It's Our Day: America's Love Affair with the White Wedding, 1945-2005

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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 ...

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Lawrence, Kansas, U.S.A. 2008 Hardcover New in New jacket Book First Edition, 1st Printing. 297 pgs. New, unread in unpriced dust jacket.

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Lawrence Lawrence Hardcover 312 pages. Hardcover with dustjacket. Brand new book. CULTURE. 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. 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 Read more Show Less

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Overview

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.

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 Caroline Bessette, and the proliferation of realityweddings 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 exposé of commercialism, it is a testament to the flexibility of the dream it represents.This book is part of the CultureAmerica series.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Love may be the catalyst for the American white wedding, but hosting an elaborate celebration also demonstrates a family's prosperity and material success, argues Jellison in her compelling economic and social history of how this ritual survived despite the major cultural and political changes of the 1960s and beyond. Jellison, an associate professor of history at Ohio University, argues that while the white wedding of the 1940s may have celebrated youth, virginity and a patriarchal family structure, Americans have reinterpreted the symbolism of satin and lace: the 21st-century bride evokes the tradition of female-focused celebration and uses the elaborate and costly event as a display of her professional and social success as she marks a life transition. 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 Dayand 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. (Mar.)

Copyright 2007Reed Business Information
Library Journal

Jellison (history, Ohio Univ.; Entitled to Power: Farm Women and Technology, 1913-1963). 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. She starts right after World War II and progresses through celebrity, royal, and movie weddings to the "reality weddings" of today and how the ritual of a white wedding has been adapted in many same-sex marriages. Seasoned throughout with images of bridal shower games, advertisements for elaborate wedding gowns, and other consumer goods with a bridal theme, Jellison's book views the wedding "business" from all pop cultural perspectives. An enlightening and fascinating read, her book is sure to be of interest in most libraries, especially those with women's studies or popular culture collections.
—Nicole Mitchell

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780700615599
  • Publisher: University Press of Kansas
  • Publication date: 2/5/2008
  • Series: CultureAmerica
  • Pages: 312
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Katherine Jellison is associate professor of history at Ohio University and author of Entitled to Power: Farm Women and Technology, 1913-1963.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments     ix
Introduction     1
The Best of Everything: The White Wedding in American Culture, 1945-2005     7
Look Like a Princess: The Wedding Gown     63
Like a Royal Wedding: The Celebrity Wedding     112
Watching Cinderella on Video: The Movie Wedding     148
Addicted to the Show: The Reality Wedding     181
Epilogue     231
Notes     237
Bibliography     271
Index     291
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