Death by Wedding

January 7, 2014

Does the wedding-industrial complex deserve some of the blame for decline of marriage? Serious Q via @mattyglesias

— davidfrum (@davidfrum) January 7, 2014

Damn skippy it does. I am going to puff out my chest for a minute (so brace yourselves, or move on), but eight years ago (!!!) I was out on the wedding FRONTIER when it came to my generation of friends, family, & acquaintances. We boldly went with a very nice, relatively cheap wedding in a public park. Maybe 30 people, max. Lots of unhappy non-invitees. Very classy, but also very free heirloom ring courtesy of my Mom. $40 wedding bands from the mall (I wore mine for a few months but just couldn’t get used to it). Nobody cares now, but we took a pretty decent amount of crap for all of this, which slowly eroded over time as people finally began dismissing us as harmless crazy people. 

Today, by all appearances, the wedding world is even worse — and God forbid you get married when you’re older, and expected to have money. So, here are my tips for taking back the concept of weddings and getting married from the bandits and highwaymen currently running things from Bravo or HGTV or whatever (I haven’t had cable in five years, cut me some slack).

1. Never get offended if you don’t get invited to a wedding. Somewhere, someone feels really bad about it, but it’s a necessary component to your friend’s attempt to take control of his/her life and marriage. Be cool. Consider it a wedding present. Hang out with the two of them soon, and remember why you actually wanted to be invited.

2. Never assume anything about someone from the way they handle wedding/marriage customs. For a couple years, lots of people (not my wife, though) tried to bully me into wearing a wedding ring, when I’ve never worn any jewelry my entire life. The most awful way was by insinuating that I had some kind of psychological hang-up about my marriage, which is obviously a horrible insecurity to try to install into somebody who just got married. It’s like, dude, I type and play bass all day, my hand is not to be adorned. Accept it and move on. Similarly, we had to deal with lots of “WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN” moments from people who didn’t get invited, or weren’t in a wedding party, or couldn’t bring a guest, or whatever. You know what it means? It means we’re not borrowing money from my parents/new inlaws. That’s what it means. Of course, these people probably didn’t know or understand that at the time (given the obscene state of wedding standards), so no hard feelings, but that’s why I’m a freaking PIONEER.

3. Stop assuming everyone always does all the stuff you just to happen to want to do. Do you want invitations? “Save the dates”? Twenty five toasters? Fine. That’s what you want, and that’s great. Aspire. Cajole. Do whatever it takes. But don’t for one minute think that you’re the one with your back against the wall — you are putting everyone through this, including yourself, because it’s what you are choosing to do. “You’re supposed to get all your kitchen stuff at the wedding though!” Oh please — cry me an upper-middle class liberal arts river. What are you eating off of now, the floor? Pull this card when you need a kidney, not a (PROFANITY) serving tray.

4. At the same time, if people want to spend tons of money, let them. Although I really and truly believe most people these days who have giant weddings do so against their true desires, your friends having a huge wedding is not some kind of bizarre smoke signal meant to pressure you into matching it someday. Not everything is about you, fella! Just be happy you got invited to a $40,000 party — how many of those do you get to go to? “NICE ICE SCULPTURE, BRO!!!” It’s not hard. We don’t all have to have the same wedding, or any wedding, or a boring wedding at city hall. To paraphrase every parent ever, if your friends are actually bullying you into adhering to their idea of a proper wedding, they aren’t your real friends. And your real friends? They’ll understand whatever you do, unless you suck and they’ve just been staying in touch with you to go to your giant, expected wedding shindig, in which case you have bigger problems. 

As I tell every 20-something who asks me (and yes, ONLY THE ONES WHO ASK, no one actually wants unprompted advice from grizzled old men), the person you marry isn’t any different the day after you marry them, nor is the quality of your actual marriage driven by what goes on at the wedding itself (unless you push her down or something during the ceremony, that’s probably a little scarring). Everything that takes your focus away from, you know, your actual day-to-day life with this person you ostensibly are building your world around is very likely either in your head, or a distraction caused by our stupid obsession with stuff and commercializing & branding everyone’s “moments”. 

Anyways, scoff all you want, but… eight years and going strong, folks. Or you can trust some wedding expert who finally “got it right” the third time. Your call.