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Astutely observed and deftly witty, One Perfect Day masterfully mixes investigative journalism and social commentary to explore the workings of the wedding industry an industry that claims to be worth $160 billion to the U.S. economy and which has every interest in ensuring that the American wedding becomes ever more lavish and complex. Taking us inside the workings of the Astutely observed and deftly witty, One Perfect Day masterfully mixes investigative journalism and social commentary to explore the workings of the wedding industry an industry that claims to be worth $160 billion to the U.S. economy and which has every interest in ensuring that the American wedding becomes ever more lavish and complex. Taking us inside the workings of the wedding industry including the swelling ranks of professional event planners, department stores with their online registries, the retailers and manufacturers of bridal gowns, and the Walt Disney Company and its Fairy Tale Weddings program New Yorker writer Rebecca Mead skillfully holds the mirror up to the bride's deepest hopes and fears about her wedding day, revealing that for better or worse, the way we marry is who we are.


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Astutely observed and deftly witty, One Perfect Day masterfully mixes investigative journalism and social commentary to explore the workings of the wedding industry an industry that claims to be worth $160 billion to the U.S. economy and which has every interest in ensuring that the American wedding becomes ever more lavish and complex. Taking us inside the workings of the Astutely observed and deftly witty, One Perfect Day masterfully mixes investigative journalism and social commentary to explore the workings of the wedding industry an industry that claims to be worth $160 billion to the U.S. economy and which has every interest in ensuring that the American wedding becomes ever more lavish and complex. Taking us inside the workings of the wedding industry including the swelling ranks of professional event planners, department stores with their online registries, the retailers and manufacturers of bridal gowns, and the Walt Disney Company and its Fairy Tale Weddings program New Yorker writer Rebecca Mead skillfully holds the mirror up to the bride's deepest hopes and fears about her wedding day, revealing that for better or worse, the way we marry is who we are.

30 review for One Perfect Day: The Selling of the American Wedding

  1. 5 out of 5

    Lissa

    Mead sets out in her prologue that she is not writing a book about Bridezillas. Instead, she posits that it is the consumer-driven nature of weddings that drives and feeds the Bridezilla phenomenon, and it is this aspect of marriage that she choses to explore in her book. Each chapter deals with a different aspect of weddings, from bridal registries to choosing a dress, to choosing a minister, and discusses the way that these are symptomatic of particular aspects of American life in general. My t Mead sets out in her prologue that she is not writing a book about Bridezillas. Instead, she posits that it is the consumer-driven nature of weddings that drives and feeds the Bridezilla phenomenon, and it is this aspect of marriage that she choses to explore in her book. Each chapter deals with a different aspect of weddings, from bridal registries to choosing a dress, to choosing a minister, and discusses the way that these are symptomatic of particular aspects of American life in general. My two favorite chapters in this book were the chapter on wedding dresses and the chapter on the selection of an officiant. In the wedding dress chapter, Mead begins with the purchase of wedding dresses and the rituals that surround this. She disucsses the idea that many women are looking for a dress the resonates with them - that will make them a princess in a poofy white dress starring in her big production - and the way that bridal stores give the illusion that each dress with come, one of a kind, specific for each woman. Then Mead goes to the factories in China where these "one-of-a-kind" dresses are made. In the chapter about officiants, she talks about the idea that weddings are often no longer traditional religious ceremonies and couples look for ways to impart a sense of uniqueness on the ceremony. She watches a wedding officiated by a new-age minister. As part of the ceremony, the couple has an apache wedding prayer and a candle ceremony. She tries to track down the origination of these traditions and finds that the candle ceremony was instigated by greeting card companies and the so-called "apache" wedding prayer is from the movie "Broken Arrows". She also talks about the fact that anyone can become a wedding officiant by completing a course over the internet. Anyone can get a certificate (for a fee of five dollars) giving you the title of, "Cardinal, Lama, Guru, Friar, Reverend Mother, Swami, Magus, Dervish, High Preistess, Druid, Monk, Baron, Apostle of Humility, Martyr, Goddess, Angel and Saint (p138)." Brides are encouraged to consume by all sorts of different industries. Mead cites a wedding survery that looked at the spending habits of engaged and single women. The survey found that engaged women spent more than single women on tanning sessions, diet paraphernalia, personal training, cosmetics, tooth whiteners, matching bedding sets, towels and a number of other things. The only things that single people routinely spent more money on were hair dye and pagers. Mead says, "The picture of the unattached life evoked by the survey is not a happy one: lonely nights passed between mismatched sheets, after evenings spent in the bathroom with a bottle of Miss Clairol, waiting for a beep on the pager (p118)." It would take forever to discuss all of the funny, interesting insights in this book. Suffice to say, it was well worth the read even at hardcover prices.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Grace

    I have mixed opinions on this book (obviously, judging from my rating). A few segments of the book were quite interesting looks into the backstage area of the wedding industry. I found the chapter on wedding gowns especially interesting, as the author described a visit to an overseas gown factory. I hadn't realized that so many wedding gowns, not just less expensive, but "designer" ones, are "handmade" by factory workers. The author's description of the "white blindness" of all those cookie cutt I have mixed opinions on this book (obviously, judging from my rating). A few segments of the book were quite interesting looks into the backstage area of the wedding industry. I found the chapter on wedding gowns especially interesting, as the author described a visit to an overseas gown factory. I hadn't realized that so many wedding gowns, not just less expensive, but "designer" ones, are "handmade" by factory workers. The author's description of the "white blindness" of all those cookie cutter gowns being produced en masse made me feel grateful to be sewing my own dress. However, despite the high points, the author maintains an attitude of detached arrogance throughout the book. While she seems to take umbridge at the wedding industry, she never really offers any alternatives (what are we supposed to do...not get married?) until the last 2 pages of the book, where a glib summary of gay rights and a question of "what if we had to fight for our rights to wed?" is supposed to be the solution for the whole question. I was left with a very displeased and disatisfied feeling about the entire book.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Maya

