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How Kate Middleton and Prince William could hurt marriage in the US

The lavish wedding of Kate Middleton and Prince William comes as reality TV is fueling the appetite for 'perfect' (and expensive) weddings in the US. But most people can't afford them.

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“I had met a great guy and convinced myself that we should get married and have the kind of wedding that all my girlfriends have had,” she says, ticking off everything from the perfect dress to “monogrammed everything.”

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They set the date a year and half off, “to give myself time to plan it all,” she says. But the moment of reckoning came two months before the date when she was en route to a bridal shower.

“I just realized it was all about planning the perfect party and very little if anything about making sure we were the right partners for each other.”

She had already laid out some $15,000 – which she lost – but, she adds, the wedding was on track to cost around $40,000.

The marriage industry is also in a swoon, says Paul Pannone, head of communications for TheWeddingReport.com, who says the high cost of weddings is having “a dampening effect, especially in tough economic times.” He adds that he sees brides refocusing their plans on wedding basics, such as the venue, the dress, and the food, “and less attention of the costly amenities.”

Putting the party over the relationship actually dates back to the dawn of the white wedding dress, when young Queen Victoria eschewed the traditional crimson royal wedding outfit.

“She wanted to look nice in photographs,” points out Gerald Fierst, who performs weddings. After that, he says with a laugh, people began to pay more and more attention to how the wedding looked. “After P.T. Barnum marketed photographs of Tiny Tom and his bride looking like a little king and queen, people couldn’t get enough of the fairy-tale wedding for themselves,” he says.

But he is on a modern campaign to return the emphasis to the ceremony itself, pointing out that the heart of a wedding is the commitment spoken from one person to another. He says money is a bigger-than-ever factor in the decision to get married. “About 20 percent of the couples I meet say they can’t afford to get married now,” he says. “They say they might do it sometime in the future but only when they can afford the wedding.”

IN PICTURES: Royal wedding memorabilia


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