Fake trend watch: Bridesmaid pre-nuptial agreements


My wanderings through the online world of bridesmaid craziness began with the article Brides taking their bridesmaids for Botox treatments or maybe a boob job. I blame the wedding-industrial complex, which constantly pushes weddings as the bride's "perfect day", "the best day of your life", a "fairy tale come true" where you can be "a princess for a day." (Folk tales which end in big lavish weddings are told from the female point of view; there aren't many folk tales about the young boy who grows up to marry a beautiful princess.)

And I love Elizabeth A.'s comment called out in the sidebar to the New York Times article.

Back to that article: Is the Botox girl's night out a real trend or a fake trend? In Pre-nups for bridesmaids. Gain weight and you're out, the author claims that "one in five women actually ask their bridesmaids to sign a pre-nup." On that, I call fake trend.

First of all, I could find only one actual documented case of a bride who made her bridesmaids sign contracts agreeing not to gain weight before the wedding. And it was a prank.

Okay, so if it happened only once, where did this "one in five" come from? I followed the citation to the source article in The Daily Mail, which merely says that one in five would ask their bridesmaids to sign such an agreement, not that one in five actually did it.

But wait, there's more. I followed the citation from that Daily Mail article to the the original survey from You & Your Wedding magazine, and found that it was even weaker than The Daily Mail described it: The actual result was that one in five would consider a bridesmaid contract in general. So we're double-counterfactual now. And the survey was not scientific; it was just an online survey.

Okay, so let's tally up the numbers. The claim that one in five brides ask their bridesmaids to sign a pre-nuptial agreement which includes a clause regarding weight would be true if...

  • The online survey results were representative of brides as a whole (and the people who answered the survey were answering seriously), and
  • Everyone who would consider having a bridesmaid pre-nup actually did consider it, and
  • Everyone who considered it followed through and did it, and
  • Every one of those pre-nups contained a clause regarding weight.

I call fake trend.

Bonus link: Extreme wedding planning. Warning: Contains bad dancing.

Comments (31)
  1. Steven says:

    Kinda sounds like a self-fulfilling prophecy. Just the very existence of such an article posting such things as fact will make more people consider it, thinking it is the right thing to do.

  2. scott says:

    “(Folk tales which end in big lavish weddings are told from the female point of view; there aren’t many folk tales about the young boy who grows up to marry a beautiful princess.)”

    Not so… there are a great number of folk tales based around the boy (usually the youngest, sometimes a simpleton) who leaves home to make his own way in the world, falls desperately in love with a beautiful princess, and overcomes the obstacles which the king puts in his way (usually there are three of them).

    These stories are usually all about conflict and overcoming and being a man and…. getting the girl!

    Every Hollywood story (modern folk tale) ever told involves getting the girl, actually.

    Good call on the fake trend, though. The fact that the survey is online completely eliminates it for me.

    [You’re right about the folk tales. I had forgotten about the “plucky boy overcomes obstacles to win princess’s hand” genre. Probably because Disney doesn’t make as big a deal of them as they do the “girl waits for her Prince Charming” genre. -Raymond]
  3. nathan_works says:

    Do any of your precocious nieces have anything to say about the “princess waiting for their prince charming” plot ?

    [Not yet. But give it time. -Raymond]
  4. Boris says:

    What about Aladdin? I would think that was as pretty big deal for Disney. There was no wedding there, of course, at least not in the Disney version, but still.

    [Compare the volume of Aladdin merchandise against Cinderella, Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Little Mermaid, and Belle merchandise. Even within the movie, Aladdin loses. I did a quick search on Amazon. 42 results for Aladdin-branded clothing, 92 results for Jasmine-branded clothing. -Raymond]
  5. Score one for the bloggers.  Take that, traditional online media!

    @Boris: Actually, Aladdin and Jasmine get married in "Aladdin and the King of Thieves" featuring: John Rhys-Davies as Ali Baba; and the big musical number "They’re Finally Getting Married".

    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0115491/

  6. Boris says:

    @Maurits,

    I stopped following Aladdin sometime in 1994, so I’m not in a position to comment on how the wedding was presented and what lead up to it. Good to know, though.

  7. Tim C says:

    Hi – long time lurker, first time poster.  But you should probably be aware that the Daily Mail has a… well, a reputation.  It deals more in fictional impressions than actual "news".

  8. Gabe says:

    The Newsweek story says "Although brides who’ve used pre-nups were reluctant to go on the record for this story, several of them explained that the agreements were necessary to ensure that their day was perfect." which implies that even if it’s not a trend, these prenups do exist for real.

    Of course it says nothing of the existence of weight-gain clauses or anything like that.

  9. Sarah says:

    Basing anything on something originally reported in the Daily Mail is pretty suspect…

  10. dalek says:

    How are you going to get them botox treatments and a boob job without gaining weight?

  11. One in five Raymond Chen articles are just made up.

  12. sjf says:

    OH NO! The Daily Mail is known accross the pond – the shame, The Shame!

    Please Raymond remove that link, its painful to see .co.uk as a part of it!

