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Here Comes the Bride: Women, Weddings, and the Marriage Mystique Paperback – June 20, 2001

3.8 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Tempt a woman with a truckload of wedding gifts and social approbation, says Geller, and she's more than happy to forget that matrimony is the last institution she should want to join, given its patriarchal history. A single woman in her 30s working on her Ph.D. in English at New York University, Geller examines modern marriage in a lively, accessible book that's one part academic analysis and three parts rant. Fleeing a stultifying upper-class suburb, she found college so stimulating that she refused to swap cerebral pursuits for a conventional married life. As friend after friend rushed down the aisle, however, she began to examine why marriage is so revered that it automatically trumps a close, platonic friendship; the excitement of multiple sexual relationships; or a solitary, contemplative existence. Determined to find the answer, Geller pores over husband-hunting manuals and wedding guidebooks, and even poses as a bride at Bloomingdale's bridal registry, where the crystal pitchers, silver fondue dishes and Limoges soup tureens, she confesses, have tremendous allure. Women opt for house and husband, she suggests, because they've been subjected to a centuries-long, pro-marriage marketing campaign. Other lifestyles generate no comparable media blitz "no images of a woman burrowing at home with a book and a glass of wine, or sitting up with a friend talking." While Geller's argument is refreshing and timely in an age of wedding hype, some readers may wish that she spent more time exploring the pleasures and benefits of uncommon lifestyles and less telling readers why marriage is to be avoided at all costs.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

In contrast to Marcia Seligson's lighthearted The Eternal Bliss Machine: America's Way of Wedding (1973), this work by Geller (English, New York Univ.) is a lengthy critique of both weddings and the institution of marriage. Using histories of women, histories of marriage, and popular culture sources, she builds her case that marriage institutionalizes gender inequality and that the "big white wedding," with all its customs and extravagance, is a public demonstration of that inequality and the popular notion that marriage is a woman's destiny. Geller proposes, but does not extensively elaborate on, a coming-of-age rite that would celebrate the individuality and independence of each woman, whether or not she had a male partner. Geller's somewhat dour book makes good points but does not completely persuade. Appropriate for public libraries and women's studies collections. Patricia A. Beaber, Coll. of New Jersey, Ewing
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Seal Press; First Edition edition (June 20, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1568581939
  • ISBN-13: 978-1568581934
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,222,422 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Kelly (Fantasy Literature) VINE VOICE on April 18, 2002
Format: Paperback
In _Here Comes the Bride_, Jaclyn Geller attacks modern "wedding culture", from staged proposals to thousand-dollar white gowns to the forced sexiness of the honeymoon, and ties modern traditions back to the marriage customs of old, in which women were a commodity sold between father and husband. She asks us, why do we still get married, when the institution is a relic of a sexist past? Why do the invitations still hint at the bride being "given" by her parents? Why do brides get so many gifts lavished upon them? Many good questions are raised. However, for several reasons, the book left a sour taste in my mouth.
First, Geller seems too close to her subject, perhaps a bit too personally bitter about it. Maybe she should have left out the personal anecdotes--she comes off sounding like she is just mad because her married friends are drifting away from her, and because nobody is throwing her a spinsterhood shower and giving her loot. There's a good point here. Married folks are much better off if they hang on to their old friends and don't retreat into a cocoon of coupledom. And maybe we'd all be better off if our relatives helped us get started in our first "place of our own", whether we entered it as single or married people. It's just that she sounds so shrill on these points that it makes her polemic sound more like a personal whine than a political statement.
Second, and this didn't jump out at me at first, but was pointed out in a wonderful review on Salon.com, Geller doesn't interview any brides! She never asks any engaged or married people why they're taking this step, whether they feel "oppressed", etc. (In my own experience, most people who marry have already been living with their lover for years, and get married to please the parents.
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Format: Paperback
As a folklorist and someone involved in alternative relationships, I looked with great interest upon this book, espescially since I am very interested in the current scholarly examination of the primarily het-white-wealthy wedding (and the current Third Wave feminism's dubious obsession with weddings.) Overall, the book provided a great deal of food for thought, espescially upon examination of the current wedding narrative that each (het/white/wealthy) couple fulfills; ie, that they are kooky and delightful, which makes their marriage even more darling--a story that is played to by manufacturers, retailers and the wedding industry.I also admire how Geller elegantly deconstructs the overstuffed, high-priced personalized wedding and the process of creating a het-white-patriarchal fantasia white wedding. However, Geller slips into a very vitriolic, classist tone, espescially when describing lower-class women and weddings, who I would think would be the primary dupes of the wedding frenzy. This really turns an innovative and important work into something that is at times very difficult to read, even from a sympathetic audience member. Likewise, as a former graduate student, I find her graduate school pastorale to ring just as false as wedding magazine promises of castles, fairytales and buttercream icing.I was also disturbed that there seemed to be no room in reexamining weddings for examining any type of romantic relationship. I would have also liked to see what happens when groups that do not normally get the white wedding veneer of privilige appropriate the traditions and tweak the proverbial nose of the white wedding.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
While I found the book to be witty, and at times insightful, I couldn't quite escape the notion that these were not the women that I knew. Women who register (if they do, in fact, register) at the local "Bed Bath and Beyond" alone (or with husband-to-be) with a scanner and a tablet of paper. Women who buy dresses from catalogues or at the same store where they bought their prom dresses years ago. Women, in other words, who live in the middle and lower classes. Women who have worked for years, living on their own terms. Women who are paying their own way -- including for their own weddings.
More and more women (and men) that I know have found that the expectations (often from guests) as to what is a "proper" wedding have made formal wedding harder to have, impossible to enjoy. More and more have chosen small family affairs, or less showy ceremonies and receptions because the difference between spending 5 thousand on a wedding and using that money to put down on a house (you can still buy a house with a 5K downpayment in most of the country) is just too stark.
Again, the social history was interesting, but I do wish we could, as feminists, realize that just because we can (and always seem to) make sweeping generalizations, doesn't mean any of us speak for all women.
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Format: Paperback
I read Geller's book with interest and found many of her ideas significant, accurate, and downright common-sensical.
Her central argument is that American society has become wedding-obessessed without deeply analyzing the problems inherent in the institution of marriage. She insightfully points out that while the wedding industry booms and women of all ages seem to be embracing a kind of Cinderella attitude toward their weddings, never has the divorce rate been higher in the U.S.
This is a message of enormous importance, it seems to me. Unfortunately, however, Geller weakens her own credibility by delivering her ideas in a tone of tremendous personal anger, frustration, and bitterness. This emotionalism detracts from her ability to deliver a clear-headed, reasonably-argued, persuasive point. This is a shame because Geller's ideas do deserve to be heard.
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