Tuesday, January 24, 2012

On Weddings

As a kid, I went through this one phase where I really liked looking at bridal magazines. Someone my grandmother knew had gotten married and she had a bunch of those great big, thick phonebook type tomes that featured dresses and hairstyles and veils and such that somehow, got left at my grandmother's house. There was one summer in particular that I spent an inordinate amount of time perusing them. I would go out and play in the mornings while my mom worked, heady times when the dew was on the grass and summer was licking at the edges of the day like a cat. In the middle of the day, my paranoid grandmother would usher me inside and make me stay there for fear that I would have a heat stroke or get a sun burn or lyme disease or any number of awaiting summer ailments. Since she only got two channels on her tv (three when it rained) and I had been through all of the World Book Encyclopedias and a good bulk of the National Geographics at this point, I spent the hours of 11:00-2:00 curled up on the couch with the same three copies of Bride.

However, at the time, I wasn't planning my ideal wedding. It was the very early 90's, so if I had been, I would have been sorely unprepared for any type of occasion that did not involve yards and yards of shiny taffeta, puffy sleeves and a bow the size of a Prius on one's ass. Instead, I spent my time making up stories about the models featured. My favorite were these odd, high fashion shots where the bridesmaid dresses were all dark eggplants and hunter greens and the models had black hair piled in hasty, messy updos, dark lipstick, and stares of disdain. They were photographed next to a creek that reminded me of the one in Hanging Rock National Forest that my mom took me to for hiking. And let me just say--in my mind, those bitches got into SOME MISCHIEF. There were dead husbands (who all looked suspiciously like Bob Saget) and vampires and babies left on the steps of the hospital to be raised by nuns, a story line I was familiar with from reading the back of one of my aunt's True Confessions magazines. Those were the girls I wanted to hang out with, not the ladies in puffy white who looked joyful and wholesome and like someone who would attend the same white-bread Methodist church my mom and I went to every Sunday.

And I have to say, I never really considered marriage that much at all. At 13, I decided it was antiquated and horrible, and that I was destined to live in sin with a musician/poet and that we would do everything within our power just to piss everyone around us off. LIFE GOALS. Even after I met Matt and figured out that he was my guy, I didn't really think about getting married that much. We joked about eloping, we would say little things here and there about actually doing it, but well, I didn't really plan out anything.

And then, he proposed to me, on Valentine's Day, on a night when I drank too much cheap champagne. The next day I went to the college bookstore and got a few copies of those familiar Bride magazines. And yeah, you know me, Matt and I spent a good few days snarking on the puffy white ladies again, spicing up our normal talk of Tolstoy with the typical "Who buys this shit!?!" I ended up getting a perfectly lovely, plain, strapless dress at the same store that I got my prom gowns and that my mom got her prom gowns and yada yada yada. And I graduated from college and somehow planned a little throw together wedding two weeks later. We printed out our invitations on the Swem library printer. I think there were about 15-20 people there, at the actual wedding, in the college chapel. My best friend from high school showed up unexpectedly, and it made my day. We had barbecue pork before, and my mom and I made cupcakes with white chocolate M's on the top. We wrote our vows and Matt's vows to me included a reference to Law and Order. And that was that.

It was a great encapsulation of us, really, but as the years have gone by, and I've been to other weddings and seen shows on TV about weddings and thought about weddings and considered the fact that I really, really would have liked Wilson Phillips to sing at MY wedding, I have wondered if I had to do it over again, if I would have done anything differently. And you know, I wish there had been more time between my last semester of school and then getting married, but whatever. We were on a time table and had to be in CA by the end of the summer. So, in the moment, we did our best. And I like that about us--that we had life to get to, and couldn't really be hasseled by the huge event that a wedding can be.

There is a great passage in the book One Day by David Nicholls (which, really, is just a fabulously fun book to wile away a day with--I can't attest to the movie, as I haven't seen it) where the main character laments watching those around her get married. And I can't quote it exactly because I've read a bunch of stuff since I read this, and I'm not a superhuman, but she says (in a much more wonderful way than this) that when you get married while in college, it is kind of a joke, and everyone has fun and is almost apologetic in that the wedding has taken up other's time. She moves on to talk about weddings that occur after that, and that by the time the bride and groom reach their 30's, that weddings become a no-joke affair, with carriages being booked and huge reception halls and all of that. And while it is not true for everyone, I have noticed a trend of this as I've gotten older. The things I have heard of and seen people doing for weddings (and then later, the birth of a child, but let's not get started with that) border on the ridiculous. And I can imagine it getting more and more elaborate as the people I know embark on new lives with second spouses and such from there. It is dizzying in a way, and I am left kind of feeling glad that I have it over with. Is that weird? It probably is.

I'll just be honest and say that I feel really awkward about this wedding I am going to this week. There has been an atrocious amount of money spent by all involved to make sure this is "fun" and "pretty" and "memorable." And I look at things like Matt's big green bowtie (....AND FOR THE RIGHT....TUCKER CARLSON! [It just never gets old.]) and the cocktail parties and catamaran rides and such and I wonder how to even take it all in. To me, a wedding is, at its core, a deeply personal thing between two people. There is something voyeuristic in us all being down there, I think, chronicling the leading up to, and even worse, the post wedding morning. And I keep thinking, "What would I want?" and really I have no idea. "For everyone to go away" is the thought that most often enters my mind. "For nothing more than a bed, a view, a box of chocolates and my husband" is the next thought, but that is what I want nearly everyday. Nothing new there.

So I guess, in the end, I can add "weddings" to the things that make me uncomfortable and that everyone else seems to enjoy that I don't. I guess it is nice to discover that I really am a horrible, horrible person before I turn 30. Best to get it out of the way.

Someday, when I am old and gray, I think I will get a lot of friends together and ask them about their own weddings and if they regret anything about it or if dainty-doo and mango coulis is really all it is cracked up to be.

But did I mention I bought new shoes for this shindig? And some new dresses? That's something I'm totally comfortable with, 100% of the time.


  1. I've thought a lot about weddings. Although I've never been asked, I was in a VERY SERIOUS relationship for eight years. Now that I'm not in that relationship anymore, who knows what will come next?

    I can tell you this much - it won't be carriages, over-the-top expenditures, Blush and Bashful, a huge reception. It will reflect my personality.

    Again, I've never planned a wedding, but a few years back an online friend of mine wrote a book, http://www.amazon.com/Offbeat-Bride-Taffeta-Free-Alternatives-Independent/dp/1580051804/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1327426868&sr=8-2, which I excitedly read just because I was proud of her and like her style. It gave me a lot to think about. I think when (if) that day comes, I'll be drawing on her book, and the ensuing internet empire she's developed, for inspiration.

    ...I might get some Bride magazines to be snarky about, though. I mean, who can pass up a good opportunity for arrogant snarking?

  2. You know, the one thing I have considered if I had to go back and do it all over would be to be wackier. Something that would really make my mom wring her hands--he he.

    And yeah, you can't beat Bride for some good old-fashioned snark. The whole tone is one of "GET READY FOR THE BEST DAY OF YOUR LIFE--IT'S ALL DOWN HILL FROM HERE, SWEETHEART!" Fun times!

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  3. I really like wedding receptions because there's free booze. Seriously. And free food, although it's often of a dubious and bland nature.

    Of course, after the free Miller Lite and mostaccioli, I then become the drunken spinster who calls/texts her brother to whine about her spinsterhood. Oof.

    Should I ever get married, I will obviously be an older first-time bride. I am definitely going the "as-simple-as-possible" route. No question.