The wedding business is a huge machine that runs on a straightforward premise: convincing couples that their special day is the most important day of their life and that no money should be spared in making it perfect. This idea gave rise to the “wedding industrial complex,” as it has come to be called.
The Wedding Industrial Complex refers to the multibillion-rand industry that has been built around the idea of a “perfect wedding.”
There are magazines, TV and reality shows built around weddings. There is a whole industry built around weddings.
The Wedding Industrial Complex is built on the idea that a wedding must be expensive, grandiose, and flawless.
This complex tries to convince couples that they need to spend a lot of money on their wedding day to prove their love for each other and to create a lasting memory.
Seth Godin writes a lot about this Complex. He argues that the Wedding Industrial Complex is harmful because it distracts people from what really matters in a wedding: the love and commitment between two people.
He suggests that couples should focus on creating a wedding that is authentic to their relationship and their values, rather than trying to conform to societal expectations.
I love this part:
a wedding that is authentic to their relationship and their values, rather than trying to conform to societal expectations.
Whose wedding is it anyway?
Whose values should this wedding reflect?
The couple’s values and authenticity or society’s expectations?
“Whose wedding is it anyway?” is a question that encourages couples to design their wedding based on their values and preferences rather than social conventions.
In one of his blog posts, Godin writes:
“The Wedding Industrial Complex is an insidious force that preys on our insecurities and our desire to conform. It suggests that a ‘perfect’ wedding is the key to a happy marriage, when in fact the opposite is true. A happy marriage is built on love, respect, and communication, not on the size of your wedding budget.”
Godin’s message about the Wedding Industrial Complex is that couples should resist the pressure to conform to societal expectations and focus on creating a wedding that is true to their values and their relationship.
Just as Godin argues that couples should focus on creating a wedding that is authentic to their relationship and values, I think entrepreneurs should strive to create businesses that are authentic to their vision and mission.
Rather than trying to conform to industry standards or societal expectations, entrepreneurs should aim to build businesses that reflect their unique perspectives and values.
Let’s say an entrepreneur wants to start a clothing company. They may be tempted to follow the latest fashion trends or produce clothes that will sell quickly, even if it doesn’t align with their personal style or values.
However, by doing so, they risk building a business that lacks authenticity and may not resonate with customers in the long run.
Instead, the entrepreneur can focus on creating a clothing line that is authentic to their personal style and values. They can produce clothing that reflects their unique perspective and stands out from the competition.
By doing so, they are more likely to attract customers who share their values and appreciate their style, leading to a more loyal customer base and sustainable business growth.
There are many other examples of well-known businesses that were built on authenticity.
Here are a few more:
- TOMS: TOMS is a shoe company that has built its brand on a “One for One” business model. For every pair of shoes purchased, the company donates a pair of shoes to a child in need. TOMS’ authenticity has helped it build a loyal customer base that values its commitment to social responsibility and has made it a leader in the “conscious capitalism” movement.
- Apple: Apple is a technology company that has built its brand on a focus on design and user experience. The company’s products are known for their sleek, minimalist design and intuitive user interfaces. Apple’s authenticity has helped it build a loyal customer base that values its commitment to quality and innovation.
- Starbucks: Starbucks is a coffee company that has built its brand on a commitment to providing a “third place” between home and work where people can relax and connect with others. The company’s stores are designed to be welcoming and comfortable, and its coffee is sourced through ethical and sustainable practices. Starbucks’ authenticity has helped it build a loyal customer base that values its commitment to creating a positive social impact.
- The Body Shop: The Body Shop is a cosmetics and skincare company that has built its brand on a commitment to using natural, ethically sourced ingredients and promoting animal rights. The company is known for its commitment to social responsibility and has been a leader in the sustainable business movement. The Body Shop’s authenticity has helped it build a loyal customer base that values its commitment to social and environmental causes.
Starting a business is like building a house.
Just as a house needs a solid foundation to withstand the test of time, a successful business requires a strong foundation built on authenticity, communication, and prioritising what matters most.
The Wedding Industrial Complex is like a contractor who tries to convince you that you need expensive finishes and unnecessary features to build a perfect house, distracting you from what really matters: a solid foundation, a safe and comfortable place to call home.
Similarly, entrepreneurs should resist the pressure to conform to social conventions and focus on building businesses that reflect their unique perspectives and values.
By doing so, they can create businesses that stand the test of time and make a meaningful impact on their customers and society.
As Seth says:
“The best weddings aren’t the ones with the biggest budgets or the fanciest venues. They’re the ones where the love between the couple shines through and everyone has a great time celebrating that love.
In many cases, the couple will spend more time and energy planning the perfect wedding day, a 24-hour party, than they do working on their marriage itself, which they will spend the rest of their lives together.
Investing in the marriage is more vital than the wedding.
Love is a beautiful thing, and it should shine bright on the wedding day, outshining any shiny objects or superficial distractions.
By focusing on the meaningful and lasting aspects of their relationship, couples can create a wedding that truly reflects their love, values, and commitment to each other.
Rather than spending excessively on a one day product launch, invest more in the long-term growth of your startup.