Weddings are following me everywhere. On The Atlantic’s website, I get served ads for ModCloth’s wedding page–an assortment of twee T-straps and flower crowns (I clicked). Facebook serves up wedding-specific ads for Crest White Strips and weight-loss products and stationary. I get sponsored GMail ads for something called a “Mrs. Kit”, which supposedly facilitates changing your name after marriage. David’s Bridal and BHLDN chase me relentlessly though just about every corner of the Internet.
For months now I’ve been getting targeted ads that are running on an algorithm that assumes that if I’ve looked a wedding dress online, I am probably also interested in Crest White Strips. My fiance does not get ads reminding him that he needs a wedding-ready smile.
Of course it’s all just scripts running deep within the Internet, spitting back things on which a person with a particular browsing history is statistically likely to click. It’s nothing personal. But it can really get a girl down to have every tab in her browser screaming about getting fit for the wedding.
Some of it is outright pre-feminist–ubiquitous “Mrs.” tanktops and bathrobes and nameplate necklaces, the renewed vogue for asking the father’s permission before proposing–but the modern wedding is distinctly post-feminist: I am woman, watch me consume.
The post-feminist wedding has no regard for what you want, it just demands that you rapaciously want anything and everything. That you want jewelry and shoes and chemical peels and spray on tans, that you want lame-ass doll-sized bottles of Veuve Cliquot, that you want a $10,000 Vera Wang gown and maybe another one, you know, for the reception. It’s a tentacled marketing machine that reminds you at every turn that this day, this one magical day of cake pops and “Bride” booty shorts, will be the thing that finally fulfills you.
Consumerism packaged as self-actualization is nothing new. Whatever copywriter came up with “Because we’re worth it” for L’Oreal and ‘You’ve come a long way, baby” for Virginia Slims could tell you that. The post-feminist wedding, though, skips the notion that women have you know, lives, and gets right down to it: here is what you need to purchase to make your wedding perfect.
The post-feminist wedding has a gigantic Google Ads budget.
You will get a softer sell elsewhere: the wedding blogosphere, of course, which gave us demented demands like this, and Pinterest, the capital of poorly managed expectations. But I promise you–start clicking through a few wedding blogs or browsing wedding shoes on Nordstrom, and you will unleash a deluge of targeted ads that just come right out and say it: get skinny, get a tan, get this doohickey that will emboss your initials on the napkins. Remember, you deserve it!
I think weddings are great–I wouldn’t be having one in two weeks if I didn’t think so. But weddings are increasingly sold as fairy tales, basically a consolation prize for the fact you are not and will never be Kate Middleton (but you can have her dress and her ring). The song of the wedding marketing machine is enticing, of course: you may need to get up in the morning and commute to your shitty job and eat the same droopy salad with grilled chicken every day, but for one day you’re gonna be a princess, goddamnit–and we’re going to remind you of it on every single page of the Internet.