How to improve weddings

Spring is upon us, and with it, another bloom of marriage invitations (and all attendant tribulations).

I like marriage, but I hate weddings.

It is a truly lovely thing when two people’s values, goals, activities and affections align, and they are launched on a great joint enterprise.  It is also quite rare to find any sign of these critical alignments within the structure of contemporary wedding practice.

With that in mind, I propose the following improvements.  They are emphatically not a reproach to those whose weddings I have attended (or will attend), merely improvements I hope to make for my own.  Whatever you did at your own wedding, I hope you enjoyed.

1.  Ditch the princess-for-a-day mentality.  A good marriage is a team effort, and the wedding day is the commissioning of that team.  A team with unity of purpose and unity of command; holding the same values, striving toward the same objective, within a framework of enduring love and respect.  Putting the focus and glory on only one half of team on the launch date is not a good way to start.

2.  This ain’t a movie, Mr. deMille.  All that choreography plus matching outfits are fine if you’re titled royalty and the wedding is also your coronation.  Otherwise let your bridesmaids and groomsmen dress themselves.  They are adults with two brain cells to rub together, aren’t they?  Their job is to show up and be happy for you, not play mock liveried footman.

3.  Keep it short.  I don’t understand why there are all-day weddings.  A wedding is a public declaration of 1) a spiritual commitment to your God; 2) an intellectual, emotional and physical commitment to your spouse; and 3) a contractual commitment to the state.  Including a small celebratory meal with your guests, that should take an hour—two at most—to firm up.  Anything longer than that and you’re doing it wrong.

The only people that should be celebrating all day are the bride and groom.  (And possibly the parents of the nuptial couple, if it means one of the offspring moves out and their room finally becomes the cigar lounge.)  Everyone else has plenty of other things they need to get done; they don’t need to be tied up all day.

4.  No crying.  This is a solemn moment before God, your friends, and the state; not a very special episode of Oprah filmed just to capture your blubbering.  Keep it together, man.  Think of your dignity.  The only person with a reason to cry is the person who gets the cake with the smallest amount of icing.  If you’re not that person, stay frosty.

5.  Keep your filthy lucre.  If you’re giving money, it should go in a sealed envelope and not a soul should lay eyes on the actual bills until the thing is opened by the couple.  Some cultures have these odd barbarian traditions where they fling money around openly at the reception, jamming it in the bride’s dress or up the groom’s nose, or they roll coins along the floor to get closest to a prize.  My inner Presbyterian says oh hell no to all that.  Marriage is about the joint team, joint purpose, joint hearts, etc etc, not a ponzi scheme to buy new appliances.

Also, parents of the nuptial couple shouldn’t be coughing up coin for anything, nor should they be meddling in the plans of the couple.  If the parents feel that strongly about any aspect of the wedding they should go and re-stage their own, not screw up their kid’s day.

6. Dump the kabuki act of predictable parties, events and activities.  I am no Puritan, but there is something revolting about bridal showers and their little games.  If you are going to the trouble of gathering friends and family together, do something that your friends and family will genuinely enjoy.  Hint: counting beans or peas in a jar isn’t it.  Pheasant hunting is more like it.  Or polo.  No peas in jars.

Also, Jack and Jill showers are an abomination against nature.  Unless you are hunting pheasant, playing polo, or doing something non-boring.  If counting lentils is involved then it is the Devil’s work.

Likewise all the unnecessary fluff and padding in a typical reception agenda.  I think it’s great to be able to celebrate a meal with family and friends.  Wouldn’t miss it.  Celebrating several hours of meal, plus speeches, plus cutesy activities, plus conga line, plus first dance, plus dance with bride and dad, groom and mom, yadda yadda, that’s not fun.  That’s boring as hell.  My attention span will last from ceremony to pictures to dinner to dessert to zzzzzzzz and—provided this all occurs within a two-hour span—not one nanosecond more.

I am also unsure of where the jollity lies in chucking a bouquet or garter, except that it ostensibly lines up another victim.  Maybe if you laid down some suppressing fire with a paintball marker while they were trying to catch the bouquet/garter it would be entertaining for the other guests.  Otherwise I don’t see the point.  Marriage isn’t a disease you can catch by getting bouquet cooties.

The number of interminable speeches from friends/relatives/uncle’s gardener’s eleventh cousin’s roommate’s pet cat should be curtailed.  I don’t want to know how you saw the 2-year-old future bride give a mushy Oreo to the neighbour’s dog and how that demonstrates her sweetness and light and fitness to be a bride twenty-three years after the fact.  Give me the three-bullet, twenty-second PowerPoint version, not the two hour recitation that takes longer to recount than it did to occur in real time.  If you need to be giving these little childhood anecdote pep talks, the time for them is well in advance of the ceremony.  By the time of the reception the deal’s already done, you’re preaching to the choir.  A bored choir.

One tradition I would like to see enhanced is some kind of intra-table rivalry.  Usually this is when tables compete to ding their glasses and make the couple kiss.  I think an element of personal combat needs to be involved, like each table should have to fight a boarding action with cannon and cutlasses on neighbouring tables.  That way you could give each table the name of a warship instead of something boring like a number.

7.  Keep thy cheesy music to thyself.  There is no good reason for anyone to ever request “Love Me Tender” at a wedding reception unless Elvis personally gave them a scarf while singing that song.  The Chicken Dance should only be played after a minimum of three 16oz alcoholic drinks have been consumed by all guests. Also keep in mind that your music collection is a lot like your DVD or Blu-Ray collection.  It sucks, because no one else will have exactly the same taste as you, ergo a sizeable chunk of your guests will hate it.  That’s okay, though.  You will end up hating their reception music selection.  That is the natural order of the universe.

Well, there you have it.

If you can follow these simple steps, you will be as a shining city upon a hill; a beacon of sanity to couples present and future.

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2 Responses
  1. Did you tell them to get rid of the bridal costume as well?
    If they are worn they should be removed before the dinner. They look goofy on the dance floor.

  2. Chris Taylor says:

    That is something I have seen older brides do; switch from the big pouffy mess to something a lot closer to a cocktail dress. Much sleeker and mobile for mingling and dancing.
    Amongst my contemporaries, though, that has never occurred. They get rid of the train and veil, but they still end up hauling around the enormous dress.