One extravagant wedding simply isn’t enough for rich Americans
When Diane Schutz and Arie Moller started planning their wedding two years ago, they couldn’t imagine their elderly aunts and uncles sharing the dance floor with their free-spirited Burning Man friends.
So the couple had two weddings. First came a sensible Jewish ceremony with 30 family members and close friends in New Jersey, followed by brunch. And then, a week later, they held a raucous, glitter-filled blowout in a Gowanus loft with more than 100 of their closest “Burners.”
Both weddings had a ceremony, complete with vows and a white dress, Schutz says, but a decidedly different “vibe.”
“They just represented different sides of our personalities,” says Schutz, 49, a television producer who’s been going to the desert festival with her now-husband, a real estate entrepreneur, since 2013. “It felt right to have one wedding just with family and close friends, and for the Burner one . . . it was more funny, silly, a little tongue-in-cheek.”
If you’re lucky, you only get married once. But, these days, that doesn’t mean you have to have just one wedding. Instead of choosing between tradition and something more personal, couples such as model Karlie Kloss and venture capitalist Joshua Kushner are opting for both.
Last weekend, the celebrity duo threw a yeehaw-themed bash in Wyoming, where Kloss wore a white prairie-chic Jonathan Simkhai dress, and partied through the night with their famous friends — just eight months after the two celebrated their first wedding, a formal affair in upstate New York.
A month after their kitschy ceremony in Las Vegas, “Game of Thrones” star Sophie Turner and her hubby, Joe Jonas, are prepping for their second wedding in Paris this weekend. For them and many other couples tying the knot in an increasingly extravagant wedding culture, it’ll be I Do: Part Deux.
“We’re at this intersection where we’re still hanging onto marriage as an institution we long for, but we’re also being constantly flooded with the ways to make it new and different,” says counselor Landis Bejar, founder of AisleTalk, a therapy practice for anxious brides and grooms.
Bejar says most of the soon-to-wed couples she works with find a way to make both visions work at once. But she has seen a rapid rise in those who are having two or even more weddings.
Schutz and Moller were able to keep their festivities under $14,000, but other couples are spending six figures and beyond to hold celebrations that will encompass all their wildest dreams — and family expectations.
“They’ll say, ‘This wedding is for my parents and then we’re having one for us,’ ” says Marcy Blum, a longtime wedding planner whose celebrity clients have included LeBron and Savannah James, Billy Joel and Katie Lee and Tamiko and George Soros.
‘Look at social media. It’s just that next phase of ‘more.’ ’
Five years ago, Blum says, it was pretty much unheard of to have more than one wedding, unless it was for cultural reasons — such as when one couple’s family was from another country, or had opposing wedding traditions. But a recent wedding she organized, which she estimates cost about a half-million dollars all told, was split between San Francisco and New York City. Each had a ceremony, but one was geared more toward the parents: elaborate tasting menus, chamber music and, as a wedding favor, personalized, leather-bound journals.
“The first party had all the photo ops,” Blum says. And the second was “exactly what they wanted — a party.”
Michelle Rago, who runs an eponymous destination-wedding planning company for a roster of well-heeled clients, is currently planning a nearly $2 million series of weddings — three of them — for a famous client and her fiancé. There’ll be festivities in Spain, the Caribbean and Santa Barbara, Calif.
“There is a small crossover of people who will go to all three,” says Rago, who believes the trend has something to do with couples compartmentalizing their social circles. But “likes” matter, too.
“Look at social media,” she says. “It’s just that next phase of ‘more.’ ”
Not everyone’s cheering, however. Some relationship experts warn that multiple celebrations may signal a failure to compromise — “and that’s not a good foundation going into marriage,” says clinical psychologist Jocelyn Charnas, who specializes in pre-marital counseling.
“If you have the financial wherewithal and the time and inclination to plan two parties, good for you,” she says. “But when we look at the emotional underpinning, there’s an avoidance of certain challenges that we have to face.”
Sara Steele-Rogers sees it differently. The barre instructor lives on the Caribbean island of Anguilla, where she and her fiancé married in city hall last week. They’ll have a celebratory wedding bar crawl on the island with friends on Wednesday, and a distillery celebration in Boston with her American family in September.
“It just wouldn’t be us to have one large wedding,” says Steele-Rogers, 35. Breaking up the celebration actually made it easier for them, since they wouldn’t have to plan travel and events in Anguilla for guests visiting from Boston, she says. “One of the most intimate moments of a couple’s lives has become such a spectacle, and has become so much about other people and not about the couple.”
Schutz, for her part, says her two weddings weren’t at all about a failure to compromise between two sides of her life. In fact, she says, “I’m actually bringing my mom to Burning Man this year.”
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