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February 07, 2006

For the Price of a Face Lift...

Donald Pittenger writes:

Dear Blowhards -- can have a second wedding.

So says The Fiancée.

She was in Seattle last week, dashing around lining up a preacher, a DJ, a harpist, the cake, flowers, invitations, a rehearsal dinner site and other items requiring a few months' lead-time. The wedding site itself was nailed down a while ago.

Meanwhile I, the prospective bridegroom, stand by with buzzing head awaiting my prize-bull moment when they insert the ring-with-chain into my nose in anticipation of my rôle as photo-prop for the beautiful bride.

Back when I was young [sound of cane thwacking computer] even first weddings weren't so elaborate. Not in the Pacific Northwest, anyhow.

When my fraternity brothers got married the whole thing took an hour or two, max. The wedding would be a simple church ceremony followed by a reception in the church's social hall where guests were treated to wedding cake, coffee, mixed nuts and maybe ice cream if we were lucky. Roman Catholic weddings took longer because of the Mass, but receptions also tended to be brief.

There were some weddings that included dinner and dancing, but those involved the social élite or perhaps ethnic groups where fancy weddings were the norm. The practice of dinner-dancing receptions back in the early 1960s seemed to be more of an East Coast thing, as best I could tell at the time.

Things have changed. Whether due to improved mass-communications or in-migration to the region, Pacific Northwest weddings nowadays strike me as being just as elaborate as those I witnessed years ago in Brooklyn and Philadelphia.

Even though The Fiancée and I have previous marriages, she wants it to be a big blast with few compromises. One difference is that there won't be a bunch of bridesmaids and such -- a sorority sister will be Matron of Honor and I'll have a cousin as Best Man. And she won't have a fancy wedding gown, opting instead for a simpler dress of some kind (which I am not permitted to view). We kicked around the matter of what I should wear, and for the moment it looks like I'll get my wish and simply wear a dark suit (she was leaning towards a dinner jacket).

Speaking of wedding attire, I notice that bridal outfits are a lot more glam than I recall. I mean, they used to have sleeves and even halfway modest necklines. Now most of them seem to be like white, strapless evening gowns with puffy skirts. I have no idea how long wedding fashions have been this way -- haven't been to a first wedding in years.

Our biggest departure from custom is the honeymoon: there won't be any. In part this is because seasonal duties at work (in late May) prevent me from taking more than a couple days off. Also, we do a lot of travel as is, so a honeymoon would not be anything special. Finally, she wants to hang around to make sure that out-of-town guests are properly cared for.

All things considered it doesn't strike me as being unmanageably elaborate, so I think it'll be okay if I show up.



posted by Donald at February 7, 2006


One thing you'll certainly find out, if you haven't already, is that _nothing_ wedding-related is ever on sale. Ever.

Posted by: Peter on February 7, 2006 9:19 PM

Smalltown Minnesota weddings are great because everyone gets drunk, and members of the two different families often get into fights.

Posted by: John Emerson on February 7, 2006 10:40 PM

Isn't a face lift a second wedding of sorts?

Posted by: JL on February 8, 2006 12:25 AM

You sent me boxes-digging and sneezing from dust, but I did get it, the picture of the white gown with the sleeves, closed up to ears and matching satin underdress; designed it myself, to astonishment of the groom's frends. 20+ years ago.

Damn Canon; can't take a pic of a pic!

Posted by: Tatyana on February 8, 2006 12:45 AM

"All things considered it doesn't strike me as being unmanageably elaborate, so I think it'll be okay if I show up."
...and, as Woody Allen said, showing up is 99% of one's success. Congrats on finding such an energetic and thoughtful bride-to-be who seems to consider her jobs HER jobs, not Honey-Do's.

Posted by: DarkoV on February 8, 2006 8:20 AM

Congrats to you both! Sounds fun, sensible, mature, rewarding -- a nice combo.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on February 8, 2006 11:36 AM

I think it can be fun to mix fancy and earthy myself. After our wedding and reception were over, we took the young people who'd come for the event out bowling for a few hours.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on February 8, 2006 11:39 AM

My wedding dress had sleeves!

Good luck, and have fun.

Posted by: Peggy Nature on February 8, 2006 12:23 PM

This might be a dash of cold water, but I'm doing to throw it anyway. I refuse to "do" weddings anymore. For one thing, as the clothes note indicates, brides are no longer celebrating the ending of their girlhood and indicating their new commitment, but rather advertising their "babe-hood" so no one will think they are getting old or anything. (As one commentator put it, somehow between Nixon and Bush the presidential daughters at the Inaugural balls went from looking like debutantes to looking like movie starlets -- available.)

For another, though no one is very particular about the religious ramifications, huge significance is attached to small Emily Post stuff like who comes in what door or stands where. Fistfights nearly break out. Sometimes do. The mothers of brides are the worst.

What am I on? Three? The groom is demoted to accessory status. This is not gender equality.

Four: These days everyone has already been living together long enough to constitute a common-law marriage anyway, so the ceremony is just a matter of tidying up the legal stuff. It could be done in an afternoon at the courthouse, because it just establishes the legal beginning of the legal obligations: who will get what if the household breaks up, which is a fifty-fifty bet. Kids? Debts? Very messy. (And by the way, you would do well to look into the legal obligations of marriage which vary by state and are different on reservations.) I do happen to know one man of particular honor who was abandoned by his wife. She left behind her small daughter by a previous relationship, so this man raised her and put her through college.

Four, why should a religious officiant have to fuss around with establishing checkpoints for the government? Particularly since the officiant is not the old family vicar, but someone the bridal party considers cheap and friendly. One church where I served for a while made a regular industry out of weddings and had a commercial cooler, etc. for major receptions. They made a bundle of money but generally I got tipped ten bucks. This makes sense if the family has been part of the congregation all these years, but not if they picked the place because it was "pretty."

Five, at outdoor weddings -- which are popular in Montana -- my thinning hair makes me vulnerable to a sunburned scalp. I've never been able to figure out what kind of a hat to wear to a wedding if I'm the officiant. Maybe I ought to dress like a friar.

So I stick to funerals and memorials. No license is needed and the deed stays done.

Prairie Mary

Posted by: Mary Scriver on February 8, 2006 5:21 PM

Now that I've had a chance to stamp my little feet and moan, I want to say, Donald, that I should think it would be a joy to marry such a man as you appear to be in print and that you would naturally choose a woman you can really love. I wish you every happiness and all solidarity. The wedding is soon over. The marriage goes on and on and on, happily.

Prairie Mary

Posted by: Mary Scriver on February 8, 2006 9:12 PM

I was shocked recently to read in a local newspaper that the "typical" wedding (first, I presume) in our area costs $36,000 or so. This boggles the mind. My first wedding was a low-key affair in the 70's -- very casual, a dress but not a fancy one, a sheet cake from a regular bakery, not a cake designer. I will be getting married again soon, and we are going to do it out of town -- out of state, in fact -- specifically so that we don't have to do all the wedding stuff. We'll have a nice party when we get back.

I can think of many things to do with $36,000 that don't involve party favors, disposable cameras, and sucky bands. But to each bride her heart's desire, I guess.

Posted by: missgrundy on February 9, 2006 12:30 PM

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