Lithuanian brides to-be enthralled by Kate Middleton’s wedding dress…but its 3-meter train

  • 2011-05-25
  • By Linas Jegelevicius

Violeta Masteikiene says most couples want to maintain tradition.

KLAIPEDA - Is she a sweet, smart and pretty girl that you are ready to die for? If you are ready to harness yourself with the strings of wedlock, make sure your sweetie brings a decent dowry for the W-day. If you are the prince of her dreams, it would be nice on your side to chip in for the wedding budget with some self-esteem rewarding input as well. Does neither work in your case? Well, get ready to ladle up to your elbows in savings, or, if love makes you blind, get a loan.

“An elaborate, expensive wedding is a thing of luxury today, as most newlyweds prefer having modest wedding parties and spending more for exotic honeymoon trips. Some decide to put off the latter indefinitely, focusing on more down-to-earth burdens such as where to live or what kind of apartment to rent. A recent survey of  newlyweds showed that Lithuanians spend, on average, 10,000-12,000 litas (roughly 3,000 euros) for their wedding,” Monika Jonikiene, a wedding planner in Vilnius, maintained to The Baltic Times.

She says that thrifty love crooners can squeeze out a wedding budget of as little as 4,000 – 6,000 litas. “Those who opt for lavish wedding celebrations do not usually care about the price tag, spending from 25 to 50,000 litas, or more. In the post-crisis years, however, such grandiose weddings are a rarity,” Jonikiene notes.

How does the wedding budget break down, you wonder? “In the survey, we came up with 11 groups of main expenses, such as invitations, wedding apparel and accessories, wedding rings, beauty services, car rental, photo or camera-man services, wedding party and others. The survey revealed that Lithuanians spend the least for wedding invitations (0-2 percent of all expenses), beautician services (0-4 percent of the budget) and flowers (1-7 percent of the total). The largest bulk of the expenses is swallowed by the wedding party – statistically, from 17 to 59 percent of a budget,” the wedding planner emphasized.

The Paulauskai family has recently exchanged marital vows in Klaipeda, a seaport city in the west. They had both worked hard to collect 10,000 litas which, according to their meticulous calculations, was enough to have their modest and unassuming wedding party last winter. “We both have dressed up for the occasion for 2,200 litas; I spent 200 litas for a beautician, and we paid 300 litas for floral services, including a few elaborate lush bouquets. As we planned, we spent most for our wedding party, to be exact, 3,500 litas, plus an additional 500 litas for alcoholic beverages. The wedding photographer and musicians shared another 1,000 litas. Miscellaneous expenses, such as wedding registration, took up 200 litas. The wedding was budget-oriented, but, nonetheless, absolutely to our expectations,” said Julija, the bride, sharing the numbers with The Baltic Times.

The wedding planner, Jonikiene, affirms that newlyweds nowadays tend to plan the special day of their lives well in advance. “As a rule, most couples book premises for the wedding-party, as well as musicians eight or nine months prior to the date. Usually, wedding apparel is chosen at least a half year before the day. Planning of expenses is a trademark of weddings in the post-crisis economy,” the wedding planner asserts.

Another wedding planner, Jolita Geceviciene, calls herself, jokingly, a “wedding myth buster,” as her dealings with brides to-be and grooms are hallmarked with blunt straightforwardness, especially when it comes to planning the wedding budget.
“Obviously, there are many young people out there who have no clue of how much a wedding can cost. Particularly those whose parents are ready to jump in settling the wedding bills. I am here to sober them up a little bit. Does the bride rave for a couple of cooing doves fluttering into the blue sky? Did she see this in a movie, starred in by some screen celebs she adores? Oh, c’mon, some frightened, disoriented birds do smash up, when freed, into the closest brick-wall, or poop onto your bridal gown. Is that what you really want? I always keep telling these kinds of things to the future married. Ninety percent of them are grateful for busting their ‘perfect wedding’ myths,” Geceviciene chuckled.

She claims she likes to write down possible wedding expenses with her over-sized marker to be seen (perceived?) by even love-smitten young couples. Are you going to have your civil matrimony registered at church as well? Well, the chubby, pink-cheeked and a bit shy God-server expects you to sacrifice for God’s blessings roughly 150 litas.
Do you want an extraordinary, villa-like mansion for you wedding party? “It certainly will gnaw at the bulge in your wallet, reducing it by 12,000 litas,” Geceviciene says.