  13. Cooney says:

    Not so… there are a great number of folk tales based around the boy (usually the youngest, sometimes a simpleton) who leaves home to make his own way in the world, falls desperately in love with a beautiful princess, and overcomes the obstacles which the king puts in his way (usually there are three of them).

    I guess it’s a good thing that Vetinari was never in any of these tales, or else it would be explained that the plucky boy must fail at the final task or else find himself a tragic example to others.

  14. Cooney says:

    How are you going to get them botox treatments and a boob job without gaining weight?

    Easy – get a lipo at the same time. It may upset your center of balance, though.

  15. Bob says:

    Boob job without weight gain – helium filled breast implants:

    http://www.calamitiesofnature.com/archive/?c=278

    (It’s a comic, not a serious suggestion.)

    Also, these days the disney movie format is "princess falls in love with the scullery boy with a heart of gold cos the prince is a jerk". I expect that soon that’ll get old, and the princess will be falling in love with the scullery maid with a heart of gold.

    All well and good, I’m sure, but when they have a smug voice-over at the end explaining that its a "more modern version" I’m sure that something has gone horribly wrong.

  16. cooney says:

    @Bob

    "Also, these days the disney movie format is "princess falls in love with the scullery boy with a heart of gold cos the prince is a jerk"."

    well, PotC did pretty much that with Will and Liz and the Commodore. Of course, allowing the commodore to degrade completely, recover, and redeem himself was a nice touch (along with the wedding ceremony in a swordfight, to bring things back on topic)

  17. Belle

    To Disney’s credit, Belle /does not/ marry the Beast.  They’re just friends.

  18. What you have to remember is that it’s not a newspaper, it’s the Daily Mail. The Daily Mail is, in general, made up of pieces about how horrible foreign people are and imaginary things that foreign people may have done, how frightening the EU is, how Gordon Brown is a Communist robot from the future, and, of course, fake trend pieces. The New York Times, while far better on the actual news bits, also likes fake trend pieces; Gawker devotes an entire category to imaginary NYT trends.

  19. Oedipus says:

    Folk tales centered around young boys often to end with the boy killing the king/chief/father and taking his rightful place as the new hero-king.

    Sometimes if the story is on the nicer side, the boy-hero-king kills a monster instead.

    All you have to do now is figure out how to turn that into an industry.

  20. GWO says:

    Re: The Daily Mail:

    "You cannot hope to bribe or twist (thank God!) the British journalist. But, seeing what the man will do unbribed, there’s no occasion to."

    [Humbert Wolfe c1925, truer now then ever before]

  21. GWO says:

    @Robert Synnott: You forgot one important part of the Mail’s content — to divide all inanimate objects into one of two categories: "causes cancer" or "cures cancer".

  22. Stephen Jones says:

    Does the pre-nup include a promise not to grow a beard?

  23. Chris J says:

    @Chris Blackwell … and in a recent survey 47% of people were fairly certain that 3 out of 10 statistics were made up on the spot :-)

  24. mrfixitfox says:

    I’m suprised they bothered doing an online survey, most of this type of story comes from a journalist asking her friends in the same office what they think and writing it up as a statistic. A great example, from a better British newspaper: http://www.badscience.net/2007/09/imaginary-numbers/

  25. eff Five says:

    I’m sure I’m not the only one who thought of the grunge speak hoax when reading this post

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grunge_speak

  26. Morten says:

    There’s a reason that "newspaper" is also called The Daily Fail in Rightpondia. :-)

  27. Mike Dimmick says:

    Congratulations, you have discovered a rich seam of churnalism. This problem is discussed further by journalist Nick Davies in his book "Flat Earth News" – http://www.flatearthnews.net.

    He dedicates an entire chapter to the Daily Mail, which he calls "the professional foul of Fleet Street".

  28. Sunil Joshi says:

    re.  Daily Mail and "causes cancer" or "cures cancer".

    For a helpful summary of the state of play:

    http://kill-or-cure.heroku.com/

  29. R. Bemrose says:

    @Maurits:

    "To Disney’s credit, Belle /does not/ marry the Beast.  They’re just friends."

    Really?  I’m fairly sure the scene at the end of the movie is supposed to be a wedding.  Particularly since this is after the Beast changes back, and the conditions to change back were "If he could learn to love another, and earn her love in return by the time the last petal fell, then the spell would be broken."

  30. I’m fairly sure the scene at the end of the movie is supposed to be a wedding

    I agree there is undeniably some form of "love" between them.  My "just friends" comment was perhaps a little strong.

    In fact, there /is/ a "wedding" in the movie, but it’s much earlier on, and it doesn’t turn out so well.

    But…

    Belle has ambitions (she wants "adventure in the great, wide, somewhere" etc.) and Prince Whatshisname has… other issues.  Marriage, between these two, at this stage, would have been a disaster.  I agree that the scene at the end is consistent with a wedding, if the viewer is predisposed to such things, but it is also consistent with your basic "welcome back to civilization" party.

  31. Hmmm… seems answers.com disagrees with me.

    http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Does_belle_marry_the_beast

    A: Yes, belle decides to visit her father for awhile and when she comes back the beast is on the floor. Belle kisses the beast and he turns into a prince. they marry…

Comments are closed.

Skip to main content