September 19, 2019

The Price of the Perfect Wedding

“I was expecting to experience a lot of things at the Great Bridal Expo in Washington, D.C.: the sound of hundreds of people milling about the Grand Hyatt Hotel’s 8,500-square-foot ballroom, the smell of a thousand wedding-cake samples, the feel of polyester-blend bridesmaids’ gowns, the sight of dozens of vendors’ booths lined up on patterned carpet. I was not, however, expecting an open bar, or a booth raffling off a free boudoir photo shoot, or a free bottle of barbecue sauce from a catering restaurant.

The vendors I spoke with (when they weren’t inundated by bridal parties) told me that companies give away lots of free things at these kinds of events—some, like cake samples, that make sense, and others, like barbecue sauce, whose relevance for wedding planning is less clear. For their $10 entrance fee, couples get bags filled with wedding magazines and coupons at the front door, but also access to free samples, dance lessons, and even stays in hotel rooms from vendors. Geren Gatling, a marketer who was representing a vacation-rental company at the expo, said he goes to bridal expos all over the D.C. area. “They didn’t have these when I was getting married,” he said. “But I would definitely come to one of these to gather information.”

He cut off our conversation to flag down a couple passing by. “Excuse me, miss, when’s the big day? I’ve got something for you!” he shouted, shepherding them to his company’s table. “Sorry about that,” he said. “I get paid whenever they stop by. I can’t let them get away.””

Read more

JJ Editor's Picks

"Congratulations, Mr. President. It took an extraordinary effort, but you finally managed to spark a serious global crisis. I know you don’t like to share credit, but don’t worry. The current mess in the Middle East centered around Iran is all..."

"We’re approaching the anniversary of one of the nastiest political battles it has been my misfortune to witness—the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court despite credible accusations of sexual harassment and assault and his..."

"There are few one-offs in life on Earth—rarely can a single species boast a trait or ability that no other possesses. But human language is one such oddity. Our ability to use subtle combinations of sounds produced by our vocal cords to create..."

"He walked through the coffee shop door and scanned the crowd. A familiar smile bloomed as he recognized me, despite how my appearance had changed over the years. I’m bald and bearded now, and heavier. I wear an extra decade on my face, and I’m..."

"The poverty rate in the United States fell to 11.8 percent in 2018, according to data released last week by the Census Bureau — the lowest it’s been since 2001. But this estimate significantly understates the extent of economic deprivation in..."

"Streaming is the future of TV. But for now a big part of the streaming business revolves around old TV shows. Latest case in point: Netflix is paying a lot of money for the rights to show Seinfeld to its 150 million subscribers around the world..."

"On the eve of the second Israeli election of 2019, there is no shortage of apocalyptic rhetoric about the potential consequences of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s re-election. From the New York Times' editorial column to The Forward’s..."

"Is there a backlash toward the technology industry in the culture? I tend to think so, having written about its various twists and turns most weekdays for the past couple years now. But sometimes an obsession with a beat can lead to myopia, and..."