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One Perfect Day: The Selling of the American Wedding

3.51  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,142 Ratings  ·  258 Reviews
Astutely observed and deftly witty, One Perfect Day masterfully mixes investigative journalism and social commentary to explore the workings of the wedding industry an industry that claims to be worth $160 billion to the U.S. economy and which has every interest in ensuring that the American wedding becomes ever more lavish and complex. Taking us inside the workings of the ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published May 10th 2007 by Penguin Press
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(showing 1-30 of 2,253)
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Jul 04, 2013 Lissa rated it it was amazing
Last year, I took part in the wedding of one of my childhood-college friends, a person I have always considered to be level-headed, practical and generally a good person. That was before I found myself in a $500 dollar bridesmaid dess ($284 for the dress, $235 for the alterations), standing in 3-inch navy blue sandals ($55). It was with all of this in mind that I picked up One Perfect Day: The Selling of the American Wedding, by Rebecca Mead, at Bookberries, a small independent bookstore on Lexi ...more
May 07, 2008 Maya rated it it was amazing
I'm not quite sure what to say about this book: I found myself composing and recomposing things in my mind before I had even finished it.

It made me angry, it agitated me, and I couldn't stop reading it. I'm certainly a receptive audience for this author, because I really didn't bring a lot of fairy-tale ideas to my own wedding, and I was lucky enough to have good friends and family who helped with a lot of things: my dress was made for me, to my non-sequined specifications by a dear friend, so
Sep 19, 2007 Johanna rated it it was amazing
Shelves: research, leisure
$161 billion is what Conde’ Nast Bridal Group figures is the total yearly expenditure by Americans for weddings (26). The American wedding is a billion dollar industry fueled by “wedding porn,” media, and the pressing urge by brides to have perfect (expensive) weddings. Rebecca Mead’s One Perfect Day shreds the wrapping from the “supposed” traditional key elements that drive the wedding industry.

Let’s look at a few “supposed” wedding traditions marketed by the industry and highlighted in Mead’s
Jul 12, 2007 Grace rated it it was ok
I have mixed opinions on this book (obviously, judging from my rating). A few segments of the book were quite interesting looks into the backstage area of the wedding industry. I found the chapter on wedding gowns especially interesting, as the author described a visit to an overseas gown factory. I hadn't realized that so many wedding gowns, not just less expensive, but "designer" ones, are "handmade" by factory workers. The author's description of the "white blindness" of all those cookie cutt ...more
Jul 15, 2007 Jessica rated it liked it
Recommends it for: brides and "always a bridesmaid"s alike
I admit I was a little scared to read this as I am attending four weddings this summer and I don't need any encouragement to be that gripey single girl in the corner, slurping her free cocktail, bemoaning the pointlessness of financial extravagance of love when everyone just gets divorced anyway. But I am happy to report that the day I finished it I attended a wedding and choked up at the sight of the bride and groom, well, choking up. And throughout the book, Rebecca Mead is careful to do the s ...more
Jun 12, 2008 Bethany rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: I Do Foundation staff
As someone who's worked in the weddings space for a while, this book was an interesting peek behind the scenes. The book mostly just confirmed my belief that weddings are extremely over-commercialized, and that much of what brides view as tradition today has been entirely created by the industry. It was interesting to read example after example of what the other calls "traditionalesque" -- created behaviours that aim to tap into a couple's sense of tradition, while allowing them to express their ...more
Mar 07, 2008 Beth rated it did not like it
This book was a giant disappointment. It was widely referenced last year when it was published. Mead states on page 7 that her "interest in the wedding industry...was driven by a conviction that weddings provide an unparralled lens into the intimate sphere of American life, and that the way we marry reveals a great deal about prevailing cultural expectations of love, hopes for marriage, and sense of the role of family."

If that's her purpose-and I don't believe for one second that it is-why is so
Kressel Housman
Apr 07, 2014 Kressel Housman rated it really liked it
It’s aptly fitting that this expose on the wedding industry was written by a lifelong fan of Middlemarch. Like Lydgate and Rosamond, today’s young couples are buying into a very expensive dream of what weddings and marriage are supposed to be. The difference is that in the 21st century, most brides and grooms aren’t particularly religious, are living independently of their parents, and have probably already been intimate. A traditional wedding celebrates a young couple leaving their parents’ hom ...more
Oct 13, 2007 Laura rated it liked it
Recommends it for: people who find excessive consumerism ridiculous yet are still part of it
So, this book is basically an overview of different aspects of the wedding industry and how much effort people in the industry expend in order to make money. It made me not want to have a wedding. The average American wedding costs $25,000 and is incredibly time consuming and stressful.

