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The controversy over Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas’s wedding, explained

They love each other. They also love brands.

Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas at their wedding reception in December 2018.
Manoj Verma/Hindustan Times/Getty Images

Last weekend, Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas got married, and the ceremony was very beautiful indeed; honestly, it kind of made Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s nuptials look like they took place in the service bathroom of a Wegman’s.

A musician and former member of the Jonas Brothers, Jonas met Chopra, a Bollywood actress who starred in the now-canceled ABC show Quantico, at an Oscars after-party in 2017. The two had only been publicly dating for a few months before he proposed to Chopra last August.

Details from the wedding, such as her dress (custom Ralph Lauren with a 75-foot train!), the venue (the Umaid Bhawan Palace in Jodhpur, India), and her makeup (a warm eyeshadow coupled with a subtle yet effective red stain), have captivated the internet, as has wild, totally unfounded speculation about the veracity of their relationship, culminating in a (now-deleted) post by the Cut.

Over the past few months, there’s been much buzz about the stars’ brief courtship, as well as their age difference: Chopra is 36, while Jonas is 26. There’s also been a great deal of chatter about their multi-day wedding, which was very publicly documented on the two celebrities’ Instagrams and featured references to a number of prominent brands, from Amazon to Elit Vodka.

But while the snark surrounding the Chopra/Jonas union is largely unmerited (they’re young! They’re hot! They’re talented! They’re in very public love! What’s there not to celebrate about that?), it is understandable why so many people are talking about it. Here’s what you need to know about the couple, why so many people are talking about them, and why we should all calm down and revel in the nuptials of two celebrities with an exceptionally adept knowledge of the marketing landscape.

How Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas met

Even in a year of short celebrity engagements, much has been made of Chopra and Jonas’s whirlwind courtship: The two were only publicly dating for a few months before reports surfaced that Jonas rented out a Tiffany store to pick out an engagement ring for Chopra.

But as we learned in a recent Vogue profile on the couple, the two have known each other for almost two years, first meeting at an Oscars after-party in 2017. (They reportedly texted for a few months before meeting in person, which will sound familiar to anyone who’s met their significant other on Tinder.) Plus, as Prachi Gupta of Jezebel notes, short engagements are fairly standard in Indian culture, making the length of Chopra and Jonas’s courtship not particularly noteworthy.

In any case, Chopra and Jonas denied reports that they were dating for a few months, even after they attended the Met Gala together in 2017. In an interview with Jimmy Kimmel, Chopra played off the couple’s public debut as a fun little gag, sort of like asking your sibling to go to prom with you.

“We were both wearing Ralph Lauren and we decided to go together. It was fun,” Chopra said at the time. “We were at the same table. I mean, we know each other so we were just like, ‘Hey let’s go together,’ and I was like, ‘Okay, let’s go together.’ And it just ended up working out.”

This coyness did not last very long. The two made numerous appearances together at highly public events, including a Dodgers game and a “Beauty and the Beast” concert at the Hollywood Bowl, before making their official public debut on social media last June. The couple took a page from the Ariana Grande-Pete Davidson playbook, featuring each other in their stories and leaving public flirty comments on each other’s photos.

Their engagement was public from the get-go

In August, rumors that Jonas had picked out an engagement ring for Chopra were confirmed when she shared photos of her Mumbai roka ceremony, a traditional Indian engagement event. The engagement party was breathlessly covered by the Indian Express, followed by an official engagement announcement: a dreamy, hazily lit photo of the couple.

View this post on Instagram

Future Mrs. Jonas. My heart. My love.

A post shared by Nick Jonas (@nickjonas) on

This, in itself, was somewhat unusual by Hollywood standards. When most A-list celebrities start dating, they tend to avoid publicly broadcasting their relationship milestones if they can help it, citing a desire for privacy (see: Mandy Moore and Taylor Goldsmith, who kept their relationship a secret before posting their wedding photos on Instagram; or Justin Bieber and Hailey Baldwin, who quietly tied the knot after a few months of slowly morphing into a singular, sentient pair of sweatpants).

Yet Chopra made it clear she wanted to have a traditional ceremony in accordance with her family’s values, which entailed a large, two-day engagement party with both families present and both of their cultures represented.

