Why the Bridal Industry Hates Us Special Edition

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Perhaps there is no better evidence that the industrial bridal complex thinks women are stupid than the bridal expos they roll through towns like cheap white satin bunting-bedecked Barnum & Bailey circus caravans. When a postcard arrived recently in the mail touting “The Great Bridal Expo” at the Renaissance Hotel, I reflexively turned to Frisbee it into the trash when I noticed that it had a code on it for two free passes. “Oh,” I thought, “well then of course I’ll go make fun of it.” A quick text message indicated that yes, of course she wanted to come make fun of it with me. Ever the Prompt Petunia, she was already halfway through a Starbucks non-fat latte by the time I arrived in the hotel lobby. Her eyes were the size of silver-dollar pancakes, so giddy she was to find herself in the middle of a flashmob of pink cotton candy bridal show insanity—cannon fodder for a cynical style writer’s soul. Steeling ourselves, we made our way toward the pulsing music of the ballroom.

Inside was a nightmare of Boschian proportions. Most of the room was devoted to a fashion show featuring gowns from a retailer to the bridal masses. Models bearing plastic bouquets and plastic grins to match strutted down the aisle, showing off gowns (many in solid colors not found in nature) that one could detect from even 30 yards away were highly flammable. Escorts in tuxes with matching accent colors joined them, twirling their “brides” in the cheesiest of choreography that included setting their chins onto their fists and checking invisible watches.

Horrified, we headed to the vendor tables and began nodding politely at salespeople hawking freeze-dried bridal bouquet services, cheap cookware, wedding photography that styled the bride and groom as princesses and princes, lingerie that made Frederick’s of Hollywood look like Coup de Foudre, and reception halls that appeared to have last been renovated just prior to the Steinberger Breakin’ II: Electric Boogaloo bar mitzvah. The lone vendor proffering food samples handed us petit four-sized bites of cake with the flavor and consistency of buttered chalk dust.

All this is not to say that I viewed with condescension those coming to the event with the intent of actually make some wedding arrangements. Rather I was left with overwhelming derision for the industry that seems to feel no inclination to provide quality, stylish goods for brides of moderate means. As I moved through the booths I silently thanked my lucky stars that my parents gave me a budget that will allow me to throw a tasteful wedding. Because while money by no means guarantees taste, it is increasingly evident to me that without money, one would be hard-pressed to make tasteful arrangements if they were turning to the mass-market bridal industry. There is no effort to follow in the footsteps of a retailer such as Target, which now devotes itself to offering quality fashion at lower price points.

Having had enough, we left the expo as an MC began another round of carnival barking into her microphone, speaking to the assembled women as if they were addled teenagers whom she couldn’t wait to pry free from their allowance money. They were not though. They were women who wanted to have elegant and enjoyable ceremonies and receptions, and dress in a way that makes them feel they are at the top of their game. Here’s hoping at some point the industry will start listening to them instead of shouting at them with cheap come-ons.

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5 Responses to “Why the Bridal Industry Hates Us Special Edition”

  1. I-66 Says:

    Indeed. The cheap come-ons are what leads them down the road to bridehood to begin with.

  2. Shannon Says:

    Ugh, I got dragged to one of those a few years back. There was a DJ onstage who made random women come up and do stupid dances with him. I mean, really, the average bride’s worst nightmare is a compulsory Macarena, so why did the DJ think THIS was how to market himself?

    I got married in Vegas by an Elvis impersonator. Sure, the marriage didn’t work out, but at least I wasn’t 20 grand in debt, too boot.

  3. Johanna Says:

    I wish I could think of something to add, but you pretty much hit every nail on its head in your rundown.

    It was indeed one of the best Sunday afternoons in recent memory. French-tipped acrylic sets, unblended pancake foundation masks, “invisible watch” glancing and all.

    Bring on Round II, Bird…I’m ready.

  4. Norf Says:

    Well, at least you went to one of these in the D.C. area.

    My wife went to one in Portland, OR last year. She said the highlight (read: low point) of the experience was the fashion show, where they showed off styles for a “country” wedding. Of course, we all know “country” means redneck.

    I don’t recall her exact description, but every time I think of that I picture Larry-the-fucking-Cable-Guy in a tuxedo with the arms ripped off.

  5. We Traced the Calls. They’re Coming From INSIDE the Bridal Expo. « Bridal Bird Says:

    […] to be you” tone): You went to the Washington Bridal Expo right? Me: Yes. (shuddering at the memory) Saleschick: There’s your problem. They give your number to everybody. I mean every.bod.y. […]

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