Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Book Report: One Perfect Day: The Selling of the American Wedding part 1

I am currently re-reading One Perfect Day: The Selling of the American Wedding by Rebecca Mead, an exploration of the wedding industrial complex. The first time I read this volume was nearly two years ago after Dr. F and I had thoroughly settled into our first apartment and began tentative discussions about staying together permanently now that we'd established we could live together without wanting to scratch each others' eyeballs out. Around the same time, I had been asked to be Maid of Honor for my cousin's wedding, the first time I had ever played a substantive role in a wedding.

In the Preface of the book, Mead defines the questions she sought to answer when she began writing the book:

My interest in the wedding industry...was driven by a conviction that weddings provide an unparalleled lens upon 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... We want weddings to be meaningful. But what, these days, do we make them mean?

Mead goes on to discuss the competing interests of the American wedding as "a vehicle for self-expression" and "one of the most conventional and... most exalted things a person can do." The crux of her book is that the wedding industry has positioned itself as the bridge between these twin impulses, such that "the American wedding is shaped as much by commerce and marketing as it is by those influences couples might prefer to think of as affecting their nuptial choices, such as social property, religious observance, or familial expectation." She further asserts that, "the foremost product peddled by the wedding industry is the notion that a wedding, if done right, will provide fulfillment of a hitherto unimagined degree, and will herald a similarly flawless marriage and a subsequent life of domestic contentment." Mead notes that because her focus is on the effects of the wedding industry, she doesn't take pains to interview individual brides and points out that there is no such thing as a typical American bride.

I'm curious to review to the evil machinations of the wedding industrial complex and will report back periodically with interesting findings.

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