When my fiancée and I decided to do the dirty deed, we firmly agreed that the only knot we'd be tying was the marital one. We promised that we wouldn't get our panties or patience knotted in the process, and that we wouldn't stress about planning our special day. We were two easy-going gals, after all, with anarchist roots; we weren't even sure we fully believed in the institution of marriage, with its sordid and discriminatory history, let alone the pomp and circumstance that went along with planning a celebration around it. We certainly knew that we loved each other and wanted to be together for the long haul, and the idea of tax breaks and legal protections were an added (and important) bonus.
More than $50 billion are spent annually on weddings in the U.S.; in 2011 one in five U.S. couples spent more than $30,000 on their weddings. With more than half of those couples divorcing and the abundance of reality TV shows featuring "bridezillas," we wanted no part of this seemingly ugly wedding industry.
We both share a natural aversion to bridal magazines and wouldn't be caught dead in a dress or a tux or a catering hall. We agreed to avoid the hubbub and create a simple and casual affair that did not involve party planners, ugly shoes that we'd never wear again and, most importantly, headaches. Plus, we don't want our friends and families to feel obligated to spend money, dress up or endure insipid ritual. We don't care about maids of honor, bachelorette parties, bridal showers, rehearsal dinners, walking down aisles, registries or cake toppers. We don't even really care for cakes at all, for that matter. And we don't want our nearest and dearest to have to sit around for upwards of an hour staring at our backs while some stranger who doesn't know us from diddlysquat tells us what our love means.
Our sentiment reminded me of this tongue-in-cheek segment from Portlandia:
We realized the term "K.I.S.S.: Keep It Simple, Stupid" must have been created with wedding planning in mind. We were smart. We wouldn't succumb to the dumb world of creating wars for months on end around an ephemeral four-hour affair.
Then it happened.
I was perusing my Facebook feed like any other normal human being on planet Earth and felt compelled to click on a link that would normally make my stomach turn: "Top Five Ideas to Make Your Wedding Fabulous." I was like a moth drawn to the light of a bug zapper. I couldn't control my finger as it opened the article in the I'm-so-girly-and-obnoxious-that-it's-a-miracle-I-have-someone-willing-to-marry-my-ass-type magazine, and I grew feverish with confusion as my eyes betrayed me and read the entire article, taking mental note of the cute tips and tricks for a super-duper-spectacular special day.
It didn't stop there. Like a meth addict who had just smoked his last rock, I took to the World Wide Web with fury and Googled until I was cross-eyed. There were endless blogs and articles and sites with advice on how to choose floral arrangements, rental equipment, catering, music and gifts for the guests. (Gifts for the guests? All this time I thought it was the other way around!) All these details I hadn't thought about!
I kept this obsessive Internet indulgence from my fiancée. Perhaps this is how the path to divorce starts. First I hide my secret obsession with planning our wedding. Next thing you know I'm on the street corner drinking non-alcoholic mousse from a paper bag and cat-calling the postal worker.
I found myself gossiping with friends over drinks and dinners about the "big day." It was a classic sign of psychological distress: I felt like I was outside my body, seeing and hearing myself talking about these awful things, like centerpieces and the best times of day for outdoor photography, and yet I couldn't stop it. It was like a virus growing in me; the more I tried to fight it, the uglier and more resistant it grew.
It got worse.
I realized that it would be useful to have a repository of information that people could visit to find out practical things like directions to the space, or to learn what our favorite colors are and every detail of our first date. I holed myself up and wasted a perfectly good Saturday afternoon deciding on a background theme from among such prize choices as "plum blossoms," "hot pink always forever love," and "floral fascinations" on make-your-free-wedding-website sites.
It all came to a boil over the "Save the Date" card. My addiction to planning the perfect wedding was exposed in a head-on collision of the love variety. We found a cute card on Shutterfly and filled out the template in about 17 seconds. Done and done. We were about to press the "Submit Your Order" button when anxiety took hold in my gut and worked its way up to my throat.
"Wait, stop!" I shrieked and yanked the computer away from my stunned sweetheart. "What if the printed version doesn't look as high-resolution as the onscreen preview?! Look closely! There's a little fuzzy ring around the image on the right side of that card. Let's cancel this order!"
My fiancée stared at me with a quizzical look that you'd expect to see on someone who has just witnessed a man dressed like a giant, blue cow doing the chicken dance while singing Sheryl Crow on Fulton Street. "Who is this person I agreed to marry, and do I still want to go through with it?" was clearly etched on her face.
It was in that moment that I snapped back into reality and realized that I was turning into the bridezilla I swore I'd never become. It all came back to me. I liked cargo shorts and pizza. I didn't know a gravy boat from a U-boat. Most of all, I hated weddings. The memories flooded in as though I were an advanced Alzheimer's patient experiencing a moment of clarity. All those times I had poked fun at others for obsessing about their wedding plans! All those parties that I downed 12 martinis just to get through! I apologized to my fiancée and agreed that we didn't need to overthink this. I would take a step back and again recognize that our tiny, informal affair didn't require micromanaging or obsession. After all, we had months left to plan, plenty of time to casually and amicably decide on those details together, I promised.
I wonder what stamps we should use with the "Save the Date" card?