From the New York Times:
[E]lopements are no longer confined to black-sheep members of the family who skulk off to a Las Vegas chapel because Mom and Dad do not approve. With the cost of a 200-guest wedding spiraling upward, and many people getting married (and remarried) at ages when they no longer feel a need to be the stars of their Big Day, couples are now considering a table for two as a civilized alternative to 12 months of planning hell.
Still, they want the day to be special. This is particularly true in an era when wedding blogs and Facebook photos have made nuptials a public spectacle. Why shell out for another rubber chicken dinner for Aunt Beatrice from Tuscaloosa, when what really matters are the luscious photos capturing the style and pageantry, which can be “liked” and “pinned” by users of social media sites?
It is a way to have your wedding cake and eat it, too.
“It was almost like a glorified photo shoot for the two of us,” said Ms. Provost, who lives with her husband in San Antonio. “We got to spend the whole day together, just the two of us, which almost made it more meaningful. There wasn’t a distant cousin or mother or girlfriend there adding stress.”
So, the solution to the increasingly insane expectations that weddings be extravagant, stylish affairs is … skipping inviting people in favor of spending the money on the style?
I’m guilty of loving attending beautiful weddings, where everything is picture-perfect and exquisitely designed. But it does seem absurd how much money and time so many couples are spending now on just one day. I’ve been to several weddings that were consciously simpler, and were equally joyous.
So, overall, I’m for simpler weddings. But when I envisioned them becoming simpler, it was the swag – the amazing place cards, the unbelievably coordinated interior decoration at the reception, the top-quality food – that I anticipated being axed, not “Aunt Beatrice from Tuscaloosa.”
And the fact that photographers (with an eye to the social media sharing!) are now considered so essential highlights a troubling trend: that weddings are more and more about showing off to, rather than including, the couple’s family, friends, and neighbors.
Sure, even in your normal wedding with guests, there’s an aspect of show-off-y-ness, but there’s also a recognition that your marriage is an act that changes your relationship to your community, and that brings together two groups that may have been disparate before. Having a public wedding also signals that you understand your marriage, and your love for each other, does not exist in a vacuum; those at your wedding will be the same people who help you take care of your children, who come through when a medical emergency happens, who will offer advice and counsel when there are rough patches in a marriage. Conservatives often talk about how families are the foundations of community life, and that’s true, but it’s also true that many families are fortified by the help those outside their immediate family provide.
But primarily, this story galls me because it’s another instance of materialism trumping the personal. (Yes, even if there’s good taste involved, materialism can exist. Sorry, hipsters.) Aunt Beatrice, whatever her faults, should be worth more than the better placecards or flower arrangements. And people should be valued for their own sake, for what they can bring when they’re actually present, not for their abilities to “like” and admire and ooh and ahh (and envy) your photos on social media sites.