An illustration of the cast of The Royal Tenanbaums. Photo by bvu via Flickr (

An illustration of the cast of The Royal Tenanbaums. Photo by bvu via Flickr ( bvu via Flickr

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Whatever religious tradition you come from, chances are good that one of its highest expressions of commitment is marriage. You might smash a glass underfoot; take seven steps symbolizing your commitment towards union; invoke the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; or leave a higher power out of it altogether. And although the themed wedding isn’t anything new (from this Australian Star Wars nuptials to Sean Parker’s multi-million dollar fantasyland), so far we haven’t seen many weddings inspired entirely by the aesthetic of a particular film director.

Until now.

Yesterday, The New York Times published “The Wildebeest in the Room,” an article about people whose love of Wes Anderson films (and, more importantly, the Wes Anderson aesthetic) has inspired their own sense of style — and then some. Anderson’s films (among them The Royal Tenenbaums, Moonrise Kingdom, The Darjeeling Limited) are both dark and nostalgic, rich in symbolism in the sense that every small thing has some meaning or purpose behind it. If you were not an Anderson fan, the words “precious” and “twee” might come to mind. But those who love him, love him with a devotion usually reserved for a person’s favorite author or artist. Anderson inspires an unusual and rabid kind of devotion. There are Wes Anderson fans in the way there are not, say, Steven Spielberg fans or Ron Howard fans. His particular aesthetic is shot through with significance, and now some people are adopting that significance in their own major life events.

“The ‘Wes Anderson wedding’ is a particularly deep stylistic rabbit hole,” The Times reports. William and Naomi Pisnieski got married in 2011 at the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs. The way Anderson “puts his thumbprint on everything in his films is what we wanted to do with our wedding.” They hired a design firm to help achieve their goal, which was to make the place feel like the inside of the Royal Tenenbaum’s house.

It is an interesting decision to make, to give the reins of this meaningful day over to someone who you have never met, whose vision you admire from afar, whose aesthetic has to do with nostalgia for a different time, on the day in the present when you are choosing to make a very specific, very personal decision. And while Anderson isn’t the person I would have chosen to model my wedding after, I suppose in some ways we are all aspirational on that day.

I got married in 2009. We were married in a church, and the reception was in a family friend’s backyard. Like so many brides, I spent time on flower arrangements and buffet versus plated food and signature cocktails. I had a look in mind, and while it wasn’t Wes Anderson’s, it also wasn’t totally my own — I clipped out plenty of magazine pages and emailed myself website after website. (This was largely pre-Pinterest, for which I am incredibly grateful.) So, while it is a different thing to adapt someone else’s aesthetic entirely, I do think that we are all somebody a little bit different on our wedding day. Whether it’s in a courthouse with rhinestone rings and tiny plastic bottles of bubbles or a sanctuary with red carpet and stained glass or a hipster hotel with vintage suitcases and rotary telephones — a person’s wedding day is a day to become somebody else. It’s a fine line between becoming a new person — a spouse — and becoming a different person — a character in a recreated Wes Anderson film.

I’m not totally sure where that line is, or when we may have elevated aesthetics above the sacredness of the day, or if those things are even at odds. And while I’m not petitioning for a Tenenbaum-themed vow renewal anytime soon, I’m also trying to remember not to be too judgmental of those who go in for his look at their wedding. What’s sacred to someone else may not be my taste, but it’s also not my choice.

Categories: Beliefs

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Laura Turner

Laura Turner

Laura Turner is a writer and editor living in San Francisco. In addition to being a regular contributor to Christianity Today’s “Her.meneutics” blog, she has also written for publications such as Books & Culture and The Bold Italic. She is interested in the intersection of church and culture.


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