Do you want to look like the royal, Catherine Middleton, in her top-list-designer-sewn wedding dresss? The Catherine look may cost you up to 20,000 litas. Is it worth it even for the W-day?
“After the royal wedding, I see hordes of girls who want to look like Kate Middleton in their wedding dresses. I have heard that some dress designers started advertising themselves as Kate-dress designers. I find it to be rather cheap,” the wedding planner says.

Are you planning to ride in an elegant horse-drawn carriage on that special day?
Oh, that is fine, the wedding planner says, but the synchronic rattling of hooves will empty your pocket by 500 litas per hour. Is it too costly?

Renting a retro car would be another luxury, costing 1,000 litas per few hours. Oh, the man of your dreams cannot afford that for his bride’s bliss? Well, “ordinary” wedding car rentals start from 50 litas per hour in Lithuania.

The wedding planner says that many spouses to-be, particularly in the countryside, before would prefer star singers and bands to play at their wedding parties. “With the economy booming, wedding parties often would resemble a major star concert. However, with the crisis setting in, the groove for stars’ presence has vanished. Nowadays many people seek a single performer or a two-person band that can play a wide range of musical instruments, as well as somebody who is able simultaneously to perform as a deejay and a wedding party host,” the wedding planner said.

Linas, who presents himself in his Web site as Baltas Balandis (White Dove), or fotoRomantikas (Photo Romantic Man), has been catering to the wedding business in two capacities – as a wedding photographer and wedding dove grower and supplier. “Obviously, people tend to save nowadays on everything, including probably the most memorable day of their life – the wedding day. However, saving on wedding photography can turn against the newlyweds in a disastrous way – they simply will stay without decent, quality and artsy pictures of the grand day. Is the avarice worth bad memories of the special day for the rest of your life?” Linas ponders. “Definitely, not,” he answers.

He says that there are roughly about 1,000 photographers who offer professional wedding photography services. “While novice wedding photographers offer their services for a symbolic fee, averaging 300-500 litas per day, more skilled ones ask from 800 to 1,500 litas for the services. Those who are on top of the list request up to 5,000 litas per day. Certainly, only a few can afford that, mostly professional athletes and pro show stars,” he says. To sum up, the White Dove explains, the total depends on four different things – the photographer’s popularity and name, his work experience, the kind of photo equipment he has and how long the photographer can process the pictures. “A good wedding photographer, differently from a regular art photographer, must closely monitor the ever-changing wedding photography market. If one does not do it, there is an imminent danger of sticking to stereotypical cliches,” he admonishes.

Violeta Masteikiene, a wedding planner and spearhead of the popular project “Academy of Wedding Planning of a Bride’s Friend,” notes that substantially more Lithuanians engage in international marriages. “Though many Lithuanians nowadays find their spouses in Lithuanian emigre hubs, like Norway, UK, Spain or Ireland, they, as a rule, come back to Lithuania to have their marriage ceremonies. Most of these couples are determined to maintain the traditional wedding traditions, as they [the couples] perceive their beauty, uniqueness and longevity. Certainly, they mix them up with the modern wedding trends and their acquired experience. Thus, for example, some such brides, instead of putting a rue wreath on their head, stick a little branch of rue in their hair,” Masteikiene related to The Baltic Times.

Due to the fast lifestyle, she says, international newlyweds opt out of sewing their wedding apparel. “Therefore, many such couples tend to rent ready-to-use bridal gowns and wedding suits,” the wedding expert notices. She calls her clients “young and creative people, whose standing-out descends on kinds of wedding apparel.”

“Brides to-be tend to opt for unique-style wedding dresses of different lengths and shapes. I see small gauze bonnets and multi-colored ribbons to be trendy today among brides. Grooms to-be opt for ready-to-wear wedding suits, which are rather casual and ready to be used on every occasion. In addition, men’s vests are getting trendy, as well as cuff links. However, largely, Lithuanian men are rather conservative, or I should say are gentlemen who do not try to overshadow their women,” Masteikiene pointed out. She emphasizes that Lithuanians are getting more open to Western wedding trends; however, mom’s opinion still heavily impacts on the bride’s to-be decision as to what kind of bridal gown to choose. “Lithuanians still arrange weddings not as much for themselves as much as for their tradition-devoted parents and relatives,” the wedding planner inferred.

