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Monday, October 28, 2013

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"The cost for each attendee: $4000. And that was after Tracy’s fiancé paid one night for everyone at the W hotel"

At the New York Times, a cautionary tale:

In May, [Tracy] and six friends flew to Miami for a four-night extravaganza. Three of them were spent at a three-story “pool cabana” at the W South Beach that had a private roof deck. (“It was like a town house,” Tracy said.) Day 4, a “detox day” of spa services and relaxing meals, culminated at the St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort in a 2,800-square-foot suite. In between, the group dined on sushi at Katsuya and shared plates at the Soho Beach House. They shopped at boutiques and got their hair done. One woman arranged coordinated costumes for the party to wear while going out: gangsters, barbarians and sea creatures, the last involving shark, turtle and lobster hats that tied under their chins.

The cost for each attendee (including Tracy’s portion, which was shared between her fiancé and her friends): $4,000. And that was after Tracy’s fiancé paid for one night for everyone at the W hotel, which lowered the price.

Gangster costumes! But these ladies are small fry compared to the group of women who went (pre-recession) to Paris for a five-day shopping trip:

All attendees paid $20,000 to $25,000 for the trip, depending on whether they flew economy or business class, not including shopping. (The bride paid only for her flight and shopping.

A Zen koan for bachelorette parties: if a woman is paying $19,000 to go shopping for five days, does it even matter if she flies economy?

Oh, these stories, with their veneer of structural normality—these propositions, marauding under "fun and friendship" rather than consumption as a shorthand for the same. There are so many ways to express personal freedom that fall outside the lines of sugar-fueled credit card binging; at the very least, there are so many other things in your girlfriends' lives (promotions! dissertation defenses!) that don't get nearly enough attention in terms of Things Worth Bankrupting Yourself For. Shouts to those fake bachelorette party emails at the Toast, though.

[NYTimes]



40 Comments / Post A Comment

Tragically Ludicrous

God, but weddings fascinate and horrify me.

RubeksCube

"Oh, these stories, with their veneer of structural normality—these propositions, marauding under "fun and friendship" rather than consumption as a shorthand for the same."
That should be underlined and in bold. It is my exact problem with all of these crazy shenanigans that are masqueraded in front of society as if they are normal. Pfft. Normal.

planforamiracle

@RubeksCube My thoughts exactly.

Smallison

My bachelorette party was a few weeks ago, and my ladies bought me dinner, and a few drinks. I felt bad enough about that! I can't imagine asking them to do more, or pay for something so extravagant. But then, that Paris trip is costing more than my whole wedding + honeymoon.

Lily Rowan

OK, I'm not going to click through, but I do feel like it makes a big difference if these are normally $5K (or $25K!!) vacation people, or not. You know? I mean, rich people can do whatever with their money, but dragging your middle-class friends into a "Once in a Lifetime!!11!!" experience for your wedding is a mess.

garli

@Lily Rowan Yeah but if you let yourself get dragged into that it's kinda on you too. (Not you, you. The general you.)

I mean can you imagine trying to suppress a laugh if a friend of yours asked for that?

j-i-a

@Lily Rowan I absolutely agree that it's a totally different thing if the people in question are accustomed to taking $20,000 weekends in Europe - I wish that that sort of behavior was never even made to seem remotely accessible, though, you know?

Lily Rowan

@garli Oh yeah, absolutely.

In general, I just think there is a difference between "rich people lol" and "crazy wimmins and their bridal excess!"

Lily Rowan

@Lily Rowan AND between the New York Times's "The Way We [And By We, We Only Mean Super Rich and/or Wackadoo People] Live Now"

cuminafterall

I don't know, I'm as eat-the-rich as anybody else, but wake me up when they start writing about the price tag of the Vegas-casinos-clubbing-and-strippers bachelor weekend... the "women are irrational about friends and weddings and money!" angle is kind of played out, no?

