IF YOU LIKE it, you better put an onion ring on it. News this week that KFC is offering an $80,000 wedding package is the type of topical news nugget (sorry, likely to be an ongoing theme) that generates a variety of reactions.
The first, for many, will be disgust. How tacky. This is surely aimed at bogans. Is the celebrant going to dress as Colonel Sanders? Are guests going to feel guilty and bloated after their main meal? All legitimate questions.
Let’s start on the food front, as it’s possibly the most important factor here. Personally, I can eat KFC about once every two years. The first couple of bites after a three-piece drought usually rank up there with anything my tastebuds have encountered in the previous 24 months, as the wonders of nutritional lab tech ensure that each mouthful of the secret herbs and spices detonates on my palate like an electrical cable dropped in a swimming pool.
Unfortunately, it soon wears off and by the end I’m usually feeling weighed down by regret. That’s probably not a feeling you want your wedding guests to associate with your big day. The food is a critical component in a good wedding—I’d love to see the stats on how many people swap the alternating beef and fish with their partner. People remember if the food is bad and nod approvingly without giving it much further thought when it’s good—of course, people, as Seinfeld’s Jerry and Elaine once expertly surmised, are “the worst”. Moaning wedding guests rank even lower.
So, that’s the initial ‘gut’ reaction. Then you begin to look at the competition deal a little closer. The full wedding package comes complete with KFC catering, theming and budget to support additional elements including venue hire, photography and entertainment “to the total value of $80,000”. The Colonel is also throwing in the new ‘world-first’ BBQ Onion Ring Burger, in an unsubtle nod to the binding symbols of marriage.
Now, let’s be serious here for a moment. This would probably be a non-starter for many of us if it were not for the $80k. Eighty grand! That isn’t chump change, especially when you consider the average cost of a wedding in Australia is $40,700 this year, according to data from wedding industry group ABIA Weddings Australia. Many people spend more. Just over 20 per cent of newlyweds spent more than $60,000 on their weddings this year, according to the survey, and about 5 per cent will spend more than $100,000. If you’re getting $80,000, you can expect a pretty lavish wedding. Shit, you can probably splash on a flock of doves, maybe arrive by helicopter.
But I know many of you still won’t be able to get past the tack factor. As someone who spent a lot of money on a wedding that could have gone on a housing deposit or plenty of other worthwhile investments, I would advise you to get over this misgiving fast. This is a gift horse (or chicken). So much of a wedding, from the rustic farmyard venue to the native flowers on the guests’ tables to the sign out front in a tasteful cursive script to the calligraphy on the cards with guests table placings to the seemingly quirky and whimsical but in fact so incredibly calculated bonbonniere the guests take home, is performative nonsense aimed solely at leaving your guests with the impression that you are a lovely, wholesome couple from good families.
Most of this matrimonial ephemera is bullshit, although I do rates chocolates as bonbonniere and have a metal bottle opener that I still use—thanks Miguel and Kelly, think of you every time I crack open a Stone & Wood on a Friday night.
The implicit suggestion is that all your guests are judging you. Unfortunately they are (see previous reference to “people”), but this is one of those occasions where you need to invoke that much trotted out, apparently simple but in fact incredibly difficult to achieve self-help aphorism about caring less about what others think. Do you think any of these fuckers (sorry but judgemental wedding guests deserve a certain degree of invective) are going to turn their noses up at $80k. No, they wouldn’t.
The thing about tackiness is that once you get over yourself and embrace it, you can find yourself having all sorts of fun—a precept that explains the appeal of Las Vegas generally and Vegas weddings specifically. Once everyone has accepted that this is going to be a tasty but tasteless affair, people will find a freedom and joie de vivre that has hitherto been tightly secured beneath layers of angst, self-consciousness, pretentiousness and aspiration.
This is a good space for your big day to inhabit, and if you want proof, look no further than the dance floor at your average wedding. While the ceremony is often cloaked in tasteful musical signatures by a cellist and the reception may see a three-piece jazz outfit play some ditties as guests arrive at the reception, the dance floor is always at its liveliest when the DJ drops the charade and starts playing bangers. That’s when you start seeing grandmothers and great aunts wriggling to ‘Push It’ or ‘Groove is in the Heart’.
If the KFC wedding is a hit, which given this is the second time the franchise has rolled it out after a previous campaign a few years ago, it’s easy to see rival chains jumping on board and franchise weddings becoming a thing, in the same way that many kids have parties at Maccas . . . and love them!
So, if you’re unfortunate enough to currently be in the midst of planning an overpriced ‘perfect day’, you could do a lot worse than a franchise-funded tack fest.
Wild wedding themes
In 2016, an American couple spent $65k on a Harry Potter-themed wedding. The aisle was lined with pages from the books, the seating assignments were fastened to Quidditch hoops, and the programs were printed in the style of The Daily Prophet. A live owl delivered the wedding rings.
In 2014, a couple got hitched while walking down the frozen food aisle at Costco, the site of their first meeting.
In 2013, a couple won a contest that enabled them to get married at San Diego’s Big Bite Bacon Festival. There were bacon bouquets, bacon sprinkled cake, the wedding aisle featured slabs of bacon, and guests wore bacon vests. Again, tasty and tasteless.
The Walking Dead
In 2016, NFL player DeAngelo Williams married his bride, Risalyn, in a Walking Dead themed ceremony. “Everybody goes through weddings. They walk down the aisle. It’s over with,” Williams said.
“[The zombie wedding] is a time for us to laugh and point and say, ‘Ha, you look goofy.’ It gives us a chance to step outside our comfort zone and put on our acting skills, whether we possess them or not.”
Another meet-cute in a supermarket aisle (beats Hinge), this couple got to know each other at Wholefoods, before the groom proposed there. Made (some) sense to have the ceremony in the flower aisle a year later.