22 January 2010

Say "yes" to the welfare state

When critics mention chronic overspending in North America, they normally do so in the context of the housing market or expensive "toys". What should also be high up on the list of living beyond one's means is weddings. I've always found North American wedding culture ridiculous based on acquaintances' stories and working in a flower shop as an undergraduate student years ago. In fact, I occasionally got into arguments with defenders of the said culture (women, of course). My opponents claimed that huge contemporary weddings go all the way back to the time when their historic ancestors invited an entire village to celebrate the occasion. They seem to have missed the fact that those ancestors of theirs probably did not visit the bank for a loan, while they were falling behind on their mortgage.

Having caught a few wedding reality shows over the past couple of years ("Say "Yes" to the Dress" dominates TLC lately, while "Rich Bridge, Poor Bride" is broadcast daily on Slice), my opinion has been reinforced tenfold. Instigated by the woman, no doubt, many happy couples on these shows mention that it was "well worth it" to spend thousands of dollars beyond their already drastically expanded budget because "it's their one special day", or, worse, "the most important day of their lives". It's not terrible, of course, that people still choose to get married considering the skyrocketing divorce rates in the West. However, statements of this nature are a little too reminiscent of those who consider high school graduation (and, by extention, high school glory days) the "second most important day of their life". That is to say, the shows' participants act like they deserve a lifetime achievement award for throwing a huge party for themselves (and going into debt because of it).

I believe in recycling my own illustrations.

The women on these reality shows make it clear to me that they're "my fellow females" in name and biology only. Most of them mention how they've dreamt of "being a princess on their wedding day ever since they were little girls". I can never figure out whether they are repeating a trite expression when the cameras are rolling, or whether they truly feel this way. I've loved classic European fairy tales growing up, and I sure do enjoy pink nail polish. In other words, T34s (!) aside, I'm somewhat of a girly girl too, but those televized confessions leave me baffled.

So, these women want to pay more than what they are able to afford for a dress they'll only wear once -- why should I care? I care, or, rather, I am bothered by this, because their mentality is far-reaching. One of the most disturbing aspects of "Rich Bride, Poor Bride" involves balancing the budget. Most of the time, whenever a couple comes in under budget on a certain part of their wedding, like flowers, the woman (always, the woman!) suggests that the newly saved money should be spent elsewhere immediately. The concept of saving it, instead, is as alien to these women as their desire to be a "princess" is -- to me.

Much has been written on the direct relationship between women's right to vote and the size of government. Scandinavian "social democracies" have a high percentage of female "public servants" -- and a staggering income tax rate. If this is how irresponsibly the majority of women approaches the financing of their own wedding, is it really any surprise that welfare states (relying on strangers' taxpayer money) function the way they do?


Anonymous said...

what was the post they removed?

Anonymous said...

My mother had one of those weddings where you invite the whole village, and they come. Her sisters were maids of honor and made their own dresses. My mother made her own dress. Aunts and cousins did the flowers. The village matrons also brought the refreshments, covered dish, decorations etc. Friends provided the music and lots of gifts including $$. Her dad bought a case of champagne at the liquor store. She was a member of the church, so the the facility was nearly free, like $50 honorarium for the clergyman. It was a very big wedding but not a big expense.