IT WAS WORTH IT!: Despite the ever-rising costs, young couples continue to splurge on the big day.
KLAIPEDA - If you were planning that one special day in your life, to which your grandma refers as the most memorable, perhaps the day of your wedding is meant to happen in the summer, the true wedding season.
For memories that won’t fade away
Ingrida and Viktoras Dainauskai, a newlywed couple from Vilnius, have deliberately chosen a summer weekend for tying the knot because of the summer’s niceties – lush greenery and the gentle evening breezes. But, accosted from the financial side, they often bit their lips.
“Getting married in winter would have definitely been cheaper. Just because we’d have not invited our friends from the UK and Norway to come over for the day. In other words, we’d have got away with a lot smaller bunch of invitees and, therefore, smaller premises for the wedding. Let us leave out all those summer wedding peculiarities, like a flower petal-strewn wedding gown or elaborate floral decorations,” says Ingrida, a Vilnius University graduate.
“Well, to speak of the money, we’ve spent a total of 24,600 litas (7,130 euros) for the occasion. Thank God, both our parents chipped in, easing the financial weight,” grins the groom, Viktoras, who is a fledgling financial analyst at a Vilnius blue-chip company. He turns to his wife while hugging her: “Was it worth it?” “Sure! The day will never fade away in our life. At least it seems so now,” Ingrida chuckles.
To break down the sum, a chunk of 8,726 litas went for the rental of the luxurious Rotonda party hall at the Belmontas amusement park, a picturesque medieval manor-turned-extensive-restaurant-complex on the outskirts of Vilnius.
“This included not only the rental fee, but also food and service costs. Though we asked not to overload the tables with tons of fancy and elaborate entrees and multi-layered desserts, the aperitifs and cookies we had were very thoughtfully made and yummy, and, most importantly, budget-oriented,” Ingrida recalled to The Baltic Times.
A nice wedding
Nearly 50 wedding guests, including 6 teenagers, stayed at the Belmontas for roughly 8 hours, from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m.
What kind of marriage would it be without exchanging eternal marital vows and thrusting the wedding ring on your hubby’s finger? The couple spent nearly 4,000 litas for the rings.
The other expensive item was the 5-hour services of a seasoned wedding photographer, which cost the Vilnius residents 2,500 litas.
“During several intense shoots, he produced a set of over one hundred high-quality artsy pictures, plus an hour-long video with the most fascinating vids of the celebration. The latter cost 700 litas,” Viktoras says.
The same price was for the live music, with the band playing 4 sets, 45 minutes each. “Those times when the band would play non-stop for two consecutive days have irreversibly gone,” the couple noted.
Additional costs came in the form of a spry and witty wedding emcee. “The girl we hired at an event organizing company was great. She cheered up everyone with her exuberance and made all things run smoothly,” Dainauskas says.
The couple paid 500 litas for her services.
The wedding’s guests were handed stylish linen bags, tagged with each guest’s name and nifty presents inside. This cost nearly 1,000 litas.
No Lithuanian wedding can be imagined without a number of tree-cakes on the table. The couple ordered 5 of them, up to a half meter each, from the food store chain IKI’s bakery, at a price of 100 litas each, and the couple left very happy with their choice.
The young couple – he is 28 and she is 25 – have bowed to the Christian traditions as well. “Not that we were very pious ourselves, but out of respect for our parents, and especially grandparents. We had attended a newlyweds’ course at a local church, which cost us both 100 litas. In addition, we paid 800 litas for an on-site banquet at the church. And, oh yes, 500 litas for the red plushy carpet we rented,” Ingrida said.
A considerable part of the expenses was spent for the rentals of the groom’s fancy suit and bride’s hip wedding gown, 1,200 and 1,470 litas, respectively. The bride also paid 500 litas for her hair-do and make-up.
Was the wedding worth the money? “Sure. Indeed, we had a very nice, memorable wedding that we are proud of!” they say.
Traditions have changed
Wedding traditions have changed immensely, says Dovydas Bajoras, a young exuberant entrepreneur and owner of event organizing company Trys Karaliai (Three Kings) which, among other things, provides a number of services, ranging from wedding coordination and hosting to wedding expense consultation.
“The traditions have been in a constant change over the last 20 years, but the last 10 years have been crucial in bending and switching to new wedding traditions,” says Bajoras, a 25-year-old Lithuanian. He went on, explaining: “First, the purely Lithuanian wedding traditions, like seeing off the newlyweds from the parents’ house, festive table traditions and wedding amusements, have nearly dwindled as they were replaced by more modern and practical Western traditions.”
According to the wedding organizer, only 1 out of 10 weddings stick to the traditional mold of ceremonies nowadays. Bajoras says that a considerable part of the wedding crowd, especially young couples, prefer throwing a wedding party on their own, even without a professional host.
“Interestingly, a lot of people call us trying to find out about cheaper services, the best rental deals, or things like that in order to have a budget-wise wedding party. In fact, we’d been so swarmed with these kinds of requests for consultations that we decided to provide them for a small charge,” the Trys Karaliai owner says.
His company employs 6 professional event hosts, but only one exclusively focuses on weddings. “From my experience, the larger the event, the easier it is to handle it. Besides, money-wise, big party organizers are usually big time spenders, which could not be said of 90 percent of wedding planners,” Bajoras noted to The Baltic Times.
He charges from 3,000-3,500 litas for a wedding host’s 8-hour services, that usually last from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m.
“There are plenty of kinds of wedding organizers around. But those times when every countryside’s prankster and fidgeter could be a wedding host are gone, as more and more people are looking for professional services,” the entrepreneur concludes.
Acclaimed wedding planner
Kristina Kaikariene is perhaps the most well-known wedding planner in the country, with nearly three decades devoted to the business. And, seemingly, she is the only Lithuanian wedding planner to have coordinated a lot of weddings abroad, still unchartered territory for many Lithuanian wedding organizers.
“Over the years, wedding planning has become for me my lifestyle, work and hobby. And it has changed tremendously over the years. In the beginning of my career, I’d do most of the jobs myself. I’d do even floral decorations and put them on,” she remembers.
With her wide acclamation as one of the coolest and hippest country’s wedding emcees, now she has her own staff, but still likes to put her magic hands on things. “What sets me apart from other wedding planners is that I am trying to personalize the event as much as possible. This means I always try to get acquainted very well with the would-be newlyweds, sometimes even a half-year before the day,” the wedding planner says.
All weddings give her joy, but she says she is a sucker for extraordinary, non-conventional wedding parties that require unusual decisions and extra effort. When it comes to wedding peculiarities nowadays, she discerns focusing on a swedding’s decor.
“Before, everyone cared only about a nice surrounding and a proper set of champagne glasses; now most folks are very picky when it comes to the color of place cards on the table, or ornaments on the ceiling,” says Kaikariene.