Love is in the air, thanks to the economy

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, a survey of data at Wilton Town Hall shows there is a strong correlation between marriage licenses and the economy.

In other words, love is in the air — if the economy is strong.

The data shows that marriage licenses stood at 57 in 2007, the year before the Great Recession was recognized, then dropped to 50 in 2008 and 51 in 2009. At one point, they dropped to as low as 49, in 2012, the year of the re-election race for President Barack Obama, when there was a lot of uncertainty.

Since that time, marriage licenses picked up to as high as 61 in 2014. In 2015, the most recent year with data available, 55 licenses were issued.

Data for 2016 was not available.

The correlation between marriage intentions and the economy is very real, said economics professor Steve Glazer of Norwalk Community College.

“During times of uncertainty, in this case economically speaking, people are hesitant to make changes, and as many have pointed out, weddings are one of the most stressful episodes in a person’s life between the planning and the event itself. Given the exorbitant cost involved for weddings, and the uncertainty seen in the economy, people do not want to commit to spending that much money when they do not know how stable their personal economic situation is,” Glazer said.

Formal weddings cost thousands of dollars to host. A catering hall must be booked, with often fancy dinners and desserts planned for as many as 200 guests, depending on the size of the families involved and the numbers of friends. A limousine must be hired. A bridal gown and tuxedo rentals figure into the equation. A cake, official photographs of the engagement, a videographer for the wedding and a photographer for the service, plus odds and ends like flowers for the tables and souvenir favors for the guests — all these drive up the cost.

Add a couple of thousand more to hire a live band for dancing, or at the very least, a DJ with a sound system.

Throw in a honeymoon vacation and the cost of an engagement ring, and you’re talking major spending.

“Traditionally, a wedding signaled additional forms of spending on such expensive items as a home and the expenses associated with children. In uncertain times, people do not want to commit to all of this spending, when they don’t know how long they will keep their job, thereby meaning a strong likelihood of the linkage between the two,” Glazer said.

The current economy has improved, compared with the recession of 2009, but Connecticut continues to struggle. Unemployment is running at about 5%, with annual growth less than 1%, while growth is more robust in other states.

When it comes to getting married, there is definitely a time and a place for it. That time is usually the summer, said Ann Fiteni, assistant town clerk.

“Most years the high time is during the summer. In 2016 it was July,” Fiteni said.

A little nip in the air never hurt Cupid either, it seems.

“The other month that is popular is September,” she said.