The business of the Kardashian wedding

2011-08-20 10:04

Los Angeles - Call it wholly monetised matrimony.

Kim Kardashian and Kris Humphries are set to be married on Saturday in a lavish, made-for-TV celebration of love, devotion and product placement.

The reality-TV bombshell and her NBA boyfriend will wed at a canyon estate in the seaside town of Montecito, near Santa Barbara, California. The location of the black-tie ceremony has been kept secret, but everything else about the extravaganza — the dress designer, the cake maker, the stationer, the gift registry, the Kardashian-brand perfume — has been touted 'til death do us part on celebrity websites, entertainment shows and Kardashian's own blog and Twitter pages.

Still, "there are so many surprises!" Kim Kardashian gushed at a party to celebrate the launch of her new Sears clothing line, Kardashian Kollection, mere days before the nuptials. "I think it's just going to be so much fun. I'm really looking forward to the wedding."

A good connection

Kardashian went on to extoll the deep love and compatibility she and Humphries share. "We have a really good balancing system," she said, before working it back to the clothing line. "Like our personalities — he lets me chill and he gives me my space when I need to design and approve the shoes and the clothes and everything. We just have a good connection."

The marriage will be Kardashian's second and Humphries' first. She was previously married to music producer Damon Thomas from 2000 to 2004.

Much has been made of the Kardashian-Humphries wedding invitations, which were decorated with black crystals and arrived in silver boxes. Guests were asked to wear black and white and to keep ceremony details confidential. Even more has been made of the couple's wedding registry at Geary's of Beverly Hills, which totals $172 000 and includes such items as a $1 650 coffee pot and two $1 250 sterling silver vegetable spoons.

Entertainment media have reported breathlessly every available detail on the pending nuptials. And when Kardashian's sisters revealed at Wednesday's launch event that the bridal party will be wearing green, they said it as if dropping a national secret.

Mom Kris Jenner was coy even about her dress, saying only that "it's beautiful," which would be fitting, of course, for the royal reality-TV wedding of the year, with some speculating its price tag could reach $10m.

Lucrative deals

But such expense surely will be offset by the bouquet of wedding deals now in place.

The ceremony and everything leading to it will be featured in a two-part special on showbiz television channel E!, the same network that airs Keeping Up with the Kardashians and its spinoffs, Khloe & Lamar, Kourtney and Khloe Take Miami and Kourtney and Kim Take New York.

The special will not air for two months, though, prompting online card company to offer a greeting that reads: "Here's hoping Kim Kardashian's marriage lasts until her wedding special airs in October."

Then there's the magazine exclusive (reportedly with People) that will feature photos and details about the nuptials and the sure-to-be-star-studded guest list. And don't forget Kim Kardashian's Love, a limited-edition perfume that is being sold for $100 a bottle to commemorate the occasion.

Kardashian also constantly updates her 5 million monthly website visitors and more than 9 million Twitter followers about her progress with her pre-wedding workouts (with celebrity trainer Gunnar Peterson), her dress fittings (with designer Vera Wang), and her invitation designer (Lehr & Black).

"She's certainly not the first (celebrity) to capitalise on her wedding and photos and the press to get everything paid for and more," said marketing expert Ryan Schinman, chief of Platinum Rye Entertainment.

"It's the first that feels a little commercial. But from what everyone sees, she's very much in love, as long as her fiancé doesn't mind one of the most special moments in their lives being followed and shared with the rest of the world."

Kardashian has made a fortune selling her most intimate moments, from the sex tape that surfaced in 2007 to this weekend's wedding.

Keeping up with the dollars

Also, by selling the wedding, she helps keep it that way. Her fans are hanging on every incremental announcement, said Gillian Sheldon, vice president of programming for BUZZMEDIA, which produces the Kardashians' websites.

"People have shared in her love story and everyone is so excited," Sheldon said. "Not everyone can be invited to her wedding, but she brings people in with her blog, with a TV special on E!. She genuinely wants to share the moment with her fans because she cares that much about them."

Kardashian's website will feature a "virtual guest book" fans can sign on her wedding day, Sheldon said.

Doing what's expected

Could there be a backlash against the beautiful socialite-turned amateur porn star-turned reality TV entrepreneur for having a made-for-TV wedding? Schinman says no.

"People expect it from her," he said. "She needs to stay relevant, and this has to be shared because that's how she makes her money."

It is all part of the lucrative Kim Kardashian brand. And one she zealously protects. "She is the brand and the people behind her are the people that are making the business decisions," Schinman said. "Part of it is luck, part of it is timing, and part of it is great business."

Kardashian said "I do" to that years ago.

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