At the end, the author briefly discusses that Americans don't have one, coherent view of the purpose of a wedding ceremony since we have a wide variety of religious and cultural beliefs and because a wedding no lo
May 10, 2010 Hester rated it it was ok
Shelves: weddings, business
While readable, this book is a cop out. The author says that she will use weddings as a lens to study America and then proceeds to look at lots of businesses. She shows the seedy underbellies of the businesses, but I do not think that is deep study of our culture. She never really considers modern relationships and why people bother getting married, let alone the complications, like in-laws. She makes sweeping, negative generalizations about weddings, but then the weddings she visits have nothin ...more
Jane Webster
Oct 03, 2013 Jane Webster rated it really liked it
Glad I read this after the wedding, not during the process. It's a well researched killjoy.
Aug 01, 2010 Jan rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I should probably begin this review by admitting how deeply opposed, on many levels, I am to the wedding industry. I find the fact that many people spend tens of thousands of dollars on one day of their life both disturbing and depressing.

My own wedding was very non-traditional, held in a friend's backyard, with only a handful of guests, and officiated by a minister friend. My husband wore a suit from Macy's; I wore a blue party dress bought at JC Penney's. Our rings both bear lab-created gemsto
Jul 31, 2011 Amanda rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I've never been the kind of girl who wants a giant wedding, to wear a fancy white wedding dress, and to declare my love in front of everyone I've ever known. Instead, I've always been snarky about weddings, especially the ridiculous cost of them. The author stressed the idea that people often spend for the wedding because they think that the more money put into the wedding, the better their marriage well be. Interesting, consider half of marriages end in divorce now. I found this book fascinatin ...more
After someone recommended this book in passing on a newly engaged acquaintance's Facebook page, I decided to reserve it at my local library. Since my senior year of college, I've been fascinated with the idea of weddings. With the uprising of the wedding fetishism and white wedding reality surplus of shows on mainstream television. What Mrs. Mead does with her book is exceed my expectations regarding the subject matter. She approaches the topics presented in a refreshing manor filled with social ...more
Nov 26, 2009 Kara rated it it was amazing
This book turns the wedding industry upside down. Having been engaged for a few months now after the glow has somewhat settled and it’s down to business I’m glad I read this book when I did. One of the first things I did after I became engaged was purchase wedding magazines. I even signed up on theknot, which now I’m regretting because I am bombarded with junk mail and my internet browser is nothing but wedding this adds and wedding that adds. My fiancé and I have been scouting out venues from L ...more
Mar 31, 2009 E.H. rated it really liked it
A survey conducted by the wedding website The Knot in 2008 found that the average wedding cost about $28,000. With something like 2.3 million weddings in America each year, this amounts to an absurd amount of cash changing hands - $160 billion annually as of 2006 (when Mead was writing). Each year, more articles on the attendant craziness and "bridezilla" culture appear - brides who spend $5,000 on a Vera Wang wedding gown, who ask their bridesmaids to get botox, plastic surgery, or worse. And e ...more
Jul 03, 2007 Kate rated it liked it
Recommends it for: nonfiction readers
This was interesting in a depressing, "society is driving off a cliff" kind of way. The author takes you inside bridal marketing conventions, wedding gown showrooms, etc., and her descriptions of wedding excess and the mercenary flavor of the salespeople are darkly entertaining, even though she's not telling you much you don't already know, or suspect. She also offers a sympathetic argument that modern women are trying to replace societal structure with "new traditions" and overpriced wedding ac ...more
May 07, 2015 Margot rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, marriage
In preparation for my own wedding, I thought I should read some criticisms of the wedding industry and the institution of marriage to help me fight off the cultural pressure to plan a big ordeal with high cost and stress. This one was helpful for that purpose. I haven't cracked open a bridal magazine yet!

I appreciate that the specific scope of American focus was stated directly in the title. It drives me a bit batty when I read cultural histories that assume the U.S. is the world, so I like a go
Elaine Meszaros
Dec 03, 2014 Elaine Meszaros rated it liked it
The short article last fall in Salon on Mead's book was enough to get me interested in this book. Like being unable to stop staring at a car accident, Mead's book is grotesquely fascinating. Laying out the modern mania to have the biggest, most extravagant and wedding possible, Americans are spending billions a year on these bloated bashes. Interviewing numerous wedding industry insiders, Mead lays out the insidious ways the wedding retailers lure in brides and grooms. The simple message- your m ...more
Oct 27, 2014 Emily rated it liked it
I have only been engaged for three weeks, but I've experienced new and absurd sticker-shock every day.

