As a highly trained ethnomusicologist, and hence someone with a strong grounding in antropology and human ritual, I tend to pick up on patterns in my surroundings... which have now been artifically amplified by Facebook. And there is indeed a pattern which has, for a rather unusual reason, caused my ears to prick up and sustained my attention enough to devote quite a bit of research to the question it spurred.
My question, should anyone wish to answer it, is: 'What, truly, is a wedding for?'
I come from a line, on both sides of the helix, that has somewhat shunned the 'traditional wedding' (whatever that may be is another big question), and this distinct lack of interest has been passed on to me. I do not dream of a white merengue gown that extends two metres from my body, and am left unfased by the idea of wedding colors, chapels, rings with large clear stones and all the other paraphenalia that seem to be a requirement for these events.
It seems to me that the intense focus on the 'production' is more than a little dangerous.
After diving into the literature, I found that many other researchers who have researched the subject in infinitely greater depth than myself agree. The degree of mental energy required to plan a modern wedding is immense, and it detracts from the important fact that after the wedding you have a marraige, which should (hopefully) last much longer. Somehow it makes more sense to me to focus on preparing for marriage, and all the wonderful and difficult things that means, instead of spending half of your annual income (or, in Japan, your friends and colleagues' income) on a rigidly scheduled party.
Another aspect I find immensely troubling is the thinly veiled promise given by the industry that, if you have a 'perfect wedding' it will lead to a perfect marriage...
Huh?! How many huge, million dollar weddings have flashed across our computer screens, just to end a few months or years later?
Monetary investment does not produce a couple who can disagree civilly, support each others ventures and work well in tandem. Perfectly retouched wedding pictures (and engagement pictures, trash the dress pictures, day after pictures...) do not a perfect marriage make.
The obsession and, frankly, rather self indulgent affair of being a bride/groom is front and center, and the transition to being a good partner to your significant other is ignored. It is all flash and minimal substance.
I have a feeling the wedding industry is taking a lot of people for a ride.