Wednesday, March 10, 2010

My Big Fat Visa Bill For This Wedding

I am not a wedding person.

My brother IC had a destination wedding. I got a free week in Florida and one in Aruba.

IC is my favorite brother.

Perhaps I shouldn’t have said this on camera because another brother, NC, won’t even bring me a cup of water from across the room. (“Why don’t you ask your favorite brother for a glass?”) And now NC’s getting married, and he’s shown me why he’s not my favorite…

Let’s just say there will be no subsidized massage in a beach cabana this time.

Yes, I know they can’t pay for my travel expenses. Yes, I know they want a nice wedding. Do you know what I want? A house and thin thighs. But do they care that their wedding is costing me half of a liposuction procedure?

There are days in which I hate weddings.

Sure, sometimes wedding hoopla is fun, like when I helped someone plan their wedding. She told me, “I want everything to be perfect. After all, how many times does a person get married?”

Then we laughed.

It took a few minutes and telling each other, “Girl, you’re soooo funny!’ and, “That was a good one!” before we could return to the task at hand. There were interesting incidences, such as when we went to one venue and I asked, “Didn’t you get married here before?”

Yes, she had…

Then there are times I’m completely fed up with the wedding industrial complex telling everyone their union is doomed to fail without the aid of ice sculptures. They seem to forget many of these unions were already doomed. It’s not like commitment and love are marriage requirements. More than likely one night you looked over at the person with the frozen feet lying next to you, realized they had better health insurance, and decided the next logical step was marriage.

New Law Would Ban Marriages Between People Who Don't Love Each Other

Some folks are against gay marriage, which I don’t get. After all, everyone should have the right to lose half their worldly belongings if they do something stupid. I, on the other hand, say we would be better off banning weddings.

Weddings are mostly about money---who has it, who doesn’t, who’s faking having it, and who thinks their guests must be loaded. They’re also about making other people jump through hoops to prove their love. They’re a venue to show off your creativity and entertainment expertise. But more than anything, they’re a place for us to suffer through.

Things That Get Me About Weddings

1. Invites:
Doesn’t matter if you send an e-mail, a postcard, or a twenty page $80 floral-embossed certified document; either we’re coming to the wedding or not. Perhaps you consider e-invites tacky. Just remember, one way or another, your invitation is likely going into the trash. I got one which was a message in a bottle with sand and shells. Because this was 2004, as soon as I saw it I screamed, "Anthrax!" before remembering I'm not important enough for someone to send a bio hazard to me.

Also, if I’ve bought a plane ticket to get to your wedding, believe me when I say I’m going. Don’t follow my “I’m going and I bought the ticket” sentence up with, “When are you going to mail the RSVP card?”

2. Parties and Gifts
Brides used to have bridal showers. Now they have a bridal shower, a lingerie party, a bachelorette party, a Jack and Jill, a bridesmaid luncheon, a Pampered Chef party, the wedding itself, a post wedding day breakfast, and all these other events no one has ever heard of before. Brides make up parties like Hallmark makes up holidays. This whole set up must have been created by the same people who brought us payday loans because you think everything is wrapped up, but it's not. If I as a single person threw a party for myself it would be considered tacky, but once a ring is on her finger, she can have as many parties as she wants. You’re expected to bring a treasure trove of gifts, and then when you ask about a thank you card they say, “I’m busy planning.”

One woman (who I barely know) sent me invites to her gazillion “gimme” parties. Included were her sizes. Because I am a sweet, demure, tactful person, I didn’t call her and say, “Hey, Heifer, you two have lived together for a decade and you quit work to stay at home with the kid. Seeing as I’m not impressed with the home schooling skills of a person who barely made it through high school, perhaps instead of sending me a wedding registry list longer than my leg, you should get a job. And are we really supposed to believe you wear a size 6?”

3. Food
Low end: Paris (name has been changed to protect the guilty) threw a wedding in the middle of summer…

And didn’t provide us with any water.

It was 100 degrees and there was 4 gallons of punch, a the tepid red concoction housed in what appeared to be an industrial-sized mayonnaise container with a spigot at the bottom, to be shared amongst 150 guests. Chatting up the bartender (which scored me a free bottle of water) I discovered the bride was given the option of bringing in non-alcoholic drinks free of charge…

But she chose not to.


High end: Okay, what’s up with the spoons of food? I don’t want a spoon of food. I want a spoon in a bowl of food. With all the Barbie-sized portions I’m not certain if I’m at an upscale wedding or sample day at CostCo.

Food reality: Men kept staring at me at my sister’s wedding, and it wasn’t just because my bridesmaid dress was cut three inches from my navel. I was eating the kids meal---fruit salad, chicken strips, and French fries. After seeing it, they asked the servers to bring over any spare kids’ meals. That’s right, you’re dropping a boatload of money on people who’d rather have a #7 at McDonald’s.

