David Lauderdale

Lauderdale: A tip from the crowd for the brides, grooms of 2014

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Pass the mints, please, I may be coming down with the vapors.

Apparently, crowdsourcing is a new way to pay for weddings and even honeymoons, according to something I saw on television this week.

Crowdsourcing is kind of a new word. It is a way to get money, or anything else of value, from a crowd of people, usually online.

A bride-to-be explained that with the cost of weddings so high, crowdsourcing for cash would give more people a sense of ownership and belonging with the wedding.

There are older words for this. Begging, freeloading and tacky come to mind.

We have a pretty nice system going now, but I guess it's not adding up anymore. In this model, the bride trades you a wonderful meal, an open bar and a night of dancing for a toaster oven.

Things were not always this way.

My family has a nice collection of old-timey family newspaper clippings, including melodramatic death notices ("she was ripened unto the grave"), and wedding announcements.

I know for a fact that these forebears were beautiful, smart and successful people. Yet by reading the description of their weddings, you would think they were hobos.

South Carolina weddings in the early 20th century were often held in the home of the bride's parents. And it could easily be held on a weeknight. The old stories tell of a wedding in the living room followed by a sumptuous repast in the dining room.

And the write-up would end with something like this: "After a honeymoon on the sleeping porch, the couple will reside in the guest room."

No wonder we ran from that social model.

The children of those couples had weddings in the church, with a cool reception in the church basement, as God planned it. Children gawked in awe of the chartreuse punch, while adults nibbled on nuts and mints, and Aunt Hattie Ruth's famous cucumber tea-sandwiches.

Now we have weddings with numerous fun food "stations" where we can dress up grits with shrimp, or sweet potatoes with brown sugar. The whole affair can last a week, with the young men playing in a golf tournament and the women going on a winery tour.

How did we as a people get to the point that we are so flush with money we need to do crowdsourcing to support our lifestyle?

We got here because those before us were frugal.

They were unapologetically frugal.

They crowdsourced within the family or neighborhood, but for goods, services and creativity, not money. They all pitched in and sacrificed to help each other make ends meet. They did it with as much style as possible. Debt never crossed their minds.

If I had a nickel for every time I've heard someone in an earlier generation say, "We were poor but didn't know it," I could afford to crowdsource all the weddings of today.

Which brings us to the best wedding gift we can offer the brides and grooms of 2014. Call it a tip from the crowd:

Live within your means.

Follow columnist David Lauderdale at twitter.com/ThatsLauderdale.

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