Rookie (not the magazine) (not that there's anything wrong with that)

@cuminafterall Right? I feel like this is the norm for men. My brother's been to two destination bachelor parties in the last year or so, and that's not counting his trips to see out-of-town friends for their bachelor parties.
If we're being honest, the price tag for that four-day trip sounds about normal considering their accomodations and activities and hats shaped like animals.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@Rookie (not the magazine) (not that there's anything wrong with that) I mean, what wouldn't I pay for an accurate-looking manatee hat, though.

planforamiracle

There is a such a whiff (I guess more than a whiff) of one-upmanship that to me is one of the saddest parts of this, besides the whole "consumer excess masquerading as social connectedness" thing. It totally misses the point of why we mark these occasions: connecting with our loved ones.

It seems to me that whether you're in a cabana in south beach or in your own neighbourhood, you could dress up as gangster sea creatures (this detail is exempt from my cynicism because it's adorbs) and have a good time together.

Like it wouldn't be a bachelorette party without friends, just as it wouldn't be a wedding without a partner to be wed. Everything else is just icing on the cake. Nothing wrong with icing, but this seems more like a bowl of icing with a crumb of cake in it.

Rookie (not the magazine) (not that there's anything wrong with that)

@planforamiracle Interesting, because when I read about the costumes, I very nearly rolled my eyes, because that's the kind of stuff you'd do for a bachelorette party that DIDN'T cost thousands of dollars. I almost thought that that sort of thing would be beneath them. But that might just be me projecting my idea of privilege onto people who appear to have it.

planforamiracle

@Rookie (not the magazine) (not that there's anything wrong with that)
I think that might be sort of what I was getting at. Like, the fun/special part (being silly with friends) will always be there, and to go overboard with all this other stuff sort of implies that the fun/special part IS beneath them.

MollyRingwald

Was there really an editorial need to call out the assumed "peachy" skin color of the women in question?? Did anyone else find this to be a needlessly racist aside in a story that was already a 10 on the insufferability scale?

j-i-a

@MollyRingwald I didn't mean that to be racist - I don't think it's racist to think that an enormous amount of white privilege is the only thing that could make a group of twentysomething women think it's a fun idea to dress up like "gangsters" at a bachelorette party, or call their costumes that, etc - but I get that it could very easily come across in that way. I'll remove it!

MollyRingwald

@j-i-a I guess I just thought the story was about financial irresponsibility - a topic which hits every kind of community. Your response is much appreciated though! Thanks!

aphrabean

@j-i-a For the record, Jia, I did not think that was racist at all, and I think you were right on point on the type/amount of privilege involved in those kinds of outings. Though I do like to imagine they went with old-timey prohibition gangsters, or like Soprano/my dad-style track suits and thinning hair.

j-i-a

@aphrabean hahaha thanks man. I like to imagine that they went, as @planforamiracle said, as combination gangster-sea creatures, with a touch of the "barbarian" in there as well

Rookie (not the magazine) (not that there's anything wrong with that)

@j-i-a "Gangster sea creatures" will be the theme of my bachelorette party. Nay, my WEDDING. Everyone in pinstriped suits, holding fake guns with their tentacles.
(That's what I figured they went with when I read "gangsters", I guess because I associate Scarface with Miami, and now I'm imagining a bunch of rich, high-power New York girls wearing penis tiaras and white tuxedo jackets shouting "Say hello to my little friend!" I'll stop now.)

Faintly Macabre

@Rookie (not the magazine) (not that there's anything wrong with that) Yeah, I imagined striped suits, fedoras, and very shiny shoes. And maybe very mysterious briefcases. (My image of gangsters comes mostly from hazy memories of Some Like It Hot)

OhMarie

Speaking of racist costumes, I need to vent--a facebook friend of mine (who I do not know well, we went to high school together and she's friends with my sister so I see her maybe 3 times a year) posted a picture of her boyfriend in a Redskins jersey and herself in a feather headdress and brown dress with the caption "We are a couple of Redskins!"

I really don't think it's a situation in which commenting would do any good but I am going to lose my mind if one more person gives a thumbs up.

Mira

@OhMarie Just so you know, my thumbs-up to your comment was about your reaction to her, not your Facequaintance's behavior. What kind of grown-ass, non-Native adult thinks it's okay to wear a feather headdress??