    I'm not quite sure what to say about this book: I found myself composing and recomposing things in my mind before I had even finished it. It made me angry, it agitated me, and I couldn't stop reading it. I'm certainly a receptive audience for this author, because I really didn't bring a lot of fairy-tale ideas to my own wedding, and I was lucky enough to have good friends and family who helped with a lot of things: my dress was made for me, to my non-sequined specifications by a dear friend, so I'm not quite sure what to say about this book: I found myself composing and recomposing things in my mind before I had even finished it. It made me angry, it agitated me, and I couldn't stop reading it. I'm certainly a receptive audience for this author, because I really didn't bring a lot of fairy-tale ideas to my own wedding, and I was lucky enough to have good friends and family who helped with a lot of things: my dress was made for me, to my non-sequined specifications by a dear friend, so no need to feel guilty about those underpaid Chinese laborers; I had a lot of support in planning. I do feel, and felt at the time, that I was pressured into a lot of things that I wouldn't have wanted, but perhaps wasn't old enough or confident enough to express--mostly because I was never the kind of girl who dreamed of her wedding day, so I didn't have a lot of clear thoughts to start out with. And thus there are certain ways in which I caught caught in the cogs of an industry whose entire goal is to force brides to spend as much as possible. Which brings me back to the book, and makes me wonder how much societal pressure is being brought to bear upon other women who are or have been in the same situation that I was. Being a so-called "bridezilla" is one thing, and although that behavior is also influenced by the wedding industry and society at large, I'm not sure there's much hope for those women to change their attitudes. But for any woman like me, who sets out to plan a wedding and finds herself being pushed to do and spend more on things that aren't really meaningful or might be detrimental to the long-term success of her marriage, well--I hope that women like that read this book, and that it helps them get angry enough to push back.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Beth

    This book was a giant disappointment. It was widely referenced last year when it was published. Mead states on page 7 that her "interest in the wedding industry...was driven by a conviction that weddings provide an unparralled lens into the intimate sphere of American life, and that the way we marry reveals a great deal about prevailing cultural expectations of love, hopes for marriage, and sense of the role of family." If that's her purpose-and I don't believe for one second that it is-why is so This book was a giant disappointment. It was widely referenced last year when it was published. Mead states on page 7 that her "interest in the wedding industry...was driven by a conviction that weddings provide an unparralled lens into the intimate sphere of American life, and that the way we marry reveals a great deal about prevailing cultural expectations of love, hopes for marriage, and sense of the role of family." If that's her purpose-and I don't believe for one second that it is-why is so little of the book spent on the role of families? or hope for marriage, which is mentioned only in passing at two focal groups? Mead will never be able to do any follow up research on the subject, as her condescending, patronizing descriptions of all that she deals with eliminate that option-insulting the South African accent of Colin Cowie, mocking an SVP for David's Bridals for sounding like an annual repor...It seems that all of the people that she interviewed for her research took the interview seriously, and then Mead insulted them for it. Mead mentions in the epilogue that she got married during the course of the research of the book. Why does it feel like the entire book is set up to reassure the author that she had the 'right' kind of wedding? I was looking for an objective portrayal of what American brides seek during the journey from engagement to alter. I'll keep looking.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Johanna

    $161 billion is what Conde’ Nast Bridal Group figures is the total yearly expenditure by Americans for weddings (26). The American wedding is a billion dollar industry fueled by “wedding porn,” media, and the pressing urge by brides to have perfect (expensive) weddings. Rebecca Mead’s One Perfect Day shreds the wrapping from the “supposed” traditional key elements that drive the wedding industry. Let’s look at a few “supposed” wedding traditions marketed by the industry and highlighted in Mead’s $161 billion is what Conde’ Nast Bridal Group figures is the total yearly expenditure by Americans for weddings (26). The American wedding is a billion dollar industry fueled by “wedding porn,” media, and the pressing urge by brides to have perfect (expensive) weddings. Rebecca Mead’s One Perfect Day shreds the wrapping from the “supposed” traditional key elements that drive the wedding industry. Let’s look at a few “supposed” wedding traditions marketed by the industry and highlighted in Mead’s book: * Wedding Gown/Dress- The history surrounding this key player in the supposed wedding tradition does have a long history, but not as long as some would like you to believe. A young bride wearing white has its roots in the 16th century. White was not always the first choice by young brides, as the poorer had to suffice with whatever they had available. Wearing white had less to do with one’s maidenhood and more to do with the fact that the bride was rich and could afford to keep the gown clean (79-80). * Unity Candle - Use of the so-called “Unity Candle” in weddings began in 1960 (132). * Apache Indian Prayer (also called the Navajo Prayer) - This prayer is frequently used in weddings, but as far as anyone can determine, including Apache culture scholars, this is just a work of “poetic fiction” with apparent roots in modern day cinema, i.e., the film “Broken Arrow” (134-135). * Diamond Engagement Ring - In the late 19th century, the diamond engagement ring began to gain a foothold in America. In the 1930s, with the push of advertising from De Beers, the diamond ring moved into its “supposed” traditional niche in the American engagement/wedding scenario (57). The wedding industry and planners are thriving and manufacturing wedding memories as quickly as brides and grooms can snap them up. Mead’s book opened my eyes to the wedding con that sucks our money and drives us into debt. I refuse to be a part of this charade. I highly recommend this book, particularly to anyone considering getting married.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jessica

    I admit I was a little scared to read this as I am attending four weddings this summer and I don't need any encouragement to be that gripey single girl in the corner, slurping her free cocktail, bemoaning the pointlessness of financial extravagance of love when everyone just gets divorced anyway. But I am happy to report that the day I finished it I attended a wedding and choked up at the sight of the bride and groom, well, choking up. And throughout the book, Rebecca Mead is careful to do the s I admit I was a little scared to read this as I am attending four weddings this summer and I don't need any encouragement to be that gripey single girl in the corner, slurping her free cocktail, bemoaning the pointlessness of financial extravagance of love when everyone just gets divorced anyway. But I am happy to report that the day I finished it I attended a wedding and choked up at the sight of the bride and groom, well, choking up. And throughout the book, Rebecca Mead is careful to do the same - never coming across as the party pooper, but more of a Jane Goodall in the exotic world of bridaldom. This could really be titled One Perfect Nonfiction Book - as it delivers info in a suspenseful way, even though it did not conform to my theory that all great books contain at least one murder. Much of the suspense comes from wanting to know how Mead herself is going to conduct her wedding. The answer to this doesn't come until the end, and I found it somewhat disappointing, in the way that all nonfiction with an underlying moral becomes disappointing when the author lives up to it (I mean, wouldn't it have been more interesting if she had conducted her wedding on a spaceship, or something? Something about her wedding reminded me of Barbara Ehrenreich's declaration to not hire maids, except for when she needed them - boring, hypocritical, and beside the point) Anywho, it is a must read for anyone trying to write nonfiction that is relevant, informative, and page-turning.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Laura Labedz

