After a four-day bachelorette party at a resort in Utah, a $59 million wedding celebration continued in Paris.
As economists, we can ask what it all means.
The $59 Million Wedding
A themed Marie Antoinette night (“Let them eat cake.”) capped the four bachelorette days for the girls’ festivities.
Next, transported by private jet, guests arrived in France five days before the November 18 wedding at the Château de Villette castle. Events included a night at Versailles, a private lunch at the Chanel Salon, another lunch at the Eiffel Tower, and then dinner on a nearby boat.
During the rehearsal dinner at the Paris Opera House, they had a string quartet playing on a circular staircase. Do note all the flowers:
Then, for the wedding’s first dance, Maroon 5 sang “She Will Be Loved.”
Meanwhile, the couple’s bridal registry listed a $12,500 small butterfly house that was not yet purchased. However, already gifted, the $5,600 Lalique vases were no longer an option.
To get a flavor of the events, do take a look at several YouTube snippets. According to the media, the family’s affluence originated (and continues?) with a network of car dealerships:
Our Bottom Line: Conspicuous Consumption
Long ago, Thorstein Veblen knew why people would care about an over-the-top wedding saga. We could call him the first behavioral economist.
In his Theory of the Leisure Class (1899), Thorstein Veblen (1857-1929) told us that the affluent pursue useless activities like excessive shopping to convey their power and wealth. Servants and employees help the affluent do less while their money lets them signal their status by buying more. An extravagant wedding could be precisely what Veblen was talking about.
In a 2010 paper, scholars at USC’s Marshall School of Business used the following diagram to convey some of what Veblen taught us. They could easily have inserted the Brockway wedding in the Parvenu slot below:
Thorstein Veblen was rather eccentric. Delighted, I once read that his let his dirty dishes accumulate until none remained. Then he sprayed them with a hose and started all over again.
This is Veblen:
My sources and more: Thanks to Axios and Slate Money for alerting me to the $59 million wedding. From there, Thorstein Veblen became the perfect complement. But also, The NY Post told me more about the wedding as did The Daily Beast and the bride’s gift registry. Finally, please note that most of the Veblen section of today’s post was in a past econlife and Marie Antoinette probebly did not say “Let them eat cake.”