Surprise weddings limit rent-seeking and excess signaling

By 8 p.m., the party was in full swing when the couple took to the stage, the front of a sign pressed up against Ms. Pienkowski’s chest. The crowd quieted…The D.J. took a musical pause.

“You’ve been so patient about the date of our wedding,” she said. “We promised we would tell you tonight when it will be. I hope people are ready to pack their bags and get excited, because …” She then paused to turn over the sign, which read, “Surprise! Welcome to the wedding of Lauren & Corey, March 18, 2017.” “It’s today.”


…such weddings are becoming popular among couples who can’t pin down a date months in advance, are overwhelmed by the prospect of planning a huge gala, or want to save a bundle on doing an out-of-season event (sometimes without having to provide dinner).


“I overhead someone screaming to their date: ‘Put more money in the card, it’s a wedding. It’s. A. Wedding!’” he said. “People were screaming: ‘Oh my God! Oh my God!’ We really nailed this.”

Here is the NYT story, of course not everyone wants to limit rent-seeking and excess signaling.

What else should we do on a surprise basis?  Tenure votes?


and I say this as a friend, you are reaching peak smug.


He's just telling it like it is. It's not smugness if everyone else really is stupid.

Didn't you hear? All the smart people get their news about social trends from the NYT.

Travel should be on a surprise basis. While planning might help certain things, just going with the bare-minimum of clothing gets you to experience more and do it more often. You can survive with a small backpack for a long while.

You can also travel with a small backpack and plan your trip.

I fully advocate preparing for a trip to a new destination in advance. If you decide to go to Niger two days before departure then the chances are you won't fully appreciate the things you see there, why they became so formed and what forces are shaping the country. If you plan your trip then you can understand the history, watch the local news to keep up on current events, and read some novels/travelogues set in the country. All of that will lead to an increase in your enjoyment of the trip.


Leaving your old life behind in order to start a new one in Africa?

I went to a wedding a few weeks ago. Made me reconsider whether the "nuerodiversity" people might be right after all.

Somebody help me out here, where's the rent seeking part?

Is it because dining halls charge more when the word "wedding" is on the agenda?

In what way does making it a surprise help? I mean when I got married we just *decided* to keep it simple (email invites, a local restaurant bringing by food and plastic plates, a place to hang out and borrowed some speakers) and BY NOT MAKING IT A SURPRISE IT FURTHER REDUCED THE BURDEN OF PLANNING/EXPENSE.

Is the surprise aspect just a way of avoiding having to confront friends and family and tell them no you aren't doing to do anything super fancy or intense? Otherwise it seems to offer substantial disadvantages with little advantage.

I mean if you have the foresight to make your wedding a surprise surely you could just act *as if* it was going to be a surprise (in terms of how you organize it etc..) but tell everyone when it is and get the best of both worlds.

Why not elope?

Elections? Then Kobach could go back to Kansas. Kidding! On second thought. Invite all voters to a central location and just do it. Weeks of robocalls, mundane commercials, and trashy road signs would be a thing of the past. Major donors could translate their savings towards higher taxes. :)

So that is what America has become...

America is always in a state of becoming.

Of course, you can just call her your fiancée indefinitely. And have a few kids.

More hard hitting news surely of interest to the entire country today in the Times:

"The Heartbreak of a Co-op Rejection"

Something else the NIMBYs ought to consider - eventually even money won't be enough to rent an apartment in SF. Only status and personal connections will do.

I miss the "What you can buy for $5 mm" real estate articles. Are they still doing them? The times cultural and real estate and "lifestyle" stuff is a prime example of what Josh Barro was aiming at in his pieces about how liberals have to become less annoying. I bet if you took the Times reporting staff you would have 10x natural incidence of celiac diesease manifested in a "gluten free lifestlye". Of course with surprise weddings!

Surprise Public Office:

I am not sure how I feel about surprise weddings, though my buddy had a really good idea that used the element of surprise: Public Office. Each year there would be a draft lottery. If your number gets pulled you become eligible to run for an elected position (for the rest of your life). The numbers would work out so that odds your number is ever pulled is well below 50%, and very unlikely in any given year.

This would be a great way to ensure people do not base their life around going into politics. Instead it would be something folks would be spurred to do, mid-career.