    So, this book is basically an overview of different aspects of the wedding industry and how much effort people in the industry expend in order to make money. It made me not want to have a wedding. The average American wedding costs $25,000 and is incredibly time consuming and stressful. At the end, the author briefly discusses that Americans don't have one, coherent view of the purpose of a wedding ceremony since we have a wide variety of religious and cultural beliefs and because a wedding no lo So, this book is basically an overview of different aspects of the wedding industry and how much effort people in the industry expend in order to make money. It made me not want to have a wedding. The average American wedding costs $25,000 and is incredibly time consuming and stressful. At the end, the author briefly discusses that Americans don't have one, coherent view of the purpose of a wedding ceremony since we have a wide variety of religious and cultural beliefs and because a wedding no longer serves as a marker of certain major transitions: Moving out of your parents' house, living with your significant other for the first time, having sex for the first time, or maintaining your own household for the first time. So, the wedding industry steps in to give the wedding some meaning. The author would like weddings to have more meaning, but for me, the book had the opposite effect: It just reinforced my idea that the ceremony itself is lame and should be short and cheap, but the reception should be lots of fun. And the honeymoon, too, maybe, although, apparently, the widespread use of receptions and honeymoons is pretty recent and isn't really a tradition. That's another thing the author discussed: The industry tries to sell you all the aspects of a wedding as part of some long-standing tradition, when most of it has become popular only in the last 40 years or so. Also, people use concepts from cultures not their own. If one were to have a truly traditional wedding, that is, the type of wedding their parents and grandparents had, it would be much less flashy, smaller, wouldn't include a honeymoon, and the bride and groom would wear their nicest, already-owned clothing and would not be able to afford to buy a new dress or rent a tux for the day.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Bethany

    As someone who's worked in the weddings space for a while, this book was an interesting peek behind the scenes. The book mostly just confirmed my belief that weddings are extremely over-commercialized, and that much of what brides view as tradition today has been entirely created by the industry. It was interesting to read example after example of what the other calls "traditionalesque" -- created behaviours that aim to tap into a couple's sense of tradition, while allowing them to express their As someone who's worked in the weddings space for a while, this book was an interesting peek behind the scenes. The book mostly just confirmed my belief that weddings are extremely over-commercialized, and that much of what brides view as tradition today has been entirely created by the industry. It was interesting to read example after example of what the other calls "traditionalesque" -- created behaviours that aim to tap into a couple's sense of tradition, while allowing them to express their individuality. Mead does a good job of debunking things like "traditional apache blessings" and the unity candle ceremony -- and showing those "traditions'" roots in an industry that is constantly trying to create new spending opportunities. The author clearly makes the link between the commercialization of weddings and the general commercialization of our culture. However, I think that commercialization is even more offensive in the wedding space because weddings are supposed to be about something bigger -- a marriage. I thought Mead's best section was actually in her epologue, where she talks about the current movement around legalizing gay marriage. She asks the question: "What if getting married was not simply something the average American could do when he or she desired, but was a right that had been argued over and fought for?" I think it's a great question, and wish that more couples started there, rather than going down the rabbit hole of spending that typifies most weddings today.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Hester

    While readable, this book is a cop out. The author says that she will use weddings as a lens to study America and then proceeds to look at lots of businesses. She shows the seedy underbellies of the businesses, but I do not think that is deep study of our culture. She never really considers modern relationships and why people bother getting married, let alone the complications, like in-laws. She makes sweeping, negative generalizations about weddings, but then the weddings she visits have nothin While readable, this book is a cop out. The author says that she will use weddings as a lens to study America and then proceeds to look at lots of businesses. She shows the seedy underbellies of the businesses, but I do not think that is deep study of our culture. She never really considers modern relationships and why people bother getting married, let alone the complications, like in-laws. She makes sweeping, negative generalizations about weddings, but then the weddings she visits have nothing to do with the points she is trying to make. She never really makes up her mind about what weddings are for. All in all, I wish the author had spent more time reflecting on the issues she claims to address.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kressel Housman

    It’s aptly fitting that this expose on the wedding industry was written by a lifelong fan of Middlemarch. Like Lydgate and Rosamond, today’s young couples are buying into a very expensive dream of what weddings and marriage are supposed to be. The difference is that in the 21st century, most brides and grooms aren’t particularly religious, are living independently of their parents, and have probably already been intimate. A traditional wedding celebrates a young couple leaving their parents’ hom It’s aptly fitting that this expose on the wedding industry was written by a lifelong fan of Middlemarch. Like Lydgate and Rosamond, today’s young couples are buying into a very expensive dream of what weddings and marriage are supposed to be. The difference is that in the 21st century, most brides and grooms aren’t particularly religious, are living independently of their parents, and have probably already been intimate. A traditional wedding celebrates a young couple leaving their parents’ home to start one of their own. Most of that rarely applies today, yet weddings have just grown bigger and more lavish. Why is that? The answer, according to this author, is really effective marketing. Now, some of the examples in the book are really over the top. The Disney Company, for example, has gotten in on the act. Since they’re responsible for implanting the Cinderella dream into so many girls’ minds anyway, they’ve taken the next step by offering “fairy tale” wedding services when those girls grow up. You can have your own horse-drawn carriage with footmen for $2500! After all, your groom is your Prince Charming, isn’t he? As excessive as that may seem, how many of us have still bought into the “dream wedding” on some level? How many of us assume that the high price of a wedding is an expense you just have to live with when you get married, like paying rent and bills? I certainly did. My wedding was low budget by Orthodox Jewish standards, but if I had had a smaller gathering in my parents’ backyard or at the Prospect Park picnic house, I would have felt I was letting down the community by not being able to host them all. This book is about American weddings, though. The takonos, rabbinically-endorsed caps on wedding expenditures, got a mention, but that was it. Our weddings may have gone up in price, but they’re still traditional. In the modern, secular world, the best you can get is “traditionalesque.” The big white dress may have near universal appeal, but the flavor of the ceremony certainly varies. The book takes you from Las Vegas to Aruba to capture the wedding industry’s many varieties. Any married woman reading this book will end up re-examining her own wedding choices. I, for example, figured out that the reason I was so insistent about having live flowers at my wedding – an expense I later regretted – was that I had been a flower girl at my cousin’s wedding at the age of eight. I loved my little basket full of flowers. But I spent all of a second admiring the floral arrangements at my own wedding. I had bigger things on my mind. I don’t know how a bride-to-be would experience this book. I could see it adding to pre-wedding jitters, but it is an excellent warning about all the predatory salespeople out there, poised to milk the bride and her family for all they can. They succeed because they’re selling such a beautiful dream. Weddings are inherently fascinating to many women, me included. So if you’re one of us, chances are, you’ll be riveted by this book.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Casey

