I know many of you are already on the defense. Those who attribute their wedding nuptials as The Best Day of Their Lives probably want to rip my eyeballs out. How could I not be in support of such a wonderful occasion?
Let me say: I’m not against your marriage. I’m not against your big day. Those are beautiful, cherished moments.
The $51 billion industry, with over 800,000 employees (including a personal social media concierge who will live-tweet your wedding for a cool $3k) — that’s what I’m a little shaky on. Have weddings become a business first, and a union second?
While marriage remains an institution that benefits just two people, weddings are an enterprise and the people who profit most aren’t the bride and groom.
It’s the caterers, event spaces, planners, decorators, florists who stand to gain the most from two people falling in love.
Taken that way, weddings feel more like a fiscal exploitation of two people in love than a celebration.
According to TheKnot’s Real Weddings Study, the average cost of a 2013 wedding was a staggering $29,000.
Why do we feel the need to consummate the sacred act of marriage by shelling out thousands of dollars on superficial extras, like gold-trimmed place cards?
Perhaps I am a product of my environment (according to the same study, Manhattan, Long Island and North Jersey were the three most expensive places to get hitched, respectively), but it feels as if every wedding we read about and watch on television is trying to outdo the one that came before it.
The photographers are better and harder to book. The cake is taller and more intricate. The bride wears two dresses — one for the ceremony/reception and another for the after party.
With the help of Pinterest boards staking claim on wedding ideas, namesake websites dedicated to the engaged couple and personalized hashtags, have weddings become more about the frills?
My friend once received an invitation to a wedding that was a mini record player with a pre-recorded song. This novel prop was just the start of what he recalls was an “insane wedding.”
Every time I see a 32-year-old woman on TLC saying she wants to look like a princess in a poofy fairytale ball gown, my heart dies a little. Since when did weddings become the new Sweet Sixteens?
Why are we squealing over penis straws at age 25 like we did when we were 12 and shopping at Urban Outfitters for the first time? It’s like some women regress 15 years, back to their little girl bedrooms playing “bride” and wanting a juvenile, stuffed-animal wedding that costs as much as a college tuition.
Beyond the reception, the add-ons to the wedding celebration cost an elaborate amount as well. Instead of One Big Day, a typical couple now has multiple big days: engagement parties, his and her bachelor fetes, bridal showers and rehearsal dinners, further fueling this economic complex.
Where there’s a bridal shower, there’s a brunch with more fancy napkin-holders. Where there’s a rehearsal dinner, there’s another florist.
And though they bear the exorbitant cost of the whole thing, the bride and groom still stand to yield a profit in the form of gifts and checks, sometimes required for each event.
It’s basically become more about an exchange of goods and less about an exchange of vows.
I understand that the reception is important. In a cultural context especially, weddings are a time when two families and friends come together and rejoice in the expansion of the clan.
But if two people become contractually betrothed and they don’t throw a party after for everyone to celebrate it, does that mean that their union wasn’t legitimate?
The recent rumors debating whether Scarlett Johansson was in fact married or not, despite wearing a wedding ring, makes me wonder if our definition of marriage has become heavily reliant upon a reception taking place.
Despite 500 words to the contrary, I’m not saying that I’m against celebrating the love and joy and union between two people.
I cry at every ceremony and those tears of happiness spill all the way until the end. I do thoroughly enjoy witnessing any couple become married — even “My Best Friend’s Wedding.”
What I am conflicted about is the commercialization of this special love. We already have Valentine’s Day, we don’t need to be sold and marketed another overpriced holiday all in the name of finding The One.
When I say “I do,” I want it to be to the person I love, not the table linens.