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The Fieldses share the opinion that whatever wedding a couple wants is the one they should have, as long as they can afford it and are aware of other options and alternatives.



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The Fieldses share the opinion that whatever wedding a couple wants is the one they should have, as long as they can afford it and are aware of other options and alternatives.

Before Writing Checks, Check Out ‘Bridal Bargains’

By Dottie Evans

For brides and grooms about to enter the Wedding Zone, there is some sage planning advice worth considering.

It does not come from the usual sources – not from a Martha Stewart-type magazine article on “How To Hold A Coronation And Invite 350 Of Your Best Friends,” nor from Great Aunt Minnie who remembers standing up in front of a Justice of the Peace and then going out for ice cream.

When money matters, today’s two wedding gurus are Denise and Alan Fields, the authors of Bridal Bargains (published by Windsor Peak Press, Boulder, Colo., 2003, $14.95), which is now in its sixth edition.

The Fields know what the bottom line is and it is not the financial one.

They believe the most important consideration is what couples really want, and that is usually a meaningful and memorable wedding day with friends and family to share and celebrate the occasion.

Beyond that, the Fields believe many couples are at sea when confronted by the entire wedding planning process, often having little or no clue about what they are getting into.

For these reasons, the two authors have done years of legwork accumulating an impressive 438-page volume of facts and figures into Bridal Bargains, a tall paperback book that fits in a pocketbook or a desk drawer and provides advice concerning every type of wedding pitfall imaginable.

The Fields have been dubbed “wedding watchdogs” for their intensive research into all aspects of wedding planning and they have been featured on Oprah, NBC’s Today, ABC’s 20/20, and in The Wall Street Journal.


Humor Is The Best Medicine

Planning a wedding is a stressful time, so perhaps that explains why the Fields have written an informative book in a humorous manner. The best anecdote for stress is laughter and, clearly, it is better to enjoy the process than to suffer.

Also, it soon becomes obvious to a reader that they had fun writing this book.

Consider the Table of Contents, Apparel for the Bride chapter, which includes a warning about Shopping Olympics, Disappearing Bridal Shops, and Gown Preservation scams.

The Catering chapter offers suggestions and tips on planning such as Feeding 100 for $100, and Open Vs Cash Bars. Then there is the Band vs DJ Debate and a discussion of Milli Vanilli Demo Tapes.

Also under the wedding music category, the authors give practical advice about Nine Surprising Sources for Musicians and they explode the “Yucky DJ” myth.

With the average wedding costing nearly $20,000 (based on industry estimates for 175 guests), the Fields offer plenty of cost-saving alternatives for “throwing a fantastic wedding” and not breaking the bank.

Why The Spending Frenzy?

Denise and Alan Fields were asked to explain why they feel so many couples get caught up in the wedding frenzy as they enter what they call the “Wedding Zone.”

What happens to people that makes them suspend good judgment when it comes to planning the most important day in their lives?

Mr Fields paused during a phone interview February 28 before answering.

“I don’t know what it is. Scientists labor to figure out the human psyche,” he said, and still it is a mystery.

“I do know that a large part of our perception of weddings is shaped by the media, by movies and popular culture. Somehow, we have convinced couples – and their families – they have to have that Big Fat Whatever Kind of Wedding,” he said.

“It’s Hollywood and the magazines, and it’s been happening for at least 60 years.”

Denise Fields shared her thoughts as well.

“It is what people think about what they are supposed to do and what they are supposed to wear. It really is an idealized fantasy image and folks buy into that. It feeds the frenzy.”

Whence The White Wedding Dress?

“It has become tradition to wear white,” Mrs Fields said, although their book counsels brides to think freely about alternative colors and practical styles.

It also bids goodbye to “the days of the hideous taffeta gown with huge puff sleeves, even bigger back bows and colors like day-glo Tutti Frutti,” according to a press release.

“Is the Bridesmaids Dress Dead?” they ask, and then reply, “We hope so.”

“Brides wearing white dresses goes back to Queen Victoria,” Mrs Fields explained.

“If you were in the upper classes you could afford people to clean your clothes. Also, white has always been a symbol of purity. You see a lot of white in the 1950s. Grace Kelly had ‘the perfect wedding’ in 1956. It was one of the first that was broadcast on television and pictures appeared everywhere,” Mrs Fields said.

The Fieldses share the opinion that whatever wedding a couple wants is the one they should have, as long as they can afford it and are aware of other options and alternatives.

“We’re giving people from 700 to 800 tips on how to save money. Also, we want to jog their creativity. You don’t have to do it all and you don’t have to always pay retail prices,” said Mr Fields.

As for the fantastically successful Bridal Bargains book, which has sold over 400,000 copies since it was first released in 1990, the Fields say they plan to revise it every two years in order to keep up with changing costs and trends.

“We see our role as consumer activists, working to educate brides on how to be smart shoppers. Believe it or not this is a full-time job, writing and researching about the wedding business for a living,” they state in the book’s introduction.

The birth of their son, Benjamin, in 1993, has spurred another best-seller, Baby Bargains, that newlyweds may also want to buy, and keep on the top shelf behind the wedding photos for use in a couple of years.

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