This is the post where I tell you everything we dislike about the wedding industry. I've thought a lot about how to make it not feel too negative, and how to not piss anyone off. My intention is to take an honest stab at pulling apart some of the trends, traditions and wedding industry standards that make us here at Saipua uncomfortable - and then to use those points to attempt to reinvent our part in that industry and make it so much more enjoyable for our clients. (That's going to be detailed in Wedding Thoughts Part 3)
When I started Saipua in 2006 I was not thinking about weddings at all. I hated weddings. I've never wanted to get married. I railed against the 'institution' of marriage, and all the deeply rooted associations of men owning women etc. Of course it was foolish and immature to be so polarizing. Because when I accidently started making flowers for weddings in 2007 I met some really inspired couples whose love was big and grand enough to publish to the world in this very public, very emotional way. I started witnessing really good weddings and watched my attitude toward it all slide...
I like public displays of affection and I like emotion. I like drama and I like declarations. It was not long before I was the florist crying behind the curtain or sneaking into the back row during the ceremony. Weddings are romantic and I was converted…
But you know what is not very romantic? The wedding industry. It's basically the opposite of romantic, it's full of sanitized pastel colors and perfectly plastic images of women and cake and puffy twee things that are so sterile and unreal. Ask yourself would you go to bed with that sort of imagery? It's the opposite of romantic.
A wedding photographer friend of mine told me about the frequent requests she gets to airbrush images to make arms appear thiner or cheeks smoother. I nearly fell off my chair. This is the world we operate in. And if you know me at all, you can see this sort of thing is the opposite of Saipua culture. (More on this in Part 3.)
The pressure to have a highly customized, unique wedding is really weird. My mother, having grown up in a very rural area outside Rochester, NY always wants to know what happened to the days when you just had punch and cookies in the church hall afterwards? (My parents got married at Peekskill City Hall, April Fools Day 1980. If there are any photos, I've never seen them. I love the simplicity of their wedding, the lack of collateral even.)
In the last 10 years I've seen a lot of stressed out brides feeling a lot of pressure to plan the perfect, most 'authentic' wedding. My concern with this pressure is that it takes the emphasis off the celebration of two people declaring their commitment and puts it on creating a memorable party for their guests, and one-upping all that has come before. [The shareholders of SAIPUA are getting nervous, shifting in their seats, texting their brokers from under the table…SELL YOUR SAIPUA SHARES! but lets hedge our bets here for a minute…and continue to talk about this honestly…]
There is a larger picture to consider. Before we go condemning big expensive celebrations, I'd like to remind everyone that over the course of human history those with means have fueled a lot of really incredible art and celebrations, and I believe firmly that these expressions of grandeur and celebration are worthy of the money that is invested in them. Aspiration is real and effects positive things across the socioeconomic spectrum. We all want to see images of beautiful expensive art and flowers even if we can't afford them. They inspire, and inspiration is free. I like free things.
But what I dislike is the feeling that some brides feel pressure to keep up with the jones in this respect, going to incredible lengths to have the "perfect" wedding only to find themselves later disappointed that they weren't more present in the moment. Our greatest fear is when brides and grooms are so confused by all of the "shoulds" from magazines, mothers-in-law to be's, friends, etc that they end up at a celebration that doesn't reflect them.
Thanks to instagram and pinterest - rabbit holes of regurgitated wedding inspiration - brides get so wrapped up in a fantasy which reality can never come close to. Even worse: I've heard of brides making plans to ensure their wedding is placed in an editorial feature before it's even happened. What the hell!?
Luckily we've noticed lately that many of our clients seem more assured about what they want. Many of them want to give their friends and family a night of revelry - as a sort of thank you for supporting their relationship all the way to the alter - its been so refreshing to see people be able to let unnecessary "shoulds" fall by the wayside and just plan a truly unique celebration for themselves; be it simple OR extravagant.
A lot of the success or duress of this could be attributed to wedding and event planners and the editorial staff at large wedding magazines and websites…these are the gatekeepers of the information on 'how to get married.' Because the truth is that there is a lot of confusion about how to go about it -- most people have never done it before.
The guidelines and suggestions printed in magazines about how to go about planning your wedding are so bonkers. 10% of your budget to flowers? Maybe if you don't care so much about flowers, but what if flowers are the most important part for you? I have clients regularly spending 25% on flowers because the flowers are so important to them (SAIPUA stocks holding steady…)
I think a better approach is to start with a budget and then break it up according to what is really important to you. Maybe that's not flowers! It is totally legit to forgo flowers if it's not your thing (SAIPUA shares dropping…)
If it were my party I'd put all emphasis on oysters, a flame eater, a giant rotating disco ball and wine.
I think the key part here is really considering what's important to YOU specifically and not necessarily being so tied to all the aspects of the day being perfect. Perfection is boring.
In the last installment of this wedding series, part 3, we will reveal how we've been changing the structure of SAIPUA to attempt to make better, more honest experiences for our clients...