Wouldn't this amplify the influence of money in politics, since you need to have a party and its funds ready to go when the lottery candidates are selected and different parties bid for the lottery winners?

Unless in this scenario payments are forbidden or something -- but then you'd select away from anyone who already has a decent career.

I wouldn't say this bogeyman of *money in politics* is any worse than, say, the influence of parties on politics, or a political class.

But I will be class-elitist in one way: it is probably easier to corrupt some fellow picked at random than it is to corrupt someone who has social respect to lose through petty curruption. Not that elite families always care about that either, and the US is a country that just gave itself a choice between the Clintons and the Trumps.

Why bother with the election? Just make the number of entries in the draft lottery equal to the number of open positions.

Like, people trust polls as representative of what the country as a whole thinks we should do, politically. So if you "poll" the populace for representatives, you also get a fair representation of political views and values.

As it stands, there's a huge upper-class and law-school-educated bias when it comes to our representation.

We did a surprise wedding and it was perfect for our situation.

In addition to the points Tyler brings up, having a small party that you (that you make a surprise wedding) limits challenges with family dynamics. Families have certain expectations when its a big 200 person wedding. With unique family circumstances, throwing a small surprise party can be a way to navigate some of those challenges.

Plus we took the celebration on the road and celebrated with the important people in our lives.

Surprise Bris!

Surprise Colonoscopies!

Surprise IRS Audits!

Well, my bris certainly was a surprise. The first hour or so after being born was kind of rough with swats on my bottom, being bathed, and handled by like four different people. Then they handed me to a pretty lady who pressed me to her bosom and then went a step further. I thought this was all good. After a few days of this, they grabbed me and cut me! I was shocked. I still have PTSD from it.

I wonder how long it will be before someone senses and arbitrage opportunity and becomes a surprise wedding planner.

There is a long tradition of surprise examinations in the academy -- that is, the dreaded pop quiz. In theory the pop quiz lessens the advantage of those who cram well. A number of financial regulatory regimes involve surprise audits. Certain professional athletes are subject to surprise drug tests. And of course many professors (myself included) use cold-calling in the classroom: that is, the students do not know in advance which of them will have to recite on a given day. What all of these have in common is the belief that we will obtain more accurate and useful information if those who are subjected to random measurements are not forewarned. This rationale may or may not be correct.

But assuming that the rationale is right, we might ask what other information might be more accurately measured if people are not forewarned about when measurement will take place. That's why the idea of random election days probably isn't as good, at least if you believe that voters tend to invest more in discovering information about candidates as the election approaches. I would suggest, however, that we think about random health scans, rather than placing them at regular intervals. Every doctor has stories about patients who "cheat" before physicals -- diabetics who stop eating sugary snacks for a couple of days to bring down blood sugar, hypertensives who stop eating salt to bring down blood pressure, and so forth. (Yes, it's irrational to try to fool the test, but people do it.) Random physical examinations would probably produce more accurate pictures of patient health.

Surprise elections! The US has regularly scheduled elections. Candidates are constantly preparing for the next election. Big money and special interests have acquired great influence (think in-laws and caterers.) In some parliamentary systems a sudden lack-of-confidence vote can lead to a new round of elections, sometimes in very short order. (.. As I understand it, not actually having ever voted in a parliamentary system.)

(I see as I was composing Stephen Carter commented on random election days. I agree that surprise elections of that short duration would magnify problems of candidates explaining their policy platforms to those that would listen.)

Risk averse campaigners would just shill more.

My old boss was a rent-seeker on his fourth wedding. His now-divorced wife arranged several events leading up to the bridal shower and eventual over-the-top wedding. Each event came with the expectation that we poor saps pony up yet another gift as the price of admission to their good graces.

There was a bit of a happy ending. He refinanced his house to pay for that wedding, called in all kinds of favors to get donations to support the event and had enough left over to pay for that once-in-a-lifetime honeymoon that she arranged. You know the style, $500 a night rooms, when that was a lot of money, overlooking those special Mediterranean locations, then meals galore at three-star restaurants.

The happy ending was that she left when his money ran out, he quit his job and moved away, and they both have kept a very low profile. Who says rent seeking can't pay, at least for Schadenfreude on the installment plan.


Nothing should be a surprise. People hate surprises.

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