I’m hanging out in the Charlottesville airport, a cute and cozy one by most standards, thinking about the past weekend I had with my friends and wedding gown fitting. We had an amazing time, and the bride-to-be looked absolutely gorgeous in her wedding dress. So much so, that I’m much less jaded about one day having a wedding dress of my own! I was never the type of girl to think about, care about, or plan my wedding when I was young… or even now. But with an ever increasing percentage of my friends getting engaged, it’s hard to ignore the wedding industry.
Industry it is. It’s been told to us from when we were young, if not by family, by television and advertising, that your wedding is your perfect, special day. And couples are willing to spend thousands and thousands on that day (average $28,000 in the US according to Wikipedia). Everything is marked up for weddings, from dresses to cakes to flowers. But why is it so special?
Weddings are probably as old as civilization itself. (In looking for the history of weddings, I find this link, and discover, “As marriages were historically accomplished by capture (the groom would kidnap the woman), a warrior friend was often employed. This Best Man would help the groom fight off other men who wanted the captured woman, and would also help in preventing the woman’s family from finding the couple.” There are more just as interesting speculations.) So maybe brides are no long bartered for or captured, but they are surely slave to the costs and preparations of a modern, Western wedding. That, along with the staggering divorce rate, is enough to make any woman shy away from the thought of wedding planning.
One of the biggest trends is to make the ceremony as unique as possible for the couple. There are some interesting speculations on the origin of this sentiment at a website that comes highly recommended, Indie Bride. Of course I can’t find the article now, but the fact that a wedding is a truly traditional and conformist act leads young couples to go the other way and try and make it as non-traditional as possible, within bounds, of course.
So in the best of cases, a wedding is a celebration of the couple’s love and expression of their individuality, and entrance into a new phase of life and society. The rest, we all must beware, is just good marketing.