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Newlyweds let corporate sponsors pick up tab

September 14, 1999

By now most everyone has swallowed hard and conceded the sporting world to the hands of corporate advertisers with their Bank One Ballparks, Tostitos Fiesta Bowls and Bell Atlantic Calls to the Bullpen.

But perhaps we would have put up a harder fight if we had seen where the advertising kudzu would sprout up next: Private wedding ceremonies.

In Glenside, Pa., weekend before last, Tom Anderson, a 24-year-old bartender and Sabrina Root, a 33-year-old hairstylist, got married in the eyes of God and in the palms of corporate America, which picked up the tab. The ceremony, replete with limos and gourmet food, would have cost the couple $30,000 they did not have.

So, taking a page out of the NASCAR playbook, they peppered their invitations, buffet tables, thank-you notes, cars and even their toasts with acknowledgments to the companies that provided the spread.

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In one of their wedding photos, Tom is not-so-discreetly holding a placard that reads "Just Married. Congratulations Sabrina & Tom, Best Wishes from the National Enquirer."

In one sense, it's nice to see the common man take advantage of the market system that forces all us sober, grown-up Americans to drink Diet Pepsi out of plastic bottles with "Queen Amidala, Newly elected ruler of Naboo" staring plaintively back at us. But in another sense, is this an area we really wish to pursue?

Do you want your child to open up his certificate 40 years from now to discover he was delivered into the hands of the Almighty at a Coors Light Baptism performed at the Chuck E. Cheese's Church of the Brooks Bros. Brethren?

Oh sure, funeral costs might indeed be through the roof, but somehow the thought of balancing the post mortem budget by affixing Disney characters to the casket cheapens the proceedings.

Too, it's one thing to ask the best man to mention the name of the caterer at a wedding toast. But odds are that ministers may balk at a service scripted to say that "Chauncy, rest his soul, would not have wanted this, the occasion of his passing, to be a sad affair, he would ask us to lift up our hearts in celebration. And he would also ask us to eat Post Raisin Bran, because it's the cereal with two scoops of plumper, juicier more righteous raisins - the raisins of everlasting peace and thanksgiving; the raisins, verily, that sit at the right hand of the Father on his eternal throne."

Although if their church is going through a down time in contributions, who's to say?

And who's to say that an expectant couple having a little cash flow trouble wouldn't be tempted to stream the blessed event live over the Internet so they could sell home page advertising space to Johnson & Johnson, or even an amusement park? "Take the Paramount-Kings Dominion ride down the virtual birth canal!"

Who's to say that some day we won't find ourselves attending a Sun Microsystems Graduation Ceremony, an Elmer's Glue Anniversary Party, or a Manichevitz Bar Mitzvah?

In fact, you might say it's about time we average, private-sector Americans make some green hay off corporate advertising. After all, we've been doing it all these years for free. Nike ought to be paying us for every swoosh we lace up, button down or pull over.

And think, if we were to go to the Tommy Hilfiger factory and spraypaint our names across the walls he would have us arrested. But he thinks nothing of scrawling his John H. across all of our own personal private property.

So if Tom Anderson and Sabrina Root can get hitched on Madison Avenue's dime, more power to them. And if the marriage doesn't work out and they have to break up their happy home and go their separate ways? With the proper promotion, U-Haul might pick up the tab. Provided they'd signed an H&R Block Prenuptial agreement, of course.




Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist

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