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113 of 118 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Maybe a little sanity will return to weddings..., May 14, 2007
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This review is from: One Perfect Day: The Selling of the American Wedding (Hardcover)
I'm not married but I've been to 5-6 weddings a year the past few years and am in 2 this June. I have been totally flabbergasted that so many of my friends -- very thoughtful and unconventional in every other aspect -- swallow the most meaningless consumerist drivel when it comes to their weddings. I'm a professional designer and out of all those weddings, I can't remember a single bridesmaid's hairstyle, a single centerpiece, or what any of the cakes looked or tasted like. I'll never eat a wedding dinner that's as well-prepared as any of the San Francisco restaurants that I frequent, and some of the best wedding food I've had was mostly purchased from the Whole Foods deli -- around $1,000 instead of $10,000. What I remember and enjoy is the ceremony and the symbolism of two people getting married, and the fun of celebrating afterwards with friends and family. The fact that my girlfriends spend months and tens of thousands of dollars agonizing over useless stuff completely astounds me. I don't understand why everyone gets so neurotic about it!

What I liked about Mead's book is that she does not seem to be writing from within the dominant paradigm: she doesn't take it for granted that a meaningful wedding requires matching bridesmaid hairstyles or that it's a daring, hand-wringing proposition to (gasp!) let members of the wedding party choose their own shoes. I suppose that I find so much of what brides worry about to be utter nonsense, and I wish there were more voices (besides from the fabulously stodgy Miss Manners) that did not assume that the only way to properly symbolize a marriage is with $10,000 of floral arrangements.

This book is not comforting. The author's tone is dry and you can tell from the language she uses that much of the industry seems over the top to her. She doesn't seem to have a lot of sympathy for the sentimentalism of weddings -- which I think is a well-needed attitude, since so much of the uselessly expensive garbage of the wedding industry is sold using manufactured sentiment. ("But it's the MOST important DAY of your LIFE and of COURSE you NEED custom-printed M&Ms! Because how else will your friends and loved ones know what this day MEANS to you?")
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Showing 1-10 of 14 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 21, 2007 12:01:38 PM PDT
Now this is what I call a helpful thoughtful review. A++!

Posted on May 21, 2007 12:23:56 PM PDT
Dave says:
Agree. And what is interesting is that the more each of these lamentably self centered celebrants try to be different with their extravagances, the more they are the same! Oftentimes, it just boils down to competition, not just from the celebrants, but most particularly their parents who must not be outdone!!!!!!

Posted on May 23, 2007 8:05:09 AM PDT
[Deleted by the author on May 23, 2007 8:05:55 AM PDT]

Posted on May 23, 2007 8:05:37 AM PDT
DC reader says:
I just start reading this book AND I am planning a wedding.
I really have an issue with people who have never planned a wedding critizing the wedding industry. For example, this comment about most meals being less enjoyable than a typical night out. Well of course they are because--even at the most expensive wedding--they cost less!! Imagine, the economics of feeding 50 people or in my case 300. Yes 300. Why? Because my family and my fiance's family--who have lived in the same city their entire lives-- have many friends and family members we consider important enough that we want them to be there with us. So anyways, you want restaurant quality meals at a wedding? You do the math....$50 per person (you said San Fran prices..hell I've even eaten at Whole Foods and one could easily spend $50 there for dinner) for 300 people and yes, you are at 15K. Lots of people like to drink alcohol at dinner, so lets say $20 per person on that (2 drinks with dinner sounds about right). Now you are at 20K for the dinner and food alone.
You see, most of the cost for weddings come from the food and drink, which is ultimately hard to get around. It is very easy to see a number (you said 10K) and think that is ridiculous! But when you break it down, it really is just the cost of inviting your friends and family out for dinner.

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 7, 2007 6:12:58 AM PDT
if you want to save money on food at your wedding, you should check out MSN money.

I haven't planned a wedding myself, but I've been to (and been a bridesmaid 3 times) a number of them. first of all, it's not written anywhere that you need to provide a full meal. you could have a brunch wedding, or just a dessert only wedding & save significant money.

2ndly, it's not written anywhere that you need to provide alcohol. you can have a dry wedding (which I've been to, and it was lovely!), or a cash bar, or wine & beer only.

but, maybe you've dreamed all your life of a sit-down dinner with an open bar. if that's what you want, then fine, but it's your CHOICE to go for it. It IS possible to go cheaper & get around paying a ton of money for the food, but only if that's important to you.

