Weddings today are a $70-billion business, yet no one has explained how the industry has become such a significant component of the American economy. In Brides, Inc., Vicki Howard goes behind the scenes of the various firms involved—from jewelers to caterers—to explore the origins of the lavish American wedding, demonstrating the important role commercial interests have played in shaping traditions most of us take for granted.
Howard reveals how many of our customs and wedding rituals were the product of sophisticated advertising campaigns, merchandising promotions, and entrepreneurial innovations. Tracing the rise of the wedding industry from the 1920s through the 1950s, the author explains that retailers, bridal consultants, etiquette writers, caterers, and many others invented traditions—from the diamond engagement ring and double-ring ceremony to the gift registry to the package-deal catered affair. These businesses and entrepreneurs, many of them women, transformed wedding culture and set the stage for today’s multibillion-dollar industry.
The wedding industry began to take shape between the 1920s and the 1950s. Bridal magazine editors and etiquette writers, jewelers, department store window display artists, bridal consultants, fashion designers, and caterers invented new consumer rites and promoted higher standards of wedding consumption. Claiming ties with “ancient customs” and various historical periods, the wedding industry promoted new goods and services as timeless and unchanging. It introduced new ring customs and wedding apparel fashions, and “modern” services, such as gift registries that rationalized gift customs, bridal salons that saved time and made wedding planning more efficient, and wedding packages that standardized ceremonies and reception celebrations.
During World War II, the traditional white wedding grew even more prevalent as jewelers and bridal gown manufacturers successfully sought exemptions from wartime restrictions, linking the diamond engagement ring, the double-ring ceremony, and the formal white wedding gown with democracy and American prosperity. By the 1950s, the wedding industry had made the formal white wedding tradition a part of a new cult of marriage and the modern American Dream.
Entertaining and informative, Brides, Inc. reveals the origins and development of this most exemplary American enterprise and brings the story up to the present with a discussion of such new phenomena as David’s Bridal and the gay wedding industry.
With a wedding impending, the Taiwanese bride-to-be turns to bridal photographers, makeup artists, and hair stylists to transform her image beyond recognition. They give her fairer skin, eyes like a Western baby doll, and gowns inspired by sources from Victorian England to MTV. An absorbing consideration of contemporary bridal practices in Taiwan, Framing the Bride shows how the lavish photographs represent more than mere conspicuous consumption. They are artifacts infused with cultural meaning and emotional significance, products of the gender- and generation-based conflicts in Taiwan’s hybrid system of modern matrimony. From the bridal photographs, the book opens out into broader issues such as courtship, marriage, kinship, globalization, and the meaning of the “”West”” and “”Western”” cultural images of beauty. Bonnie Adrian argues that in compiling enormous bridal albums full of photographs of brides and grooms in varieties of finery, posed in different places, and exuding romance, Taiwanese brides engage in a new rite of passage-one that challenges the terms of marriage set out in conventional wedding rites.
In Framing the Bride, we see how this practice is also a creative response to U.S. domination of transnational visual imagery-how bridal photographers and their subjects take the project of globalization into their own hands, defining its terms for their lives even as they expose the emptiness of its images.
When it comes to finding a one-of-a-kind engagement ring, 45% of proposers begin researching/looking for rings more than five months ahead of the proposal, with 71% making the final purchase less than two months prior. Forty percent purchase the ring from a local retailer, 30% at a national chain, and 10% from an online retailer. While features such as stone type, size and brand all greatly impact cost, roughly half of couples will spend under $5,000 on the engagement ring (though 20% spend more than $10K).
Couples consider style/setting to be the most important aspect of an engagement ring. In fact, nearly 80% admit to dropping hints about their ring preferences and 7 out of 10 have some involvement in selecting and/or purchasing the ring itself.
Did you know? On average, proposers visit three retailers in person and look at 15 rings before making a decision.
Though factors such as length of engagement, location and venue type impact a couples’ decision on when to get married, fall continues to be peak wedding season nationwide. Nearly 50% of fall ceremonies take place outdoors. As we look ahead to 2020, data already indicates that October will be the most popular month to get married for the fourth consecutive year.
Today, the majority of couples are not only thinking about their wedding prior to getting engaged, but two out of three are taking action and actually starting the planning process. From gathering inspiration to researching vendors and estimating cost, couples are laying the foundation so they can hit the ground running when the time comes.
On average, couples hire 15 vendors for their wedding day. While price continues to be the key factor in deciding who to contact, couples emphasize the importance reviews and photos have on their decision making. When it comes to reviews, couples tell us they most value the overall review rating, photos submitted by real couples and a most recent review (70%).
The wedding world offers inspiration, shopping experience and entertainment in equal measure. It is an indispensable “must have” when preparing your own dream wedding.
The huge variety of suppliers, the great fashion shows and the exciting supporting program increase the anticipation for “the big day”.
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