Writing a novel that revolves in large part around the planning of a wedding involves a lot of reading about weddings. And the articles never cease to amaze. If you follow me on Facebook (you should follow me on Facebook!), you may have seen this gem I shared a couple weeks ago. And now, from The Washington Post comes this beauty about a million dollar wedding and a lawsuit.
One thing about weddings is that, at least in the United States, they are largely tied up with affluence. Wealthier people are more likely to get married and the cost of a wedding, on average, is over $26,000 (or a couple thousand dollars more than the cost of a 2017 Honda CR-V). This wedding, though, was something well outside of the average. From the article:
The lavish June 2015 celebration for 250 guests in the garden of their Southampton estate was gorgeous. The bride wore Oscar de la Renta. There were 3,500 white roses individually studded into the lawn, a five-course dinner beneath massive chandeliers of greenery and a seven-tier wedding cake.
The mother of the bride commissioned monogrammed napkins for each place setting, as well as a custom fabric for the tables and the flower girl’s dress. There was a beachfront rehearsal dinner. The reception included a specialty cocktail served in an ostrich eggshell; the after parties offered a Calvados and cigar bar, plus hot chocolate and brownie stations.
A week later, the couple exchanged vows in a small candlelight ceremony in the 16th-century chapel at the family chateau in the Loire Valley, followed by hot-air ballooning the next morning. Both ceremonies were featured in Brides magazine last year with the headline: “This Couple’s Multi-Day Wedding in the Hamptons and in France Will Blow You Away.”
Sure, why not.
According to the planner, the parents of the bride never mentioned the word “budget” (the parents dispute this), and she therefore thought that she had free reign to spend as much as she liked, including paying for wedding service with her own funds, expecting reimbursement. All told, she submitted a bill of $3 million, including “$45,000 for her staff to work the wedding, $48,000 in travel expenses, $38,000 for lighting, $10,000 for the videographer, and more. All those little wedding favors add up, too: $4,300 for totes, $5,000 for T-shirts, $1,000 for hangover Tylenol pouches.”
Things got so bad that, according to the father of the bride, they nearly cancelled the wedding just a few months before it was scheduled to occur (obviously, they didn’t cancel but the parents of the bride maintain that the wedding did not go off as well as they had hoped).
These loving parents (said the father: “I think there are people who prey on people’s love for their children, they prey on their vanity, they try to take advantage of it.”) say they planned to spend about $1 million on their daughter’s wedding, which is a crazy amount of money to spend on a wedding any way you slice it. I get wanting to have a fun, fancy party but, well, a million dollars just seems excessive.
But underneath this story of excess, and of people who I would say are excessive but still (plot twist!) have limits, there’s a story about every goddamn wedding in America. It seems that everyone (well, every normal, middle class person who wants to get married but will definitely have to utter the word “budget”… A LOT), starts planning their wedding with the words, “We just want a small, low key wedding.” And a year later, two slightly frazzled-seeming people are left wondering how that small wedding turned into a lavish affair with things like “uplighting” and “chocolate fountains“. As the article from the WaPo notes: “Adults go their entire lives not caring about table linens, and suddenly they’re fighting about whether napkins should be white or ecru. Costs spiral out of control because you simply must have that food truck for midnight donuts.” Or the party bus to get your guests safely to their hotel. Or the vintage Bentley limousine. Weddings make us all crazy, and they somehow separate even reasonable, intelligent, savvy people from their money with alarming efficiency. The aforementioned article is just the same phenomenon on a much grander scale (seriously, monogrammed napkins for 250 people for a single dinner?!).
Do you have a crazy story about your wedding? A story about how you got talked into paying for some ridiculous item for your wedding? An expense you wish you’d sprung for but didn’t? Please share in the comments.*
*Beware telling writers anything because we are irredeemable thieves and will plunder your life to fill our fiction. You’ve been warned.