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Love, marriage, family values new ‘trend’ in uncertain times

Let’s face it: the world changed on Sept. 11, 2001. Yet despite the uncertain present and a future full of unknowns, it seems that the eternal optimism and family values of this country remain strongly rooted.

In fact, they seem to be blooming. “In times of stress and crises, people often draw closer to one another for comfort and consolation,” said Nick Stinnett, professor of marriage and family studies at the University of Alabama.

Emotions tend to run higher and are felt more strongly during a tragedy. Most people tend to develop a heightened awareness of the importance of family, friends and others for whom they feel these powerful emotions. It’s natural to want to get back to the basics after our foundations have been shaken.

Perhaps, unfortunate as those events were, they were a wake-up call to get people to re-evaluate what is most important and what they want most in life, Stinnett said. And perhaps that’s why reports are showing that the majority of people are waking up to the most basic of all priorities: life, family and home.

Since the Sept. 11 attacks, dating services across the country have reported marked increases in business. Studies conducted by Global Strategy Group, Inc. of New York said that upwards of 46 percent of singles in the city alone are now more interested in serious love relationships.

“And you know what they say — first comes love, then comes marriage,” said Nicole Carlson, spokesperson for, an online wedding planning, shopping and referral site. “Our site has seen such an increase in traffic and orders of wedding invitations and accessories, it’s become very clear that more people are planning and celebrating weddings in full force.”

She’s right, according to other well-known names in the bridal business. “Engagements in America have shot up enormously,” said Gary Ralfe, managing director of De Beers jewelers, the world’s largest diamond company, pointing to the increase in diamond engagement ring sales.

Chet Hazzard, president of Vera Wang bridal fashions, has also said that business has been booming in recent months as brides and their attendants purchase gowns and dresses. Other research validates that couples are indeed very serious about getting married — in fact, more marriage licenses are being issued across the country than last year at this time.

As back-to-basics as this trend may seem, America is the land of innovation and there’s a new twist to today’s definition of tradition.

“While we’re seeing brides asking questions about how to incorporate family and traditions into their weddings and then ordering the products that help them do this, they’re definitely not talking about going back to the way things were,” Carlson said of brides ordering from “In fact, we’re seeing them creating new ways of doing things, with great importance placed upon individuality, diversity and personal flair.”

It is this search for ways to plan personal, intimate and unique celebrations that Carlson said is the current trend, and it shows no sign of changing. “Couples are constantly re-defining weddings. They seem to place more importance on their wedding being a celebration of individual love than on fussiness, formalities or old-fashioned, outdated etiquette. They are celebrating who they are, right now.”

Couples are also changing the way they go about planning weddings. In a word, they want convenience. Carlson said they are trying to balance creating a beautiful, personal celebration and dealing with the stresses of living and operating in a very modern world. Demanding careers, far-flung families, budget constraints and generally busy schedules can make wedding planning seem overwhelming.

“I think that’s why a huge percentage of our orders are being placed online, more than ever before,” she said. “A site like can give busy couples everything they need, all in one location.”

It does indeed seem that there is a trend emerging. While part of it deals with a return to the traditions and values themselves, it is also evident in the way we go about incorporating them into our modern way of life.

“People want the same feelings and comforts they got from the old way of doing things and they’re finding new, wonderful ways to build these into their lives,” said Carlson. And, it seems, into their life-affirming celebrations.

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