Two weddings, 50 years apart, illustrate differences

MOORHEAD -- When Janice Baker got married in 1963, she wore a $100 wedding dress. Today, alterations alone could cost a bride that much. Costs aren't the only thing that's changed about weddings then and weddings now. Baker's gown was a floor-len...

Janice Baker displays a newspaper that featured her wedding 50 years ago
Janice Baker displays the Red River Scene weekley newspaper that featured her wedding 50 years ago. David Samson / The Forum

MOORHEAD -- When Janice Baker got married in 1963, she wore a $100 wedding dress.

Today, alterations alone could cost a bride that much.

Costs aren't the only thing that's changed about weddings then and weddings now.

Baker's gown was a floor-length sheath with sleeves and a train typical of the time. She still has it.

When newlywed Whitney Anderson married husband Brice on May 18 of this year, she wore a strapless fit-and-flare style from Alan Evans in Moorhead.


She declined to discuss costs, but according to, dresses priced at $200 or less are considered low end, $500 to $1,000 mid-range and $2,000 to $5,000 high end - a big leap from Baker's 1963 price tag.

Anderson added special touches such as a sewn-in pouch holding her great-grandmother's diamond and alternating crystal buttons down the back.

"People said I really sparkled when I was standing up at the altar," the 27-year-old Fargo woman says.

Baker, now 72 and living in Fargo, was reminded of her early '60s wedding as her 50th anniversary approached.

She recently dug up a newspaper clipping from the now-defunct Red River Scene weekly that featured a full page about her and husband Ken's June 22 nuptials.

The couple, who have three children and five grandchildren, were married in the old Bethesda Lutheran Church, then located across from the post office.

"At that time, Minnesota was on daylight time and North Dakota wasn't," she says. "I remember writing '2 o'clock daylight saving time' on the wedding announcement."

The church and church basement for the reception were free for the Bakers, and members handled setup.


A cake was provided by a local bakery for the church reception, and her parents fed family and friends at their south Moorhead home afterward.

Whitney and Brice were also married in Moorhead, at Our Savior's Lutheran Church.

They held their reception at downtown Fargo's Plains Art Museum, which typically costs $3,000 to rent.

"That was one of the first things we decided, that we wanted the Plains Art Museum. I based everything else on the location," Whitney says.

Aside from flowers provided by the Osgood Hornbacher's, the couple didn't add much for decoration. The museum's hardwood floors and natural light were enough.

"You don't need to do a lot to it to make it beautiful," she says.

To encourage mingling, the couple served appetizers instead of a plated meal.

Though Janice married into a family of florists, the Bakers also kept decorations to minimum.


Her new father-in-law was owner of Baker Nursery (now Baker Garden & Gift, owned by the couple's middle son), and her bouquet flowers were raised by the groom, then a horticulture graduate of North Dakota State University.

Other friends and family pitched in to help, as is still common today.

Her pink bridesmaid dresses, for example, were sewn by a friend's mother, and the crystal and lace in-laid Swedish crown Baker wore was a gift from her parents.

"I told my friends who also married 50 years ago, 'We all practically had the same headwear,' " she says.

Search "bridal accessories" on Pinterest or Etsy today and you'll find an array of clips, tiaras and birdcage veils, but nary a crown.

A loved one also contributed to Anderson's wedding celebration.

Her godmother, who owns Moxie Java's Piece of Cake Bakery, made the desserts - bars and cookies instead of cake, and caramels for favors.

No matter how much a couple chooses to spend on their wedding celebration and which choices they make, attitude is everything.


Both Baker and Anderson were relaxed brides.

"I honestly didn't feel stressed out at all on our wedding day. I think that was really what made our wedding special," Anderson says.

Budget breakdown

A national survey conducted by and found the average wedding budget for 2012 was $28,427 (not including a honeymoon).

Costs depend on location. New York City's average, for example, was almost five times Alaska's.

According to, couples who get married in North Dakota's Cass County spend an average of $15,513 to $25,855 on a wedding for 149 to 169 guests. However, 46 percent spend less than $10,000.

The numbers are a little lower in Minnesota's Clay County, where the average is $14,081 to $23,468, with 48 percent spending less than $10,000.

The Knot offers a typical breakdown, but each couple has a different budget and idea of where the money should go.


• Reception: 48-50 percent.

• Photography/videography: 10-12 percent.

• Attire: 8-10 percent.

• Flowers: 8-10 percent.

• Entertainment/music: 8-10 percent.

• Miscellaneous: 8 percent.

• Ceremony: 2-3 percent.

• Wedding rings: 2-3 percent.


• Parking/transportation: 2-3 percent.

• Gifts: 2-3 percent.

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