Sunday, April 10, 2011


A coworker with no children noted with disdain what seems to be expected for bridal showers and wedding presents these days. When you are out of these loops, you don't see the gradual escalation. When you are then invited, you see the decade's accumulation of excess. The contrast to 1980, to 1960, to 1940, to 1920, would make one think that entirely different occasions are being celebrated.

It is simply appalling. It just is. I don't blame current brides and their families, because they are merely standing on the shoulders of those who have gone before. At any given point, any serious de-escalation has a smack of punishing your daughter for the sake of some abstract nonmaterialistic ideal.

That this is at least ironic in a society which values marriage less, and virginity by either party not at all has been pointed out by many others. No need for me to add my voice on that. Yet I wonder if the expanding weddings and presents are actually a cause, or at least a reinforcement, of the values which lead to divorce. I don't mean any individual wedding creating a greater likelihood for participant divorces, but the larger, cultural change. The huge party and the mountain of presents create an idea of receiving, of getting, of being the center of attention, of needing certain objects in your life to be happy.

Well, chicken/egg, I suppose. But I don't think it is mere irony.


Gringo said...

The huge party and the mountain of presents create an idea of receiving, of getting, of being the center of attention, of needing certain objects in your life to be happy.

Perhaps in some cases. My niece wanted a humongous wedding. Her significant other, like most males, didn't give a hoot one way or another. Her parents informed their daughter that the wedding was on her dime- and her fiance's dime.

They referred my niece to their own wedding. Her parents had married in my parents' house, with the other side of the family bringing most of the food. There were maybe 25 people at the wedding.

My niece went ahead and had the big wedding. I think she saw it as a way of connecting with friends from her various stages in life:relatives, hometown friends, college friends, friends from work. And for people from one stage in her life to meet people in another stage.

There were about 150 people at the wedding. I am an introvert who tends to clam up in crowds. I had a great time, seeing in-laws etc. I hadn't seen in years, and meeting her new friends.

I saw the wedding as a great rite of passage. Fortunatly, all I paid for was transport.

Cousin Dave said...

It seems that human societies must have rituals. When old ones fall out of fashion, new ones will arise to take their place. Not all rituals are equivalent, though. Some are good, or at least harmless; others not so much. To my mind, the current mega-wedding trend falls into the latter category for any number of reasons. Not the least of which is that it divides the bride and groom at the very moment when they should be presenting a united front. The bride goes off to design a wedding which will be a giant romance novel of a hen party, a process from which the groom is excluded. Meanwhile, the groom will be dragged off at some point to a drunken orgy of a bachelor party, which the bride probably won't even be told about. After all this, they are expected to walk down the aisle as a happy couple. And when they return from the honeymoon, the bills will be there waiting for them. Not an auspicious beginning.

When my wife and I got married, we rented a small chapel and only invited immediate family and a few close friends. We rented a cabin in the mountains for our honeymoon. And we paid for everything in advance.

Texan99 said...

I'm sure you're already familiar with the wonderful things Miss Manners has to say about the trend toward extortion of gifts in connection with weddings. One reader wrote to ask how she might properly word a request that gifts be confined to cash. Miss Manners suggested: "Never mind the junk -- just gimme the cash." She reserves particular horror for hosts who claim to be giving a party but actually are passing the hat so as to force the guests to fund the endeavor.

Having said that, I've got nothing against large, elaborate weddings put on by people who can afford them. They're a festive, generous, magnificent way to mark an important occasion.

LordSomber said...

It seems many women are more interested in the wedding than the marriage.

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