The AtlanticThe Atlantic

Welcome to wedding sprawl

By Annie Midori Atherton

12 Apr 2023 · 5 min read

Editor's Note

For many, a wedding remains the primary opportunity in adult life to have a big blowout. The Atlantic explores the consequences of the sprawling costs of modern nuptials.

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Forget the “Big Day”; many modern weddings are more like a “Big Year.” First there’s the proposal, sometimes accompanied by a “proposal party.” Next comes the engagement bash, the bridal shower, and the bachelor or bachelorette weekend—the latter of which is getting longer. Then it’s time for the ceremony and the reception, which may be bookended by extra events such as welcome drinks, a rehearsal dinner, and a morning-after brunch. Finally, the newlyweds make plans for their honeymoon—or, for many U.S. couples, their honeymoons, plural. Rather than going on just one big trip, lots of people are also taking either a short mini-moon right after the festivities end or an early-moon before they begin. All of this means more dates saved, more friends involved, more vendors tapped, and more money exuberantly (or reluctantly) spent. The celebrations can feel endless. Welcome to wedding sprawl.

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