Are Weddings Becoming Too Commercialized?

When I think of weddings the first things I envision are people having a good time, families coming together, everyone is smiling, beaming brides, handsome grooms, proud parents, excitement, laughter, and tears of joy. After months and even years of planning, these are the meaningful things that make every wedding day unique and memorable.  There are endless resources available to brides to help make the wedding planning process easier and provide inspiration for ideas to create the wedding of their dreams.  However, recently I’ve been seeing some things from bridal publications that I need to put in perspective.

I’m discovering that there seems to be an increase in the portrayal of  material things when it comes to planning a wedding.  Details that include exquisite stationary, over-the-top centerpieces, designer dresses, jewelry, and accessories.  It’s mind boggling to see how much emphasis is placed on these things rather than the sentiment of the day itself.  Now I’m not saying that these things have no place in the wedding, it certainly helps to bring out the individual personalities of the couple.  But it definitely feels as though we are losing site of what getting married is really all about.  Being a minimalist at heart, I treasure the simplicity of substance over style when it comes to creating images that portray the couples individuality.  So when I photograph a wedding, I pay attention to the excitement of the people and emotional-filled moments more so then table decorations and flower arrangements.  Don’t get me wrong, these are items I don’t want to miss in my photographs because I do feel they add to the overall feel and ambiance of the day.  However these aren’t the things I typically get all warm and fuzzy about.

So I spoke to a good friend of mine, VaNessa, who is knee deep in the planning process for her wedding this year.   I asked her, as a bride-to-be, to share her thoughts on the wedding industries role in shifting the focus from the celebration of two people uniting to the miscellaneous wedding details.   VaNessa revealed some very interesting insights in her answer; here’s what she had to say:

“Tangible details and props have absolutely become the focus of modern day weddings. As a bride-to-be planning my own wedding (with the help of my family), these details are at the core of the majority of the conversations I have regarding planning. From gift bags to gift tags, flowers and candles, right down to the type of pens that are best to use for guests to sign the guest book...all of it matters and it matters a lot! What's unfortunate is that it shouldn't-weddings are a lot more about businesses making money than they are about celebrating the love between two people. My fiancée and I remind ourselves of this regularly so that we don't become overly consumed with all of the external details”. -  VaNessa, Bride-to-Be.

I would imagine that the wedding planning process is such a delicate and sensitive time for the bride/groom and their family.  It seems that, although it is stressful it is also very exciting to implement ideas and personal details for one of the most important days of one’s life.  Wedding blogs and bridal magazines are two of the most top used resources that play a pivotal role for the couple when planning their wedding day.  However some of these same media outlets use overly glammed-up images and aggressively push the sale of items onto their readers to make it seem like you absolutely must have that item.  It’s similar to the Christmas holiday when marketers surround shoppers with extra stuff they think they need in order to properly celebrate Christmas.

I don’t believe this is the case for all bridal sites and magazines however. There are many that exist to provide useful information and genuine inspiration for ideas for the modern bride.  Inspiration in the form of do-it-yourself floral bouquets or even design tips for the eco-friendly bride can be just the advice needed to personalize your wedding day and bring the bride/groom back to the center of the occassion.  Top wedding blogger Carolyn Gerin from AntiBride had this to say:

“I am with you on focusing on what’s important: the couple and capturing the moment as opposed to all the accoutrements that come with W-day. But in the defense of the blogs and mags, many are showcasing ideas (ie: stuff) that other brides can borrow or buy to save time and inspire. Although many of these publications/blogs exist as advertising vehicles to push merch, others are quite idea driven (Eco-Beautiful Weddings , Destination I Do, the original Wedding Belles magazine) and inspire brides to take a step back from predictable W-day offerings and look to personal style and meaning. I think the key to focusing on what’s important is to find the influencers who consistently walk the road less travelled and pitch a tent there, informing the rest of the world what’s possible. Mainstream consensus followers vs. contrarians have been around since the dawn of time, but love, meaning, and originality (with or without the ‘DeBeers-2-month-salary-diamond’) is what endures.” – Carolyn Gerin, AntiBride

I admire Carolyn's views as she raises a great point that although there are bridal sites that incessantly push sales, there are also inspirational resources for brides/grooms who want to invest in more creative details to help personalize their wedding day.

Another wedding blogger that consistently promotes creativity and inspiration for brides in planning their wedding day is Jacin Fitzgerald of Lovely Little Details.  She did a great post discussing the tendency to get wrapped up in the "extra's" that come along with wedding planning and reminds brides of what the day is really about.   Jacin shares her thoughts:

“I believe that sometimes we get too carried away in the details (yes, I can even admit this) of the event rather than focusing on the actual sacrament that is taking place.  I was guilty of this as well, and planned my wedding down to the very last detail, and had to take a step back and remember what it was all about.  The color of my flowers, hairstyle, dress, cake, and all the other pieces of the day were just a mere piece of what was actually happening and 20 years down the line I will remember saying "I do" to my best friend, confidant, and the love of my life – and that’s the most important detail of all!!” – Jacin Fitzgerald, Lovely Little Details.

So, I'll leave you with this; although, aesthetics and pretty details can help create a personal touch on your wedding day, the one thing that lasts will be the people and the memory of saying “I Do”.  My guess is, when the wedding day is over and people pack up to go back home, they won’t be thinking about the centerpiece or "who" the bride was wearing.  They’re going to remember how their 85-year-old grandma got on the dancefloor and busted a move.  They’re going to remember the group hug that the bridal party shared after the toast was made.  It’s memories like this that count to make a wedding day what it is.

I would love to hear your views on this.  Feel free to comment below to share your thoughts. 

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