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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 theAstutely 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....

Title : One Perfect Day: The Selling of the American Wedding
Author :
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ISBN : 9780143113843
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 256 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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One Perfect Day: The Selling of the American Wedding Reviews

  • Lissa
    2019-01-20 13:13

    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.

  • Maya
    2019-02-13 15:31

    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.

  • Grace
    2019-02-09 17:21

    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.

  • Beth
    2019-01-31 09:36

    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.

  • Johanna
    2019-02-13 10:22

    $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.

  • Jessica
    2019-02-04 15:11

    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 besides the point) Anywho, it is a must read for anyone trying to write nonfiction that is relevant, informative, and page-turning.

  • Laura
    2019-02-06 16:18

    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.

  • Bethany
    2019-02-10 17:33

    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.

  • Kressel Housman
    2019-01-31 17:27

    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? 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.

  • Casey
    2019-01-22 12:35

    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).

  • Kara
    2019-02-02 16:15

    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.

  • Hester
    2019-01-29 11:14

    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.

  • Jane Webster
    2019-02-11 16:16

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

  • Shirley
    2019-02-09 13:33

    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.

  • E.H.
    2019-01-21 11:26

    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.

  • Sara
    2019-02-12 17:34

    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.

  • Kimberly
    2019-02-09 10:13

    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.

  • Jan
    2019-01-26 17:23

    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.

  • Amanda
    2019-02-09 17:18

    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

  • Kate
    2019-02-02 15:17

    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.

  • Emma Sea
    2019-01-26 13:30

    Fuck! GR ate my review! I curse it unto the 13th generation. 'Twas a thing of hyperreal beauty. As is this book.

  • Caitlin
    2019-02-07 15:35

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

  • Eva
    2019-01-21 09:32

    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 124Nor 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 137What 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 270Rare 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 299a 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 322Affianced - location 426Soigné - 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 664serving brightly colored Vitaminwater in mason jars at your reception, like the singer Jessica Simpson did. - location 717He 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 827current 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 872Diamond engagement rings are now traditional, even if the tradition originated in the economic interests of diamond companies. - location 881Tradition 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 896the 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 1006mere - location 1061What 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 1162By 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 1206It was not until after the Second World War that marrying in white became the widespread standard, - location 1219David’s Bridal has more than 250 stores nationwide, and now dresses one in four of all American brides. - location 1282by 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 1669a 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 1961Such 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 2157hate 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 2164The 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 2827In 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 3088But 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

  • Gabriella Johnson
    2019-01-23 09:20

    This enjoyable read breaks down the modern wedding industry and provides background on several contemporary wedding traditions, some of which many of us have witnessed in person. Among the more memorable examples are the "unity candle", which can be traced to nothing more than a 70s-era soap opera instance, and "the Apache wedding blessing," which was composed by a [white] novelist in the 1940s, then written into the script of the 1950 film "Broken Arrow," from there eventually, laughably making its way into the wedding vows of New Age woo-woo adherents of the present day. Provided nice levity and perspective as I prepared my own wedding celebration.

  • Jess
    2019-01-31 10:25

    I read this based on the recommendation of a friend's book agent to get a sense of the style and structure of the book my friend might be writing. I'm happy to report that I actually found the subject matter pretty fascinating too. As someone who has watched friends plan weddings, I know they are stressful, expensive and sometimes kind of bananas. This book took a look at the wedding industry as a whole and examined how the American wedding came to be the thing it is today. Definitely a quick and interesting read.

  • Hannah
    2019-02-04 12:28

    Even when I disagreed with the premise of what the author was saying, she was such an entertaining and well spoken writer that I kept eagerly reading. Oftentimes books focus too long on a single person to the point of exhaustion, or give a flurry of names and nothing in depth. Ms. Mead did a great job of giving enough information without making you feel tired by it, and covering things in enough depth to give you a sense of scale without overwhelming. I'd eagerly read anything else she read, and recommend this book for anyone looking to learn more about the wedding industry.

  • Alicia
    2019-02-07 16:37

    Solid research though a bit dated now. The author didn't set out to be depressing, but that's how it felt. The book felt like a critical exposé of the wedding industry while also faintly mocking most of the brides who buy into it.

