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Wedding Planning 101: Lessons from Kim and Kanye

I don’t usually follow celebrity gossip, but whenever I visit my hairstylist or the doctor’s office, I enjoy flipping through a cheesy magazine or two. After all, it would be un-American of me not to maintain at least a basic knowledge of the intimate details of vast numbers of people I’ll never meet and rarely respect. While getting my hair done not long ago, I was perusing my stylist’s back-stash of celebrity rags and saw a magazine headline from fall 2013, something along the lines of “Kim leaves wedding planning to Kanye.” Along with most of the rest of the internet, I’ve seen a bit more of Kim Kardashian lately than I ever really needed or wanted to, though truth be told, I only know who she or any of the Kardashians is because their antics get so much press coverage (if coverage is the right word…). Sans cable or satellite, I don’t get E! and have never seen the family’s reality show. In fact, I’m proud to report I had to look up which network even carries it; as further proof of our compatibility, Steve didn’t know either!

The part of the headline that caught my eye was not “Kim” nor “Kanye” (the musician who railed at Taylor Swift for winning a Grammy he thought someone else deserved, yes?). The words I latched onto were, no surprise, “wedding planning.” Steve and I are, relatively speaking, still in the early stages of corralling the vast compendium of activities that innocent-sounding phrase describes, but I continue to feel amazed and overwhelmed at the seemingly infinite reach of this thing called the “wedding industry.”

So, when I read the headline, I had three thoughts, in this order: (1) Wow, there are times when I wish I could hand it all off to Steve. (2) I could never hand it all off to Steve—I’ve waited years to plan my wedding! And finally, (3): Bullshit. Kanye’s idea of wedding planning probably means making a list of extravagant ideas, picking up a phone to hire a wedding planner, and then telling his staff to get busy. Methinks–as I have texted back and forth with my mom about fabric choices, spent hours perusing photographers’ websites, and sent yet another email to our chosen venue, asking, again, when can we, please, sign a contract?—Mr. West’s dreaming up ever more grandiose ideas with nary a worry of how to finance any of them does not count as “planning.”

Kim and Kanye are well past the planning stages now, having tied the knot back in May, and if the reports on the web are true (aren’t they always?), a wedding planner named Sharon Sacks was indeed involved in creating their lush Italian soiree. She had also reportedly planned both of Kim’s prior nuptial celebrations—perhaps the third time’s a charm? In fact, it sounds like Ms. Sacks may have been brought in to be the rain on Kanye’s self-promoting parade. My initial guess that his definition of “planning” equaled “dream up crazy big ideas” was, apparently, pretty much on the mark. According to a February 2014 article by Alexis Rhiannon in an online celebrity ‘zine, a source close to Kanye reported that early on the entertainer had “billed” the celebration as “breaking the boundaries of what to expect” and described it as “a concept event based on a wedding.”

Um, “a concept event based on a wedding”? As Rhiannon said, as soon as you start “billing” a wedding as anything, you’ve gone off the rails somewhere. The only billing that’s happening with mine and Steve’s ceremony comes in the invoices we’re on the receiving end of, and there’s nothing conceptual about those.

Dreaming is good, though. That’s one of the best parts of the planning, the dreaming piece. It’s no crime to want a wedding as grand and glorious and beautiful as the love you’ve found, a day as big and tall and wide as the dreams you have for your life together. So maybe Kanye gets a pass. As for us, our venue is a city rooftop space with a 360-degree view of the surrounding mountains and all our beloved downtown landmarks, many of them places we’ve been together. It’s not an Italian villa, but for two midlife academics, it’s pretty darn grand.

Still, if Steve starts billing our wedding as an “avant-garde concept event unlike anything you’ve ever seen”? Well, then we might have a few more things to discuss.

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