If it's not, & you want to spend the 20K on food for your dream wedding then fine. I really hope it's worth the money. But I don't see how you can successfully argue that those costs are fixed & can't possibly be brought down. It may take compromise & looking at things another way, but it can be done.

Posted on Jun 7, 2007 9:46:44 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Jun 7, 2007 9:48:10 PM PDT]

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 21, 2007 3:03:07 PM PDT
lnbel says:
I have not planned a wedding, but I throw a large formal holiday party every year for about 50 - 60 people. I throw a lot of formal and semi-formal multicourse dinner parties and I do understand the cost of wining and dining people; I love entertaining, and that's a big reason that the prices of the wedding industry seem like such a sham.

I'm a food snob and I like high-quality booze. At my annual party, I usually spend about $1,500 for extremely high-quality food (e.g. sushi, crab, steak, vegan pastries, etc etc), a chef, and two staffers. (I do some of the cooking beforehand, to be fair, but they also provide the fresh food and do a lot onsite.) That $1,500 includes $100 tips for each of the staff and enough booze to get everyone sloshed. It's $30 per person. The fact that the wedding industry insists that you pay $10 per drink instead of something much closer to the actual cost ($1 or $2) is what I think is BS.

My point (and I apologize for not making this clear) is that for $50 per person, I can have an excellent restaurant meal, with wine, in San Francisco. Ergo, it seems absurd to spend $50 per head for the typically mediocre food that is catered at most weddings.

The quality of the food is not worth what they're charging for it. And sure, you CAN spend $50 for a meal at Whole Foods, but you CAN also spend $300,000 on a dress. The point is that some of the best-tasting wedding food I've eaten was also vastly less expensive than standard catered wedding fare.

Obviously, the logistics of dealing with a 300 person wedding are a lot more complicated, and I feel for you! But when I see friends with $10k or $15k food bills for an 80-person wedding, with only average food, I feel like my friends have gotten cheated and it makes me mad.

Good luck with the wedding! Remember, even if the sashes don't match the napkin rings, the sun will still rise in the morning. :)

(Oh, BTW, as a guest and a host, I always prefer buffet style. First, it keeps people moving and circulating. Second, each person can pick the things they want to eat, with much less waste. Third, you need way fewer staff. Fourth, if you want more of something you can just get it. Fifth, I just don't find sit-down dinners particularly more glamorous or "elegant"; I don't get what the big deal is.)

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 3, 2009 7:10:15 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Jun 3, 2009 7:12:09 PM PDT]

Posted on Jul 27, 2009 11:57:47 AM PDT
Honestly, I could not agree with you more. All of the hoopla and formality is quite laughable to me. It seems all too often brides get caught up in the monetary value of weddings rather than the sentimental value of weddings.

Posted on Jan 17, 2012 4:48:22 PM PST
jobert says:
Before I got engaged, I would've agreed with you 100%. Now that I'm getting married in 2 months, I have this to say: the whole industry is bullshoot, and it's not just that brides are being manipulated. There is not much way around system. It is essentially set up to squeeze every penny out of you. The nickel and diming is ridiculous. I have told my bridesmaids to get whatever black dress and shoes they like, the groomsmen are wearing their own suits, I am DIY flowers, but the rest is so ridiculous and expensive. We're getting married in a simple catholic church. Guess how much the musician wants to charge for performing at our 45 minute ceremony? $300. This is in addition to the $275 to reserve the church. What makes a musician think she can charge the equivalent of $375/hour for her services?! I need to pay the officiant something, too. Then I thought I could go cheap on flowers...wrong! Silk flowers are just as expensive as real ones, if not more. I will be ordering my flowers wholesale and I hope that they are not DOA when they land on my doorstep. $200 for 200 roses to make all the bouquets and boutineers (sp?) plus God only knows how long it will take. $200 is a drop in the bucket in the grand scheme of things, but I've reached the tipping point about how much stuff is costing. Don't get me started on invitations! :)

Whether you try to avoid it or not, the costs will add up like crazy. Either you pay a lot of money, or you work your rear off. Usually, it's both.

Thanks for your review, though. I will have to buy this book after the wedding so I don't go apoplectic about all the ways I've been conned. Then I can warn everyone else.
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