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What Kelly Clarkson Can Teach Us About Marriage (and Kim & Kanye Can't)

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The words "tasteful" and "understated" are rarely used in the same sentence as the name Kardashian, so it was no surprise that the latest Kardashian-related news to dominate headlines was yet another story about over-the-top opulence, wrapped in one big, gigantic bow of questionable taste. Only this time the Kardashians were not solely to blame, if at all. The real culprit appears to be Kim Kardashian's new fiancé Kanye West.

According to reports, West spent what was likely the cost of five average American weddings on an elaborate proposal to his babymama Kim Kardashian. Though over-the-top proposals, often captured on film, have recently become a trend this one left most others in the dust featuring a private stadium, an orchestra and bling so expensive it could have kept the government's lights on during the recent shutdown. West's proposal extravaganza at AT&T Park in San Francisco was the pop cultural equivalent of a warning shot fired by the police that means, "Come out with your hands up." It was an announcement to the world that the upcoming Kardashian-West nuptials will likely make the last English royal wedding look like a low-key affair.

And yet despite all of the coverage that Kimye's proposal generated, I have yet to read a single article that says what every couple embarking on marriage hopes to hear people say: "we believe you two will last forever"... or even for five years...or one. Instead outlets are comparing whether this engagement ring measures up to Kim Kardashian's two others, since this will be her third attempt at wedded bliss. (Hey, they say third time's the charm, right?)

It shouldn't be surprising that the general public may be a teensy bit cynical about this whole affair given that Kardashian's last trip down the aisle was kaput 72 days after $10 million was spent on the wedding. So what's my point? An impressive proposal or wedding is rarely an accurate predictor of an impressive marriage. If a marriage is really supposed to be about two people uniting, but those two people invite business associates they don't even like, and friends of their parents they barely know to witness their union (and help them finish off their gift registry), then why should anyone believe those people are genuinely focused on the union itself in the long-term?

For the record, I'm not against big weddings per se. But I am against big weddings for the wrong reasons, and done the wrong way. As I wrote previously, from my viewpoint Kim Kardashian's family solidified their place in the Tacky Human Beings Hall of Fame not when they capitalized on her sex tape, but when they bragged about her extravagant nuptials and then she had the nerve to have a gift registry. If you are having a $10 million wedding you shouldn't be asking any of your guests to buy you a toaster or a bathmat. How about having a $5 million wedding and buying them yourself?

Which is why Kelly Clarkson's recent nuptials were so refreshing. The American Idol alum was planning a big wedding, befitting her status as a megastar, but later said of her and her fiance, "We are so busy that we finally just came to terms the other night and were like, 'So, we change our minds and we want to elope.' We just got so overwhelmed by it -- all the decisions."

Clarkson still got to wear the fairy tale gown that most brides dream about, but she and her new hubby kept the day about what it's supposed to be about: the two of them and their union. Despite having the money for an over-the-top show, she opted for a low-key affair in which the only stars present were her young stepchildren.

In other words, she pulled an "anti-Kimye." But making Clarkson's handling of her big day even more admirable is how her family handled it. Her mother, who was not present at the superstar's scaled down affair, had this to say about not being there: "She was so afraid we might be upset. But we were fine with it... I had known that she was under a lot of stress. And we just wanted her to be happy and not stressed out... I think the biggest thing for us to do was to allow her to do what she wanted to do."

If only every mother, of every potential bride could adopt momma Clarkson's level of zen and self-awareness. After all, behind every Bridezilla, is usually a momma Bridezilla who raised her (and possibly thinks the wedding is more about her than her daughter and her future son-in-law. Here's looking at you, Kris Jenner!).

Kimye and the entire Kardashian clan could learn a thing or two from Clarkson and her family. But they could also learn a thing or two from some other high-profile newlyweds. On Monday when Senate-elect Cory Booker officiated the first weddings between same-sex couples in New Jersey following a recent court ruling, the couples there did not need to spend $10 million, have an orchestra, a fireworks show, or hundreds of guests to make the day special. It was special because each couple was there together and they were getting married.

Who knows? Maybe Kimye will be inspired by these couples, Kelly Clarkson and others, and surprise all of us by showing a measure of restraint with their nuptials.

Of course for them that would mean only spending $5 million or so. But maybe they will skip the gift registry.

Keli Goff is a Special Correspondent for The Root and the author of The GQ Candidate.