I read an article today that was standard first world problem irritating. But I kept on thinking about it, and today’s blog post is the result of that. It’s about marriage, or more specifically, weddings.
What is a wedding primarily about? Once, a wedding was a way to consolidate property, join countries, or a host of other political or economic reasons. Weddings were a lavish declaration of wealth and they still are, which is all well and good if your marriage is for the purpose of joining two countries. But the weddings that I’m talking about are more personal. They are two people declaring before the world that they are going to share their lives, for the rest of their lives.
Some of these weddings, these declarations of love and commitment, cost enough to support a small country. Ok, I’m exaggerating, although probably not regarding celebrity weddings. Yes, Mariah Carey, I’m pointing the finger at you, and you Kim Kardashian. Weddings seem to be a narcissistic frenzy, all about appearances and little about the meaning that should be the main focus. Instead, it’s the venue, reception, food, theme, decorations, cake, stationery, flowers, shoes, clothes, dress.
The wedding dress; it was an article about wedding dresses that got me thinking about this. The article was taking a shot at a company which has released a line of low cost wedding gowns. The woman writing it paid $6000 for her bespoke dress, which she sees as a physical reminder of her wedding day (she also says that it has been kept in a zipped garment bag ever since). Ok – what about her wedding ring which would have cost who knows how much? What about the extravaganza of photos costing an arm and a leg and taken by a ‘wedding photographer’ – because an ordinary photographer would presumably be unable to properly capture the vision she made in her bespoke wedding gown.
What about the cards and gifts she received? What about her spouse? How is it that she appears to consider her wedding dress more important than her vows and her spouse? Isn’t the whole meaning behind the wedding circus supposed to be starting a new life with a spouse? How did one day, the day when you sign the paperwork that makes you an official couple, become such a money pit? One of the articles I read before I started writing this stated that a lot of couples expect to receive gifts that add up in value to the cost of the wedding. Which makes the entire day a business arrangement. Where is the romance, the love, the emotional value in that?
I have never had a traditional wedding. I’ve never had a wedding gown and I’m not likely to. So I can’t talk about it from experience. But I cannot understand why there must be so much money spent, why it has become some kind of keeping up with the Jones thing. And what irritated me about this article is that the writer said that having a cheap wedding dress strikes her as tacky.
Tacky? Tacky is spending more than you can afford on showing off, and having to pay for it for years afterwards. Tacky is an over-priced designer gown that has cost far more than it could possibly be worth just because it is designer. Tacky is buying into (literally) the belief that a wedding day is all about showing off, and tacky is believing that the dress the bride wears is more important than anything else, including the love that is supposed to be between the bride and groom. Tacky is the sense of entitlement that many of the western world carry with them without realizing it.
Weddings, for ordinary people, are about love, about committing to a partner. There is no reason they should be so expensive. None. You can get married in a registry office and have a backyard reception. You can go to McDonalds if you want. The wedding industry wants you to think that all of this frippery is necessary but it’s not. You don’t need special wedding stationery, you don’t need to release fifty doves, or arrive at the venue in a horse drawn coach. You don’t need a $6000 dress.
Why not forget all the expensive trappings, and focus on the meaning behind it all? You can still have a wonderful, special day. You can have a beautiful dress, made by a local dressmaker for a fraction of the cost of a designer gown. There are many ways to have a cheap wedding without missing out on all of the frills, if your heart is set on them. Get back to the meaning and forget about the hype. In the end, all you’re doing is lining the pockets of the people who make a fortune out of the industry, and who have a vested interest in perpetuating this belief that a wedding must be a day of extravagance.