Why you should care
Because the buildup is breaking the bank and diluting the day itself.
I arrived at the hotel for my friend’s wedding the night of the rehearsal dinner and immediately got handed a schedule reminiscent of summer camp. Every minute of the weekend, from dawn to dusk, was filled with activities, from meals and snacks to designated group “beach time.” Ironically, the wedding itself, the whole reason I had traveled hundreds of miles, accounted for about 5 percent of the weekend itinerary. I nearly panicked. In that moment, all I wanted to do was to resume the regularly scheduled programming of my life.
Don’t get me wrong, it is an honor to be a part of a good friend’s special day, and I see the fun, excitement and importance of preparing for the Big Day, but does the run-up need to include a series of mandatory events, color-coordinated attire and lavish gifts? If you want to make your wedding more memorable (and your friends happier), I say skip the elaborate preamble and focus on the main event.
The wedding industry has mushroomed out of control in recent years.
Now, don’t be so quick to classify me as the grinch who stole wedding season. I have been an enthusiastic participant in a number of weekend wedding extravaganzas and, believe it or not, I’ve even planned plenty of them, ordering oodles of table decorations and organizing obnoxious get-to-know-the-bride-and-groom games. And you know what? I liked it.
But what I also felt, and saw in the eyes of others, was the utter fatigue that came from the litany of events leading up to the wedding. What used to be a night out with friends before the day itself has evolved into elaborate engagement parties, superfluous showers, five-day destination bachelor and bachelorette parties.
Am I a just a bitchy, bitter single lady? For perspective, I spoke to Anne Chertoff of Wedding Wire. According to Chertoff, 34 percent of bridal parties today will head out of state for the bachelorette or bachelor party, compared with only 8 percent a decade ago. And what’s more, “bridesmaids and groomsmen,” Chertoff says, “can spend anywhere between a few hundred dollars to over $1,000 on air, hotel, activities and meals, which can cause a few people to decline the invitation.” OK, so this is a real thing, I just need to learn to say no.
Over the past decade, destination weddings have also been on the rise, says Ana Cruz, a wedding planner for 15-plus years. “I have often heard couples say,” she reports, “’We planned for so long and the night passed by so quickly, that it was just a blur.’” Destination weddings let the happy couple make the big day last a little longer. “Gone are the days when the only other events were the bachelor party, bridal shower and rehearsal dinner,” says Cruz. “My clients typically host welcome receptions, spa and adventure days, post-wedding brunch/farewell receptions.”
The wedding industry has grown over time, and mushroomed out of control in recent years. The global wedding market is now a $300 billion industry, according to an IBISWorld report. By the time you get to the couple’s big day, you are TAPPED. OUT. Financially, emotionally, all of it. After a while, the gifts and the travel, the money and the time taken to celebrate these couples really began to bring me down. It got to the point where, post-wedding, I had to take a “break” from certain friendships. And that’s not where I would like to be. I want to be 100 percent in for the day itself, and, more important, to follow through; to be there to love and support a friend through life’s ups and downs.
At the end of the day, it’s all about the couple — celebrating them and sending them off into their new life together — and their Big Day. But that’s exactly what it should be — a day.