Now, even though I'm amused by the moniker, it isn't entirely fair. I love attending friends' weddings, and selecting a nice gift for the new couple. In fact, my husband and I attended a wedding just two weekends ago.
(Tangent: In some weddings the officiating pastor, after leading the couple through their vows, turns to the congregation and leads them through a different set of vows. The congregation's vows have to do with encouraging and praying for the newlywed couple, thereby emphasizing family and friends' role as a supportive community, rather than as mere spectators at an event. It's a great idea that gives those in attendance a better understanding of their purpose for being there.)
So I like weddings. However, I'm not a fan of huge, fancy weddings — those overdone, overblown, overspent extravaganzas that leave the couple (or their parents) tens of thousands of dollars poorer, or in debt, or both.
Last week, Time Magazine ran an article asking Is There Hope for the American Marriage?, which focused on several recently-failed celebrity marriages whose dissolution is traceable to infidelity. More broadly, the article looks at marriage's purpose in our era.
The entire article is worth reading, but this quote jumped out at me:
...the middle class has spent the past 2½ decades — during which the divorce culture became a fact of life — turning weddings into overwrought exercises in consumer spending, as if by just plunking down enough cash for the flower girls' dresses and tissue-lined envelopes for the RSVP cards, we can somehow improve our chance of going the distance.I saw the beginnings of this trend when we got married nearly 26 years ago. I remember leafing through a bakery's wedding cake portfolio, and as we'd turn the page and gasp at some enormous multitiered number — the kind with fountains and bridges and tiny plastic staircases leading from section to section, and every member of the large wedding party represented by a little doll posed on the steps — the baker would tell us "they're not together anymore."
That memory is fused in my mind, along with the image of a young Marie Osmond posed in her wedding gown at the entrance of the Mormon temple in Salt Lake City, her train cascading sixteen feet down the steps behind her. Osmond's first marriage ended less than three years later.
A few years after my own wedding, I attended the extremely elaborate wedding of a college friend. Sadly, that marriage lasted under a year.
Ever the opinionated cynic, I developed a theory: the size of the wedding is inversely related to the length of the marriage. (In other words, lavish wedding = short marriage; simple wedding = long marriage.)
Obviously this isn't always the case, but I think there's a pretty strong correlation.
Being friends with many college students, I sometimes find myself in a position to offer advice to a newly-engaged couple. When that happens, I try to get in two things:
First, when setting your budget, jettison whatever you need to in order to afford a good photographer. Your memories will last far longer than the fancy dinner you're thinking of serving.
Second, stay away from bride's magazines. Just back away. Their pages are full of storybook weddings designed to foster unrealistic fantasies. They will eat your budget for breakfast.
(Notice these two things have something in common? Set a realistic budget... and stick to it.)
Since money is a common source of marital conflict, I figure being in debt up to your eyeballs — for a party — just isn't a good way to begin married life.
And that's why they call me The Wedding Scrooge.