Monday, October 31, 2011

All The Things

Today, Kim Kardashian filed for divorce from her brand-new husband. They married 72 days ago in a lavish ceremony that cost a reported $10 million.

This is just the latest event in recent days that has given me pause about the wedding industry and what I (OK, not just I) like to call the Wedding Industry Complex (WIC). The WIC is what makes you want to buy All The Things for your wedding because "It's the best day of your life!" It makes you feel guilty when you don't buy All The Things or decide you don't care what the tablecloths look like. The WIC is perpetuated by the magazine publishers, fashion houses, the diamond industry, and others who profit off of weddings. It is also perpetuated by society's high expectations of brides and weddings.

The WIC has reared its ugly head in recent days. It started when I saw a darling pair of shoes on the biggest wedding blog around. This pretty pair of glittery flats, lauded as "must haves" by the blog, are made by Jimmy Choo and cost $345. The WIC popped up again on Sunday when I attended a bridal show. At the beginning of the fashion show, the MC congratulated us brides-to-be and gleefully told us to give ourselves a round of applause. For what? For getting married?

My problem with the WIC is that it simultaneously trivializes and exaggerates the act of getting married while barely addressing the subject of marriage at all.

The WIC turns the act of getting married into an overblown, theatrical event, minimizing the importance and gravity of the commitment that weddings represent. Have you ever read an article in a bridal magazine about how to maintain a good, loving relationship with your partner for decades to come? Me either. Instead, you get articles like "516 Ways to Wow Your Guests!" and "10 Surprising Beauty Foods: Eat Up Girls!" (These are real headlines from real bridal magazines I have in my apartment right now.) The WIC makes women (and their partners) feel that they have to spend all their money on the perfect dress/ring/shoes/hairstyle, or else they risk offending everyone. The WIC is what makes people look at you a little funny when you say you don't have wedding colors or you might not do a bouquet/garter toss.

And I totally get it. Weddings are a multi-billion-dollar industry. A lot of people make a lot of money by urging brides to buy All The Things for their special days. I'm not against the buying of pretty things. I love pretty things and will have plenty of them at my own wedding. What I am against is the way the pretty things have changed the way we as a society view weddings. A wedding has become more about the dress, the flowers, and the cake than the love and commitment of two people making a solemn promise to one another. I wish everyone spent a little less time thinking about the wedding and a little more time thinking about the marriage that will continue long after the party ends.

Now, if someone could just forward this post to Kim Kardashian...

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