real life

Why the wedding industry is THE most pretentious industry ever.

“It’s frothy, and seductive, and indulgently beautiful. And it makes you believe that every delicate little detail it has to offer will actually make your special day more memorable and perfect…”

When I was planning my wedding, I tried to make an appointment with a well-known wedding dress maker.

But he wouldn’t see me.

As the woman with the haughty voice on the other end of the phone told me, “Frances doesn’t ever see clients until seven months out from the wedding. He’s concerned brides might change their mind, and he doesn’t have the time to remake dresses.”

Right then. Silly old me, expecting old Frances to accept my patronage a mere nine months out from the big day!

I called around to find another boutique. And only got in at the fourth place I tried; they all had a four-month waiting list.

I begged — literally begged — to get on a list on the basis that my mum was flying from interstate for the occasion.

And that’s how, when the boutique had a last-minute cancellation, I ended up in one of those beautiful, Tiffany-blue coloured boutiques in inner-eastern Sydney the following weekend.

It was like a dream in that place. Raw silk corsets and mountains of soft Italian tulle hugged size-6 mannequins. Dreamy French lace headpieces matched perfectly with the whimsical hand-stitched petticoats. Deco hair pins and emerald-cut drop earrings set off delicately embroidered sweetheart necklines.

And then a sour-faced woman handed me a pair of white gloves — and told me not to touch a thing until I had them on.

Because this is how things work in the wedding industry. It’s frothy, and seductive, and indulgently beautiful. And it makes you believe that every delicate little detail it has to offer will actually make your special day more memorable and perfect — until you find yourself wearing Minnie Mouse gloves, holding your breath as you struggle to comprehend how the extra zero found its way onto the price-tag of the slinky silk number you were about to try on.

And apologising to the judgy-looking assistants for having curves because, as they’ve pointed out several times already, your hips are really interfering with the line of the $10,000 dress.

Then the truth hits you like an overpriced, rented crystal chandelier: you’ve been sucked in, and you’re becoming as pretentious as the worst parts of the industry itself.

The over-the-top wedding snobbery doesn’t end with dress shopping. As our day drew closer, I learned that in the world of weddings, tradition dictates the guest-to-bridesmaids ratio (50:1), while emerging conventions dictate the expected fee for merely cancelling an appointment in the fanciest bridal boutiques ($175).

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There are also rules about whether you must have a bridal shower (“YES!” says wedding guru Martha Stewart), how invitations may be sent (“snail mail only,” Martha insists,) and whether to register for gifts before the shower (“by the time the shower invitations are sent, the bride should have already registered for gifts,” according to Martha. You have been warned.)

Are you tired yet? Because on top of all that, there are the costs. Oh, the terrifying, hilarious, quite literally jaw-dropping costs.

“Do-it-yourself flowers turned into buy-cheaply-at-the-local-store flowers. Which turned into a serious, lengthy conversation with a “floral stylist” who charged a flat fee of $11,000.”

We started off budgeting for an intimate affair at the local gardens and, like frogs in boiling water, we didn’t notice how far gone we were until it was almost too late. Case in point: Do-it-ourselves flowers turned into buy-cheaply-at-the-local-store flowers. Which turned into a serious, lengthy conversation with a “floral styling consultant” who charged a flat fee of $7,000.

Not including the actual flowers, people.

Does anyone else think the industry needs to loosen up with its rules? It needs to ditch the holier-than-thou attitude, the pompous titles, and the judgmental sales assistants brandishing their tiny white gloves. It needs to allow for fun, and lightness, and individuality. And fittings more than 7 months out from the wedding.

Because all these breathtaking details and painstaking styling arrangements may make a wedding day look pretty — but they’re not what the day is truly about.

Let’s be clear: I’m not criticising those who choose to buy the beautiful, upscale, once-in-a-lifetime luxury services wedding suppliers can provide. If that’s the wedding they want? They should absolutely go for it.

But me? I decided it wasn’t for me.

That’s why, in the end, I found an off-the-rack floor sample to wear on my wedding day. It still had a delicately embroidered sweetheart neckline, but it was on sale for less than $1500.

And I couldn’t be happier.

‘Sandra Milson’ is a pseudonym for a writer/journalist who is known to us. She wishes to remain anonymous.

Do you have any pretentious wedding industry stories to share?

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