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Friday, December 8, 2023
Dec. 8, 2023

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Harrop: Marriage has become an Insta-institution


Though not one to follow the celebrities, I still can’t get the divorce of Britney Spears and Sam Asghari out of my headspace.

They’d been married for only a year and change, but their wedding was covered as a triumph of recovery.

Who was there? Madonna, Drew Barrymore, Paris Hilton.

What did she wear? A custom Versace dress and 62 carats of bling.

What did they drive off in? A Rolls Royce.

“We really wanted to make this a small and beautiful moment with family and friends,” Britney told Vogue, unconvincingly.

The stated reason for the divorce was definitely minimalist: “Irreconcilable differences,” according to Asghari.

OK. Who ever took this marriage, not her first, seriously? Few would have taken bets that this would be a happy-ever-after coupling, or even an ever-after one.

So what’s my problem?

Vowing to social media

My problem is how celebrity culture weddings diminish in their shadow the important and demanding institution of marriage.

Spears and Asghari could have just thrown a blowout party and called it a day. But they had to call it a wedding because the addition of marital vows gave the event an emotional weight that enhanced public interest.

Because the clothes, the gems and the Champagne were all luxury brands, Vogue gave the affair (and its advertisers) extensive play.

This delight in flashy spending has seeped down into the civilian wedding business.

It’s not that there’s something wrong with blowing $100,000 on a wedding wardrobe, as The Wall Street Journal says brides are now doing. It’s their money (or credit line). It’s that the opportunity to make a splash on Instagram, it seems, is becoming a reason for getting married.

It’s a lousy reason and an unnecessary one, too.

It used to be that brides wore white and covered their face under a veil to signify purity.

We totally get it that most brides are not virgins. But must they walk down the aisle dressed like they’re still trying to attract dates at the disco?

Sure, shoulderless wedding dresses no longer evoke shock, but some gowns are cut nearly to the navel to expose cleavage. Brides magazine featured a dress that was nominally white but whose top was styled as a see-through corset. The real-life bride, Jeanine, was wearing a “sequined blusher veil,” Brides informed us.

Floor-length gowns now commonly have slits up the side, their purpose to reveal leg.

The opening on Britney’s dress went right up to the panty line. Heaven forfend that her legs be covered for a few hours, even if such gestures of propriety aren’t ideal for TikTok.

One hesitates to put all the weight for vulgar wedding dress on the brides. Perhaps some grooms want their future wives to look like porn stars right before the clothes fall off. It’s their way of saying to friends in the pews, “Look at the piece I’ve scored.”

Perhaps they are daring the other men to offend the honor of their lady, in which case they’d pull out the longsword sword and show them what’s what.

The more plausible explanation is that they don’t care.

After all, they come from a culture in which girls wear tiny pieces of cloth at the pool while boys frolic in roomy surfer shorts that are the quintessence of modesty. Suffice it to say, grooms these days may be wearing bright colors and even go tieless, but their bodies are covered.

Some smart marketer should come up with the marriageless wedding.

Let couples throw lavish parties and often. If they want to attach some romance, they can make vows to go steady.

That way, if they break up in a year, so what. Just keep the sacrament of marriage out of it.

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