    I'm currently experiencing the twenty-something wedding deluge: it seems like getting married is all anyone does nowadays. I've spent a lot of time listening to details, reassuring friends that no one will really notice if they decide to save money by forgoing the aisle runner, while gently suggesting that they focus more of the budget on booze. Of course, I've also spent a lot of money on showers, parties, dresses, and cookware that, as an obsessive cook, I have a hard time packing up and sendi I'm currently experiencing the twenty-something wedding deluge: it seems like getting married is all anyone does nowadays. I've spent a lot of time listening to details, reassuring friends that no one will really notice if they decide to save money by forgoing the aisle runner, while gently suggesting that they focus more of the budget on booze. Of course, I've also spent a lot of money on showers, parties, dresses, and cookware that, as an obsessive cook, I have a hard time packing up and sending to the bridge and groom. At some point, I had a wedding-gift related breakdown. My kitchen was filled with cheap mis-matched pots and completely devoid of serve ware. I desperately wanted a Le Creuset dutch oven, and a Kitchenaid standing mixer, and some All Clad sauté pans; however, I had taken for granted the fact that unmarried women don't deserve nice things. As I once again forked over my credit card to buy a kitchen item that I had long coveted for an acquaintance whose idea of cooking was tossing some jarred sauce over pasta, I started to get fed up. Screw it, I decided. I was an educated woman with my own damn apartment and I didn't need to live like an ascetic until the day came that I could ask my family and friends to buy me the escargot plates I so desired. I indulged myself with a cherry red Kitchenaid mixer. In One Perfect Day, Rebecca Mead points out that marriage no longer marks a transition from the parental home to a new life in a new family unit. People get married later, usually long after they get the keys to their first apartment. Indeed, many couples cohabitate, and have already acquired a perfectly serviceable set of flatware. Yet, somehow, the wedding industry convinces the affianced that the wedding represents their one chance to finally get overpriced knife blocks and unnecessary creme brûlée pans. Thus, what began as a way to help clueless youngsters begin a modest life in a new home has turned into an all-out gift grab. Awesome. Mead blames the industry, not the bridezillas themselves. She talks about the fantasy of the handmade wedding dress, then describes the reality of the Chinese factories were these dresses are mass-produced. She describes videographers who sell the idea that watching you wedding video will make your marriage stronger (I cringe at the idea of seeing myself on film, and I can't imagine that anyone would want a video of their wedding, let alone ever watch it. Better to spend the money to buy a top-notch photographer, the one wedding professional whose services are actually worth the cost. But I digress). Not that there are great ways to opt-out, as elopement has also become part of the wedding industrial complex. This isn't a particularly weighty account of the issue, which is why I'm only giving the book three stars, but it is an interesting read. I do recommend it for anyone who, like me, finds themselves inundated with wedding invitations. Just try not to bring up these topics at the wedding receptions. Instead, try to focus on the real meaning of the ceremony: people watching and free booze (and really, there better be free booze).

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kara

    This book turns the wedding industry upside down. Having been engaged for a few months now after the glow has somewhat settled and it’s down to business I’m glad I read this book when I did. One of the first things I did after I became engaged was purchase wedding magazines. I even signed up on theknot, which now I’m regretting because I am bombarded with junk mail and my internet browser is nothing but wedding this adds and wedding that adds. My fiancé and I have been scouting out venues from L This book turns the wedding industry upside down. Having been engaged for a few months now after the glow has somewhat settled and it’s down to business I’m glad I read this book when I did. One of the first things I did after I became engaged was purchase wedding magazines. I even signed up on theknot, which now I’m regretting because I am bombarded with junk mail and my internet browser is nothing but wedding this adds and wedding that adds. My fiancé and I have been scouting out venues from LA County to Riverside County in hopes to find the perfect place for the perfect day. Well, he’s happy almost anywhere I on the other hand fell prey to that princess for a day mentality, but only briefly. I’ve been to several beautiful family and friend weddings and enjoyed all of them very much. I can’t say I would do anything different if I were them. What this book made me realize is that although the wedding industry may make suggestion after suggestion of where to, how to, this veil over that veil, it’s a day that not only calls for a bit of a financial investment but should be remembered as an investment of values. It’s easy to get persuaded into the wedding machine. Before I read this book I knew I would have to make some commitments; not only to my future husband but to a venue, a caterer (or restaurant) a florist (or friend) and where we spend our money is just as important as how. I can remain traditional but draw some lines. We will be married by a minister but I draw the line at wearing a dress with the word bride or wedding attached. Don’t get me wrong, I want to feel amazing, share my day with loved ones and remember the day forever. When I first purchased my wedding magazines I giggled at the idea of playing princess for a day and it’s now shortly after I realize that the fancy photographers, the perfect honeymoons or the poufy dress will get me no closer to that princess. It’s in the eyes of my future husband and in my day to day I am already that Queen.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jane Webster

    Glad I read this after the wedding, not during the process. It's a well researched killjoy. Glad I read this after the wedding, not during the process. It's a well researched killjoy.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Shirley

    I felt like I was caught up in something bigger than me. Before deciding to have a wedding there was a lot of reflecting on whether to have a celebration. Or legally marry. I loved this lay of the land, clarifying where there is true choice or perceived choice. Mostly the latter, of course.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Sophia

    Five stars from a certified member of the Wedding Industrial Complex. My only complaint is that there’s no updated version of this book exploring the effects of the financial crisis, marriage equality, and the rise of Pinterest.

  16. 5 out of 5

    E.H.

