Putting aside for a moment the burning question of whether Condoleezza Rice wants one, what exactly does this phrase mean, and where did it come from?
Having looked into the derivations of this dreamy concept, it's pretty clear two things are to blame: Princess Diana and Disney. Not that it was Diana's fault, but the first documented uses I could find were in reference to the royal wedding — and there were hundreds of such references. The Dress, the Prince, the castle — it made a certain sense. But it was also singularly appropriate, because think about it: a fairy-tale wedding by definition ends at the church door with that fade-to-black "and they lived happily ever after." It only makes sense that the phrase should be twinned with a wedding after which things were, famously, all downhill.
And yet, the expression persists — unironically — to indicate not just a woman's personal ideal of Her Day (which she's supposed to have been burnishing since babyhood) but excess, unreality, pomp. And that's where Disney comes in since it quite literally got into the Fairytale Wedding game. This would seem to date to the 50s, both because that's when the "Magic Kingdom" as we know it entered the popular consciousness, and because its Cinderella — with its iconic coach — is an integral part of our notion too. (When we see coaches in weddings, more often than not they echo this one.) When you think the words "Fairytale Wedding," doesn't that castle-spangled Disney logo pop into your head, maybe with a crystal coach while we're at it?
On a literal level, Disney has cornered the market on the Fairy Tale Wedding (And Honeymoon) — in which one can literally say one's vows at Cinderella's Castle, among other Magic Kingdom locales. It's a logical continuation of the cynical princess marketing the New York Times recently outlined.
There's another layer to the whole "Fairytale Wedding" notion: the idea that, whether we admit it or not, it's what every woman dreams of. It was this as much as anything that made Piers Morgan's leering questions so cringe-worthy. And in particularly good form, the Guardian's Hadley Freeman has her own views on why. "In short," she writes, "fairytale weddings exist only to appease men who like to fancy that women see them as princes who will rescue them from the cold plains of spinsterhood. And, my dear Piers, it will take more than the promise of a big ol' dress to make some of us see you as anything approaching regal.
What Is A Fairytale Wedding?[Guardian]