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The Wiley Blackwell Encyclopedia of Consumption and Consumer Studies by J. Michael Ryan, Daniel Thomas Cook

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Weddings

PATRICIA AREND

Fitchburg State University, USA

DOI: 10.1002/9781118989463.wbeccs239

Weddings are cultural rituals that, until the twenty-first century, have symbolized the entry point for primarily heterosexual couples into the social, economic, legal, and/or religious relations of marriage. In many places around the world, weddings are also considered to be rites of passage to adulthood. This meaning is de-emphasized in modern and postmodern consumer societies where individuals frequently establish households separately from their parents, sometimes with their partners, for many years before getting married. Some experts argue that this is because the meaning of marriage is changing (Cherlin 2004). In the United States, for example, marriage is now something many couples do for individual fulfillment, after completing their education and becoming financially stable. Having children can be a catalyst. That middle-and upper-class individuals are much more likely than their lower-class and poor counterparts to marry supports this contention. In this historical context weddings become opportunities for displaying that success through conspicuous consumption and/or displays of cultural capital. Weddings also serve this purpose in places around the world where new consumer classes are emerging, such as India. The most important trend to watch for the future is the recent spread of the legalization of same-sex marriage and its impact on weddings.

White weddings are the dominant ...

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