03/29/2013 10:41 am ET

Parties We Should Have Instead Of Weddings

It’s marriage season. Not just in your mailbox, where save-the-date cards have inevitably begun to pile up in anticipation of this summer’s nuptials, but in the Supreme Court, where lawyers are arguing the merits of throwing open the doors to this venerated but outmoded institution. While most Americans under age 45 agree that everyone gay or straight or whatever should be free to marry their partner, the Prop 8 arguments provide a perfect opportunity to consider how ridiculous most commitment rituals are when stacked up against data about the average modern lifestyle. An unsurprising new report finds people are getting married later or not at all, spending more of their adult lives solo and/or having kids alone. Yet dating and mating customs have remained virtually the same for a century. The general population gives wedding gifts as if neither member of a couple has lived outside their parents’ home. Or sends them off with bachelor parties as if they haven’t been committed and cohabiting for years. Or still expects babies will come after vows.

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