Claudia Gryvatz Copquin, a frequent contributor to Newsday, is founder of the bridal blog Getting Married on Long Island.
In an effort to emulate a living fairy tale, couples all over the United States will soon be saying "I do" to facsimiles of the attire, accessories, decorations and flowers on display at tomorrow's marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton.
Engaged women are already sporting (much cheaper) look-alikes of the 18-carat sapphire and diamond engagement ring given to Kate by William -- the same ring given to Princess Diana by Prince Charles. QVC began selling knockoffs soon after the engagement was announced back in November.
There's nothing wrong with copying styles and ideas from other people's weddings. Inspiration, after all, is the very purpose of bridal television programs like "My Fair Wedding" and "Amazing Wedding Cakes," wedding websites, apps and magazines.
But trying to reproduce a wedding that's reported to cost between $20 million and $75 million is problematic. As it is, brides-to-be in the throes of planning their big days are typically unrealistic. They seek perfection, often eschewing carefully crafted budgets in an attempt to acquire it, regardless of whether "perfection" is affordable or even really attainable.
Long Island brides in particular are already spending, on average, far more than the roughly $23,000 national average. Statistics vary, but according to a survey of brides released in 2010 by the TheKnot .com, an average wedding on Long Island costs $46,628, making it the second most expensive place in the country to get married, next to New York City, which averages $46,703. That amount could easily be used instead toward a down payment for a home or as a nest egg for security in this shaky economy.
No one knows what a Kate Middleton wedding-gown replica will end up costing, but you can bet as soon as it's on the market, brides will be clamoring for it -- at whatever price.
There's a long history of royal wedding day trendsetting. When Queen Victoria married Prince Albert in 1840, she chose a white gown, when any color would have been acceptable in those days. Ever since, white gowns have been the norm in Western culture.
Prince Charles and Diana Spencer's extravagant wedding in 1981 generated a frenzy of romance-themed weddings in the United States. Brides here were inspired by the princess' horse-drawn glass carriage and abundant, bejeweled ball gown, complete with a 25-foot train.
Indeed, wedding gown designers today are eagerly anticipating the unveiling of Middleton's gown tomorrow morning.
Speculated to be long-sleeved and modest, seamstresses and patternmakers will start working to recreate the dress as soon as it makes its appearance on television. It could be available in as soon as eight weeks. A rumor that the bride will be sporting an heirloom tiara from the royal collection is almost certain to bring back that look, which lately has been replaced by more modern headpieces.
Whatever we see tomorrow, it will be endlessly discussed and analyzed by the media and trend-watchers. And breathlessly coveted by brides-to-be. After all, it's the rare bride who can resist the urge to feel like a princess on her wedding day.
Of course, planning a majestic wedding within one's means is perfectly acceptable, as long as brides -- and grooms -- bear in mind that as much effort, time and energy that goes into the planning, even more so should be focused on the day after the wedding. Because the way to live happily ever after is to be grounded in reality, not in some fairy-tale notion of marriage. If there's any question regarding that, remember the groom's parents tomorrow. Diana and Charles had a storybook wedding day; the rest didn't turn out so well.