My first reaction to reading reports of Chelsea Clinton’s nuptials was ”Thank goodness I have boys,” since the estimated three to five million dollar bill for the so-called Wedding of the Century just upped the tab for parents of the bride everywhere.
My second reaction was a sense of profound disappointment.
Chelsea Clinton seems like a lovely woman, and I do wish her and her new husband well. But this is just… well, as another generation would say, it’s just unseemly.
Like all forms of conspicuous consumption, nuptials went on steroids in the aughts, with bridezillas going from rareity to common phenom. When The Great Recession began, it seemed as if the monster wedding was going to be downsized, with the average tab falling in the first years of the current downturn. Unfortunately, such restraint did not last, and a survey recently released by the WE found that the cost of a wedding has soared by 21.9% in the past year.
In a world where we need to constantly tell our children that what matters is not what they have but who they are and what they believe because the pressure to have “the right” cellphone, clothes, vacation destination can seem overwhelming, Chelsea Clinton and family just made all our jobs harder. Airspace over Rhinebeck might have been closed off for twelve hours, but Chelsea Clinton did not have a private wedding, unless your definition of private is simply the invite list. Someone made sure to release all the details, from the catering bill that could have sent several students to Harvard on full scholarships to the chi-chi Vera Wang bridal gown dress that must have cost at least $20,000.
And that’s just the unspoken consequence of the outrageous spending. The unstated assumption of Clinton blow-out was even more ghastly for girls, as our very own Madeline pointed out. The celebratory coverage as well as numerous statements from both Bill and Hillary Clinton saying Chelsea’s wedding day it was the most important event in their lives, implied that the most significant thing a woman can do — even in supposedly enlightened 2010 — is marry, and marry well.
The right wing is having a field day, of course, and while the hypocrisy reaks (Meg Whitman’s $100 million self-funded campaign for governor of California anyone?) I can’t say I completely disagree with their objections to this bout of mindless spending in a country where there are more than five unemployed people for every job opening. I get the counter-argument that the Clinton family has the money and has the right to spend it as they will, that they are not some hardship case spending funds they don’t have in an effort to keep up with the Joneses. On the other hand, the same thing could have been said about Marie Antoinette.
Photo: Runako Godfrey