In the 1960s, when Jack and I got married, most brides and grooms were in their 20s. They went directly from their parents’ home to the proverbial honeymoon cottage.
So, the virginal white gown made sense (at least in theory). Marching down the aisle with a parent “who giveth this bride” seemed symbolically appropriate, if not altogether PC. And gifting the young couple with household goods was a matter of necessity.
Today’s bride and groom are at least a decade older, have been living together for a while and already have a kitchen full of dishes, utensils and gadgets.
As for the virginal thing? Give me a break.
So why is it that weddings have become more elaborate, not less?
Sure, some brides in the 60s did have expensive hotel weddings with sit-down dinners and dancing to live orchestras, but there were also church basement receptions with home-made sandwiches, fruit punch and wedding cake.
We never heard of destination weddings, wedding websites, videographers, wedding hashtags and bachelorette parties. The notion of a bride having one dress for the ceremony and a second for the reception was inconceivable. Rehearsals didn’t always include dinner, and few people hired a professional event planner to coordinate the details.
Needless to say, the tab for the average 1960s wedding didn’t approach the current estimated $44,000.
So, here’s the current dichotomy: you have couples pushing 40, spending the equivalent of a down payment on a $400,000 home for a one-time event that has a 50/50 chance of working out. The question is, “why?”
I chose to blame it on Walt Disney and his successors with their never-ending stream of princesses. Admittedly, the newer Disney heroines are just as strong and brave as their male counterparts, but the stories still end in a fairy tale wedding, followed by a life of happily ever after.
Today’s brides grew up on these stories and have been picturing themselves as Cinderella, Ariel, Mulan, Snow White, Rapunzel, Tiana, Jasmine, Belle or Elsa since childhood.
This fixation has spawned such phenomenon Disney Weddings that can be arranged at either the Orlando or Anaheim theme parks, Fairly Tale Weddings in Las Vegas chapels complete with a fairy tale coach and footmen and the marketing of elaborate bridal ware as princess gowns.
Frankly, given today’s socio-economic environment, it might make more sense to put on a clean pair of jeans, invite a few close friends and go out for pizza and beer afterwards.
That way, if it doesn’t work out, at least you won’t have mortgaged your entire future.
Am I right? Or am I right? Comment here.