Just when it seemed that Kim Kardashian couldn't do more to further embarrass herself, offend the masses and generate additional pointless publicity (which I plead guilty to giving her more of right now), she threw us a curve ball. As anyone who doesn't live under a rock now knows, the saddest breakup since the demise of the Beatles was recently announced when Kardashian sought to end her marriage, which has lasted approximately as long as it takes most people to plan a small wedding.
Which brings me to the real reason we should be offended by the Kardashian bridal circus. Putting aside the low-hanging fruit of offensiveness (such as the fact that gay couples who have been together decades are prevented from legalizing their unions to protect the "sanctity of marriage" while people like Kardashian have free rein to try to break Liz Taylor's record before the age of 35), let's talk about the really offensive part: the wedding gifts.
It was recently announced that while Kardashian would not be returning wedding gifts to her guests, she would be making a comparable donation to a charitable organization, "The Dream Foundation." On the surface, that sounds like a great thing to do, though critics have been quick to note that the gesture will result in a nice tax write off for the reality star. But I think the bigger question is why didn't someone with Kardashian's wealth simply ask guests to make a contribution to the Dream Foundation in lieu of gifts in the first place? You mean to tell me she can afford a multi-million dollar wedding but not a toaster for her new home? And if she and her groom didn't even pay most of their own wedding expenses then that means even more money for all of the toasters, coffee pots, and bath mats they could ever want.
My point? Being known primarily for a sex tape? Okay, that's pretty tacky. Refusing to return gifts to people who bought them for use during what's supposed to be a lifetime union, despite breaking up shortly after your honeymoon? Tackier. But registering for wedding gifts in the first place when you are having a $10 million wedding may be the tackiest thing of all.
Kardashian is not alone on that life raft to Tacky-ville. Countless celebs who have bragged about their bank accounts and endlessly flashed bling, have then turned around and asked for their friends to foot the bill for a bunch of china and other house wares they will probably never use, with Donald Trump being among the most egregious examples. Here's a man who has engaged in multiple feuds with those who dare to insinuate that his net worth is not greater than God's, and yet if he has all of this money, why did he need to register for gifts for his third marriage? (Yes his third.) (Click here to see a list of some of the most expensive celebrity weddings ever.)
Wedding registries were originally intended to help friends and family members of young couples buy the household necessities they needed to start their new lives together. (The first is believed to have originated at Marshall Fields back in 1924.) Last I checked Donald Trump is A) not young and B) is all set in terms of necessities (and has many of them tastefully gold plated too.) But apparently he and his new bride still "needed" a few more items--from Tiffany and Bergdorf Goodman of course, among them a $4,000 sterling silver coffee server, rumored to be among the cheaper items listed on the couple's registries.
To be clear, I don't begrudge people who have wealth, at least not those who have actually worked hard to earn it. (Sidebar: There are fewer of those wealthy people than the myth of the American Dream would have us believe. For instance, despite his image as a self-made man of the people, Trump actually inherited wealth but has also spent much of his professional life adding to it.) I am also not someone who believes we should be a country where people should be made to feel embarrassed or ashamed for earning a lot of money. Nor do I believe we should judge people for doing so.
But I do believe we can judge people for how they choose to spend it, and how they encourage others to do the same. And if you are someone who chooses to have a multi-million dollar wedding, or even a wedding in the six figure range, and then asks your friends and family who have less than you do to shell out hundreds or thousands of dollars to buy you something that you can buy yourself, it may not make you a bad person. But it also doesn't make you a very good one.
The good news is that more and more couples appear to be coming around to this thinking, among them the most high profile newlyweds of this century. Prince William and his new bride used their big day not to stock up on new hand towels for the palace, but to raise more than a million dollars for charity.
Who knows? Maybe Kim Kardashian will follow suit for her third and fourth weddings.
Keli Goff is the author of The GQ Candidate and a Contributing Editor for Loop21.com, where this piece originally appeared.