"As Otnes and Pleck so richly detail, the contemporary wedding is at once a rite of passage, a flight of fantasy, an expression of romantic longing, and an orgy of conspicuous consumption. Most significantly, the lavish wedding has become a celebration of contemporary consumer culture and is spreading globally, despite some resistance and backlash. From Barbie's wedding dress to Hollywood films to enormously expensive Asian weddings to gay and lesbian white weddings, we sanction superfluity in weddings to a degree unparalleled in other key life events including those of birth and death. This is a compelling analysis of the past, present, and future of wedding rituals, that holds a telling mirror to contemporary culture."Russell Belk, author of Collecting in a Consumer Society
"Elizabeth Pleck and Cele Otnes pair their distinct talents to offer us a lavish display of the lavish wedding.
In fascinating and often surprising detailacross time and placethey make sense of why we have clung to and, in fact, have radically embellished this vestige of Victorian culture."Gary Cross, author of An All Consuming Century: Why Commercialism Won in Modern America
Despite rampant unemployment, financial insecurity and dizzying personal debt levels, there's still a place for purveyors of wedding gowns, flowers and multi-tiered cakes. Professors Otnes and Pleck, of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, amply explain why. Some of their observations aren't surprising, as when they posit that weddings are a way to flaunt social prowess, but other insights about the link between consumer culture and wedding bells are fresh. They also cover the trappings surrounding the wedding day, such as the engagement ring, the perception of romantic love and even the bouquet toss. Although they sometimes make lighthearted observations, Otnes and Pleck are often scholarly. They adeptly weave in anthropology and cultural commentary to sharpen their points, for instance, discussing the introduction of the "sacred" into the shopping process. As the bride (and it's almost always the bride instead of the groom) selects items for use during the wedding day, she tends to assign significance to them that's far weightier than the objects' usual meaning. Therefore, a silk pillow that would normally be flung onto a couch and forgotten is instead turned into a magical object because the wedding rings will be placed on it during the ceremony. The authors write, "Such items meet the definition of sacred artifacts as described by scholars in religious studies, consumer behavior, and other disciplines." That's a lot of analysis for one little pillow, but almost anyone who's been a bride or gone shopping with one can see the truth of the statement. (Oct.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.