You might think that I have very grand, romantic ideas about weddings simply because I’m a romance writer, but the truth is that I don’t. And that’s because weddings are not about romance. At. All. They are about putting on a show and fitting beautifully and neatly into expectation.
A lot of women giggle and clap their hands in giddiness when their friends or family get engaged, mostly because they are waiting with bated breath to be asked the question that is, to me, the most dreaded of all questions. “Will you be my bridesmaid?”
I come from a large family and have worn my share of bridesmaid dresses, thrown my share of showers and parties, chewed out my share of vendors and fanned my share of flushed faces of emotional and/or inebriated brides. It ain’t fun (well, except my bestie’s wedding – that one was a blast, but that’s cuz she’s cool), and I’ve never understood why weddings have to be so dramatic.
I was at an outdoor wedding once where the bride’s veil kept blowing across her face and she burst into tears because she thought it made her look stupid and ruined her grand entrance. I rolled my eyes, thinking “that ain’t what’s making you look stupid right now, sister,” as I remembered the 30 mph gusts on the day of my own outdoor wedding and my “Grand Entrance” that had me walking out of a campground pit toilet with the train of my dress thrown over my shoulder.
A friend said all that was missing was a joint hanging out of my mouth. Ha ha. But I never stopped smiling. So, there!
It drives me crazy when I hear brides agonizing over so many intricate details that their guests aren’t going to A) notice B) care about or C) appreciate, and details that aren’t going to make the event more romantic. Even worse is when I hear statements like a wedding day is supposed to be the bride’s day to shine or it’s the one day she gets to feel like a princess. Sorry. Your wedding day is about the day you become a wife, not a member of the monarchy. It’s not your day to be treated like you’re the first person in all of human history to get married. It’s not your day to be a bitch to your closest friends or family.
But I digress.
I’ve noticed two trends with weddings recently (one of which absolutely boggles the mind).
1. Two wedding gowns.
Okay, umm….WTF? Those things are expensive! Why on Earth would you buy two of them? Yet it is happening everywhere. Women are buying one dress for the ceremony and one for the reception. The whole dress-hunting extravaganza is a long, tedious process, involving over-fawning salespeople and members of your family fluttering around you like fireflies while you sweat from putting things on and off. And if you happen to have hips that are almost a foot wider than your waist (like moi) trying on dresses is an unhappy glimpse at all of the styles that look horrible on you. But the thing about this that really gets me is the money. I could SO think of better things to drop cash on than buying another dress I’ll only wear once in my life before it takes up permanent residence in my tiny closet. Scratching my head on this…still.
2. Longer Ceremonies.
When I go to a wedding, I go to see my beloved friend or family member get married. I go to bear witness to the beautiful promises he/she is making to the person he/she loves. I’m not going to see a myriad of symbolic, hokey gestures, like lighting candles, pouring sand, balloon-releasing, doves flying, swans honking (or whatever swans do), tearful dedications to your mom, your soon-to-be stepkid (who looks as bored as your guests do, by the way) etc. Unless your ceremony is full of religious traditions you actually subscribe to, I just want you to say your “I do” and move it along to the party where you can ply us all with alcohol and then subject us to your symbols and slideshows and blubbering speeches. No, really – making your ceremony longer does NOT make it more significant.
After all of my bridesmaid-ing experiences, I wanted my wedding to be simple and stress-free. I had my dress picked out: a simple flowy design (and peach) for about fifty bucks. Hubs and I had the perfect outdoor spot – a favorite hiking/picnic area. The reception (bad ass party) was in my parents’ backyard with tons of booze and loud music and dancing. We ate bbq and ended the night in the wee hours of the morning with a close group of us sitting around a backyard table, passing bottles of champagne and whiskey around. I got my invitations from a clearance bin in Walmart and paid $10 for them. No photographer (had my friends and family snap around for us). My little sis did my flowers and cake (and only because she wanted me to have them, not because I wanted to have them).
The ONLY thing I reneged on (and which incidentally became the most expensive part of my wedding) was the dress. When I told my mom and sisters, cousins, et al that I was going to buy a simple peach dress – they freaked! We just HAD to go dress shopping! That’s, like, the thing that makes your engagement real, apparently. Knowing how stoked they were for me, though, I gave in and we went dress shopping. I hated it. Until I put on a dress that I fell in love with. Everyone oohed and aahed and said that I HAD to have it. One glance at the price tag told me that I most definitely did NOT need to have it. That thing was over a thousand bucks!
Thus ended my wedding dress shop hop, and I was still quite happy with my peach choice. Determined, my little sis scoured the internet until she found the exact same dress, used, and in exactly my size, and (this was the part the evoked the word “fate” from her lips) was being sold by a woman with my exact same name. She was selling it for $400. Still, too much for me.
So, I talked her down to $300.
And the deal was done, even as I gulped writing that check. I love looking at that dress from time to time, mostly because it brings up so many wonderful, happy memories, but also because it is just a beautiful piece of sewing. But my wedding day would have been just as happy without it. I would have felt just as beautiful in another dress, because my husband made me feel beautiful that day; because I was glowing with love.
The dress was used. The weather was cold and windy. People were upset that they were invited to the reception and not the wedding. The cake was dropped in my parents’ driveway. The lights and music kept going out because the power draw was blowing fuses. My dad’s tuxedo pants were too short (dorkus didn’t try it on until wedding day). So many comical things that would have been devastating for a bride who stresses about everything looking and being “just perfect.” Luckily, I wasn’t that bride. I loved my cheap, fun, beautiful wedding.
It was the happiest day of my life, but certainly not the most romantic.