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Matt, I’m getting married (to a Matt, incidentally. Popular name). In trying to plan our wedding (with my Matt, not you), I have discovered that the American wedding has morphed into an opulent affair — and that I just don’t want to spend that kind of money on one day. But I do want it to be nice. What do you think — is the money worth it or should I stick with the local church and homemade food? — LibertyBelle
I think I see what’s going on here. I think I’m picking up on your not so subtle vibes with all the interchangeable Matt-talk. Are you asking me to marry you? I’d love to, but I can’t. I’m afraid of committing to women, for fear of alienating my wife. That said, wait for your seven-year-itch. We can have an extramarital affair when the time’s right.
But first things first – your wedding. A one-word piece of advice: revolt. Since I get paid by the word, let me expand on that. The bridal industry, like the greeting card industry, exists to convince you that the more you spend, the more you care about the ceremonial moments of your life. According to The Wedding Report, a publication I would only read at the point of a gun, the average wedding today costs nearly $30,000. Meaning there’s a lot of fathers out there who go in debt for their little princesses, since the average American family only saves about $390 a year.
Your suspicions are absolutely correct. It is a con — investing that much capital in wedding planning and nagging your poor fiancée until he wishes he’d eloped with the stripper from his bachelor party and taking fistfuls of laxatives so that you look perfectly thin for your wedding day — when it all will go by in a blur. You will spend nine months to a year preparing, and it will feel like it’s over in about five minutes. When I got married, it was such a whirl, that I don’t remember a thing. Not even the woman to whom I pledged my troth. In fact, I’m kind of worried I might have gone home with the wrong person. But she’s pleasant enough, so I’m sticking.
Not sure I’d go with “homemade food” — unless you really want Aunt Phoebe to bring her three-bean casserole. Go ahead and get a good caterer. Or at least a party platter from Chick-fil-A. People love them some nuggets. But it is not necessary to go broke just to prove that you’re a modern bride. There is basically one simple rule for all successful weddings: open bar. Have one, and the rest will work itself out.
Get married outdoors. Invite people you like, instead of people you have to. Play good music. Drink your fill. Then take off before your guests do, but not too soon before they’re ready to leave, since these should be people you want to see, and that you want seeing you. Take a lot of pictures, because you think you’ll remember what it feels like to be a newlywed forever, but you’ll blink a few times, and then you’ll be sending your own daughter down the aisle. Check into a good hotel that night, before embarking on a honeymoon to some place tropical, with a lot of rum. Then get down to what a wedding day is really all about — a wedding night, making white-hot connubial love, or else just falling asleep. Don’t beat yourself up if you do the latter. Unless you went home with the wrong person, you’ll have another crack at it in the morning.