Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The little wedding that could

If the Wedding Industrial Complex has succeeded at anything, it's at giving all of us the impression that however lavishly we celebrate settling down, we're actually pretty chill and low-key about it. Whenever the topic of the WIC comes up, we assume the problem is that ordinary folk get caught up in the proliferation of nuptial schmanciness, and feel inadequate if they can't produce a Kardashian Versailles for their big day. When in fact, it's at least as relevant that the more outrageous "normal" becomes, the more comfortable those who identify as modest become in abandoning frugality.

Case in point: The NYT Weddings section (sorry!) has a piece about "The Smaller, Cheaper, Just-for-Us Wedding," in which we learn of a marriage that began with a proposal for which the would-be groom surprised his soon-to-be-fiancée by flying to Paris, where she was vacationing, to propose. Seems schmancy! What laid-back celebration followed back home? "There was no time to order bridesmaid dresses, so Ms. Schneiber instructed the 10 friends she asked to stand with her to wear navy dresses with coral colored shawls she found online at Urban Outfitters for $18." Ten bridesmaids, dressed alike, but not exactly alike. And then "a party for 150 friends" - not 500. Nothing much, in other words. No big deal. And technically not, at least cost-wise relative to the notorious average.

And I'm somewhat guilty of this as well. I too got engaged in Paris (but I was there for dissertation, not vacation! but still), and while what with the move and the new dog and all, we never did have the much-speculated-upon after-party, our close-families-only dinner post-City-Hall was in an upscale restaurant. (My plea for Dos Toros went unheard, which was probably for the best.) My dress came from boutique-chain Maje, so not a wedding gown from a wedding gown shop in price or formality, but not Kmart or thrift, either. And I took the opportunity to spend way too much on a pair of shoes that are not bridal, reasoning that a special occasion merited it and that as much as I generally don't believe in cost-per-wear, going non-bridal upped the odds of my wearing them more than once. But they're sufficiently impractical that I've worn them maybe twice since. I feel much more smug about my relatively-low-key, the-point-is-getting-married-not-having-a-wedding approach than I should, precisely because I implicitly compare what I did with a world of $10,000 gowns, $5,000 floral arrangements, $300,000 luxury-hotel spaces, and invitations sent to long-lost relatives and as many "friends" as one has on Facebook.  

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