For generations, Manitoba couples have been holding wedding socials to help defray the cost of their nuptials. The rules are simple: Rent a hall, book a DJ with Stairway To Heaven in his repertoire, gather raffle prizes and arrange to sell booze. At midnight, roll out the time-honoured plates of pickles, kielbasa and cheddar cheese cubes.
That's the amateur approach.
Some of today's betrothed are going much further. They're planning sponsored weddings, events where everything from the wedding dress to the invitations are supplied by companies looking for a little promotion in exchange. These young dreamers also register for gifts.
Take Lynzie Causton and Kyle Friesen, for example.
She's 28 and he's 31. The pair met at a Bible college in Australia. They've been dating for two years. She's from B.C. He's a native Manitoban. When they moved back here, neither had a job. He's now working as a hairstylist. She hasn't found work.
Well, that's not technically true. Her job has been planning her wedding, an endeavour made more difficult because the couple want other people to pick up the tab.
"Our families aren't in a position to help us," says Causton. "We can't have a social because we don't know that many people here. The majority of our mutual friends are from overseas. This seemed like a solution."
Holding a wedding they could afford is so last-century, it seems.
There will be 150 guests at the (partially sponsored) Niverville Heritage Centre July 12. The couple set up a website and a Facebook page. Both are professionally done and tell their love story, their goals and describe how they see their future together. So far, seven companies have donated their services.
"We're growing slowly," says the bride-to-be. They still need someone to supply their tuxes, wedding cake and cars for the wedding day. They are also registered in three places.
"We have had people say we're being greedy," says Causton. "Some people have said we should wait until we can afford it. We're not looking to wait to start a family. We'd don't want to go into a marriage in debt."
The pair, both evangelical Christians, are living separately until their wedding. She lives with Friesen's family, he boards with his sister.
"We are trying to start off our marriage with a good foundation," she says.
There's more to it than that. Kyle, says his fiancée, dated men for 15 years before he went to the Bible college, met Lynzie and, in her words, realized "his value and purpose does not come from his sexuality."
Yep, he's a born-again heterosexual. This pair clearly have more complex challenges than finding sponsors for their nuptials.
Why would companies agree to support the wedding of two strangers?
"We are trying to help companies who are small and can't afford advertising," she says. The companies will get credit on the web and in the wedding program. The belief is some of the guests will be impressed with the services offered and might support the owners in the future.
Now, how has this plan been playing with the public at large?
"The most negative response we've had is from the media," she says. In fact, no less than Canada's leading etiquette expert says she cautiously supports the idea.
"It's an interesting concept," says Toronto-based Louise Fox. "Today the traditional wedding is a thing of the past. Is it really up to us to judge where they got the money for the wedding?"
Fox says she draws the line at anything that makes guests uncomfortable. She makes reference to an Ontario bride who served her guests a meal and then had servers deliver 150 individual bills for dinner. No one, including Fox, knew her plans in advance.
While she doesn't approve of that Bridezilla, Fox says she admires the entrepreneurial spirit of Causton and Friesen.
"You just have to be careful. Even a cash bar can be considered crass. You wouldn't have people in your home, ask them if they wanted wine and then charge them $12.50 a glass because it's the good stuff. These people are your guests."
Causton says her wedding is not about material things.
"Marriage is about sacred things," she says. "When you choose to get married you choose to remain married for life."
And if you can find someone to cover the expense, she reasons, that helps a surprising little fairy tale come true.