    A survey conducted by the wedding website The Knot in 2008 found that the average wedding cost about $28,000. With something like 2.3 million weddings in America each year, this amounts to an absurd amount of cash changing hands - $160 billion annually as of 2006 (when Mead was writing). Each year, more articles on the attendant craziness and "bridezilla" culture appear - brides who spend $5,000 on a Vera Wang wedding gown, who ask their bridesmaids to get botox, plastic surgery, or worse. And e A survey conducted by the wedding website The Knot in 2008 found that the average wedding cost about $28,000. With something like 2.3 million weddings in America each year, this amounts to an absurd amount of cash changing hands - $160 billion annually as of 2006 (when Mead was writing). Each year, more articles on the attendant craziness and "bridezilla" culture appear - brides who spend $5,000 on a Vera Wang wedding gown, who ask their bridesmaids to get botox, plastic surgery, or worse. And each year, the rate of divorce seems to go up. How did we get here? What prompts this sort of behavior and why is it culturally acceptable? In fact, in a world where women make as much as men and are as likely to keep working afterwards, where we enjoy the ability to live with our significant others before marriage, why get married at all? These are the questions that Rebecca Mead sets out to answer in One Perfect Day. And what she finds is very interesting to anyone who has been to a wedding or had thoughts of getting married herself. The story Mead puts together is one of a fairly secular public with no particular institutions to turn to for guidance in putting together a wedding - with the exception of the bridal industry. Where traditional practices have been rejected for disallowing the sort of personalization that those about to be married demand for their ceremonies, the "traditionalesque" has sprung up to replace it, replete with bits of ceremony stripped from other religions, or even from TV shows or films that sound good. Huge industries have sprung up to allow the bride to find exactly the right meringue, which is then sewn for her by four hundred Chinese laborers making $0.50 per hour, or to remind her that her invitations match her shoes. If family and culture dictate tradition, Mead says, traditionalesque is dictated by industry and driven by profit. Even the idea of a diamond engagement ring is a relatively new one, developed by the DeBeers company in 1938. So does this hollowing of tradition lead inevitably to the hollowing of a culturally significant turning point in a person's life? Not necessarily. Mead attends numerous weddings over the course of the book, some of which seem especially poignant (for example, a wedding by an Elvis impersonator in Las Vegas) and some of which seem perfunctory or disappointing (including a tiny wedding in a church in Hebron, WI). In a world with no set bodies to prescribe what is meaningful, meaning is where you make it. The one complaint I have about this book is that gay weddings and the question of "Why marry?" are addressed only in the epilogue. She does have some poignant things to say about the former (for example, addressing the way that every gay marriage seems like a triumph), but though she raises the latter, even asking a handful of brides, she never offers a good explanation. Perhaps, like the rest of a wedding, the reason must be created by the couple to suit themselves.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    This book is immensely likable right away for its authorial voice, a sort of ironic Anthony Trollope meets Miss Manners wryness married (no pun intended) to a fierce ability to handle subordinate clauses. Very nice, and refreshing in a mass market non-fiction work. The book's ambition is to offer an ethnography of the current wedding industry and its consumers, and in doing so, makes several good points. Sceptical that the "bridezilla" stereotype reflects a cultural rise in crazy self-absorbed w This book is immensely likable right away for its authorial voice, a sort of ironic Anthony Trollope meets Miss Manners wryness married (no pun intended) to a fierce ability to handle subordinate clauses. Very nice, and refreshing in a mass market non-fiction work. The book's ambition is to offer an ethnography of the current wedding industry and its consumers, and in doing so, makes several good points. Sceptical that the "bridezilla" stereotype reflects a cultural rise in crazy self-absorbed women, Mead points out that in an individualistic American culture that prides itself on disdaining all tradition, the American wedding bears the entire weight of a socially "traditional" ritual in which the whole community can participate. And of course, the about-to-be-married woman is expected to provide this traditional experience for the entire community, even though she's probably been trained in things like computer skills and marketing, not in etiquette, liturgy, and party planning. And -- if she fits the profile of women about to be married in the US -- she also has been living away from home for a number of years, cut off from previous generations who might help her with something that is genuinely traditional. Thus the "bridezilla" -- a woman who is being asked to do something she genuinely can't do, and yet who is expected to be perfect at it. It would make you kind of pissy too. Mead paints a picture of the wedding industry as stepping into the void, offering its services to help the overwhelmed bride, and yet also helping to create that bridal feeling of being overwhelmed, by inventing an ever-proliferating number of "traditions" and "things every bride does" (toasting flutes anyone? teeth whitening?). She is at her best when she writes about the brides who are shell-shocked about what's expected of them, but at the same time, who genuinely want to do something to bring people together in a meaningful way, as they makes a lifetime commitment. Unfortunately, Mead keeps repeating vignettes of this impasse without advancing her book much. Her own wedding makes its appearance in the book as if it was going to offer a variation on the theme, but Mead sees herself as escaping the snare of the "perfect day" mirage simply by knowing it was all hooey. Irony, apparently, will save the bride, even as it doesn't do much to answer our genuine longing for real moments of community.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kimberly

    After someone recommended this book in passing on a newly engaged acquaintance's Facebook page, I decided to reserve it at my local library. Since my senior year of college, I've been fascinated with the idea of weddings. With the uprising of the wedding fetishism and white wedding reality surplus of shows on mainstream television. What Mrs. Mead does with her book is exceed my expectations regarding the subject matter. She approaches the topics presented in a refreshing manor filled with social After someone recommended this book in passing on a newly engaged acquaintance's Facebook page, I decided to reserve it at my local library. Since my senior year of college, I've been fascinated with the idea of weddings. With the uprising of the wedding fetishism and white wedding reality surplus of shows on mainstream television. What Mrs. Mead does with her book is exceed my expectations regarding the subject matter. She approaches the topics presented in a refreshing manor filled with social reconnection to the overall scope of how each piece of the wedding industry reflects on the whole. Starting with a bridal boot camp of sorts for the education of the newly ringed, Mrs. Mead continues through exploring the the business of the wedding planner / party planner, the traditional vs the mock traditional, the officiant, photography, the manufacturing of the wedding dress, the lure of Vegas and the main question that struck me to the core: what is the point? What I found as the most alluring points of this book were the following: the discussion of David's Bridal vs. bridal boutiques; the juxtaposition of the reality of the workers at Top Fashion in Xiamen and the sales person on the bridal boutique floor; the interviews with Colin Cowie and the interviews with the officiants. But beyond all of the flora and flaunting of the wedding business, the meat of this book is the question of: What (is) the wedding for? In the epilogue, Mrs. Mead offers her readers a final reflection regarding the fight for homosexuals to get married and the heterosexual expressiveness of rituals "What if every wedding was a cherished victory won"? Great book with comprehensive research structure.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jan

