88,460 Average Dreams
I just read a statistic, from what I assume is a relatively reliable source, that an average of 44,230 weddings take place each weekend in the United States (TripSavvy). I read this statistic on a Monday morning before I’d even had my tea, a fact I mention because this may give a small hint into the subconscious interpretation of said factoid. The same list of wedding stats also mentioned that the average amount spent on a wedding dress is $1.564, the average cost per wedding guest (the average number of which is 136) is $268, making the average amount spent on a wedding $35,329.
While each of these statistics is jaw-drop-worthy enough, I can’t seem to get that one number, 44,230, out of my head. My very limited math skills tell me that this adds up to 88,460 different dreams attempting to be realized. I say 88,460 because I am old enough to realize that each dreamer has a different dream of what marriage and married life will be, so even if they are officializing their particular union, their dreams of marriage are wildly different.
People who choose to marry are publicly admitting to being dreamers and are asking for public witness to and encouragement of that dreamy state. Even the most pragmatic among us becomes a dreamer when we make or accept a proposal of matrimony, and while I don’t wonder a lot about what those dreams might look like in September and October (the most popular month for weddings, despite what we were told about while growing up about June being the month of nuptials), I would love to fold back the pages and see what those dreams morph into after five, ten, or more years of marriage.
After a few years of the reality of marriage, would the diaphanous dreams of connubial bliss and never, ever being lonely again look a little more like desperate hopes for a date night or a sigh of relief when one partner is called away on business, giving both a little extra breathing room? Or would some of those 88,460 dreams look like a weekend without kids, a month with a few extra dollars at the end, or a fervent hope that the trek from the garage to the bedroom doesn’t involve picking up a trail of discarded shoes, socks, pants, and other assorted wardrobe items for just one day? Are dreams of someone else preparing dinner and doing dishes without being asked any less real and luxuriant than the dream of being carried across the threshold in a paroxysm of passion for one who has been married for a while?
New love and old love don’t necessarily have to mean the same thing as fresh love and routine romance, do they? I wish I knew. And like so many of our youthful dreams, the 88,460 dreams of marriage and happily ever after that occur every weekend in the United States have some competition and aren’t as easy as one might think. The same article that boasted all those wedding statistics mentioned casually that the median age for brides is 29 years, while grooms typically marry at 31. However, the median age for remarriage is 34 for brides and 37 for grooms, which makes me wonder if those first or “starter” marriages are like an internship for domestic satisfaction? After all, one-third of those dreamers getting married has been married previously, and 88 percent of Americans will marry at least once in their lifetime. How happy can married life be if so many are trying to escape it at any given moment?
Weddings are lovely, regardless of what time of year they’re held or where they take place. And dreaming is a beautiful thing, too, so who am I to question the intentions of 88,460 dreamers, hellbent to make their dreams come true? What I do know is that sometimes love and dreams come-true don’t look like a $6,163 engagement ring – the average amount spent on the bling factor of connubial bliss (wedding bands are an additional $1,575). Sometimes, at least for some of us, a dream come true comes in the form of someone who realizes the air conditioning isn’t working and tries to fix it on a weekend to help save you the $100 after-hours fee. Other times, it’s the guy who takes the dog out in the middle of the night to give you a chance to stay in bed and catch a little more REM sleep. And maybe it’s the way you feel when you come out in the morning and find that he’s made your cup of tea and put a new bag in the trashcan without being asked, too.
I’m not sure if learning about the number of eager lovers take the plunge every weekend of the year is something that creates hope or despair – I guess it could go either way, depending upon your outlook and your perception of happily-ever-after. One thing I’m sure of is that 88,460 dreamers decide to take a chance on love every weekend. Whether it’s first love, second chance, or last-ditch desperation – dreaming is dreaming, isn’t it? So, I raise my glass to all those dreamers and share my enthusiastic encouragement for them to keep on dreaming. After all, it means that we all have capacity for hope and happy endings, and we all know that a good fairy tale needs three things, a “Once upon a time,” a dream that may or may not be achievable, and a “happily ever after.”
Wendy Dwyer is a woman of many hats. A full-time Associate Professor at Indian River State College, she serves as a creative consultant for a variety of nonprofit organizations in the area. She also writes regularly for Luminaries, STUART Magazine, and a variety of other publications.
The creative force behind a variety of unique and wildly successful fundraising programs locally, including the Jewelia Project, the “What’s in Your Bag?” Food Drive, and the Silver Bells Holiday Home Tour, Dwyer is an active volunteer in the community as well, serving as a founding board member of the Van Duzer Foundation, and assisting a variety of local charitable organizations including: Mustard Seed, HANDS/VIM, Southeast Florida Honor Flight, Creature Safe Place, the Inner Truth Project, Guardians for New Futures, Fort Pierce Jazz and Blues Society, the Sunrise Theatre Foundation, LifeBuilders of the Treasure Coast, Heathcote Botanical Gardens, United for Animals, and many others.
An award-winning writer, educator, and public relations professional, Dwyer is always willing to assist non-profit organizations and provide dynamic and engaging public relations trainings for Treasure Coast charities. Her book Asshats to Assets: How to Turn Crappy Jobs into Career Gold is available at www.amazon.com. When she is not working or volunteering, she enjoys writing, walking, and spending time with her husband Dan and a large variety of rescued animals at her rural home west of Fort Pierce.