Friday, June 20, 2008

I do...or maybe I don't...I don't know.


You either love them or hate them.

If you're anything like me, you cringe when you open your mailbox and pull out an over-sized envelope with big heart stamps and decorative calligraphy on the front, because you know it's a wedding invitation.

Don't get me wrong. I have nothing against the institute of marriage. I'm happily married and would remarry the same man again in a heartbeat. And, unless I have a prior commitment, I attend the weddings I'm invited to. My problem with said institute is that people will spend tens of thousands of dollars to enter it.

Apparently, I was absent the day they taught, 'bigger is better', since I'm still of the mindset that you exchange vows for the simple reason you love someone and want to spend the rest of your life with them.

Interested in a few thoughts that went through my head when a close friend asked me to help plan her wedding? Here they are:

Yes, that dress is exquisite, but the price tag has as many zeros as my monthly house payment Flowers cost what?!??!? Yes, they are pretty, but they're going to shrivel up and DIE...quickly. You want to spend how much on a block of ice carved into a swan? What are you trying to do, repay all the artist's culinary school student loans in one shot?
The whole process eventually got to the point where I'd just nod my head and give her the opinions--and the answers--she was looking for. And since I know you're wondering, YES, the wedding went off without a hitch. And YES, 11 years later, the couple is still married...a fact I would've lost my aforementioned house on if I'd been a betting woman back then.

But what about the other couples? The ones who, according to statistics, equal HALF the amount of people who enter marriage today; the divorced folks who spent nearly everything they ever earned to pay for their wedding? I wonder if they regret getting caught up in the moment and spending too much. If they're gritting their teeth thinking about how much more well spent the cash would've been if they'd used it to invest in a house, stocks, or retirement fund. Or, maybe, I'm way off base. Maybe they sit around in those uncomfortable chairs at other people's weddings and say things to themselves like, "I may be divorced, but my wedding is still one of the best, most treasured memories."

Back in the 60's, my grandparents gave both my mom and her sister a choice: Have a small wedding and we'll give you the money we would've spend on a big one so you can have a head-start in life. Or, have a big wedding, and the only thing you'll have to fall back on is that squeaky, old, full size bed you've had since junior high school; the one you and your husband are going to be forced to try and squeeze yourselves into because you don't have enough money to buy a new one.

My aunt chose the big wedding and was divorced by her mid-30's. My mom chose the small wedding that came with the green stuff. She and my dad used a chunk of the money my grandparents gave them to buy some household items, including the nice, durable furniture set they still have today, 39 years later.

Luck? An omen? Who knows. I'm sure there are plenty of people who had big, expensive weddings and are still together. Although, every time I think about it, Prince Charles and Princess Di's wedding comes to mind, and we all know how that turned out. But on the flipside, there are plenty of couples who've had small, modest weddings and gotten divorced.

My husband and I said our 'I-do's' in Las Vegas in front of a few family members. I wasn't one of those girls who'd been reading Modern Bride Magazine and planning my wedding since I was 8, and didn't need to be the star of a show. We both simply knew we loved each other, wanted to be together for the rest of our lives, and didn't feel as though we had to bury ourselves in debt to prove it. Almost ten years later, we still feel we made the right decision.

My point? If putting on a show your great-great grandchildren will still be talking about long after you're gone is your goal, then by all means, go for it. Hopefully, you'll be married long enough to begin the process that will give you those great-great grandchildren. Hopefully, you hired a photographer smart enough to use the kind of photo paper that won't turn everyone in the picture green after twenty years.

Hopefully, at some point, you'll take a moment to step away from the hype and chaos, take a deep breath, and remember the reason for planning a wedding in the first place.
What was that The Beatles said...All you need is love.


Dawn said...

Well said Lauren. I too think it's crazy to spend tens of thousands of dollars on a wedding. Our wedding was a simple, small town wedding. I planned in it 5 weeks proving that it does not take a freakin' year to plan a wedding! We got married at Dales parent's church & his brother was the minister. I had two attendants, my sister and my sister-in-law. My dress cost $350 and it was beautiful. We had our reception at the local American Legion hall & it was catered by a friend. We had lasagna & sandwiches. We got so many compliments on the food. The total wedding probably cost my parents about $3500 in 1991. And, 16 & 1/2 years later, we are still together!

AshHOT said...

Oh my sweet lord, THANK YOU Lauren Sharman!!! AMEN sista! It drives me crazy to think of the price tags people pay for a few HOURS of "fun"....I say "fun" because nearly everyone who does go the extravagent route ends up pulling their hair out all day long, too afraid something will go "wrong" on their "perfect day". Bleh. Makes me vomit in my mouth a little.

Meatface and I spent a grand total of around $5,000 for our wedding, 65% of that paying to rent an entire bed and breakfast for 3 days, so our guests would incur no costs, except to get out to PA. We said over and over again that the only thing we cared about was having a few of our closest friends present, and asking someone to fly out for a 30 min ceremony seemed stupid so we made it into a weekend-long party! We made mix CDs for the reception and had some potato salad and rolls. Everyone in attendance said it was one of the most romantic and fun wedding they've ever been to! Eat your heart out, big spenders!!!!!! Muahaha!

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