Joanne Kent stole the money from her firm for flowers, the perfect gown, renting a cliff top hotel for her guests, and even buying her bridesmaids Armani bracelets...Judge Michael Challinor appeared to take pity on the mum-of-two as he jailed her...'Because you have an eight-week old baby and it suffers from hip problems I will attempt to sway the prison service to allow you to attend a mother and child unit.In order to understand why this "mum" stole so much money and then got sympathy, we have to return to romance as an ideology. Most people think of romance as "natural" and even "universal." Although the biochemical changes in a person's brain when "in love" (or "in lust") may be innate, how we organize the feelings and desires that love arouses are culturally and historically specific. In that sense, romance only became "happily ever after" at the birth of the modern era, as people were increasingly expected to marry for love and stay "in love" (that is, both men and women were supposed to be monogamous and have all their emotional needs filled within the dyadic coupling and that dyadic couple was increasingly isolated from extended family networks into the "nuclear family" in a geography of split-level, suburban isolation). Before modernity, love generally happened outside of the dyadic and married couple and, more often than not, ended in tragedy for one or both of the lovers (think Romeo and Juliet or the romantic love of knights in shining armor and their Ladies- who were, of course, married to Lords, not the knights). But sometime around the turn of the last century, these feelings of "in love" got organized into the basis of marriage, a marriage that was to begin with a wedding that would be "perfect." Indeed, "perfect" as a concept appeared in wedding advertising in the 1930s. Another concept- "Diamonds are forever"- was sold to us by DeBeers as proof-positive that "forever" required consumption. At the same time that romance capitalism began to explain the fetish items needed for a marriage (i.e. the white dress, the veil, the diamond ring),Disney and other Hollywood studios began to produce stories about the prince who would sweep the maiden off her feet and carry her off into the sunset for a perfect white wedding and a happily ever after (think Sleeping Beauty or Snow White). Romance capitalism was not just about selling us a white wedding and a happily ever after, though. Instead, the perfect wedding was always not just white, but about whiteness (e.g. Chrys Ingraham's content analysis of Brides magazine revealed that the bride is nearly always pictured as not just white, but blonde and blue-eyed). White women were "virginal" and "pure" and could wear white because they were sexually controlled AND their virtue was worth saving. The white wedding was built not just on women's sexual virtue, but on the virtue of whiteness because of white women's supposed sexual virtue. Fast forward to the past 30 years, a time during which spending on weddings has gone up and up and up, perhaps as a response to high divorce rates and the "threat" of same-sex marriage. To be a perfect bride and to have a perfect marriage REQUIRES a perfect wedding. Otherwise the bride is less than perfect, her virtue far from unblemished, her future far from secure. No wonder Mrs. Kent stole all that money for her wedding. Otherwise, she would not have been worthy of a happily ever after. And although her crimes cost her a couple of years of her life, her whiteness and therefore supposedly virtuous motherhood protected her as well. It is impossible to imagine a judge taking pity on a non-white bride who stole a small fortune for her wedding. Such a woman would not be a "mum" but a bridezilla, an intruder on the sacred whiteness that is the bride. She would also not be a mum who was needed around her kids, but a bad mother, a threat to her young, since perfect motherhood, like the perfect bride, is also always about the role of white femininity in shoring up white privilege more generally. Too bad Mrs. Kent was not more aware of the dangers of perfect white womanhood before she got married. Well, the perfect thing to say to a bride is "Good luck," and even with her lenient prison sentence, Mrs. Kent will certainly need it.