    I should probably begin this review by admitting how deeply opposed, on many levels, I am to the wedding industry. I find the fact that many people spend tens of thousands of dollars on one day of their life both disturbing and depressing. My own wedding was very non-traditional, held in a friend's backyard, with only a handful of guests, and officiated by a minister friend. My husband wore a suit from Macy's; I wore a blue party dress bought at JC Penney's. Our rings both bear lab-created gemsto I should probably begin this review by admitting how deeply opposed, on many levels, I am to the wedding industry. I find the fact that many people spend tens of thousands of dollars on one day of their life both disturbing and depressing. My own wedding was very non-traditional, held in a friend's backyard, with only a handful of guests, and officiated by a minister friend. My husband wore a suit from Macy's; I wore a blue party dress bought at JC Penney's. Our rings both bear lab-created gemstones - and are therefore not "real" if you ask most people. Our whole wedding, rings included, probably cost around $600. So, obviously, I have certain values, and those values aren't in line with the gluttony that is touted by most of the wedding industry. This book was kind of like preaching to the choir. I could see where, if one is caught up in the glamour of their "one special day," that this book wouldn't come off so great. I could see that it might seem sanctimonious and preachy. However, while Mead has an obvious bias (she admits at the end of the book that she got married in a courthouse), her book is still filled with lots of interesting facts about the wedding industry. Having not had the "big" wedding myself, I learned a lot from this book.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Amanda

    I've never been the kind of girl who wants a giant wedding, to wear a fancy white wedding dress, and to declare my love in front of everyone I've ever known. Instead, I've always been snarky about weddings, especially the ridiculous cost of them. The author stressed the idea that people often spend for the wedding because they think that the more money put into the wedding, the better their marriage well be. Interesting, consider half of marriages end in divorce now. I found this book fascinatin I've never been the kind of girl who wants a giant wedding, to wear a fancy white wedding dress, and to declare my love in front of everyone I've ever known. Instead, I've always been snarky about weddings, especially the ridiculous cost of them. The author stressed the idea that people often spend for the wedding because they think that the more money put into the wedding, the better their marriage well be. Interesting, consider half of marriages end in divorce now. I found this book fascinating because not only did it delve into the crazy expensive lengths people go to to have the perfect wedding, but it also shared stories about how some wedding traditions came to be. For example, I didn't know that Queen Victoria (who was a total badass) was the person who made white wedding dresses fashionable. Also, the first wedding registry was started in 1924. See, interesting stuff!! Overall I enjoyed the book and the information it shared. And if the occasion ever arises, I'm still not having a big wedding

  21. 4 out of 5

    Hank Stuever

    To me, this is the prime example of a certain type of book, in which an undeniably talented journalist with a great eye for detail sends herself or himself on a national (or global) quest to examine a cultural subject from every possible angle. Every subject -- from Jesus freaks to competitive-eating contests to NASCAR to rock tours to taxidermy -- has been given this treatment, in book form. Very often it feels like a bunch of magazine articles sewn together with a passing thesis statement. (To To me, this is the prime example of a certain type of book, in which an undeniably talented journalist with a great eye for detail sends herself or himself on a national (or global) quest to examine a cultural subject from every possible angle. Every subject -- from Jesus freaks to competitive-eating contests to NASCAR to rock tours to taxidermy -- has been given this treatment, in book form. Very often it feels like a bunch of magazine articles sewn together with a passing thesis statement. (To be honest, I was similarly tempted to do this when I wrote a book about Christmas in America -- to hit the road and pack it with as many examples, cross-country, as I could find, chapter by chapter.) But so many times, these books get so busy and preoccupied with the survey/journey aspect. I'd do without the thoroughness in order to read a better overall narrative. Something more microcosmic that represents a much bigger thing (in this case, the wedding-industrial complex).

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kate

    This was interesting in a depressing, "society is driving off a cliff" kind of way. The author takes you inside bridal marketing conventions, wedding gown showrooms, etc., and her descriptions of wedding excess and the mercenary flavor of the salespeople are darkly entertaining, even though she's not telling you much you don't already know, or suspect. She also offers a sympathetic argument that modern women are trying to replace societal structure with "new traditions" and overpriced wedding ac This was interesting in a depressing, "society is driving off a cliff" kind of way. The author takes you inside bridal marketing conventions, wedding gown showrooms, etc., and her descriptions of wedding excess and the mercenary flavor of the salespeople are darkly entertaining, even though she's not telling you much you don't already know, or suspect. She also offers a sympathetic argument that modern women are trying to replace societal structure with "new traditions" and overpriced wedding accessories.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Kaethe Douglas

    Like many women, I didn't grow up fantasizing about the perfect wedding. I was pretty indifferent to the whole ceremony thing, and so left pretty much all the decisions to the Spouse and our parents. I did get a yummy cake. Mead's book is fascinating sociology. Wondering where all the stuff came into it? She can tell you. The book itself is a little antidote to the aggrandizing propaganda of wedding culture in the US. Like many women, I didn't grow up fantasizing about the perfect wedding. I was pretty indifferent to the whole ceremony thing, and so left pretty much all the decisions to the Spouse and our parents. I did get a yummy cake. Mead's book is fascinating sociology. Wondering where all the stuff came into it? She can tell you. The book itself is a little antidote to the aggrandizing propaganda of wedding culture in the US.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Krista Greer

    There were a few segments which I found interesting and the epilogue was arguably the most insightful part of this book. The author has clearly done exhaustive research, and met with many industry professionals. They were, however, often portrayed in an unfortunate light. The tone was mostly condescending, if not outright rude. I felt like I already knew that the wedding industry cares more about the dollars than the institution of marriage itself; it was more insulting than insightful.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Caitlin

    A very interesting (and grounding) look at the wedding industry.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

