Planning a Wedding, the Snarky Way

by d
Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in Court dress.

Image via Wikipedia

Weddings. Some people live and die by them, some are repulsed. Some will be happy as long as it’s an open bar.

April Winchell runs Regretsy, a blog that highlights the most atrocious things people try to sell as handmade art on Etsy.com. She’s also getting married in the not-too-distant future. Brides.com realized that there are a lot of snarky women out there who aren’t interested in doilies, but would like to read something funny by a woman who shares their sentiments. You can read her monthly column starting here.

She has a very simple list of what she wants:

1. A nice dress
2. A picturesque location
3. A good meal

October’s column inspired some additions:

4. Paper invitations
5. Real cake

If you hadn’t guessed, October’s column is about ways people try to save money. This includes emailing invitations instead of mailing them (because Great-Aunt Bertha has email?) and creating a fake cake for display while a cheap sheet cake is cut in the kitchen. April was not impressed.

I saw an article not long ago about how one couple saved money on their wedding by paring down to a backyard barbecue. They used checkered table cloths on picnic benches, and paper napkins. And, omg, you guys, everything turned out ok! No one died of embarrassment! They actually had a good time! And had some money to put down on a house! Like, woah!

I don’t get The Wedding-Industrial Complex. It has been hammered into us for generations, for centuries, that a wedding is your big day (no, not you, groom, you’re just an accessory, it’s HER big day), and that you must, must MUST have the following:

1) A white dress.

Supposedly this symbolizes virginal purity. This is garbage. It’s actually a tip of the hat to good ol’ Queen Vic.

White did not become a popular option until 1840, after the marriage of Queen Victoria to Albert of Saxe-Coburg. Victoria had worn a white gown for the event so as to incorporate some lace she owned. The official wedding portrait photograph was widely published, and many other brides opted for a similar dress in honor of the Queen’s choice.[2]

The tradition continues today in the form of a white wedding, though prior to the Victorian era, a bride was married in any color, black being especially popular in Scandinavia.[3] Later, many people assumed that the color white was intended to symbolize virginity, though this had not been the original intention. (It was the color blue that was connected to purity.) The white gown is in fact a symbolic Christening gown. They are a variation of the white surplice worn in the Western Catholic tradition by members of the clergy, church choirs and servers and the gowns worn by girls making their first communion and at their confirmation and also by women making religious vows. Today, the white dress is normally understood merely as the most traditional and popular choice for weddings. (Wikipedia: Wedding Dress)

That’s right. You obsess over white because England’s least amused monarch wanted to use a bit of lace she had on hand. The fad just never died out.

2) A lavishly decorated church (or similar holy venue of your choice), including your father to give you away and a long walk down the center aisle while everyone casts adoring looks upon you in your most beautiful moment.

I’m not going to touch the religious angle, or even the patriarchal bullshit about being passed as a possession from one man to another. There are acceptable variations out there, though pretty much everyone agrees that a courthouse just isn’t very festive (PRO TIP: Atheists throw the best receptions).

No, lets take a look at that most vital part: A long walk while everyone notes how pretty you are. No wonder women become obsessive maniacs over their weddings–everyone will be judging you! And they’re supposed to whisper to their neighbor, “She looks radiant,” but what if you aren’t radiant? What if the dress isn’t flattering, or you didn’t get enough sleep last night, or your hair goes flat? The photographer will forever capture your not-quite-perfect-ness.

3) Lots and lots of flowers.

The bride must be exquisite. And the setting must be, as well. Every pew in the church must be festooned with ribbons and bouquets of flowers that no one actually appreciates. When the ceremony is done, they will be chucked, useful only for about three hours. The flowers at the reception will have a slightly longer lifespan, but not by much.

The bridal bouquet is a much older tradition, dating back to Classical Greece and Rome. It’s a lot of old beliefs in the power of plants. Herbs for protection, felicity, lust, etc. This morphed over the years from herbs to flowers–the Victorians associated meanings with flowers until they had a whole language–and now we just choose what we like.

If you really want to be traditional, you, your groom, and all your guests need to eat the dill in the bouquet, as that is supposed to make you horny for hubby.

4) A big party with music, dancing, food, and booze.

Now we’re talking!

Alas, people go overboard here, too. The meal must be catered. Champagne must flow like ambrosia. The chairs must be carved from antique cherry, covered in muslin, and decorated with more ribbons and flowers. The tablecloth must be silk, as must the napkins, and table runner. Each table demands a centerpiece of unparalleled beauty. And let us not forget that each setting needs a place card printed on the best card stock. (Heaven forbid your college roommate ever have to meet your grandfather.)

The music must be either live or catered by a DJ. Variety is permitted here. You may have a string quartet, a cover band, or an ‘entertainment’ team that bullies your guests into joining the Chicken Dance. Don’t bother comparison shopping, anything worth listening to will be prohibitively expensive.

I’ve always shared her sentiment that a wedding is “really just the best party you can afford to throw for the people who love you most. So that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to plan a party.”

3 Comments to “Planning a Wedding, the Snarky Way”

  1. Great post, D! I’ve always wondered about some of these traditions, like the white dress. I knew there had to be something more to it than virginal purity! Ha!

    I’m not really impressed by traditional weddings. They seem stuffy, over-judgmental, and the very thought of attending one makes me more than a little nervous. And that’s just attending, not participating! I would be a wreck if I had to be IN FRONT of so many people.

    I do not intend on getting married, but if I did I like the idea of the backyard barbecue. Its scaled-down, its inclusive (everyone feels like your friend), it probably isn’t going to be overtly HUGE, etc. Its like a get-together for celebrating life, love, happiness, and togetherness. Isn’t that what a wedding should REALLY be about? To me, that’s what it should be about. Everyone should be able to be comfortable.

    And hey…you think e-mailed wedding invitations are bad? People are starting to send invites over Facebook now. FACEBOOK.

    • Hear, hear. I just want a party, a celebration. “Backyard barbecue” always gives me images of sticky summers and dry, smoky burgers, but a spring event would be wonderful.

      I have two favorites. The first: married at sea in international waters. (Your marriage is registered in the nation the boat calls home.) The other is to find a ruin, a very old stone building in disrepair, fill it with candles and fairy lights, and keep it very small. Then maybe a party on the lawn.

      Facebook? Oi fucking vey.

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