Be afraid, soon-to-be-marrieds. There are all kinds of people out there looking to separate you from your money, using the social pressure of having The Perfect Wedding.
Basically, a reporter tagged along with Rebecca Mead, a New Yorker staff writer and the author of “One Perfect Day: The Selling of the American Wedding,” to the Great Bridal Expo. Read the whole thing to see just how much of a scam weddings are, but this really jumped out at me:
Advice books warn brides not to reveal that they are shopping for a wedding, if possible, Ms. Mead said; vendors know that “if it’s wedding, you’re going to spend more.” So her suspicion is immediately aroused when the woman at East Coast Limousine asks, “Is it for a wedding?” when the question of a 22-passenger excursion in a long, white stretch limousine comes up. The wedding special is $720 for 3 ½ hours and includes an aisle runner, Champagne, bar and “horns” that play a recording of “Here Comes the Bride” when the car stops. Ever the experienced shopper, Ms. Mead asks how much the regular rental would be, if there were no wedding.
“A four-hour minimum is $576.” So you could spend $144 less and receive a half-hour more? Why not do that instead?
“You can’t,” the saleswoman replies. If it’s a wedding, you must do the wedding special. “If the bride and groom are in the car, you can’t do it. We’ve pulled in, and there is a woman in a wedding dress, and they can’t do it. The car had to leave.”
After taking a few steps away, Ms. Mead said, “This is the kind of thing that I’m really interested in — that mentality: you’re going to get the horns whether you want them or not.”
She imagines the scene: “They won’t let you in,” she repeats, picturing the bride, groom and 20 other passengers stranded on a street as the limo driver slams the door and pulls away. “That’s the one you need the videographer for.”
A friend of mine experienced this even with the very simple wedding she wanted. She wanted a dinner with about 15 people, with the actual wedding performed between courses. As she started calling around for reservations, she discovered that if she mentioned that it was for a wedding, suddenly she had to reserve an entire room rather than just a table, that there was mandatory cake, and expense upon expense upon expense. At every single restaurant she called. In the end, she just reserved a table for 15 and didn’t let on that it was for a wedding (since she wore a pink cocktail dress, it was easy enough not to give the game away by her attire).
One other very interesting point Mead makes in the article is that culturally, we’re conditioned to expect some kind of traumatic transition between single life and married life in order to accord marriage a special status and maintain that married people were changed by marriage. It used to be that just leaving your parents’ home and setting up as an “adult” was scary enough. Now, with people leaving the nest and moving in with their unmarried partners all the time, the wedding has taken on greater significance as a big source of drama that everyone has to get through in order to become a Married Person. There’s a sense that people who have easy weddings have cheated, somehow, because they get the status of being married without having gone through all the Drama. They might as well just be living in sin!