the wedding bill themselves
- They invite an average of 67 guests
- Most of them save for two to three years to pay for their weddings
- The bride and groom tend to make their entrance at their wedding together
- Church weddings remain popular – two thirds of weddings are religious ceremonies
Happy Wedding Planning!