The Soapbox: You Can Buy A Prepackaged Wedding On Gilt Groupe Now — But Should You?

Gilt City Chicago is currently offering an entire wedding at the Renaissance Blackstone Hotel, for the low, low price of $31,000! All you have to do? Add it to your cart. The voucher gets you a wedding for up to 120 guests, and includes all of the standard wedding elements you could think of: cocktail hour, open bar, three-course dinner (standard protein or vegetarian entrée), a cake, menu cards, and more. Admittedly, there are some cool things, like a “Chicago-style lunch” for the groomsmen (hot dogs?) and an after-party included in the package. But still, am I alone in thinking a flash wedding sale is just weird?

I’m a deal shopper—I get sucked in by sales, flash or otherwise, and am (almost) always trying to find the best prices I can on everything from clothes to travel. I get the whole saving-money thing. But, I’m also engaged and planning a wedding myself (in Chicago, no less). And while wedding planning can certainly be overwhelming, I also don’t see it as something to drop in a cart, click “buy” and be done with. My opinion has nothing to do with the $31,000 price-tag (down from $44,600!), either. My wedding will be fairly sizable, and I’m certainly negotiating and deal-hunting every aspect of it, right down to the vases. But that’s the thing — I’m going to have my hand in all of that.

I happen to think the cool thing about weddings is that they can be personalized to a tee. You want a ceremony in the cultural center, pictures in the middle of Michigan Avenue, and a dance party at your favorite restaurant? Go for it. You want to do chef stations instead of a seated dinner? Sounds great. You want your bridesmaids to carry bouquets made of burlap to fit your rustic theme (saw it on Pinterest, natch)? Good for you. So far, the only thing I’ve done (outside of investigating Pinterest and bridal magazines) is chosen the venue.  My fiancé and I combed the internet for cool Chicago locations that fit the image we had in mind for our nuptials, and visited each one with a specific list of questions in mind. Was it tedious? Absolutely. But after seeing all of our options in person and visualizing how the night would go in each — “That corner is perfect for a photo booth,” “String lights around that column would be amazing”—we’re confident in that contract we signed. It was a highly personalized process. We know it’s the right one for us.

The same will go for everything else we plan, too, from the invites to the flowers. True, the venue is the biggest single expense, but we intend to take the same care in making every other wedding-related decision. After all, I have a Pinterest board for nearly every minute detail, packed with tons of specific ideas. When it comes to my wedding, I want the venue, and the flow, and the centerpieces to all be things my fiancé and I chose because we did our research, we found cool ideas that fit our style, and we love them. Not because they were included in a flash sale.

That said, I realize some brides and grooms just may not be that into the wedding planning process. Some want a small, unassuming wedding, in which case they’d have no need for this anyway. Others want a traditional or big wedding, but don’t care to go through the at-times byzantine planning process. And others still just want to be able to fulfill grandma’s dreams of the big day, in the amount of time it takes to enter their credit card information.

But, I’m just not into this. Have weddings become so standardized that people are okay with dropping $31K on one they didn’t even choose, or plan, themselves? And if they have, what’s the point of even having one? Some people may think spending money on save-the-dates and linens and a trolley is silly. And that’s fine—it’s not required. But I’m spending money on those things because I want to share a beautiful wedding with all the people I love in the same room, and I want the whole experience to reflect who my fiancé and I are as people: our tastes, our styles, our love.  If you’re going to have a big wedding, and you’re going to spend tens of thousands of dollars on it, do it with some care, not with a couple clicks of your mouse.

And perhaps I’m not alone—after all, the deal has been on Gilt for at least a couple days and it seems all seven dates are still available. Phew.

[Image of wedding cake via Shutterstock]