Recession slays Bridezilla
If the NYT had any sense of humor, that would have been the headline for an article in the Fashion section about brides slashing their bloated wedding budgets during the recession.
As the financial condition of the country worsens, the wedding industry, so long considered recession-proof, is seeing fairy-tale weddings stripped of their sprites, their sparkle and everything else that suggests splurge.
That's interesting if true. If something is recession-proof, that's usually a code for having a short shelf-life, so that whether you like it or not, you have to keep buying it. Gas is a typical example: you may decrease gas spending during a recession, but you still have to go places, so the average person will still be buying a fair amount of gas.
You see the opposite for things with long shelf-lives, like cars. During a recession, you don't need a new car because the old one is fine, maybe with a few repairs, and anyway, you can buy a new one in five years. So the average person really cuts down on their "new car" spending. That's why the American auto industry has been clobbered harder than American oil companies.
If weddings used to be recession-proof, that means that the average bride and groom viewed it like filling up their car -- like gas in the tank, the fulfillment that the wedding provides won't last long. They'll view it as something comparatively cheap and disposable. And if weddings are now getting rocked by the recession, that means the typical couple view it like buying a new car or new house -- one of those Really Big Purchases that is supposed to fulfill you for a very long time. Since when has a wedding been considered a font of boundless joy?
A search of the NYT shows that the term "Bridezilla" surfaced once in 2001, and became common only when we came out of the dot-com recession in 2003. The phrase "bachelorette party" in its current usage first turns up in 1990, but only becomes common after 1995. So despite the hype that has always gone along with weddings within the past -- I don't know, 50 to 100 years maybe -- it does seem like outright wedding mania is a very recent cultural shift. But since the article doesn't mention anything about longer historical trends, for all we know, we're returning to a pattern of 200 or 300 years ago.
At any rate, if you're going to get married, now is the time to do it on the cheap and have an easy excuse. If your wife eventually complains about how her right to have a glamorous wedding was violated, and how you definitely need to have a second, ostentatious wedding -- at least you get a clear signal that the marriage is doomed and that you should eject, or at least start dating a refreshing younger girl, if you must stay together. It's better to figure this out by getting one obvious signal rather than having to read into a million subtle signals.