Before she began, Warne wrote: “All that beauty and health and fitness—the bridal overdrive I see so many people jump into leading up to their big day—was never something that appealed to me…until it happened to me.
“I’ll be honest with you: It’s a lot of work. It’s tedious. It’s expensive. It’s a commitment. But I don’t have kids just yet and I feel lucky to be self-employed, which made it doable. I also understand if my wedding prep isn’t for you or your schedule.”
Warne is, more than anything, correct. The preparation she wrote of was extravagant and time-consuming and certainly expensive.
It included, but was not limited to: Having a personal trainer three times a week, taking private pilates classes twice a week, a specific diet of plant-based protein, vegetables, some complex carbs, fruit, and natural fats, Chinese herbal tonics for the skin, facials three times a week, having her teeth whitened and five custom couture dresses.
Her wedding was beautiful. So beautiful, in fact, it was featured – nay, illuminated – on the glossy pages of US Vogue. Warne herself is a self-made woman, one of the foremost voices in Australian fashion circles and has built both a business and a following on a brand of beautiful, can-do luxury.
She can, and did, spend her money where she pleases.
What is it about excess and extravagance and luxury that we find jarring on the eyes and ears?
There’s a funny thing that happens when many of us learn of excessive spending. It’s a feeling that doesn’t quite step into the field of judgement, but a feeling that does come with lingering discomfort. Perhaps it’s closely rooted in our country’s core value of going quietly; of being humble, of not being showy, of doing more than telling.
But I’d also argue this case, in particular, shines a brutal, harsh light on the way skincare culture and wedding culture collide.
Some women dream of their wedding day. Some spend years planning the very day they will walk down the aisle. Others find joy in skincare; of how it makes them feel, of the routines that are intrinsically tied up with it. All are allowed that dream, all have the right to that hobby.
But no decision is made without context, no dream thought up in a vacuum.
Both the wedding and the skincare industries are rife with advertising and marketing campaigns that, in their very bedrocks, make women feel like they’re not enough. That they should be showering themselves with money, that they should be more beautiful, that whatever they’re doing simply isn’t enough.
When it comes to weddings, it’s suddenly no longer just about the person you’re marrying. Instead, it has become one of greatest commercial opportunities of our economy. How can we leverage off the very vulnerabilities of impending brides?
Our obsession, too, with skincare, is lauded as a great thing, an exercise in self-care. But perhaps all it’s really telling us is that the beauty industry isn’t enough. That it’s not enough to be covering up the parts of ourselves that are imperfect so they suddenly appear perfect to the eye, but instead, our blemishes, our discolourations – the parts of us that make us, us – must be naturally beautiful now, too. Our skin must look like foundation before the foundation hits our pores.
Nicole Warne had the foresight to acknowledge the specifics of her regimen were specific to her: That if it doesn’t suit you, go do your own thing. But perhaps she never quite had to. After all, this is not about Warne and it’s certainly not about you or me. It’s not about how we spend our money or the priorities we keep, but instead, a culture that dictates the two.
It’s about extravagance and luxury sold to us as an ideal by advertisers and marketers who know women will never feel they are enough, because they’ve never been told they are enough.
It’s about that idea being used and abused, and re-packaged as a way to make us feel good.
As something that will make us happy.
Maybe you don’t like Nicole Warne’s wedding prep because you think it’s over the top. Maybe it’s a little too much for your taste. But I’d hazard a guess, too, it’s just another unintentional cog in the great big machine that is women feeling like they’re doing things wrong. And that’s not Warne’s fault.
In fact, it’s the fault of those who sold this very ideal to all of us in the first place.
The difference between commitment ceremonies and weddings.