Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Oh, I'm going there

What a great title for a post. I could be talking about weighing in on the neverending discussion regarding Winnipeg getting an NHL team - will the big announcement about the Atlanta Thrashers coming to Winnipeg be tomorrow? Maybe the next day? Was it all just rumour after all?

It could be about the fact that I'm going to freaking Copenhagen, Denmark for a mere $475 roundtrip. Yeah, seriously. How could I not for that price? It's with Iceland Express, and yes, they had their issues last summer and screwed over some folks, but even if they cancel service halfway through the summer again, I'll be safe because I'm going in June (*knocks on wood). However that is more a post for my other admittedly less frequently updated blog Small World, Big Travels.

So what is this mighty issue that I'm going to force my opinion on you on? Socials. Yup, the great Manitoba (and pockets of NW Ontario and Saskatchewan) tradition. For some of my random far flung readers (I'm looking at you Qatar) who may not be Manitoba expatriates, a social is an event that many young couples put on as a fundraiser for either their wedding itself or for starting their new life together; it is also sometimes held as a fundraiser for things like sports teams. It is generally held in a community club or banquet hall and tickets are sold *only* in advance (due to Manitoba liquor laws) or secretly out the side door (technically that's before they get in).

Tickets are usually $10 and for that price include a DJ that usually kind of sucks but plays just enough modern music and oldies to keep every age group from rioting. It also includes a selection of meat, mustard and rye bread at about 11pm. Watch out for the meat shoulder. More modern food selections (I'm pretty sure the whole food thing is something to do with the liquor laws too) sometimes include perogies or pizza, but even though I'm not a fan of socials I'm a fan of tradition, so if you have perogies you'd better have the meat and bread too.  Your choices of beverages generally include rum/rye and coke, gin and tonic, vodka and clamato juice (poormans caesar) or beer. Notice I did not say Bailey's.

Even drunk it's easy to tell if you won

You also generally can't pay for your drinks right at the bar. Oh no, you need tickets. Conveniently*, you can also buy tickets for silent auction prizes at the same time! *mental note, develop sarcasm font*  If you live in Winnipeg, as I do, this inevitably means a gift certificate from Discreet Boutique or Fabutan as part of one of the auction prizes. Nothing says good times like vibrators and tans. There are also usually one or two bigger prizes, like TV's and BBQ's and those silent auction tickets of course cost more. Back in the "olden days" most if not all of the social prizes were donated and it was a task of the wedding party to help round them up from local merchants. Now couples typically buy a lot of their prizes (or parts of them) with the hopes of recouping the spend in their ticket sales.

So what's my beef with socials? Well, there are a couple of things. First, they almost never have anything that I actually enjoy drinking and I refuse to drink just for the sake of it. Second, I'm pretty sure that socials used to be mostly a country thing and that I'm still pretty much okay with. In the country it's a chance for a small town to have a lively night with dancing as even a crappy DJ is better than none at all, and chances are, in the country you actually know the people getting married.  Here in the city socials have become so expensive to put on that people are desperate to sell tickets and it becomes a guilt thing rather than a supporting thing. No, I don't want to go to your sisters co-workers brothers social.

Why do people even need to raise money for their wedding anymore? Back in those "olden days" couples were probably only moving in together after they got married and quite possibly moving straight from their parents place into their first place together as a couple. Nowadays the couple has either already been living together already or at the very least have likely been living on their own for a while which means that they don't need to register for pots and pans and toasters and towels for their actual wedding, they have all of those things. No, most weddings I've attended over the last few years have just wanted the presentation envelope; and everyone should be presenting at least enough to cover the cost of their own attendance at the wedding, everything else is just gravy. Weddings are about love and other mushy crap, they are not supposed to be about turning a buck.

Socials are just a way to raise money so people can spend more money and in the city I can think of a bunch of other things I'd rather do on a Friday or Saturday night. Socials also used to be only in the winter - winter was social season, summer was wedding season. Now, they go all year round! At least in winter I may not have the argument that I have something better to do.

So to sum up my position on socials, if you live in the country, give 'er, you really may not have anything better to do. If you live in the city, skip the social and just have the wedding, unless you are both still living at home and actually need to get a toaster as a wedding gift (thus not being able to use your presentation to pay for the wedding). The exception to this rule is if you're Filipino. Filipino wedding socials are generally superior in my opinion; the food is out all night, I don't usually know what any of it is, but it's darn good and plentiful (and they'll send you home with leftovers if you're lucky!) - I think my stupid $10 ticket as dinner.


  1. I think you're right about socials being somewhat obsolete in this day and age, but I'd honestly miss them if they were gone!

  2. This trend towards big expensive prizes could be the beginning of the end. My wife and I kept it simple: no big prizes .. just a 50/50 draw and a big bottle of booze. It was more for the party than to raise money, and I think it turned out really well.

    Thankfully, most of my friends are already married and I'm not compelled to go to 10 socials a year anymore. I certainly don't mind the occasional bash though.

  3. I think that's my big beef really is the frequency of them. With a city this size there is always one somewhere and it seems as though because there's only about 2 degrees of separation between most Winnipeggers that there is ALWAYS one that needs going to.

    If it was a once and a while thing then I probably wouldn't even think about it. Something I've seen a few times and haven't minded is when a couple just does more of a social thing for their actual wedding; so they skip the formal dinner (thus saving them big $$) and just have everyone come for the party bit, and rather than straight presentation folks can gamble for some silent auction prizes.

  4. Hey! Great post - I had forgotten about the meat shoulder thing (though I admit, I've only heard about it, not seen in myself). Anyway, I'm so glad I stumbled across your blog. I'm just about to add it to my blogroll. And read through all your archives!

  5. Just came upon your blog and I almost blogged a rant about socials recently, too! *lol*

    I grew up in the country and, yeah, socials were awesome and fun back then because: (a) I was in my teens; and (b) I actually knew the people who were having the social.

    Socials nowadays are lame, lame, LAME! Any of your friends have their social at a bar yet? The last social I went to was held at Essence. That's super lame as far as I'm concerned. The DJ is not there for your entertainment; (s)he's there for all the drunk floozies who don't even know you're having a social.

    If I know the person/people, I'll usually at least buy a ticket and *maybe* attend (if they're a really good friend or family member). If I don't know the person/people, I don't buy a ticket, no matter how much guilt tripping comes my way.

    I am all for socials held for charitable causes. City socials for weddings = so over it.