So, I'm glad I read this book when I did. Mead explores the marketing behind wedding traditions; how corporations use the opportunity of a wedding to create lifelong consumer habits in brides. I liked Mead's anthropological look at some traditions as well: white dresses as a marker of status, the social perception of Vegas weddings, even the changing role of religion and officiants.

I appreciate
Sep 04, 2015 Amanda rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this look at modern American wedding culture and how it is dominated by commercial interests. I appreciated that Mead did not use this as a chance to make fun of ridiculous brides, though some crazy examples of course crop up, but respected why weddings remain important aspects of our culture and how hard it can be for anyone to navigate. In addition to calling out the commercial forces involved, Mead really clarifies some of what I've always felt so weird about. What is a weddi ...more
I'm currently experiencing the twenty-something wedding deluge: it seems like getting married is all anyone does nowadays. I've spent a lot of time listening to details, reassuring friends that no one will really notice if they decide to save money by forgoing the aisle runner, while gently suggesting that they focus more of the budget on booze. Of course, I've also spent a lot of money on showers, parties, dresses, and cookware that, as an obsessive cook, I have a hard time packing up and sendi ...more
Emma Sea
Fuck! GR ate my review! I curse it unto the 13th generation. 'Twas a thing of hyperreal beauty. As is this book.
Jan 05, 2014 Laura rated it liked it
A 3 but just barely - that may be because I am in the middle of wedding planning for a daughter - my second such experience. Mead's book focuses on some of the more outrageous elements of wedding related businesses, telling stories with just a touch of disdain for both the industry and the poor schleps who are exploited by those businesses. Some are funny - the Gatlinburg wedding chapels and Aruba destination stories, for example - and some are interesting - how "custom" wedding dresses are prod ...more
Apr 30, 2013 Caitlin rated it it was amazing
A very interesting (and grounding) look at the wedding industry.
Apr 26, 2015 Angela rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I picked this book up in a bookstore years ago & read the first chapter which hooked me, & I always wanted to go back and finish it. It is exactly what it sounds like: a mix of journalism, history, and sociology examining the farce that most American weddings have become, how it got that way, & how the wedding-industrial complex will do anything & everything to squeeze every last penny out of the market. The tactics didn't surprise me, but the extent to which some industries will ...more
Apr 22, 2015 Esme rated it it was amazing
I gobbled up this book. It gives a nuanced, thoughtful, well-researched look at American weddings, Bridezilla culture, and consumerism. Weddings once marked the transition into a new stage of life--girls turning into women, likely moving from their parents' home to a household of their own, becoming sexually active, changing from maiden to mother. In the modern world where single mothers, divorce, engaging in sex and living together before marriage is allowed and accepted, the wedding is a symbo ...more
Mar 17, 2014 Katherine rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction

1. Engagement - "What the bridal magazines promote in addition is the idea that a bride deserves to be the center of attention for the entire period of her engagement - which, according to industry estimates, lasts about sixteen or seventeen months."

2. Costs - "If a bride has been told, repeatedly, that it costs nearly $28,000 to have a wedding, then she starts to think that spe
Caroline Niziol
Oct 02, 2012 Caroline Niziol rated it it was amazing
Rebecca Mead does not step delicately around issues surrounding modern American weddings in One Perfect Day -- rather, she tackles them head-on with class and wit. Her examination of the extravagance and opulence expected from modern-day weddings makes for a exhilarating ride. Going beyond just the statistics, she talks with photographers, planners, and vendors to get their inside view to the world of weddings.

My own perspective on the world of weddings is highly colored by my own experiences pl
Emily Park
Aug 30, 2011 Emily Park rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

In One Perfect Day, Rebecca Mead takes us on a tour of bridal industry conferences, wedding dress factories, decoration companies, and all of the other aspects that contribute to the $161 billion wedding industry in America. She interviews several professional wedding planners, and attends conferences and expos to get a feel for what both the professionals and the brides experience over the course of planning a wedding and reception. She explores the weddi
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Rebecca Mead was born in England, and educated at Oxford and New York University. She is a staff writer at the New Yorker, and lives in Brooklyn.
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