Selling the American Wedding

I just finished reading One Perfect Day: The Selling of the American Wedding, which I picked up for $1 outside of Books-A-Million a few weeks ago. The book focuses on the ever expanding American wedding industry and the focus to buy, buy, buy for that one special day. The author writes about the emerging Bridezilla phenomenon that turns an otherwise normal woman into a “self-absorbed monster, obsessed with her plans to stage the perfect wedding, and even of spectacular production values and flawless execution, with herself as the star of the show.”

The author, Rebecca Mead, shows at length how advertisers and members of the wedding industry guide brides through each wedding day decision. In fact, advertisers are at work long before the ceremony takes place. The cash registers ring the moment a man walks into a jewelry store in search of an engagement ring. Over the years advertisers have not only lured men into buying diamonds, but also dictated just how much of their yearly salary they should spend.

Mead sheds an interesting light on the culture of American weddings and shows how the wedding industry influences a bride’s decision to chose a venue, a gown, a photographer, the ceremony details and even the fine china. She shows the bride’s point of view and then details the truth behind the industry. For instance, she writes of bridal shops who lure women to buy expensive, intricately handmade wedding dresses made just for them and then flies to china were she describes the details of young Asian women who sew bead after bead on dresses for less than $1 a day.

The author focuses on the American bride’s desire to plan a unique wedding that reflects her style. A wedding that stands out among her friend’s weddings and makes her shine like a star. To achieve this dream the bride will plan for countless hours and spend tens of thousands of dollars for this one single day.

So why do brides really spend all of this time and money on their wedding day? The author ties the bride’s short term desire for a perfect wedding day with the long term desire for a perfect marriage. According to the author some brides take this goal to the extreme. In an effort to ensure their best future together some brides don’t want to start out on the right foot, they want to start out on the perfect foot. Every moment has to be flawless and each flawless moment must be captured in just the right light by their photographer.

With an understanding of the bride’s desires and motivations the wedding industry moves in to explain why she needs a wedding video, an expensive venue, a hand-made gown, an enormous wedding cake, etc. and in turn the bride opens up her checkbook or better yet her parent’s checkbook to purchase every item they’ve suggested.

I really enjoyed this book. It was an interesting look under the covers of the wedding industry and the men and women who earn money from brides searching for that one perfect day.

2 thoughts on “Selling the American Wedding”

  1. Very interesting – I'd love to read that book!

    When I was in the process of planning my wedding, I was told to steer clear of anything with "wedding" or "bride" in the name. Apparently, the prices can be higher by an average of 20-30 percent! Thanks for this!

  2. My Daughter is buying her Wedding Dress from a Bridal Manufacturers in china it is a beautiful gown with lots of beading and fine work, we saw the identical dress that she is buying in a shop here in Australia for 4 times what she had been quoted, and that is including postage. So after that she threw away the Bridal Magazines and is now only concentrating on what she wants instead of being dictated too.


Leave a Comment