    I once had dinner at the home of some friends and got to know their ten-year-old daughter well enough that she took me into her deepest confidence. She shared with me a fat scrapbook filled with photographs torn (carefully cut, actually) from brides' magazines. She patiently explained it, apparently assuming that I knew nothing of weddings, despite having (1) had one myself and (2) conducted a great many others as an Episcopal priest. And from her I learned how incredibly successful the people w I once had dinner at the home of some friends and got to know their ten-year-old daughter well enough that she took me into her deepest confidence. She shared with me a fat scrapbook filled with photographs torn (carefully cut, actually) from brides' magazines. She patiently explained it, apparently assuming that I knew nothing of weddings, despite having (1) had one myself and (2) conducted a great many others as an Episcopal priest. And from her I learned how incredibly successful the people who market for profit the perfect American wedding have been. Rebecca Mead, then a journalist for The New Yorker, set out to discover all of the ways in which clever American businesses have created wild (and expensive) expectations which every little girl wants to have as part of her perfect day. There are a great many reasons for people to marry: religious, political, social, economic, legal and personal. These ends are served variously by different sorts of weddings. Some weddings are antithetical to them. Many weddings are feasts of conspicuous consumption, costing absurd amounts of money, turning the bride into a princess for day, upholding no value so much as the cult of narcissism. Most of all, modern brides want a wedding which is some sort of "personal statement." On the path toward making that statement, couples are herded into a traditionalesque attachments and expenditures, all the while being assured that this is the route to "making it your own." Mead uses the example of colours and all of the things which can be matched: the save-the-date postcard, the cocktail napkins, the ribbons in the bride's bouquet, the wrapping on the take-home portion of wedding cake given to every guest. Religious officiants who attempt to nudge couples in other directions run the risk of offending the Triple Entente: the trifecta of bride, mother of the bride and wedding planner. Instead, weddings become weekend-long events, locations become destinations, and some couples remain deeply in debt three years after the event. At Disney's Fairy Tale weddings in Florida, the bride may arrive at the wedding chapel in Cinderella’s Coach pulled by white horses and attended by liveried driver and footman for about $2500. Wedding gifts have gotten ridiculously out if hand, as well. To spend less than $100 on a wedding present is an insult. Expensive gifts prepare the couple to live a life which they will, statistically, never live. I have a sterling-silver peanut dish engraved with the name of my first wife and me and our wedding date. That wedding was fifty years ago and that dish has not seen much use. A more sensible gift would be help with a first mortgage, a college fund for an unconceived child, starting a college fund for the child born before the wedding. When my sweet bride asked me why a retired clergyman would be reading a book about weddings, given that I don't conduct them anymore, I replied that I very much like to read books where the author agrees with me on so many points ... as does Ms. Mead with me.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Eva

    A fun read. Kindle quotes: rice grains bred in the shape of hearts and crushable underfoot so as not to present a hazard to birds when thrown in the place of confetti— - location 124 Nor will I forget watching a crowd of stamping, cheering guests dancing the hora—the circle dance that is a staple at Jewish celebrations—for a quintessentially Waspy couple who had simply decided they liked the tradition and incorporated it into their wedding, - location 137 What should a bride wear if her ceremony is A fun read. Kindle quotes: rice grains bred in the shape of hearts and crushable underfoot so as not to present a hazard to birds when thrown in the place of confetti— - location 124 Nor will I forget watching a crowd of stamping, cheering guests dancing the hora—the circle dance that is a staple at Jewish celebrations—for a quintessentially Waspy couple who had simply decided they liked the tradition and incorporated it into their wedding, - location 137 What should a bride wear if her ceremony is in the morning but her reception isn’t until the evening, one audience member asked Rachel Leonard, the magazine’s fashion director. She’ll probably need two different wedding gowns, Leonard responded: a formal one for the ceremony and a sexier one for night. At this suggestion, some in even the seminar’s compliant audience balked, and one listener suggested that an alternative solution might be to make do with a single gown with a bolero jacket or detachable train. The look on Leonard’s face was such as might be made by the sommelier at Le Bernadin when faced with a request for a bottle of Yellow Tail chardonnay. - location 264 “I would recommend choosing your site before you choose your dress,” she advised, - location 270 Rare is the bridal magazine that does not reference, either by name or by image, Audrey Hepburn or Grace Kelly, and if there were to be a moratorium placed on the use of the phrase “simple elegance,” they would all be forced out of business. - location 299 a few years ago the Calvin Klein company, which employs many young women of marriageable age, established a firewall on its computer network to prevent its employees’ accessing The Knot. Wedding porn indeed.) - location 322 Affianced - location 426 Soigné - location 590 (According to the 2006 Condé Nast American Wedding Study, only 30 percent of brides’ parents now have sole responsibility for the wedding costs. Fifteen percent of couples have help from both sets of parents, while a third of couples claim to pay for everything themselves. - location 664 serving brightly colored Vitaminwater in mason jars at your reception, like the singer Jessica Simpson did. - location 717 He described one successful member of the association, the late Dorothy Penner, a consultant from Louisville, Kentucky, in whose honor the association now gives an award every year. “Miss Dorothy would never quote a fee,” he said. “She would always say, ‘Don’t worry about money, we’ll talk later.’ Then she would sit down with the family the day after the wedding and say, ‘Well, how much was that worth to you?’ “Miss Dorothy drove a Mercedes,” Monaghan continued. “She got them in the afterglow, when everything was perfect. If you can get inside the bride’s head, if you can dream what she is dreaming, you are no longer a worker charging an hourly rate. You are selling dreams, and you can charge anything.” - location 827 current De Beers’s marketing campaigns have focused not simply upon the necessity of a diamond, but the necessity of a really, really big diamond. (One recent advertisement shows a large stone and a smaller one side by side, the caption under the smaller reading, “Where’d you get that diamond?” and the caption under the larger reading, “Where’d you get that man?”) - location 872 Diamond engagement rings are now traditional, even if the tradition originated in the economic interests of diamond companies. - location 881 Tradition is one of those words, like homeland or motherhood, that is most frequently invoked when what it represents is under threat, or is in abeyance; and the emphasis placed upon the notion of tradition by the wedding industry points to a contradiction at the industry’s core: The imperative of economic expansion demands the introduction of new services and new products, but those products and services must be positioned not as novelties but as expressions of enduring values. - location 896 the modern bride who might prefer, in her regular life, the minimalism of Calvin Klein or Ikea, is easily persuaded on her wedding day to deck herself and her environs in the manner of an overstuffed Victorian drawing room. - location 1006 mere - location 1061 What the music teacher experienced as she tried on her final dress was something I had heard described at a training seminar for bridal retailers some months earlier as “the ‘Oh, Mommy’ moment”—an apt expression for the instant in which the music teacher felt not as if she were choosing her dress, but as if her dress were choosing her. - location 1162 By the 1830s and 1840s, white had become a coveted choice for brides of higher social position: It signified not just purity but wealth, since white was an expensive color to keep clean. - location 1206 It was not until after the Second World War that marrying in white became the widespread standard, - location 1219 David’s Bridal has more than 250 stores nationwide, and now dresses one in four of all American brides. - location 1282 by the last decades of the nineteenth century couples could expect wedding presents from distant relations, acquaintances, and coworkers. (Rothman writes that basic household items such as sheets or towels were considered inappropriate as gifts, since they implied that a couple or their families could not furnish their own home with staples; far more suitable were luxury objects of varying degrees of uselessness: ice-cream bowls and silver tongs and cut-glass vases, which would only be brought out on special occasions, if ever.) - location 1669 a foil-wrapped package that contained a glass for a glass-breaking ceremony (actually a lightbulb, a substitution that removed the risk of glass shards stabbing the sole of anyone’s foot but still provided a satisfying popping sound upon shattering). - location 1961 Such requests should be clearly and firmly declined, the Commission warned, and so should petitions to substitute for church-approved hymns such popular musical favorites as Mendelssohn’s “Wedding March” from A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Wagner’s “Bridal Chorus” from Lohengrin. “Neither of these pieces is, properly considered, sacred music,” the report noted dryly. “They are drawn from operatic contexts which are neither appropriate nor encouraging. The Mendelssohn piece occurs at the ‘wedding’ of an ox to an ass, and the Wagner piece precedes the tragic death of the bride who has been unfaithful to her husband.” - location 2157 hate being a religious decoration at the narcissistic cleavage conventions we call weddings,” Jody Vickery, a minister at Campus Church of Christ in Norcross, Georgia, wrote in Christianity Today—and - location 2164 The next day, I wandered from one lecture room to another, picking up technical and marketing tips. There was a class for non-Jewish videographers on how to film Jewish weddings (“Never ever, never ever, never ever refer to a synagogue as a’church’ ”) - location 2827 In a fascinating account of women’s recollections of their honeymoons that was published in 1947 in the journal Marriage and Family Living, it was reported that three-quarters of the sample considered “adjusting sexually” to be either the first or the second most significant difficulty that arose during the trip in question. - location 3088 But the “new elopement” has come to mean something else entirely. Elopements are often no longer conducted in secret: Parents and other family and friends are in many instances invited along, with the bride and groom sometimes earning free accommodation according to the amount of business they drive their hotel’s way. The authority whose control is being circumvented in a new elopement is that of the wedding industry itself, - location 3143

