Post # 1
I love weddings. I’m not here to bash them. I think they are an important right of passage to mark the transition from single to married. I think that coming together as a community to celebrate the good things that happen in life is a beautiful feature of human society. I love that they’ve been acknowledged by most religions to have important religious signifigance in addition to their social signifigance. And hell, I love being invited to big parties to dance and laugh and cry and drink with my friends and family.
I’m from a big Italian family and we have a lot of parties for different stages of life. Baptisms, birthdays, first communions, confirmations, highschool and university graduations, weddings, and funerals. In my family it’s important to show up to show support, and it’s important to feed people when they do show up, so parties are a feature of life.
But how did weddings get SO BIG and so….out of control? Why is there pressure to invite everyone you know to your wedding, and to travel across the country or world for a wedding, but not so for a baptism? Why are the budgets for everything so inflated? Even for those who consider themselves “budget brides,” you are probably spending WAY more on items for your wedding than you’d spend on a party to celebrate a similarly huge milestone, such as the birth of a child with a baptism party or similiar.
So Bees, what do you think? How did we end up here? Do you think that weddings are just the tip of the iceberg and other celebrations will follow (I see the craziness that’s happening with children’s parties these days)? Do you think it’s our celebrity obsessed culture and tabloids and E! are to blame? Do you think we are all trying to make up for the fact that weddings no longer have the important social meaning that they used to (adulthood, family & sex can now come before marriage)? Do you think we’ve all simply been brainwashed by the Wedding Industrial Complex?
This question seems central to so much of the strife that you see on these boards with people who are stressed to the max, spending too much money, and just want to get married already.
Post # 2
I don’t know about you but weddings in my family were always big. They were actually bigger in the past than they are now. My parents had over 300 and we only had about 150-ish. It is only big if you want it to be. personally I see a wedding as a larger event than a baptism because I’m not religious at all. I also see it as larger than a birthday. You can see it as whatever you want and spend as much as you want. I think the “pressure” only comes if you watch a lot of TV or try to keep up with celebs since social media is so huge right now. Eloping is always an option.
Post # 3
I have been thinking this exact same thing ever since I got engaged. We are doing our wedding for as cheap as we can get it. And I mean, I got my dress on Ebay for twenty pounds and the reception will be a homecooked meal at my house. I don’t get the huge expenditure of money. I think it is a kind of celeb influenced ‘princess’ ideal. Of course, its fun, and a lot of people on these boards are in great jobs and can genuinely afford the ‘big’ wedding. Me and my baby would have to SAVE for a couple of years for that and we would rather skip it and marry. I don’t know but I love watching and reading what other people are doing. Its very enjoyable to live vicariously. But thats as far as it goes for me.
Post # 4
First of all, I’m going to point out that in numerous cultures, weddings can be lavish, multiple-day affairs with 300+ guests. But in Western cultures, I think it’s a mix of pressure from different sources. One of them would be the wedding industry, as you mentioned, but I don’t think that’s the main factor. If anything, familial/cultural expectations play an equal, if not larger, role. Look at all the Bees who would love to elope or to hold a small reception, but sacrifice their ideals for the sake of relatives. Also, I think the fact that couples are waiting longer to marry causes them to accumulate more friends from different stages and places in life would make the celebrations larger.<br /><br />Personally, I don’t even think that a $20,000 wedding with (a rather standard) 100 guests would suit DBF or I. Our families are very small, and we could easily have an event with 35 guests, if not fewer. But I could easily see my parents offering to pay for a gigantic event with each and every of my mom’s cousins (who I’ve met a maximum of two times in 19 years) when the time comes. That, and the fact that many of the weddings where the parents took control of everything felt inauthentic to the newlyweds in question, are why I plan to decline such gifts.
Post # 5
gelaine22: My question goes beyond our parents or our families though. Why are weddings in particular so big in comparison to all other parties in our society as a whole? I get that it’s partially because they celebrate something important, but shouldn’t the birth of a child be as big/bigger? That’s why I bring up the baptism thing as an example. There is a clear prefrence on these boards that having a baby trumps getting married in the life events category.
Post # 6
I think they’ve always been big, I don’t think they’ve always been as expensive, though. People used to invite their entire village and they celebrated with a potluck. And economics – many people have much more disposable income these days, than lets say the 1930s, with the Great Depression.
People don’t seem to care about weddings as much any more. Look at all the problems people have in getting back an RSVP. Maybe it’s the fact that 50% end in divorce, or you’re invited to a 2nd or 3rd wedding, of a particular friend or relative. Who knows?
I think the media plays-into the wedding industry a lot. Think of all those wedding shows on TV, which show you what you can have, at any price. And internet advertising …. I could go on and on.
