It's Our Day
America's Love Affair with the White Wedding, 1945-2005
What's white, costs billions of dollars, and embodies the American dream?
For years, a white-gowned bride, multi-tiered white cake, and shiny gold rings have been the central icons for a grand American tradition that remains vibrant despite changing times. Now Katherine Jellison gives us a comprehensive cultural history of American weddings since World War II, examining the development of our precise and expensive standards for celebrating weddings and the staying power of this phenomenon in the face of enormous social, political, and economic upheaval.
“A delightful read for brides and grooms as well as a useful [book] for scholars. . . . Jellion has succeeded in isolating the role of consumerism in the construction of the white wedding style in this worthwhile and entertaining book.”
—Annals of Iowa
“If you cry at weddings, or if you’re curious about nuptials and brides, then scoop up this book. It's the perfect marriage between curiosity and ceremony.”
—Charlottesville TribuneSee all reviews...
“Tired of the typical wedding book fare? You know the ones that give you the blow-by-blow on creating the perfect white wedding. How about a book that reveals why you might want one? It's Our Day: America's Love Affair With the White Wedding 1945 - 2005 by Katherine Jellison is a reflective, hard-to-put- down take on the making of the white wedding - an affair replete with white wedding gown, multitiered cake and gold rings. Jellison weaves an interesting, fact-packed tale about how bridal magazines, retailers, fashion designers and a public heady with consumerism have made the white wedding one of America's most enduring institutions.”
“With chapters on celebrity nuptials, silver-screen I-dos, and the latest batch of reality TV brides, Jellison demonstrates how advertisers, media, and brides themselves slowly reshaped the white wedding into an act of organized feminism. This book is in the same genre as Rebecca Mead’s 2006 One Perfect Day and will attract both academic and lay readers. The well-footnoted prose is accessible, and the 50 photographs and advertisements vividly demonstrate the changing trends Jellison outlines.”
“Jellison takes an in-depth look at the history and popularity of the American ‘white wedding’ and in doing so provides a unique exploration of late 20th- and early 21st-century American culture. . . . An enlightening and fascinating read, her book is sure to be of interest in most libraries, especially those with womens studies or popular culture collections.”
“Jellisons fascinating and well-written account of Americans’ love affair with the lavish white wedding reveals how popular culture has both mirrored and encouraged the hopes and desires of those about to marry.”
—Vicki Howard, author of Brides, Inc.: American Weddings and the Business of Tradition
“Should appeal to scholars and general readers alike for its clear prose, perceptive analysis, and captivating anecdotes drawn from wedding industry insiders, magazines, movies and television, and brides, as well as brides-to-be.”
—Jessica Weiss, author of To Have and to Hold: Marriage, the Baby Boom, and Social Change
“Illuminates the American way of wedding—with all its tensions and diverse impulses.”
—Beth Bailey, author of From Front Porch to Back Seat: Courtship in Twentieth-Century AmericaSee fewer reviews...
Jellison's book is the first to examine wedding culture in the context of postwar cultural change, analyzing the mechanisms that disseminated, updated, and sustained the specific tradition of the white wedding. Tracing the ritual back to the rise of consumer culture in the postwar boom, it also examines how Americans guaranteed the survival of the white wedding into the twenty-first century by amending the ideology that supported it and reinterpreting the functions it served.
Jellison examines the ways the bridal business, the media, and consumers responded to new norms that expanded the notions of who was an appropriate white-wedding bride. She particularly examines the key influences that have sustained this cultural phenomenon for sixty years—the bridal-wear industry, celebrity weddings, movie weddings, and media coverage of the weddings-next-door—to show that the white wedding has become a unifying experience that crosses gender, class, and racial lines.
Here are the mystique of the perfect white wedding gown, a cavalcade of iconic brides from Grace Kelly to Carolyn Bessette, and the proliferation of reality weddings in magazines and on television. Jellison draws on pro-wedding writings of contemporary feminist authors, as well as oral histories of bridal couples from diverse backgrounds, and examines contemporary issues such as the legalization of same-sex marriage—and its backlash—and the post-Katrina "Hurricane Brides" project.
Engagingly written and lavishly illustrated, It's Our Day tells how a fantasy event survived counterculture movements and organized feminism to become a multi-billion-dollar industry supporting clothiers, caterers, jewelers, and florists. But more than an expos of commercialism, it is a testament to the flexibility of the dream it represents.