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The Psychology of American Weddings

Big, Bigger, Biggest
 
Sumptuous ceremonies are the dream for American couples today. Fifty years ago, things were much different. Weddings were traditional, small, quiet little family affairs. Since then, spending has risen astronomically as brides want to live out their "princess-for-a-day" fantasies. Even second or third weddings have risen in cost, currently averaging $12,000.
 
Decade by decade, expectations have ballooned. The 1980s ushered in the 'bigger is better and more is not enough' philosophy. Princess Diana married Prince Charles in 1981 in the climactic televised wedding-of-the-century. The new dawn of super-sized weddings had begun.
 
In Cinderella Dreams: The Allure of the Lavish Wedding, the authors take a scholarly look at why extravagant ceremonies have become a need. The authors postulate that fabulous weddings combine "two of the most sacred tenets of American culture: romantic love and excessive consumption." People want to experience magic and escape their everyday 9-to-5 working lives.
 
The Hollywood Influence
 
Weddings allow people to emulate celebrities in a society mesmerized by their behavior, and allow couples to be stars of their own show, if only for one day. Hollywood and the media are partly responsible for raising expectations about what a wedding should be like. The film Bride Wars pokes fun at what women are seemingly willing to do for the perfect nuptials.
 
While the socioeconomic costs are considerable, a glamorous wedding may be the only time that the average working couple can escape the mundane and briefly feel like the rich and famous.

By Chris Navarro
Get Wedding Planner Jobs, Contributing Editor

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