Brides & Bridesmaids

Hunting season for brides and bridesmaids is officially open. As June approaches, the anointed participants will be on the prowl, hunting for gowns, chantilly lace, venues, bands, caterers, cake designers, harpists, dove wranglers, tent pitchers, wine houses and vintages, shoes that will need to be dyed, hairdressers, makeup artists, flower arrangers, limousines, party destinations, manicurists, etc.

It seems like every year the insanity increases. When did weddings turn into Broadway productions?

The weddings that I remember are usually the ones with the least drama and the most heartfelt joy. Who will ever forget the photo of John Kennedy, Jr. leaving the tiny little island chapel with his new bride in a simple sheath gown. Smiles were their accessories as he lifted her hand to his lips. First class!

I went to a wedding at a little Tom Dula village a few years ago. We were asked to wear pants. After the nuptials, a local group of musicians played the music that is famous in the Blue Ridge Mountains and we danced – flat foot or clog – while barbecue was being pulled from a smoker. Soooo fun! I still think of it as one of the most fun weddings ever.

A couple of our friends, both having been married before, wished to include family and close friends while keeping the ceremony simple. The bride’s sister offered her beautiful southern home – not a grand colonial but a classy house on a quaint street. Everything was held at the house – the wedding was on the lawn beneath an arbor that the bride’s brother-in-law made by hand. The reception was in the house, finger foods and sandwich makings, while wine bottles lined one table and sodas were in an ice chest. The cake was made by a local lady and it was just one triple layer cake freshly made and topped with a spray of flowers and mint leaves. Simple, gorgeous, uncomplicated. It reminded me of old fashioned weddings when everyone piled into horse drawn carriages and rode over to the bride’s house for a porch or lawn ceremony.

But today’s bride would never settle for wonderful when she could have over-the-top. And many bridesmaids are being treated like Stepford clones who suddenly need to erase tattoos, lose fifty pounds, grow two inches taller, get expensive hair extensions, acrylic nails and spray tans – all so that they are human equivalent of bridal accessories. Colors are important in pictures, we don’t want the groom’s mother’s gown to clash with the bridesmaids’ gowns or the photos will not be pleasant to look at. But why must appearances be altered? And who can afford all of this? Are brides around the world deluded enough to think that there is nothing their friends would rather do with their money than spend it recklessly on her special day while they blend into the other girls in the effort not to gain attention.

I think we are forgetting what the wedding is for and what it means to include others in the service. And I feel we are placing so much importance on the spectacle of the event that the meaning is getting lost. And the more things you have going on, the more chances you have of things going wrong. We’ve all seen footage of doves being released only to poop all over the cake or the guests, or the horror of one getting caught in a ceiling fan.

Perhaps we should go back to the days when the bridal couple furnished everything – the tux rentals, the bridesmaids dresses. Maybe then the requests for budget-wrecking expenses would seem less extreme. But if they are unwilling to pick up the tab for these wedding related costs, there should be some further thought given to whether or not they should ask it of their friends.
Let’s go back to basics on this one. The weddings we see on television are shown because they are rare; the recent Royal Wedding, the clips from famous stars’ events, the Trumps at their posh hotel. Most of us don’t have a nation’s coffers to back our budget, a helicopter pad, or our own hotel/resort. We are lucky if our savings add up to three months of expenses necessary to keep us afloat in the event of disaster.

Friends want to be part of each others’ weddings. They want to buy you nice gifts and deliver graceful toasts – if respected. Try to remember why you asked them to take part anyway. Then they will not only be a loving participant in the wedding, but a long term friend in the lives of the couple.


Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.

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