Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck’s surprise wedding at A Little White Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas this weekend – as announced by Ms Lopez – has been causing a stir on the internet. And, perhaps, it set a precedent for future weddings (imitation wedding dresses are already in production).
Perhaps the most notable of all the emerging details was Ms. Lopez announcing that she was changing her name to Jennifer Lynn Affleck. The Styles team discussed it, the location and other bits the newlyweds spilled on social media.
Vanessa Friedmann: I can appreciate the momentum behind Jennifer Lopez and Ben Affleck’s nuptials, having renewed my vows myself in Vegas some time ago. It’s like a bubble in time when you’re on a wedding treadmill, and everyone before and after you is just happy. (When my husband and I renewed our vows, I made my bouquet out of flowers from a hotel centerpiece and then gave it to the bride after me.) That said, there was something very traditional about Jennifer and Ben’s marriage, and quite unique, because of who they are: after three marriages, J. Lo became Mrs. Affleck; because she announced the marriage via her newsletter to her fans; because she was wearing two dresses.
Jacob Bernstein: Yes, there was a kind of duality. On the one hand, the daily description she gives of being in line with these three or four other couples; and on the other hand, the speed at which it causes this thing to be downloaded and consumed on its website – after you sign up for the newsletter.
Stella Bugbee: Maybe you’re a little too cynical, Jacob. I can see why the fact that it looked ready for release might raise questions like “Is it genuine?” But that seems almost irrelevant. She wanted control, and she got it.
Sandra Garcia: Posting blurry nighttime city photos on Instagram is very “Hollywood,” but actively pretends not to be.
VF It seems to me to be part and parcel of how celebrities are taking control of creating images around their private lives, which Rihanna and Beyoncé have masterfully done. They basically set the tone for how it’s all handled, with scene-driven natural shots for fans to see just enough to maintain interest, but not so much that it compromises or leads to oversaturation (which has no doubt been a problem for Jennifer Lopez in the past). And when it comes to weddings, it dates back to the nuptials of Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt, when only one or two tasteful blacks and whites were given out to the world, rather than a paid hello! Magazine photo shoot.
J.B. Yes and no. I think Beyoncé and Rihanna (as well as Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston) have made it clear that they don’t need to engage not just with the paparazzi but with the overall marketing of their private lives, and I think that it’s partly a function of the fact that for them what they personalize is their art, whereas for Lopez his art is really what I would call “the art of being J. Lo”. She’s a great performer on stage, she’s great in “Hustlers,” but she’s great in it because what she is is J. Lo.
SB Being J. Lo is no small feat.
SG I watched her Super Bowl documentary and she complains that she’s tired of fame, but it’s not her hits or movies that keep her relevant.
J.B. Totally. She didn’t make an album like Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” or Madonna’s “Ray of Light.” She can’t summon the sheer exuberance of Janet Jackson. And Brad Pitt has become, in addition to an Oscar-winning actor with considerable range, a film producer who’s responsible for some of the best movies of the past decade. A friend of mine from the House of Xtravaganza says J. Lo is “the best person in the world to get out of the car.”
VF OK: So let’s go with her, or versions of herself. What does she represent in the wedding photos? An old-fashioned romantic? Take her husband’s name and wear white (twice)? What does it mean that to her fourth husband she changes her surname? What is the truth?
SB I think this is one of the most public acts of submission a person can perform. But this is especially true for famous women who make their money through name recognition. It certainly complicates the conversation about power in heterosexual marriages when you have two famous people and one adopts the other’s name. Why didn’t he become Ben Lopez? What would that have done to his ego? We may never know what conversations go into these choices, but she’s one of the most high-profile female celebrities to have made it lately.
SG Yes, for example, Beyoncé and Kim Kardashian eventually adopted their husband’s last name, but it wasn’t until later in the marriage and after the kids. J. Lo has her long history with Ben dating back 20 years.
SB Right. This history must have surely been taken into account in his choice this time around.
SG The big question I have is, will she go by Jennifer Affleck on a marquee? As one of Hollywood’s highest-earning Latinas who doesn’t speak much Spanish, her name has done a lot to bring her past to the public.
VF I wonder if this isn’t a secret answer to the gossip that seems to surround any celebrity marriage and often corrodes it. Like: Yes, it’s real; I’m committed enough to change my name. And I wonder what effect it might have on others. Because historically, changing a name was about becoming the property of a man, then refusing to change a name became a declaration of independence and equality. And now it’s up to you to choose your own adventure.
SG Has taking a partner’s last name become a coup de force? There is no doubt that Jennifer is independent and a star in her own right. When such powerful women adopt the names of their husbands – sometimes equally powerful husbands – does that turn the symbolism into an even greater statement of confidence?
J.B. I mean, isn’t this wedding the ultimate Jenny From the Block moment?
SB Which means?
J.B. Oh, I mean, she’s known for having one of the best stone collections since Elizabeth Taylor. She’s known for creating a show, making an entrance – perhaps in a Versace kaftan-like dress with a plunging neckline. But this time, she does no such thing.
SG That’s the thing! Listen guys, I’m still from the block. J. Lo hasn’t been off the block in decades, and I don’t need her to be. Why can’t she be Hollywood J. Lo? Give us glamour, sparkles, a show!
VF In this way, she is both ambitious – she looks amazing and (I repeat) gets two dresses, including a very elaborate Zuhair Murad number and one reminiscent of a movie wardrobe – and relatable, which is the ultimate consumer package.
J.B. Also, the perfect ending to so many J. Lo movies.