4. Kids:
I don’t like kids at weddings. Being a children’s librarian means folks think it’s okay to dump a bunch of kids at my table with coloring sheets and few boxes of crayons. I don’t get it. My sister’s a cop. No one puts criminals at her table and tells her, "Keep an eye on Uncle Steve. Sometimes he likes to take things."

But if kids are excluded, there inevitably will be a parent throwing a hissy. “Why Madison loves everything we do together! Like when we go to Mommy and Me play group, or get crazy at keg parties, or tour nuclear power facilities, or when she asked the technicians all those questions while I was getting my yearly mammogram. Madison would be crushed if you didn’t invite her to your evening wedding with its open bar!”

But there are reasons why people have a child free wedding:

a) We hate Madison.
She’s a snot-nosed, tantrum throwing brat. Because of a quirk of fate (co-worker, shared DNA) we have to invite you. If we could get away with it, we’d only disinvite Madison, but then we’d have to finally tell you that you’re a crappy parent with boundary issues. Most likely you’ll bring her anyway and ruin our night out.

b) Kids are expensive.
Certain wedding venues treat kids like “Horton Hears a Who”---a person is a person no matter how small. Even if there is a kid’s meal at your venue, you’re in for an ugly surprise. An adult plate will be $70, a kid’s plate $35. But that doesn’t include beverages, which are $15 per person under 21. Or the chair cover, the sparkling cider toast, the extra cake, or the cutting fee, all $2.50 each. Or the tax and gratuity, which is 8.75% and 21% respectively. Suddenly you’re paying $80 so a preschooler who should be home sleep can regurgitate mashed potatoes on your rented organza overlays.

4. Shades of Blackness.
Brides are really into fake tanning. It’s like being black but without the racism. It doesn't matter that many look less like blushing brides and more like Senator Boehner. Speaking on behalf of all the black community (as I had to do in college), we'll let the tanning slide…

What we won’t let slide is having a gospel choir at your wedding but no black people in attendance.

I was watching Platinum Weddings. You know, the show in which couples spend more money on favors than you did on house payments over the last 5 years. I watch the show because I'm waiting to see some, I don't know, shock and awe maybe from the bride. Because they're rich nothing phases these women. Doesn't matter that daddy spent $4.5 million wedding venue because she didn't like the other ones, or that the flowers were flown in from an outer ring of Saturn, these women will just display the same polite smile I do when a crazy person is chatting me up on public transit.

Maybe the Botox has something to do with it...

Anyway, in this episode the bride and groom decided they wanted a gospel choir to sing when they were pronounced husband and wife. And there was not one black guest. How do I know for sure there were no black people there? I asked someone who worked the event, “Were there any black people there?” Nope. Which I find quite strange, seeing as there are plenty of black people around. I scanned the crowd for blacks, Latinos, Native Americas, Indians, and other natural shades of brown, red and yellow, yet the only minorities I could spot was two Asian people who were probably seated at the same table because, “You have so much in common!”

New Rule: If you want to listen to a live gospel choir, you must either a) sit through a 4 hour church service in which the collection plate will be passed no fewer than 3 times, or b) invite twice as many black people to the wedding that there are in the choir.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: “When it’s your day you won’t hate weddings!” Maybe not. But I live on Earth not on Planet Bride. I know it's not my day. It's a day, one of 365 days that happen every year. And I’m fairly practical. When I marry either it will be to a man loaded with money (possibly a former executive at AIG) or I will use the many books available at the library to keep costs down without driving everyone crazy. There’s “How to Have an Elegant Wedding for $5000” and “Cater Your Own Wedding” and “Let’s Elope” (and put everyone out of their misery). I likely won’t go as far as making the $10 wedding dress out of extra large men’s T-shirts. It’s a cool idea, but there’s a little something called Macy’s discounts which are made for these events. No matter what the scenario, I will feed the guests recognizable food in pleasing portions and not force any of them to drink out of a water hose to quench their thirst. And despite not being engaged, I already know the perfect day to get married:

Training Day.

I’ve been trying to figure out how to get out of this event. Someone in HR (who shall remain nameless) about strangled me when I suggested we use the day to catch up on all our work, but hey, I liked Training Day a lot better when we had money. Remember the massages and yoga and author visits? Now I have to console myself with bringing Ziploc baggies and Tupperware containers and making off with the next day’s lunch and all the cookies and brownies they were going to toss. (Is there a reason why we’re not putting the extra stuff in the 5th floor staff lounge?)

Either I can marry right before Training Day because I can’t be denied a honeymoon, or I can marry that day at the courthouse. Better yet, why not just hold the ceremony in the Galleria during break? Talk about multitasking! Everyone would be happy. I’d be happy because my co-workers would get to see me get married. All of us would get paid to be there, parking would be covered, and the meal is already catered. Plus we can wear our regular clothes.

But why stop at weddings? JP and LP, since we never got to see your ceremony, how do your feel about having a vow renewal as the second session of the day?

Just a thought…

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