(NEW YORK) — Weddings are expensive. The average cost of a wedding in 2019 was $33,900, according to The Knot’s 2019 Real Weddings Study.
Stag and Does — or Jack and Jills — are gaining popularity throughout the Northeastern region of America, but in small towns around Ontario, Canada, they have been trendy for a while.
Hosted one to two months before the wedding, these are parties that help to offset the costs and are generally sponsored by the community. Local restaurants, family members and friends will chip in for decorations, food, drinks and all other needs. Generally, party-goers are charged $10 to $20 to attend a gathering with games, raffles and libations.
“I didn’t realize that it didn’t happen all over because it does happen so often here that you’re just kind of under the assumption that it happens everywhere,” said Shannon Bellisle.
Bellisle is a local wedding planner in Ontario. She didn’t need money to pay for her own wedding, but she did have a large wedding guest list and wasn’t able to include everyone. Instead, she opted for a third, hockey-themed wedding party with around 150 people.
“It’s usually meant for co-workers and friends who aren’t coming to the wedding,” Bellisle said. “There’s people who debate having them because of the controversy around asking for money, but it really just comes back down to the type of person that you are. The idea is just to get a group of friends and family together to have fun.”
Traditionally, it’s been the bride’s family who pays for the bulk of the wedding costs. But now, as the average age of a couple getting engaged is on the rise, there has been a shift in who pays and, more often than not, those costs are falling on the couple.
“That assumption came under this umbrella of a whole load of cultural values about women being property,” Ariel Meadow Stallings, the author of Offbeat Bride: Create a Wedding That’s Authentically You, told ABC News’ Good Morning America. “It’s a good thing that the bride’s family is no longer assumed to pay for the wedding because it’s part of women being more independent.”
Donna Johnston recently had a Stag and Doe to raise funds for her wedding in June.
“It’s just a tradition, so people do it,” said Johnston. “I know about three people who are about to have one.”
Hosts raffle off items like game tickets, televisions and purses.
“I don’t expect people who donate to give me a wedding gift, too,” said Johnston. “It was a little weird at first, asking for a donation, but most people were like, ‘Yeah, absolutely."”
With rising wedding costs this tradition has trickled down to the states, with varying reactions.
“Ten years ago, honeymoon registries were super tacky,” said Stallings “People [had] apartments full of stuff, but what they [didn’t] have [was] the funds for that trip.”
But millennials have come of age finding unique ways to fund their lives. GoFundMe, Honeyfund, Zola and other crowdfunding websites and apps have become increasingly popular.
“Ultimately, the couple knows better than anyone how people in their community are going to feel,” said Stallings. “Wedding etiquette is changing even as we are trying to identify it, so do what’s best for you.”
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