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Bennifer’s Wedding Is Just So Nice To Think About

After couples spent the last two years wrestling with the nightmare of planning a wedding in a global pandemic, the industry estimates that there will be 2.5 million weddings this year — a record number in the US. The flowers! The centerpieces! The general extravagance and spectacle! It’s all coming back to me now.

In the middle of this wedding explosion, America’s royal couple Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez tied the knot but opted out of spectacle. Last Saturday, 18 years after their first engagement ended, Ben and Jen walked into A Little White Wedding Chapel in Vegas just after midnight and got married. There were no invitations or wedding bells, no maids of honor or best men — just a bride and a groom, their vows to each other, and their children.

What’s been striking about the pair’s wedding is how ordinary it all seemed. The next day, Lopez shared in a newsletter to fans that she walked down the aisle while “Here Comes the Bride” played out of a Bluetooth speaker at the venue. “Love is beautiful. Love is kind. And it turns out love is patient. Twenty years patient,” Lopez wrote. “Exactly what we wanted.” A witness said they both cried reading their vows to each other.

It’s extraordinary that one of the most dissected and examined relationships of our time would evolve like this. Bennifer’s impending nuptials were once scrapped exactly because of the scrutiny that their relationship went through two decades ago. Affleck told Howard Stern that the intense media attention — the “idea that people hate you and they hate you together and that being together is poison and ugly and toxic” — was about “50%” of why the couple broke up last time.

But in the intervening years, the very nature of celebrity has changed. Ben and Jen no longer need to go through legacy media organizations to explain themselves. Instead, Lopez can speak directly to fans and tell them what happened and how it made her feel. The ability of famous people to control their own image and narrative has not only allowed Bennifer 2.0 to flourish, but it has also allowed them to circumvent the relentless inspection of the public eye.

From the beginning, Bennifer owed us nothing. No matter how much we projected onto their relationship, the fault was with us for putting that kind of pressure on them. This time around, though, the most famous couple on Earth chose to forego the spectacle and focus on each other. They got married and shared the news on their terms, away from the maelstrom of paparazzi. We get to be happy for them, because they are telling us they’re happy. Perhaps we should never have asked for more. —Elamin Abdelmahmoud

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