  • M-death
    2019-01-28 15:29

    Well worth a read if there is a wedding in your future. Read the book to learn more about the wedding industry and then plan your big day however you like, with wide open eyes. An undercurrent of snark was kind of fun but got tiresome by the end.

  • Kelsey Thomas
    2019-02-17 10:26

    Witty & well researched.

  • Margot
    2019-02-04 12:38

    In preparation for my own wedding, I thought I should read some criticisms of the wedding industry and the institution of marriage to help me fight off the cultural pressure to plan a big ordeal with high cost and stress. This one was helpful for that purpose. I haven't cracked open a bridal magazine yet!I appreciate that the specific scope of American focus was stated directly in the title. It drives me a bit batty when I read cultural histories that assume the U.S. is the world, so I like a good precisely defined scope.I also appreciate the way Mead doesn't fall into the easy trap of blaming Bridezilla culture on the brides, but actually takes a look at the market-driven societal pressures that drive women to behave that way. She visits wedding industry conventions, explodes the fallacy of "traditional," and examines a variety of aspects of this industry that has such a strong hold in our country. One of my favorite insights that I've been sharing with other folks when I give them the book talk is that the wedding industry statistics quoted so often come from the industry itself--data about the average amount of money couples spend on their big day is sources from reader polls of the wedding magazines. Here are some tidbits:"While there are certain aspects of weddings that are almost universally observed among Americans (the bride's wearing of a white gown, the structure of a civil or religious ceremony followed by a reception with eating, drinking, and dancing) this basic template is applied in a dizzying variety of ways; and when I speak about the American wedding in general terms in this book, I do so with the knowledge that the range of American weddings is vast...But while my observations may not apply to each of the weddings my reader has ever been to, it is my belief that they will ring true when applied to American weddings in the aggregate. The limitless nuptial possibility I have described above it, in a sense, the defining characteristic of the contemporary American wedding; just as limitless possibility--or the myth or promise of it, at least--is a defining characteristic of American life. The use of a wedding day as a vehicle for self-expression is an inevitable and distinctively American tendency." (8-9)"It came to seem to me, as I attended the Wedding March on Madison and read the bridal magazines and studied the statistical reports that their publishers produce in pursuit of advertisers, that the stress of planning a wedding by the book--of acquiring all the right accessories and of staging an event that approximates those portrayed in airbrushed perfection in the bridal media--functions as a substitute for the experience of trauma that once was an essential and unavoidable part of the wedding rite of passage. No longer to newlyweds have to negotiate the shock of the transition from the parental home to the marital one; nor face the virginal intimidations of the marriage bed; nor cope with the responsibilities of housekeeping or breadwinning for the first time." (29)"The bride, he told a newspaper interviewer, is 'kind of the ultimate consumer, the drunken sailor. Everyone is trying to get to her.'" (31)"What did it mean, I wondered as I listened to her, that today's young woman--who has, by law, as might right as her male peers to education, to employment opportunity, to financial self-sufficiency, to political independence, and to the expression of sexual freedom--should want, on her wedding day, to affect the styles and manners of prefeminist femininity? And what kind of freedom was, in fact, hers to enjoy, that demanded in its name such scrupulous attention to her looks, her body, and her purchases?...The Echo Boom bride is coming of age in a culture that promises that her enjoyment of social equality is not incompatible with feminine pursuits of the sort from which her mother's generation sought to be liberated...The difference, or so the Echo Boom bride believes, is that when she assumes those trappings of prefeminist femininity, she is doing so for herself, not because anyone else has told her she must...When the Echo Boom bride wears the gown in which she can barely move, the veil behind which her smile, with teeth bleached to a photogenic whiteness, is temporarily concealed, and the feathered garter that tickles her thigh, she believes that it is an expression of her modernity that she has chosen to be traditional. She holds to this conviction even though, as the eternal return of the bride in white on the cover of the bridal magazines suggests, the wedding industry does not offer her much in the way of choice to do otherwise; and even though the idea that anyone can choose to be traditional--that tradition can be a matter of choice, rather than of obligatory social conformity--is not one that would have made much sense in that past to which the Echo Boom wedding mistily alludes." (41-42)