The Wedding Industry Is Feeding off Your Issues With Life

I am so suspicious of the wedding industry, reading One Perfect Day: The Selling of the American Wedding was really just preaching to the choir.

However, never before did I have the tools to skillfully articulate why weddings gave me the itchies.

Those who cherish big white weddings and happily ever afters should exit now!

OK, first off, congrats to Rebecca Mead for being fantastic (she's a staff writer at the New Yorker) and for so humanly writing about a subject which she later reveals to be not to her taste at all. Mead is beautifully restrained, relentless and thought provoking.

The author travels the globe to look at all aspects of the wedding industry. She attends a conference of wedding videographers, travels to a church that survives off income made from hosting weddings, visits a factory in China where workers are paid only 40 cents to make a piece of your 'totally-made-for-you-special-gown', to visit top wedding planners, to Vegas, to 'wedding primer seminars' hosted by bridal mags.

In short, you, the bride, is perceived as a 'slam dunk', the dream consumer that, blinded by emotion, will spend far beyond her means.

In the past, marriage was an event rooted in family and community. Since common-law relationships were rare and pre-marital sex was frowned upon, weddings were truly a time of transition and change.

Now that we lose it at 15 and move in with our partners sometimes years before the big day it is harder to justify marriage as a brilliant new stage in life. Hence, weddings that are over the top and engagements fraught with dieting, planning and fake 'reinvention' that smack of trying to bring about that which just isn't there.

Add in the face that these days we're more likely to get married by a hired multi-faith minister in a rented garden or the Bahamas, our sense of security of being rooted in a tradition that many more before us have struggled with has been drastically reduced. Hence, the traditionalesque - a love of big expensive poofy dresses, tableware fit for a Victorian dinner party and a fat diamond.

Sickest of all - the cash shelled out for photography and videography. It's sold to brides on the sad premise that all that planning will be for nothing if we don't have evidence of it on paper. And videos are sold by telling us that it's an eye that can be where we can't - how else will we fully experience the day otherwise?

Mead got married halfway through the book and did so courageously without reliance on anything traditionalesque. It takes balls to get married in a way that truly reflects our modern lives - moorless, without president.

So read this book and tell your wedding planner to fuck off. You've finally found the person you're hopefully going to love for the rest of your life. It's occasion enough.


JK said...

Sounds like a fascinating (and somewhat frightening book).

Cheese said...

I was sold from the title of this review, but the last paragraph filled me with joy. Not that I'm likely to ever have a wedding planner (or, in that matter, to have to find a reason to tell someone to fuck off), but it's still great. Think I'm going to get my hands on this one.

Errant Knave said...

Somehow found my way to this via wedding discussions on Twitter and the review of this book at the KIRBC. Based on my limited experience with the wedding industry, I'll say it's a little ridiculous, but I'm going to read this book before saying much more. After all, I'm doing some wedding photography too. I never thought of it as selling the bride on a sad premise, but maybe that's what it comes down to.

I'll get back to you on this.


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