Not to go all local news-style alarmist on you, but: brides and grooms, your extreme wedding photos could be putting your lives at risk. This conclusion isn't the result of a scientific study, it's the result of simple observation — if you're standing out in the middle of a busy intersection or jumping joyfully from a median in your wedding dress (because nothing says "true love" — or "I'm on bath salts!" — like running out into traffic), you are doing a thing that can lead to getting hit by a car. Why do people do this?
The extreme wedding portrait phenomenon was noticed by a friend of Marta Segal Block at HuffPo Weddings, an out-of-towner who wondered what the deal was with all of the brides traipsing around the streets of downtown Chicago like they own the place. They were almost getting hit by cars. They were causing traffic jams. They were turning the Loop into their own personal photography studio, but instead of appropriate permits and licenses, they have pluck and the sense of "IT'S MY DAYYYYY!" entitlement that has led to so many cable shows about perfectly lovely women who have, through the power of the wedding-industrial complex, morphed into Bridezillas or Bridensteins or Bridepires.
When I lived in Chicago, I came across the wedding-party-in-the-middle-of-the-damn-road phenomenon almost every weekend — from the moment that it was possible to go outside without having your eyelashes freeze to your eyebrows in early spring to the first two-foot snowfall in early winter. Most of the time, working around the revelers was only a minor inconvenience — stopping in the middle of a run so you don't interrupt the photo of them jumping in unison in front of Buckingham Fountain, for example — but other times, accommodating other people's giant self lovefest was more annoying. Like the time I was told to GET OUT of a train car because a wedding party was using it to take whimsical pictures of wearing a $4,000 dress and tuxes on public transportation. And then there was the time that I almost ran over a flower girl who was running to catch up with the rest of her jaywalking bridal party.
But Chicago isn't the only city engulfed in the middle-of-the-road wedding photo-itis. A coworker mentioned that the other week she saw a wedding party posing on a median in the middle of the Bowery here in NYC, and on social networking sites, I've seen a disturbing number of my former high school classmates posing in the middle of rural highways. At least the trend hasn't moved to the interstates.
Segal Block surmises that the trend is due to an obsession with celebrity culture—
For many couples weddings have become a "red carpet moment." Their moment to buy expensive clothes, throw a big party, and shine like celebrities. Well, part of being a celebrity is of course, the photo shoot.
But I'm not sure celebrity culture acted alone. Instead, I blame an unholy union between celebrity culture and Facebook.
Never before has the minutiae of a person's life been so easily dispersible, and never has it been easier for a person to operate under the illusion that people are impressed by their unspecial lives. Now, I don't have to wait until the holiday update letters to see the lives of people I talk to once every three months polished and presented in its most shiny, flawless form — there's Facebook. The eternally replenished humblebraggy Christmas letter, like that pig Norse gods had that produced unlimited bacon. In the hands of a certain type of personality, Facebook is just another way to compete with and outdo the Joneses. And because photo sharing is such an easy way to show how kickass your life is, it makes sense that when plugged in hypercompetitive people have the opportunity to show off with the aid of a professional photographer and a social network, they want to go all out.
Dear Facebook Friend, Did you notice this picture of me n' my friends dressed up all fancy in the middle of LaSalle with the Board of Trade building in the background? That's entirely due to awesomeness. I actually received LaSalle Street as a wedding present.
Concern over in-street bridal shoots isn't unfounded — a year and a half ago, a group of models dressed like a bridal party were hit by a car in Chicago, modeling not only weddingwear but also an inevitable tragedy that really, statistically, should probably happen more often. And another wedding party trying to take some street wedding photos found itself caught up in the NATO protests, resulting in really hilarious pictures.
Look, I understand the appeal of having an unforgettable photograph to show off, or to prompt fond memories. And I get that your wedding is Your Day to be a princess who demands her friends fly across the country and present you with $150 serving plates (or your day to twirl around with mason jars full of locally distilled whisky while fiddle music plays). It's a day to act very, very delighted by yourself. But for the love of those tissue bell decorations, please don't cause traffic jams or risk getting injured in your quest to obtain the perfect, most epic, brag-worthy shot of you in a your fancy clothes. It's really hard to get blood out of white chiffon.