A coworker with no children noted with disdain what seems to be expected for bridal showers and wedding presents these days. When you are out of these loops, you don't see the gradual escalation. When you are then invited, you see the decade's accumulation of excess. The contrast to 1980, to 1960, to 1940, to 1920, would make one think that entirely different occasions are being celebrated.
It is simply appalling. It just is. I don't blame current brides and their families, because they are merely standing on the shoulders of those who have gone before. At any given point, any serious de-escalation has a smack of punishing your daughter for the sake of some abstract nonmaterialistic ideal.
That this is at least ironic in a society which values marriage less, and virginity by either party not at all has been pointed out by many others. No need for me to add my voice on that. Yet I wonder if the expanding weddings and presents are actually a cause, or at least a reinforcement, of the values which lead to divorce. I don't mean any individual wedding creating a greater likelihood for participant divorces, but the larger, cultural change. The huge party and the mountain of presents create an idea of receiving, of getting, of being the center of attention, of needing certain objects in your life to be happy.
Well, chicken/egg, I suppose. But I don't think it is mere irony.