  28. 5 out of 5

    Sam Musher

    Hilarious, illuminating account of the Wedding Industrial Complex. It's at its best when Mead quotes the endless businesspeople who see getting more money as a game they can win by milking people's emotions at what should be a spiritually significant time. All the ordinary motivations of capitalism are revealed in their full ickiness. She's sometimes snarkier or less sympathetic than seems warranted. As funny as her voice is, sometimes I wanted less of it and more of her subjects' -- especially Hilarious, illuminating account of the Wedding Industrial Complex. It's at its best when Mead quotes the endless businesspeople who see getting more money as a game they can win by milking people's emotions at what should be a spiritually significant time. All the ordinary motivations of capitalism are revealed in their full ickiness. She's sometimes snarkier or less sympathetic than seems warranted. As funny as her voice is, sometimes I wanted less of it and more of her subjects' -- especially when they're ordinary people having a wedding rather than bigshot misogynist taste-makers. The book also suffers from its timing; same-sex marriage was legalized in MA during her research process and in the US 8 years after publication, so the idea that weddings don't always have a bride and a groom appears only as a somewhat awkward note in her epilogue that makes the whole thing feel a little dated. But overall, if you are planning a wedding, or if you like behind-the-scenes investigations of an industry or subculture (I thought of Word Freak: Heartbreak, Triumph, Genius, and Obsession in the World of Competitive Scrabble Players), this will give you a lot to both laugh and think about.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Niharika

    "When Vows magazine featured an article on catering to the "non-traditional bride"....it warned retailers that the non-traditional bride was dangerously apt to "forget the wedding and prepare for marriage."" Rebecca Mead is hilariously snarky in this book about the ever-expanding wedding industry. In the book, she does a deep dive into various aspects of an "American wedding", from the buying of the dress (and the making of said dress), to the day-of photography and videography, to prove her hypo "When Vows magazine featured an article on catering to the "non-traditional bride"....it warned retailers that the non-traditional bride was dangerously apt to "forget the wedding and prepare for marriage."" Rebecca Mead is hilariously snarky in this book about the ever-expanding wedding industry. In the book, she does a deep dive into various aspects of an "American wedding", from the buying of the dress (and the making of said dress), to the day-of photography and videography, to prove her hypothesis that it's the (greedy) wedding industry that's to blame for the rise of the "Bridezilla" culture. She proves this claim well - my one knock for her book is that at times she tries to tie the changes of what's happening in American weddings to what's happening in American society at large, and she doesn't do a good job of proving the latter claim. She states these lofty claims, with little evidence to prove them. That being said, this was still a hilarious book, and I highly recommend it. As someone who knew very little about the wedding industry before this book, my eyes were opened to their greed and their ability to emotionally manipulate brides into spending more, more, more.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Maura

    I would recommend this book to anyone who is starting to plan a wedding or who is contemplating it; it may provide an inoculation against the army of wedding professionals who see the new bride as an easy mark. (I would also recommend it for anyone who got married at city hall and wants to feel smug.) Mead points out that everything about wedding celebrations has grown rapidly in recent decades, perhaps in reaction to anxiety about the diminished significance of the wedding itself as a life event I would recommend this book to anyone who is starting to plan a wedding or who is contemplating it; it may provide an inoculation against the army of wedding professionals who see the new bride as an easy mark. (I would also recommend it for anyone who got married at city hall and wants to feel smug.) Mead points out that everything about wedding celebrations has grown rapidly in recent decades, perhaps in reaction to anxiety about the diminished significance of the wedding itself as a life event. Most engaged couples today are already having sex with their partner, are already living with their partner, and have already attained other signifies of independence and adulthood. So what exactly is the meaning of a wedding? What change does it mark? She paints a very unflattering picture of the many arms of the wedding industry that is only too happy to step in and provide reassurances that the wedding still has meaning; it will still be the happiest day of the bride's life, even if that is only because she now has permission, if not an imperative, to be star for a day in a lavish, over the top spectacle.

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