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For a Great Wedding Photo, Set Your Dress on Fire

07/18/2013 05:00 pm 17:00:20 | Updated Sep 17, 2013

I wore a Scarlett O'Hara white velvet hat for my wedding, a choice I have regretted for 32 years. It looked like The Pillsbury Doughboy died on my head. The hat cost $250, an atrocity my father never let me forget. At my 50th birthday dinner, my parents surprised me by using it as the centerpiece. My mother had wrapped it in 27 layers of tissue paper and 12 plastic bags, and it was in perfect condition, as starched and hideous as ever.

As much as I hated that hat, as much as I saw it as a symbol of individuality gone awry, it never occurred to me to dispose of it, or in any way mutilate it. For one thing, my father would have had a heart attack.

He was a CPA. While having his conniption he would have bellowed, "Do you know how many tax returns I had to write to afford to buy you that hat?"

I believe he would have been justified.

This week, a young bride doused her wedding dress in flammable liquid and ignited the thing WHILE SHE WAS WEARING IT, in order to procure some dramatic photos for her album. It all turned out okay; she threw herself into the ocean and doused the flames before burning to a crisp.

Not as lucky was Maria Pantazopoulos, a 30-year-old bride who drowned while standing in a rushing river posing for photos. Her soaked dress weighed so much, it dragged her under and propelled her downstream in a heavy current.

This trend is called "Trash the Dress," and it bothers me on so many levels my head could explode thinking about it. Brides have walked through knee-deep mud, waded in oceans and stood under waterfalls, but the pyrotechnics of this latest stunt are by far the most -- I'm groping for words here -- ill-conceived? High risk? Unfathomably stupid?

"She's a fun girl," her friend said. "She didn't want her wedding dress to rot in a closet."

I've got an idea. How about donating it to a girl who can't afford a beautiful dress of her own?

Where did we go wrong? Apparently, the concepts of understated elegance, respect for personal property and "less is more" are archaic and trite. These days more is more, and excess is even better than more.

The entire wedding process, from the proposal to the take-home favors is out of control. Take- home favors? Aren't they for children's birthday parties? Soon the Olympics will add wedding planning to its roster of competitions.

Is this a symptom of a core need to outdo each other? Is it a desperate desire to be on television? What the hell happened? My husband proposed to me at my apartment over tacos. Okay, even I know he could have done better than that, but renting a movie theater, filling it with your friends and showing a movie of you popping the question is a little over the top, don't you think? We no longer blink at people who hire skywriters or rent zeppelins any more. Getting on the Jumbo-tron at a sporting event is for amateurs. It's been done to death.

On the news this morning, I was treated to footage of a young woman being followed in her car by a police officer who pulled her over, slapped her with a $1,000 ticket, and threw her into the back of his car before coming clean that he was her boyfriend's brother-in-law. Her boyfriend showed up and proposed in the cop car. She looked as if she had been told she had three weeks to live.

Bachelor parties are in Vegas or Europe. Bachelorette parties... exist!

A friend told me it's all part of our celebrity culture. We see fancy, over-the-top celebrity weddings and we want our piece of the action.

I don't know. Celebrities have always had outsized weddings. Princess Diana got married the same month as I did, and I didn't rent a golden carriage and footman. I didn't assume the universe would be interested in my nuptials.

But I've been wrong before. Perhaps if I made the right phone calls, I could have been on the cover of Vogue in my white velvet hat. Right before I tarred and feathered it.