Are weddings a threat to marriages?
It is the season for weddings. But are today's weddings a danger to the couples getting all the attention on The Big Day? Giles Fraser's warmed to that theme in a Thought for the Day this week, and, judging by the media coverage his piece has received, he struck a nerve. (Read his entire Thought here.)
Money quote: "I'm delighted for Chelsea Clinton and her new husband Mark. But judging by some press reports, the most important thing about the wedding was her two Vera Wang dresses. And yes, I blame the media here, not the happy couple. For the pervasive influence of the media on the look and feel of weddings - not least those weddings that are featured in celebrity magazines - has encouraged an atmosphere of narcissism and self-promotion to work its way into the very fabric of the modern wedding celebration. Little wonder that, at their worst, some weddings can feel like an overblown vanity project, all justified by foot-stomping references to "my special day".
I've heard some clergy wonder if the excessive costs of some weddings today might constitute a "sinful" excess, though thankfully they resisted the urge to reflect on that theological point during their sermon at the nuptials. Even if you are uncomfortable with religious labels such as "sin", most people would accept that seriously excessive expenditure on a party is difficult to defend in a world where millions are starving and in need of shelter or clean water. The philosopher Peter Singer, who has done more than most to articulate the ethical challenge of living in an affluent world, says the same moral questions are raised by all expenditure. The difficulty arises, in the case of weddings, when we try to draw the line. When do wedding costs become morally indefensible? How much is too much?