Fashion

How Many Wedding Dresses Is Too Many?

Photography by James Devaney/GC Images

One is a perfectly reasonable amount!

In case you missed it, Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck got married. Again. If their Vegas nuptials weren’t enough of an indication, last weekend, the couple reminded us once more with a grandiose wedding punctuated by a revolving door of outfit changes.

Guests gathered at the newlyweds’ home in Riceboro, Georgia, for a multi-day event to celebrate the matrimony that is Bennifer. It was, of course, completely over the top. But nothing showcased the couple’s no-expense-spared mentality like the three custom Ralph Lauren wedding gowns worn by JLo. As I scrolled through my feed to further inspect the trending trifecta of frocks, the first thought that came to mind was, “Pretty!” followed shortly by, “But is this really necessary?”

Each of Lopez’s gowns was opulent in its own way. To walk down the aisle, she wore a ruffled dress made of 1,000 handkerchiefs and 500 meters of fabric. Her second look comprised a frock covered in pearls that were hand-embroidered by 30 (!) artisans. For her third and final ensemble, she donned a mermaid gown with Swarovski crystal embellishments. Stars, they’re just like us!

I was aghast to even think about the price of said wedding wardrobe. But, as it turns out, Lopez is just one of many A-list brides to sport multiple lavish wedding gowns in one day. Modern Family actor Sarah Hyland reportedly wore four outfits on her wedding night. Chloë Sevigny had no less than three bridal getups. Lest we forget Kourtney Kardashian, who, over the course of her three weddings to Travis Barker, wore multiple versions of a similar mini-dress.

For celebrities, bridal outfit changes are clearly in. But…why? Is it a way of garnering intrigue and mystique throughout the evening? Does each gown symbolize a secret prayer for the marriage to last one more year? Will it result in better Instagram photos? Perhaps the answer is a combination of all three, or, perhaps it comes down to this: it’s an extra expense that celebrities can afford. Yet that doesn’t mean they should do it.

It’s become a common tradition for a bride to have at least two ensembles on her wedding day. The practice can be traced back to the 1930s, when brides would slip into a second, more practical outfit toward the end of their reception, dubbed a “going away suit.” But over the years, this trend has been taken to the next level by stars, thanks to exclusive photo-ops that promise multiple wedding looks. As a result, the hype surrounding a celebrity wedding has come to correlate with the number of outfits worn. And that’s a problem. Because weddings are already excessively wasteful to begin with.

According to the 2008 book The Green Bride Guide by Kate Harrison, the average wedding produces 400 pounds of garbage and 63 tons carbon dioxide. It’s safe to assume couples with cash to burn are surpassing the amount of trash produced at the “average wedding.” Case in point: Bennifer’s three-day celebration was complete with high-end caterers, custom decor and a personalized fireworks show — reportedly costing USD $400,000.

While many celebs are opting for ostentatious ceremonies, it seems that the trend for plebs is much more minimalist. Couples are seeking sustainable options, including thrifted decor, second-hand clothing and less waste overall. As Laura Pitcher writes in The Cut, many are finding ways to eschew traditional wedding rituals, be it by spending less money, waiting to make it Instagram-official or repurposing old rings. The reason for the rise in humble rituals is no mystery. We’re well into a climate crisis. We’re on the brink of a recession. For most people, affording one wedding gown is a feat in and of itself, let alone three.

Sure, Bennifer’s union has been over two decades in the making. That’s cause for celebration. Together, they’re embarking on a lifelong journey of challenges and decisions to be made as a pair. But let’s hope none are quite as difficult as choosing a single wedding dress.

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