This article caught my attention because I (still, just barely) live in East Van, and mason jars, bicycles and park parties are a colourful, and still authentically-lived, part of the culture there. I thought it might be about that, and I was pleased.
But the article isn't about exotic EastVanners on fixies and choppers; instead, it's about a second wave of adoption and cultural legitimization, people of more means who have fallen in love with the quaint romance of DIY imagery and iconography, and the backlash against their use of it.
“Weddings have become more than about getting married: It’s all about the stuff, and that’s what [people are] backlashing against. We’re forgetting the actual point of the day, the actual standing up there and getting married. People are more into the cake topper than making sure grandma’s okay. It’s kind of funny, right?” says Catherine Lash, creative director at The Wedding Co. in Toronto.
I think one might fairly argue that for a lot of couples in any era, the wedding has been 'all about the stuff'. If the bride and groom have binged half a years' salary on their wedding, obsessively ground over every detail, and the guests are now drinking champagne at a dinner that requires half a dozen utensils, their materialism is self-evident and unapologetic.
On the other hand, I can imagine that if the same self-conscious drive for the "perfect" event is accompanied by a pretense of wholesome innocence, or a "return to the simpler things", then it definitely provides fodder for a good spoof.
On the serious side, I think that if we allow ourselves to romanticize a small-is-beautiful, grassroots, artisanal vision of culture, we end up trivializing it, and not coming to terms with the complexity of our actual situation.
“There’s a trend right now of very precious, do-it-yourself weddings,” says Katie Baker, the author of the scathing Wedded Blitz series. “Overly innocent,” she adds. “They’re all being ‘different’ in the same way.”
I've never been to a wedding like the ones they're describing, but this person's comments really caught my attention because I think "accessories", "toys", "art", "clothing", "baking", "yarn", "baby stuff", "home decor" etc, could all be substituted for "weddings" and the statement would still be true; some segments of our culture seems to be suffering from a sort of material version of 'orthorexia nervosa', the obsession with ingesting only "good" foods; now "good things" means "handmade", "organic", "artisanal", etc. Again, we are romanticizing "a handmade life"; this trivializes the realities of nonindustrial societies and ways of being, while allowing us to delude ourselves into thinking we are participating in some sort of meaningful cultural and economic shift.
The antidote to this material orthorexia is probably a few good hearty doses of spoof, delivered with the serious postscript that buying 'better' is still not as good as simply buying 'less' when it comes to easing up on the environment; and in the pursuit of buying less, it's good for one's mental health not to get too precious about what one does, in fact, buy.
Andrea: I like your comment (below); I have another post coming which touches specifically on my own romanticization fantasies and how traveling taught me to beware.