Friday, October 06, 2006

Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here

It's almost my fake wedding day!

Earlier this summer, Val & I decided to conduct a little research for the book by going “undercover” at a Bridal Expo.

We took the metro downtown (riding the subway in L.A. made it feel all the more Woodward and Bernstein), and somehow wound up at a boat convention. Despite all the guys in docksiders, this was definitely more appealing than the outer circle of hell we were about to enter into.

We finally found our way to the fair and registered as brides-to-be so we could see how potential vendors might treat us. After filling out the mandatory little cards with our “dates”—I picked Oct. 10, 2006--(no one seemed to notice that was a Tuesday), I got a "Bride" sticker to wear. Ok, not a ring, exactly, but it was something—and I got handed a pink plastic bag. Then we entered the throngs of squealing girls and the occasional frightened looking groom-to-be. You walk up and down rows where everyone’s got a little table offering their wares—cheap cream you can personalize and give as favors! honeymoon resort packages! wedding videographers! DJs! Makeup artists! people who will freeze-dry your bouquet! The wedding industry at its worst and most desperate.

Next was the fashion show. Clearly, the wedding show producers took this as seriously as though it were Olympus Fashion Week, but the actual caliber was a lot more like your senior talent show in high school. The local amateur models were no doubt working for free--and likely would never get a paying gig anywhere. I kept thinking Christopher Guest needed to set a film in the world of traveling low-budge bridal expo producers. And then of course there were the door prizes: People were encouraged to do all manner of embarrassing things for crap prizes, like $200 off DJ services (the DJ who happened to be emceeing the show).

Here’s the sneaky trick: everywhere you go, everyone is offering a contest—and who doesn’t love free stuff? I dutifully filled out the entry forms like a good little faux B2B--after all, shouldn’t I be able to win a honeymoon to Bali, too?

A few days after the expo, the emails and strange calls starting coming…apparently, when you write your name on anything, they sell it to everybody! I won “plates” even though I knew I had never entered the contest, which could be “mine” after my “fiancé” and I attended some weird demonstration. I’ve had to unsubscribe from the latest newsletters from DJs I never talked to.

Yup, just another way the wedding-industrial complex makes money off of you.

But I did hang on to that "bride" sticker for a while...


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