Natalija Stankeviciene, Expansion Director at Carisma, a specialized wedding ring store in Vilnius, says that, in recent years, consumers have switched from modern-style sharp-edged wedding rings to classic-style wedding rings, which are of sleek and smooth shapes. “In regards to color, yellow and white gold wedding rings are back in fashion. Particularly white gold rings are getting trendy,” Stankeviciene pointed out to The Baltic Times.

She admits that the downturn has severely impacted the business. “Prior to the crisis, many clients would often require exclusive and exquisite design luxurious wedding rings. Upon the requests, our jewelers would embellish them with large diamonds or a big quantity of small diamonds. Often, in these kinds of orders, price was a secondary matter. The crisis and ever-rising gold and diamond prices have reshaped the preference, as nowadays most clients stick with classic wedding rings. Some clients do get rid of diamonds completely, even the smallest ones. Due to the high gold price in Western Europe, many Western wedding ring sellers started offering rings made from palladium, which is much cheaper than gold. In Lithuania, however, weddings rings made from gold less than Au585 hallmark and palladium are absolutely unpopular,” the Carisma expansion director emphasized.

She says Carisma consultants often spend up to three hours with their clients, for which wedding rings are nearly of a mystical meaning. “No one wants to mess up with the love symbols that mean happiness and prosperity. Very often, if the price of wedding rings surpasses the price that had been planned, particularly young people decide to cut other wedding expenses, but obtain the desired rings,” Stankeviciene noted.

She says that mostly famous German wedding ring manufacturers’ rings are being offered in the Lithuanian market. Among those importers are German AG Gerstner, EGF and Rauschmayer. However, many couples, in the pursuit of the wedding rings of their dreams, delve in the Web’s vastness while searching for the right model. “It is usual for us that many people come to our store with wedding ring sketches that they have seen somewhere on the Internet,” the wedding ring expert says.
Elena Romanovskaja, co-owner of Caprice Boutique fashion house, which specializes in wedding apparel sales, says that, this year, spouses to-be opt for small and unassuming weddings. “This certainly determines newlyweds’ preferences when it comes to choosing a bridal gown or a suit. As a rule, brides to-be prefer comfortable, light and modestly decorated, however, crochet-abundant, what we call, Greek-style wedding dresses. Many brides tend to pick up models of the 1940s and 1950s, which are famous for their simplicity,” Romanovskaja told The Baltic Times.

She acknowledges that the downturn has ill-affected her business, as people tend to postpone their nuptials indefinitely. “Those who decided to wed despite the economic adversity were extremely price-savvy. To respond to that, we had to re-think our prices and they have been slashed considerably. However, the business has picked up this year, though newlyweds remain money conscious,” the entrepreneur admitted. She notes that most brides to-be opt for sewing bridal gowns than buying or renting them this year. Besides, she says, many girls tend to look for that special dress as early as winter, though make up their mind a few months prior to the wedding. “A few years ago, brides to-be would usually order their dresses in winter and wait calmly for the special day in late spring or summer to come. Obviously, the crisis has taught people to be more pragmatic,” Romanovskaja says.

She notes that foreign wedding dress fashion shapes a Lithuanian bride’s choices. “Obviously, all brides are picky when it comes to choosing that special wedding dress. However, Lithuanian girls are particularly choosy, demanding the most sophisticated services for their often discount wedding dresses,” she says.

According to the expert, many brides to-be, instead of seeking a professional wedding dress consultant’s advice, tend to pick models of their dreams on their own. However, only few consider whether the dress will suit them. “Obviously, famous foreign wedding apparel designers and glossy-magazine celebrities define the trends. Regrettably, I see many brides lack individuality in Lithuania, as very few of them prefer a Lithuanian designer’s wedding dress model. The illustration to that is Kate Middleton’s royal wedding, after which plenty of Lithuanian women decided to have their wedding dresses like hers. Our girls, certainly, frown at long wedding dress trains; however, the rest of the dress is desired to be like Kate’s,” Romanovskaja said.