Urwelt

@OhMarie If it were me, I'd comment with a link to an article explaining why that's not okay (lot of them up around this time of year) and then immediately defriend. But yeah, the cut and run doesn't work so well if you have to see her in real life.

commanderbanana

Man, you know, there was a time when people did stuff like get married and have kids, etc., without demanding that everyone else sacrifice a lot of time and money to reward them for...doing stuff. When do I get to demand a shower for successfully laundering my sheets or a girls' weekend away when I make it through a grocery run without buying anything not already on my list??

cordovan sofa

@commanderbanana I don't think it's always the gift-receiver making the demand, though. When I decline parties and gifts for doing "life event" things, I get pushback from some people. In some cases, it's people who live for hunting down the "perfect" gift (even when I am clear that the perfect gift is "not") - it's their hobby and it makes them sad to be told no. But in other cases, it's clearly something else - some deep discomfort and guilt and sense of "wrongness" for skipping a ritual. Like people who are absolutely determined that they WILL bring a hostess gift. There are other times when it's a power display, like someone insisting on paying for your dinner.

However, I would sometimes like someone to throw me a party for doing my laundry, I won't lie.

Don'tcallmeJenny

@commanderbanana I mean, the idea behind showers at least is that it's a way for the people in your life who care about you to celebrate an important life event and provide you with something to help you in that life event transition. Which, in and of itself is not actually a terrible idea. I know my mom still breaks out her nice silverware/crystal/serving trays from her wedding shower and can tell you exactly which relative was responsible for each piece.

On the other hand there is this consumerism-run-rampant culture surrounding babies and weddings in recent years that has gotten way out of hand and frankly ANYONE demanding that I spend huge bucks on them for any reason at all is not going to stay my friend for long.

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@commanderbanana Push presents, man. PUSH PRESENTS.

commanderbanana

@Don'tcallmeJenny Yeah, it's really weird - I mean, the whole idea behind wedding showers was that newlyweds setting up house for the first time weren't going to have all the stuff they needed. All of my friends who have gotten married lately had all been living together for a minimum of a year.
I realize I sound like a big Grinchy Grinch, and truthfully I love buying presents and having parties for other people. But I think the whole over-the-topness (I blame reality TV!!) and the idea that you're a bad friend if you're not willing to bankrupt yourself over someone else's wedding/engagement/baby/whatever is pretty shitty.

commanderbanana

@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose Next time I come out of the bathroom someone better be waiting with a substantial piece of jewelry.

EleanorHiggsByson

Bridal parties/bachelorette parties are ripe with emotional and financial minefields; even if your friend the bride has perfectly reasonable (non)expectations for an outing, as a bridesmaid, you're likely planning a party with people that you are not close with -- best friends from grade schools, siblings of the fiancee, etc. I've been in my share of weddings, and it is unbelievably hard to feel like you want to give your friend an amazing, memorable time but at the same time being conscious of the fact that maybe you are the poorest person in the wedding party. I sometimes think I'm just throwing money at the situation to avoid any drama.

279th District Court

I have had good luck with the weddings I have actually been in, but my sister recently presided over an increasingly insane bride's bachelorette with almost 30 people (the bride was overcompensating for the fact that she has precisely 2 female friends by inviting every woman she's met). To give you an idea, one of the CHEAPEST ideas was to fly to Cancun and stay at a friend's vacation home there (reason it was the cheapest). Estimated flight + $200 a day for the long weekend.

squishycat

...so, the last bachelorette party I attended involved a schoolgirl spy theme (the party-thrower managed to get the front desk guy at her building in on it by promising him a plate of cookies, so he handed us our super-secret documents when we arrived), and then laser tag against the guys - and we managed to keep both the bride and groom in the dark about the fact that they were facing each other until we actually started the first round. And then at the end we all drove to the late-night diner where the bride and I and our friends hung out in high school.

ragazza

Jeez, a friend told me she spent $250 for her part of a bachelorette party night and I thought that was excessive.

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