“There is immense marketing in this experience, which you go through on your wedding day, after which nothing is ever so good again.” Rowan Williams (Source)
Over the coming weeks, there are going to be some very big changes to Love My Dress® – how we look, how we blog, new content, new writers joining our team, not least the imminent arrival of The Lovettes – our very first team of blogging brides.
I’ve been wanting to do so much to move Love My Dress on to the next level for a good while, but it hasn’t been the right time until now. Last year was all about losing my marbles promoting my book for months on end. It was kind of tiring. The project overseeing these current, new changes is coming on leaps and bounds behind the scenes – I'm consumed with excitement about it. One of the changes I’m really keen to get up and running soon is the publication of more community discussion style posts – covering everything from personal reflections, to business and life after the wedding, as well as topical issues in the media spotlight of interest to brides. We're more than just a pretty dress you know.
With this in mind, there has been one particular news story that caught my eye a couple of weeks back. Last month, Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, spoke at a debate entitled ‘Marriage: Love or Law’, where he said that the ‘marketisation of marriage’ by magazines must be curtailed and that the trend of expensive and fairytale weddings was threatening the future of marriage. He went on to state ‘it is symbolic of our fast-paced society that favours ‘rapid gratification’ over long-term commitments, and seeks to emulate the excessive weddings of celebrities and the rich and famous, which, incidentally, rarely seem to stand the test of time.’
I was fascinated by these statements. We all know that some folk get a wee bit obsessed with their weddings (hands up please!) and whilst I’d like to think this wouldn’t apply to our intelligent and thoughtful community of readers, I do know from first hand experience how easy it is to get caught up in the crazy carnival of wedding planning – blowing the budget and getting in to debt and going completely OTT on the detail (like the £300 I spent on glass perfume bottle wedding favours – many of which got left behind after the wedding).
We're also familiar with the concept of the 'post wedding blues' – that period immediately after the wedding where we feel an emotional flat after the high of the celebration, and a lack of weekend wedding DIY projects to keep us busy. But don't we all get over this relatively quickly? The wedding is supposed to represent the start of married life, not the beginning of the end, when 'nothing is ever so good again'? Or am I being naive?
This news made me reflect as I do regularly on the role of wedding blogs and magazines, the 'marketisation of weddings' in general and how we may be contributing to the issue outlined by the Right Rev. Williams. The popularity of wedding blogs has soared in the past 2-3 years – many brides now choose to visit a blog for wedding inspiration over spending £4-£5 on a monthly wedding magazine. And whilst you won't have to sift through pages of expensive advertising to get to the proper content with a wedding blog – we still have to market and promote weddings to our readers – or we couldn't survive as a business.
With their support of our advertisers, we can invest in creating a better, more useful and rewarding resource on the internet for brides seeking inspiration, support and advice. It's the reason we now get around three quarters of a million page hits (and rising) per month. We choose to work only with an approved team of suppliers and any marketing we do is done so in an open and transparent way (all our sponsored/paid for features are marked as such for example). We try to promote services ethically and responsibly and we trust that our readers will understand this.
Incidentally, Rowan Williams isn't the first to have expressed concern about the cost of tieing the knot – Iain Duncan Smith also warned that the celebrity-driven trend for fairytale weddings is contributing towards family breakdown by forcing couples into debt at the start of their lives together. I've talked openly and honestly about my own experiences with debt here. Are we spending too much on our weddings and if so, is it because we have no choice or feel that we have to?
I'm not saying we're part of the problem Rowan Williams refers to – it's clear to any regular reader that we're not a fan of celebrity wedding culture (I'm not a fan of celebrity culture full stop) and love that the sanctity of marriage is at the heart of what we do – but we are part of an industry that markets weddings and encourages readers to buy certain products and services.
I wonder, might it just be that we all need to take a bit more responsibility? Are we guilty of over thinking our wedding plans and getting too involved in the show of it all? Are we allowing ourselves to be pressured by blogs, magazines and other wedding media to create fantasy celebrations that leave us skint and miserable once the day has passed? Are weddings being used as an excuse to pull off a big scale adventure in escapism where we can switch off the routine humdrum of normality for a little while to play princess. Do you or did you feel pressured to create a fairytale perfect wedding?
On the contrary – why shouldn't a couple be allowed to plan a wedding just exactly how they want it, regardless of whether this might include the kind of expense and extravagance that would make The Right Revd. Williams wince?
Personally, whilst I believe it's our role to occasionally remind readers why they are getting married at all – I also subscribe to the Style Me Pretty school of thought. Blog founder Abby Larson writes in her book Style Me Pretty Weddings 'Someone once told me that the weddings published on Style Me Pretty need to focus more on the love and less on the details of the day. To that I say…cheers. The ceremony, the words, the love, the romance, the passion, the first kiss…these are what make the foundation for a memorable wedding. The details – from the glitter adorned vases to the handmade cake toppers and ombre napkins – are part of the greater story…the journey to building a day that is personal and wildly unique, a celebration of two individuals and all of their quirks in one beautiful moment'. (We first linked ot this quote in our feature on 'blogggable weddings')
I'd love for you to share your thoughts below.
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