Betty Schaaf mug

Roman Betty Schaaf is a volunteer, a writer, a sojourner and a self-described wellness addict.

Marriage is big business these days, too big. My daughter became engaged over the Labor Day weekend and now I have had to define what my duties and deadlines will be for this wedding. I have been married for so long that I’m not quite sure what the etiquette is these days. Of course, everything about giving my daughter away comes with anxiety, stress and looming deadlines. When our children finally become adults, parents must deal with the decisions, the duties and the timelines involved with letting them go, the most challenging part of parenting and the most expensive!

Did you know that there are, give or take, over 20 different wedding venues and chapels in Floyd County alone? For a “town” of 96,317, that is a lot of places to celebrate marital unions. The median age for females is 38 years old, and for males, it is 36 years of age. Our largest population by age group is boys under five years at 3,327, with the adult male being 45 to 49 years of age coming in close behind. So then, why are there so many wedding venues in our community and why are they so expensive? According to the data website surburbanstats.org, information provided by the U.S. Census Bureau, there is an unmarried population of 23,205 in Floyd County. So, it sounds like a fourth of our Roman population are thinking about or are about to get married. That is assuming that the young people are even considering getting married at all. Again, where is the need that dictates so many successful and well-used wedding venues? I suggest that folks from all around our quaint town have found our beautiful venue gems as well.

My daughter researched and contacted over 15 venues in this area and Charleston and quickly became discouraged. The most affordable sites were in Trion and a wedding chapel in Dahlonega. Not to her liking and expectations, she looked further. The venues in Rome are beautiful, farm-like in atmosphere, but rather pricey. She then turned to another state, her favorite place, Charleston, South Carolina. I believe she will choose this location, their particularly romantic spot, which has proven even more expensive and presents logistical issues for both families as well.

While trying to keep the bride motivated and not allow her to become discouraged, I went online to research my official duties as mother/father of the bride. The list grew even more expensive and then I became depressed. Why is it that getting married, one of the most important days of one’s life, has become so commercialized and profitable? Something that is so sacred and special, as God has deemed it so, has become something it was never intended to be: so commercialized. Whatever happened to the backyard weddings or receptions in the church hall? I must stay on my toes! If you don’t purchase wedding insurance, if can you imagine that there is such a thing, an essential item I’ve been told, and make many phone calls, view at least ten wedding venues within the first three months, you will have lost out on a place altogether. Again, why should giving your child away in matrimony to their soul mate become so stressful and expensive?

Well, I am not happy about paying these exorbitant prices for a four-hour party in someone else’s barn and dealing with so many deadlines. Most importantly, I must process the idea that my daughter is no longer mine. She has flown the coop into adulthood and a career. Now I must woefully pay for all the overpriced services to show a tiny piece of our world that she now belongs to someone else, all within somebody else’s deadline.

Luckily, my daughter will always be my precious “pumpkin,” the nickname I gave her at her birth. I can only hope that after her big soirée — and the depressing credit card bill — that our family will be much improved by the addition of this young man, Ben, that she has chosen as her soul mate. Ben does have his bride’s best interests at heart and loves her so. Indeed, this young man and his family will make a wonderful, although expensive, addition to our family. Being the man that we have gotten to know, we understand that he will make the investment of the giving away of our daughter, fulfilling our parental duties and meeting their deadlines so much more palatable. We are so blessed to have him join our family, and hopefully his family feels the same way. The bride and groom are, beyond all commercialism, soul mates, and isn’t that what counts? When it is all said and done, I will take my daughter with all my new duties and strict deadlines associated with her celebration any day of the week!

Roman Betty Schaaf is a volunteer, a writer, a sojourner and a self-described wellness addict.