Milestones, rituals and ceremonies usually have the same intention across classes, but each class level has its own identifiable standards.
WEDDINGS are important to all groups. They provide the groups with opportunities to flood members with reminders about what makes their group special. Walk into any marriage ceremony and you can quickly tell the status of the couple. The size of the wedding party and the guest list. The music – soloists? Wedding attire of the wedding party AND the guests. Photographic crew. How many limos? Move onto the reception and, again, the class difference is clear. Formal setting? Number of courses in a meal vs a buffet. Crystal everywhere? Music? Gifts for guests?
The PROPOSAL ring is a particularly clear indicator of status, with an implied connection between ring value and the groom’s ability to provide a good life for the bride. For the bride, it is up to her and her family to show that she is worthy – planning the whole wedding event and obsessing about every detail, most particularly relating to the wedding dress. These displays can be very expensive for a single day but are considered worth the investment because they establish the new couple as bona fide members of the class to which they want to belong.
In middle and lower classes, the pressure to buy an expensive ring is also daunting, especially if the groom-to-be is busy paying off student loans while working at an entry-level job. Failure to impress can bring ridicule. For brides-to-be, the repeated ritual of announcing the engagement – holding out their hand to maximize the view– as evidence of how loved they are – keeps the stakes high. Many people go deeply into debt for the proposal and marriage. It can be seen as evidence of love. Everyone will have an opinion about every choice.
It is a class-based display. Young couples choosing a different route will have some explaining to do.