Around $50 billion dollars are spent each year on weddings in the United States. It is a monster industry spanning retail, vendors, magazines, and television. Celebrities bar no expense when it comes to the big day, shocking average Americans and making them dream of their own wedding day. It is hard to believe that a wedding could be the subject of as much media attention as a President’s speech or news coverage on the latest energy crisis, but more people tuned into ABC last winter to see Trista from The Bachelorette marry her chosen mate, Ryan, than the world news on any given night.
But, why? The public is fascinated with weddings, and the media is well aware of that fact. That is why the media is excellent at covering all the details of big celebrity weddings. Media coverage feeds the industry, and continues to entertain audiences of wedding lovers and brides-to-be.
However, sometimes it is hard to remember that weddings are actually about the joining of two people. But if one of the individuals is in a dress with a 25 foot train showing off an 18-carat diamond, it is easy to forget that vows are actually exchanged too. This was the case at the legendary wedding of Lady Diana Spencer and Prince Charles. Their wedding was the first public view of wedding extravagance. Princess Diana had a fairy tale wedding, showing young girls all over the world that it could happen, and it did. The media and the public were fascinated with Diana and Charles and their relationship. The media captured every detail of the fairy tale wedding from the flowers, the cake, the gowns, and the jewelry. Brides-to-be all over the world know that she had five bridesmaids and her bouquet was made of gardenias, lilies, white freesia and golden roses, and are telling their florists that is what they want for their wedding, too. The wedding was such a media event that commemorative mugs and t-shirts were made to remember the day. Princess Diana and Prince Charles honeymooned in style too; first starting in Hampshire then on a royal yacht in the Mediterranean.
The heavy coverage of Princess Diana and Prince Charles’ wedding can be considered the beginning of an era. Celebrity weddings were extravagant 20 years ago, but today they have exceeded all precedents and expectations. One need not look any further than the recent wedding of Donald Trump and Melania Knauss to see the extent of extravagance. It was considered the celebrity wedding of the year but, there was a great deal of media coverage even long before the big event. Knauss posed for Vogue magazine in her wedding dress several months before the wedding and divulged wedding details in an accompanying article. The wedding dress, a Christian Dior Haute Couture design, cost $200,000 and weighed 50 pounds. The media continues to feed off weddings in every way by getting the exclusive story or details, photography rights or even an invitation; it is a bustling billion dollar business.
Trump and Knauss’ wedding had guest list of 300 top figures from the media, politics, sports, and entertainment. They were married in Palm Beach, California where a local ordinance disallows fireworks and pyrotechnics, but for Donald Trump, it is a certainty that a little money helped them make an exception. The wedding cake for Donald and Melania weighed in at 50 pounds, with seven layers, topped with 3,000 white icing roses. The cost of the cake could put a student through college, but instead of criticize celebrities for their extravagant ways, the public is fascinated, and continues to dig through magazines for all the glamorous details.
It is not just magazines like Vogue, or the dozens of wedding specific publications like Modern Bride and Martha Stewart’s Weddings that are in the big wedding business, television and movies have really capitalized on the public and media’s fascination with weddings. Any flip through the cable channels is sure to reveal more than one wedding related show, perhaps TLC’s A Wedding Story or In Style’s Celebrity Weddings special. The shows have a steady audience of brides-to-be and wedding lovers. Even the TODAY show on NBC, which usually is America’s primary source for morning news and a world leader in news coverage, gets more viewers when the show is presenting its annual “TODAY Throws a Wedding,” where a lucky couple is chosen to have America vote on the details of their wedding and plan it from start to finish. Plus, once the wedding is planned, it is a nationally televised event, where people are setting their alarms to wake up early to catch the TODAY show wedding. The media has found a real audience in the timeless events of weddings.
It is hard to believe but 17 million people tuned in to see the wedding of Trista and Ryan, the couple from ABC’s The Bachelorette in December of 2004. Trista, the star of The Bachelorette chose Ryan as her mate during the season of the hit reality show. They were one of the media’s most-watched couples, and when ABC offered to pick up the tab on the wedding for television rights, the couple said okay. The wedding was reported as costing $3.77 million dollars. Just the roses alone cost a half million and had to be imported from Ecuador. The wedding gown had a $70,000 price tag, and the shoes Trista wore were decorated with 282 diamonds, a $50,000 value. The event required 500 employees, and the location, a Palm Beach resort, had to be shut down four days beforehand to prepare for the event and set up security. The public and media soaked up all the benefits as well, producing an event with amazing economic benefit and an exciting television presentation for an eager audience.
More and more celebrity weddings will capture the attention of the public and media, as they continue to reach all new heights of extravagance and grandeur. While some celebrities and public figures choose to keep their nuptials private or secret, there are still going to be some couples looking for the limelight on their big day, feeding a wedding crazed public.