Thursday, February 18, 2010

Weddings Are Just Special Dinner Parties, No?

I spent some time at Barnes & Noble yesterday, looking at wedding-planning books. I've concluded that I must be a bad female, because I just don't get a lot of what goes into the "traditional" expensive wedding and all its assorted related parties.

bridesmaids, maid of honor
What does a bridesmaid do? What does the maid of honor do that's distinct from that?
groomsmen, best man
Ditto the bridesmaids question, but for the guys. And what if all but one of the single guys are also my close friends?
rehearsal dinner
If you go through the whole thing as practice run, doesn't that make the wedding itself feel like "hey, we've done this before"?
bachelor and bachelorette parties
We're supposed to celebrate our soon-to-be-gone life as singles, "one last hurrah" before we're no longer single. But... what if we've been living together for 4 years now — I haven't been single in a long time, as far as I'm concerned. And pretty much all our friends our mutual, and male. I would feel pretty left out if Forrest went out partying with all my friends but I wasn't invited, especially since I have like one close female friend so I couldn't even do "my own" party.
escort card tree
...the hell? Never even heard of such a thing until today.
wedding favors, invitations
I have to agree with a lot of websites on this one: Who actually keeps these things? Maybe the mothers and grandparents of the bride and groom. But I'd be surprised if my friends, cousins, etc are really going to hang on to a wedding favor or invitation for any reason but guilt over throwing it away.
bridal shower
What goes on at such things? And why are there no "groom showers"? Men so need more showers than women do. ;)

The more I look at books and web pages about wedding planning, the more it seems like the reception is just a big dinner party shindig. With pretty dresses and candles. But still, basically a dinner party. If our wedding party is only 25-30 people, I don't really get how this is so much more of a big deal to plan compared to, say Christmas dinner. I am wrong?


John Cowan said...

First we must ask, what are weddings for? The answer (as worked out by Gale and me some thirty years ago) was that cohabitation is a private affair, whereas marriage is fundamentally public. As the Anglican service begins, "We are gathered together in the sight of God and this congregation", who were normally the neighbors, the witnesses, the people who maintain the "common knowledge" that this is not a marriage-by-capture, but a openly conducted consensual act between adults. (For similar reasons, weddings at night used to be prohibited.)

Okay, then, who are these witnesses? Well, there are the families, and then there are the ordinary invitees. But between those are the friends of the bride and the friends of the groom, the ones who are special enough to have a role in the wedding of some sort -- what sort is up to you. These are the bridesmaids and the groomsmen. The maid of honor (matron of honor, if she's married) and best man are the most significant of these. (We had a "best person", a very close female friend of mine, to pass us the rings at the strategic moment.)

The rehearsal dinner is just the reward for going through the wedding rehearsal, which you may need (like any actor) if you have a complex ritual to enact. If not, just lean on your officiant -- you really, really don't want to go dry when repeating your vows. One of his/her jobs is to be a prompter. (We didn't bother with a rehearsal.)

If you don't want bachelor/ette parties, don't have 'em. It would be best for domestic harmony if you conceded to Forrest having one if he wants it, though. (We didn't.)

Invitations are good. People will give you stuff, and then you have to remember who was there. Sending hardcopy invitations helps you track that.

Bridal showers, like baby showers, aren't your problem. If a (normally female) friend or relative gives you one, just look surprised at the stuff they give you, and otherwise just party. (My daughter Irene's baby shower was half guys, but with the exception of me they all went and played video games while I yakked with the women.)

Receptions are parties, but they can be done however you like. (Ours was held in the same townhouse as the wedding, and we had it catered by a salad-bar restaurant, though we hired three waiters to dish out the stuff, for sanitary reasons. We provided the punch and the wedding cake ourselves.)

The most important point is that it's your wedding and you make the rules, all of 'em. We, for example, didn't invite any family except my father (who came in his walker) and Gale's parents (who refused, on the ground that they hadn't attended her first wedding either.) Similarly, we wrote our own vows and arranged for everything ourselves. We did talk to a wedding planner, but we ended up only using her to calligraph the invitations.

Pretty long. I hope all that helps.

Rene said...

I helped Laurie plan/execute her wedding two years ago. When I'm not on my phone I'll write you an email, or I'll call you when it's a more humane hour on the West Coast.

Nigmi said...

Oh we could so have a party. It might be a small party with ice cream and See's and movies and PJs (I somehow don't see you wanting male strippers) but it would be a damn delicious party, gosh-darnt it :D I see your point re mutual friends though.

I agree with you on weddings, though. Why all this stuff that doesn't really mean very much? I have wedding favors though, I have to admit. I have a candle that we never threw away and beakers (yes, my friend Bradford had beakers in his wedding favors :D) we use basically as shot glasses. Other than that, though, I don't even remember what wedding favors were given out.

So, umm, what is an escort card tree?