Chonas loves brands

Chopra and Jonas have been deluged with criticism that their wedding was a form of #sponcon, or sponsored content, a term for social media posts that are authored by or explicitly endorse brands. This has given rise to speculation that Chopra and Jonas were using their wedding as a self-branding or financial opportunity, as well as rumors that their romance was staged for publicity reasons.

It is true that in the months leading up to their engagement, Chopra and Jonas seemingly went out of their way to showcase a few select brands on social media. Chopra’s star-studded bridal shower, for instance, was held at the Blue Box Cafe, an eatery at Tiffany, where Jonas picked out the ring; at the shower, Chopra wore $1 million worth of Tiffany jewels, according to People, which covered the affair.

“I’ve always known it had to be Tiffany. I just knew it since I was a kid. First, it was Breakfast at Tiffany’s that did it for every girl in the world and then, of course, Sweet Home Alabama came and put a stamp on it that it has to be Tiffany!” Chopra told the magazine.

In November, Chopra also gave an exclusive interview to People documenting the items on her Amazon-sponsored registry, including a dog bed and Jonathan Adler throw pillows. “Amazon makes sense for a registry because there are such incredible things you can find under one roof,” she told People. “These are the kinds of things I want when I build a home.” While Chopra got some flak for this, she’s far from the only celebrity to enlist brands to help commemorate a milestone: Khloe Kardashian, for instance, famously got Amazon to help sponsor her baby shower.

Jonas, too, was not immune to the siren song of #brands. At his bachelor party in November, he posted an Instagram photo of himself next to a line of scooters in a paid partnership with the startup Lime. “I was searching for a fun way for my groomsmen to be ready to roll,” he wrote in the Instagram caption. In another paid partnership post, he appeared to be endorsing a vodka brand.

For brands, the benefits of sponsoring a celebrity wedding are obvious: With 32 million and 16.5 million followers, respectively, Chopra and Jonas offer a level of exposure that most companies can only dream of. But according to Vanity Fair, neither Jonas nor Chopra received traditional compensation for their partnerships with brands.

“Priyanka is a friend of the house. We were thrilled to host her shower, but no, she was not paid for it nor her engagement,” a spokesperson for Tiffany said. Amazon also confirmed that it did not pay Chopra to sponsor her registry, agreeing to do so in exchange for donating $100,000 to UNICEF.

It’s unclear whether the couple financially benefits in the long run from these wedding plugs (though we do know that Jonas is an investor for at least one of the startups he plugged on Instagram, Lime) or how much they would theoretically stand to make off these relationships (though one estimate states that Instagram influencers with tens of millions of followers can stand to make between $6,700 and $17,500 per post). What is clear, however, is that Chopra and Jonas are not alone in this regard.

Brand-sponsored weddings are a celebrity trend

Many celebrities have brands sponsor various parts of their wedding, if not the entire ceremony, said Meghan Ely, owner of OFD Consulting, a wedding publicity firm in Richmond, Virginia.

Publicists on both sides of the equation “treat it like a business transaction,” Ely said. “They share their metrics. They’re very clear about what they’re looking for.”

Some brands will go out of their way to pay celebrities for this service: Kim Kardashian, for instance, famously made more than $2 million off her 88-day marriage to Kris Humphries, netting $98,000 alone for holding her bachelorette party at the nightclub Tao Las Vegas. Others will offer their services for free in exchange for some form of promotion.

While Ely says this is more common among the low- to mid-tier celebrity level (“we’re seeing a lot of reality stars, a lot of micro-influencers”), that doesn’t mean that brands won’t try to reach out to bigger stars like Chopra to offer free services in exchange for a shoutout on Instagram or in People magazine. And many celebrities do, even if they’re not necessarily open about it.

You don’t even have to be a celebrity to get on the sponsored wedding train. In recent years, says Ely, the trend has “absolutely taken off” among cash-strapped couples who want brands to help shoulder the staggering costs of wedding planning — and considering that the average wedding costs more than $25,000, these costs are significant.

Some have speculated that Chopra and Jonas plugged these brands on social media because they are somehow hurting for cash. Considering that Chopra is a huge Bollywood star who had her own network TV show for years, and that Jonas has a successful music and acting career, this seems unlikely, to say the least.

The easiest, most plausible explanation?

Chopra and Jonas did what a whole bunch of other celebrities have been doing quietly for years: using the happiest day of their lives to get stuff for free. They were just a little more open about it.

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