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One Perfect Day: The Selling of the American Wedding

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3.53  ·  Rating details ·  1,373 ratings  ·  289 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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Lissa
Sep 27, 2007 rated it it was amazing


Mead sets out in her prologue that she is not writing a book about Bridezillas. Instead, she posits that it is the consumer-driven nature of weddings that drives and feeds the Bridezilla phenomenon, and it is this aspect of marriage that she choses to explore in her book. Each chapter deals with a different aspect of weddings, from bridal registries to choosing a dress, to choosing a minister, and discusses the way that these are symptomatic of particular aspects of American life in general.

My
...more
Grace
Jul 12, 2007 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 ...more
Maya
Mar 11, 2008 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
...more
Beth
Mar 07, 2008 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
...more
Johanna
Jul 12, 2007 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
...more
Jessica
Jul 15, 2007 added 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 ...more
Laura Labedz
Oct 13, 2007 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
...more
Bethany
Jun 10, 2008 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
Hester
May 10, 2010 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 ...more
Kressel Housman
Mar 18, 2014 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’ ...more
Casey
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 ...more
Kara
Nov 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: consumer-ethics
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 ...more
Jane Webster
Aug 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
Glad I read this after the wedding, not during the process. It's a well researched killjoy.
Shirley
Dec 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
I felt like I was caught up in something bigger than me. Before deciding to have a wedding there was a lot of reflecting on whether to have a celebration. Or legally marry. I loved this lay of the land, clarifying where there is true choice or perceived choice. Mostly the latter, of course.
Sophia
Oct 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Five stars from a certified member of the Wedding Industrial Complex. My only complaint is that there’s no updated version of this book exploring the effects of the financial crisis, marriage equality, and the rise of Pinterest.
E.H.
Mar 31, 2009 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 ...more
Sara
Jan 08, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Brides and people who know them. Feminists.
This book is immensely likable right away for its authorial voice, a sort of ironic Anthony Trollope meets Miss Manners wryness married (no pun intended) to a fierce ability to handle subordinate clauses. Very nice, and refreshing in a mass market non-fiction work.

The book's ambition is to offer an ethnography of the current wedding industry and its consumers, and in doing so, makes several good points. Sceptical that the "bridezilla" stereotype reflects a cultural rise in crazy self-absorbed
...more
Kimberly
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
Jan
Aug 01, 2010 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
...more
Amanda
Jul 31, 2011 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 ...more
Hank Stuever
Jul 21, 2013 rated it it was ok
To me, this is the prime example of a certain type of book, in which an undeniably talented journalist with a great eye for detail sends herself or himself on a national (or global) quest to examine a cultural subject from every possible angle. Every subject -- from Jesus freaks to competitive-eating contests to NASCAR to rock tours to taxidermy -- has been given this treatment, in book form. Very often it feels like a bunch of magazine articles sewn together with a passing thesis statement. (To ...more
Kate
Jun 18, 2007 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 ...more
Kaethe Douglas
Feb 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
Like many women, I didn't grow up fantasizing about the perfect wedding. I was pretty indifferent to the whole ceremony thing, and so left pretty much all the decisions to the Spouse and our parents. I did get a yummy cake.

Mead's book is fascinating sociology. Wondering where all the stuff came into it? She can tell you. The book itself is a little antidote to the aggrandizing propaganda of wedding culture in the US.
Krista Greer
Jan 25, 2019 rated it it was ok
There were a few segments which I found interesting and the epilogue was arguably the most insightful part of this book. The author has clearly done exhaustive research, and met with many industry professionals. They were, however, often portrayed in an unfortunate light. The tone was mostly condescending, if not outright rude. I felt like I already knew that the wedding industry cares more about the dollars than the institution of marriage itself; it was more insulting than insightful.
Caitlin
Apr 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A very interesting (and grounding) look at the wedding industry.
Eva
Sep 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
A fun read. Kindle quotes:

rice grains bred in the shape of hearts and crushable underfoot so as not to present a hazard to birds when thrown in the place of confetti— - location 124


Nor will I forget watching a crowd of stamping, cheering guests dancing the hora—the circle dance that is a staple at Jewish celebrations—for a quintessentially Waspy couple who had simply decided they liked the tradition and incorporated it into their wedding, - location 137


What should a bride wear if her ceremony is
...more
Sam Musher
Jan 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Hilarious, illuminating account of the Wedding Industrial Complex. It's at its best when Mead quotes the endless businesspeople who see getting more money as a game they can win by milking people's emotions at what should be a spiritually significant time. All the ordinary motivations of capitalism are revealed in their full ickiness.

She's sometimes snarkier or less sympathetic than seems warranted. As funny as her voice is, sometimes I wanted less of it and more of her subjects' -- especially
...more
Niharika
Oct 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
"When Vows magazine featured an article on catering to the "non-traditional bride"....it warned retailers that the non-traditional bride was dangerously apt to "forget the wedding and prepare for marriage.""

Rebecca Mead is hilariously snarky in this book about the ever-expanding wedding industry. In the book, she does a deep dive into various aspects of an "American wedding", from the buying of the dress (and the making of said dress), to the day-of photography and videography, to prove her
...more
Maura
Mar 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, wedding
I would recommend this book to anyone who is starting to plan a wedding or who is contemplating it; it may provide an inoculation against the army of wedding professionals who see the new bride as an easy mark. (I would also recommend it for anyone who got married at city hall and wants to feel smug.)

Mead points out that everything about wedding celebrations has grown rapidly in recent decades, perhaps in reaction to anxiety about the diminished significance of the wedding itself as a life
...more
Matthew
Jun 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Although this book is now a decade old, this is a most illuminating work, showing how American wedding's have been manufactured by an industry designed to convince you that you need what they are offering. Truly this book is fascinating and wonderfully illustrates that weddings have become more than anything else, a product to be sold.

As a disclaimer, I plan on being married in the next few years and do believe in the institution, but I'm not interested in being manipulated by an entire
...more
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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.