via Ezra again (am I still unpacking boxes and simultaneously trying to hire a DP? Yes, yes I am ...) Meghan O'Roarke runs through a brief history of the vile "engagement ring" tradition, including some rather surprising connections to historical legal issues rather than straight-up de Beers bashing.
A related book I've picked at but haven't completely plowed through yet is One Perfect Day: The Selling of the American Wedding. Luckily my wife and I a.) got hitched well before this industrialized madness became mainstream and b.) weren't the type for that sort of insanity anyway. As vaguely horrifying as I find spending this sort of money on an engagement ring and one day ceremony --
-- sidebar. Take it from old married guy. It is one day. You will be so emotionally overwrought that the wedding/reception preparations will barely register, and it will be 90% forgotten within a month. Unless, of course, you're one of those couples that keeps their wedding photo album and video out on the coffee table for way, way too long. I knew several of those couples. They are all divorced now. All. Of. Them.
Oh, and you will fall asleep as soon as you get to the hotel. Adrenaline crash. I've never heard the exception.
-- where was I? Oh yes, I'm kind of tickled at the growth of the wedding industry because it renews my faith in capitalism. If you can monetize weddings, you can monetize solar energy and burst television.
In comments, feel free to proclaim the benefits of your engagement ring-less proposals, tiny wedding and reception, or the emotional satisfaction of locking down your intended with a carpal-tunnel inducing rock and then sealing the deal with a nuptial-day full-scale recreation of the D-Day landings, with the families being arranged in seating matching Juno, Gold, Sword.