I generally do not mind going to weddings, if only because I enjoy seeing people I haven’t seen in a while all together in one place. Weddings often provide one with good opportunities to reconnect with people, and I tend to enjoy the free food and wine. In the past I have seen them as good opportunities party and to meet single women. The film Wedding Crashers inevitably comes to mind when I think of going to weddings in my younger and single days. At the same time, I have always had to admit that the way we do weddings in this country strikes me as being a bit ridiculous, if not a little cynical, scamish as well as decadent and depraved.
A quick Google search for the cost of the average American wedding threw numbers at me ranging from around $25,000 to $35,000. Presumably, around half of American weddings cost more than that. I understand that for some people, such cost is insignificant, but to me and the vast majority of Americans that is an enormous amount of money, and it is about half of this country’s median yearly income. Traditionally, it is expected that the bride’s father should pay for this (a holdout of the sexist and highly self-serving traditional expecting dowries or money from the bride’s family as in exchange for accepting a new woman into the family). Nowadays it seems whichever person’s family is richest, most interested, or has the most to prove gets the bill.
The money is, of course, spent on expensive dresses for brides, somewhat uglier dresses for brides maids, expensive suites, thousand dollar cakes, floral arrangements, churches, reception halls, wines and expensive meals and appetizers. Note that this includes thousands of dollar spent on clothing and accessories that will only be used only once. Though many Americans opt for more practical and minimalist weddings, in the company of families and friends, there is this strong if not dominant trend within American culture of viewing weddings as a strange mix of flaunting ones wealth as much as possible, while at the same time fulfilling the deeply held school-girl princess fantasy of having the world revolve around you for a day. There seems to be a social expectation that if you are throwing a wedding it had better be pushing or exceeding the upper limits of your financial means or you are not doing it right. I cannot help but wonder why any grown adult would want something like this. On a side note, it is for the reasons discussed here that I believe a nationwide legalization of same sex marriage would great for the economy.
In my college days (and probably earlier), I knew young women who did not even have boyfriends much less fiancés, and yet had already developed elaborate plans for what their future wedding day would be like and it was always some sort of glamorous extravagant affair more fitting of the crown-heads of Europe than middle class Americans. Christian concepts of humbleness are completely out the window in many Christian weddings. It seems that as a culture, we have opted to smother our daughters in prince charming fairy tells rather than give more realistic images of what marriages and relationships are. Weddings tend to be time in which fulfilling our most infantile and vain fantasies combines with are most depraved, insecure needs to keep up with our neighbors.
Wedding season is when Americans work there butts off and spend their money largely to impress people they often hardly know and often hardly like. I cannot help but suspect the multi-million or perhaps billion dollar industry that has built up around wedding culture is a highly cynical one that thrust it’s over priced wears on hapless fathers who wanna do right by there little girls, or bourgeois families who feel pressured to go all out impress friends and rivals or simply are trying to come up with a decent networking event. I tend to think of the people selling thousand dollar dresses and cakes, as hucksters who come upon a brilliant scam, producing a continuously self-reinforcing culture of potential victims. I have similar feelings about the industries that have grown around funerals, graduations and proms. Nothing disgusts quite the way ultra-conformist, white-bread, unthinking costly traditions do.
This of course brings me to all the unhealthy cultural baggage associated with the wedding culture. Brides wear white to symbolize their purity or more bluntly their sexual virginity. This reflects ages of unambiguously sexist, and sex-negative baggage and superstition. It is absolutely stupid that we some how link a woman’s worth as a wife, to her virginity (meanwhile the guy can be as unpure as he wants). It is also complete nonsense as well. It is highly likely that the couple being married has had sex, and if they did so what? It hardly diminishes their feelings for each other, and frankly the ideaof committing to spend ones life with a person you’ve never made love with seems idiotic. After all would you buy a car without taking it for a test drive? While it may sound like a crude analogy, one has to remember that a lifelong commitment to another person is a much bigger commitment than the purchase of a car.
I have, of course been to weddings where a big deal was made out of the fact that the couple in question had “saved themselves” for each other. Seeing the old priest talking about this and the new pleasures the couple would experience in the “wedding bed,” was observably unsettling to many of the people in attendance. I will go out on limb and say that most people do not want to hear this. This is not to mention the promises that the bride should “obey” the husband or practice of her father “giving away” the bride to the husband. This all strikes me precisely the type of sexis antiquated crap we need to move away from. Of course, all of this is in service to the ideal of lifelong monogamy, which for many people is likely to be an unrealsitic and generally unhealthy expectation of them. That however may need to be left as a topic for some future entry.
The Wedding ceremony is usually followed by a reception, which I usually find to be the most enjoyable part of the whole experience Great food, drinks and dancing are always enjoyable, and as I pointed out as someone who moves around a lot it is good to reconnect with people. But, as it progresses we get into the awful music. At any wedding reception, nowadays you are guaranteed to hear the music of 1980’s era Bon Jovi, Journey, Def Leopard and Thriller era Micheal Jackson. “Pour some sugar on me, in the name of love”. I may be a little biased, but I consider this stuff to have been dated, as well as commercial and disgustingly formulaic from the time it came out. I also really dislike the recent reemergence of outdated1980’s radio rock as today’s official party music and the fact that DJs play it at every party or wedding reception I go too. It is as if wedding reception DJs all use the same play list, and no one cares about the predictability or complete lack of creativity in it. I figure it’s supposed to be the most important day of your lives so play something interesting, and do something creative or different for once.
Overall I have mixed feelings about the hole marriage concept and I really dislike the hole keeping up with the Jones’ mentality behind so many weddings. But, if people are going to feel the need to to engage in over the top displays of wealth, I can think of worse ways to manifest it them than treating me to good food and drinks.