Post # 7
I agree with all of you, weddings have become this cultural obsession made worse by celebrities. I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t consider a Vera Wang gown if I had the budget but at the end of the day, it’s just one day. All I want for a wedding is to celebrate my love with my SO in a reasonable cheap but pretty wedding dress, get married in a unique but affordable venue with close family and friends and be able to organise a decent meal for everyone. I’m a graphic designer so I’ll be creating a website instead of save the date cards and make my own invites, table plans, table numbers and decorations.
Post # 8
I think in other cultures they definitely have bigger weddings where having 500 people at the event is normal. In Western society i think its just plain more expensive. Everything has to be over the freaking top and we add different elements to increase the costs (photo booths, additional entertainment for the guests, multiple showers etc etc etc.)
But i think its happening with babies too. I dont get the gender reveal parties people have now. Its a new “thing” i guess and i see how cute it can be. But for me i’m like “why did they need a party instead of just annoucing it?”
Personally, i think in a society with a 50% divorce rate we are missing the actual point of a wedding and making it more a social status. I fully wish i eloped.
Post # 9
Luvdisc: I get that we have these sorts of weddind due to family pressure and cultural norms. But my questions is, why do you think these cultural norms and family pressures have developed in the first place? You could say that it’s because it’s a big event with social and/or religious signifigant…but so are so many other events (such as the birth of a child). Why are the parties for this life event getting to be so big, but other parties are not?
I also think it would be interesting to hear from people who are more familiar with the weddings in other cultures, as this might shed a lot of light. I know, for example, that Indian weddings are elaborate week long affairs. Is this reflective of other types of celebrations in Hindu culture (I think it’s the Hindu weddings that are the biggest?) or is there something special about weddings in particular?
Post # 10
I think in certain ways there are smaller now. They used to be a big community celebration and the community would help. Now it’s gone more to friends and family. That’s made them more expensive, and I think the bar is often raised for things to look more professionally done, rather than done by someone who did it as a labour of love although maybe the details were not quite so professional looking.
Post # 11
cbgg: Regarding weddings being a bigger event than the birth of a child- I think this might be due to the order. I think a lot of people (including myself) think that we get one big party, and that’s usually the wedding. So the wedding comes first, and the rest is the natural progression.
Personally, I want time after I have a baby to be quiet and intimate, and would not want to worry about hosting a big event.
How did our society get this way? I think a lot of it is American entitlement post WWII and keeping up with the Joneses. For what it’s worth, I do think there’s a swing in the other direction coming up. I see a lot of creativity in modern forward thinking brides. Also, post recession, I think a lot of people are changing their idea of “what’s acceptable” for a wedding. Even my 100 year old grandmother encouraged new ideas like cocktail party when we were in the early planning stages.
Post # 12
We are not giving in to a “conventional” wedding. We’re bucking the trend and eloping. We are not planning our elopement … we have no particular date in mnd. We’ll just show up at City Hall when the mood strikes. We have the license, so we do have a set amount of days in which to get there before the license expires. Or, we will just get a new license. We are not having a shower/bachelor/bachelorette/reception. It has nothing to do with money or family issues. We just want to do this privately and intimately.
Post # 13
I think that some American weddings can seem so unbalanced because they have all the trappings of a big social event while still emphasizing the private committment that is the wedding. The weddings that seem to turn really turn people off are the big, expensive ones that focus on the couple to the point of near-absurdity and turn the guests into passive witnesses of a pageant of the couple’s favorite private moments, personal idiosyncracies, in-jokes, etc. Since they are making their guests witness to all that which is traditionally private, there is an invisible barrier that prevents full guest connection.
In my research I encounter descriptions of lavish weddings from a variety of European and early American contexts and many of these descriptions present the ability to throw such a lavish ceremony as a marker of the hosting family’s social and political prominence and underscore the highly communal nature of these lavish ceremonies (even people who didn’t garner invitations managed to somehow get involved). In some of these descriptions, the couple themselves are almost an afterthought, or are only described to show how important and prominent the larger families involved happened to be.
I’m not an expert on the history of marriage in Europe, but I’m having a hard time thinking of examples of lavish affairs that were focused solely on the couple as subjective agents and not on the larger community.
Post # 14
cbgg: I’ll be honest: I’m not sure. My best guess would be that it’s the historical importance of weddings, mixed in with how they generally precede the birth of children (as another Bee mentioned). After a baby is born, the parents’ priorities tend to shift toward practicality and privacy, so there’s probably going to be little desire for celebrating a baptism in a way that rivals many weddings. (It is worth noting that in many Pacific Islander and East Asian cultures, first birthday parties are pretty elaborate. I know for sure that’s the case in many Hawaiian and Korean families).
Post # 15
Media. Style Me Pretty, Green Wedding Shoes, Say Yes To The Dress, 4 Weddings, celebrity weddings… you name it.
We’ve become a society of having the most blogworthy wedding. Whether it’s competition, shameless exposure, narcissism or just plain bragging rights.