It is wedding season. I have a daughter getting married this weekend. For those of you with young girls: Beware the Wedding Industrial Complex.
In I'll Mature When I'm Dead, Dave Barry (who coined "wedding industrial complex") writes:
"If the wedding were a solar system, the bride would be the sun; her mother would be another slightly smaller nearby sun; the wedding planner would be a third sun; the caterer, floral installation professional, photographer, videographer, cake design engineer, etc., would be planets orbiting these suns..."
And Dave Barry had a BOY. All he had to pay for was the rehearsal dinner. Imagine what it is like to have three daughters (one married, one getting married this Saturday, a third to be married soon, no doubt) who not only plan their own ceremonies but have been recently involved in dozens of weddings of their friends.
This is the modern Wedding Industrial Complex: Year-long engagements, websites and facebook pages devoted to the bride and groom and their gift requests, bachelor and bachelorette parties that require their respective teams to fly to Vegas or beyond for nights of high-rent debauchery, showers, still photographers who provide 2,400 photos of the courtship, engagement, wedding, reception, and honeymoon for on-line purchase, reality shows dedicated not only to the ceremony but also simply the selection and purchase of the dress, on and on.
And very little talk, it seems, of what will happen when the klieg lights go off and gritty reality awaits. The marriage part.
If facebook has turned most young people into preening narcisists, their weddings are now an extension of that "look-at-me-and-shower-me-with-love-and-gifts-for-I-am-the-only-person-to-ever-be-married-on-earth" self-reverential credo. Youngsters who have been told since birth that they are special and whose entire lives have been celebrated for major accomplishments such as getting a 'C' in math or swimming the entire length of the pool now see their wedding day with the humility and common touch of Marie Antoinette.
My wife and I attended a wedding a few years ago where the young couple created a website of themselves with hundreds of photos, including a hideous series of them cavorting in a hot tub. They were not small people, and the photos recalled safari shots of hippos in Botswana. Why would they "share" that?
After another wedding, we cooled our heels along with all of the guests for two hours while the bride and groom finished up their photography session and finally deigned us with their presence at the reception and the eating and drinking could begin. I still resent them for that.
Don't get me wrong. I'm for marriage. My wife and I have been wonderfully married for 28 years. And our daughters have kept their weddings dignified (if expensive!) for this day and age.
But at what point did the average wedding process morph from something wonderful and important to a vulgarian cross between the 2,500-year Celebration of the Persian Empire and a scene from Cleopatra?
Or am I the only one who now cringes in horror when a fancy invitation arrives in the mail?