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August 19, 2007

Wedding apparel, never worn
Posted by Teresa at 03:44 PM * 200 comments

One of my occasional vices is lurking in eBay’s wedding apparel department, reading the notes written by vendors who are selling off wedding dresses that never got worn. You can’t reconfigure or cancel a wedding without generating story. This series, for instance, has the sound of someone (the almost-bride’s sister, I mean) dazedly coping with catastrophe:

Wedding Dress Oleg Cassini Dress with Gloves and Garder

Flower Girl Dress size 3 and comes with LittleVeil

Very nice Tiara Sliver with Rhinestone and pearl

New White Veil with crystal dropletts Brand NEW

Up for bidding are some very nice items, for the first part a New Wedding Dress never worn also comes with Brand new Gloves that are Whites lace with a pearl bead to it cost around 19.99, and brand new Garder that cost 7.99(look at pics for more details) These items are my sisters who just called off her wedding and now has no use for them and is just trying to get rid of them (have more stuff in other auctions) The dress was cost her 1,100 dollars it has an embordered flower pattern on the mesh also with a pearl bead design, the back is a complete button up. Please ask any questions you have before bidding if you need to, I will relay your questions to her and have her answer them since I really dont know to much about these things. Thank you and good luck.
Simple heartbreak:

New w/Tags Never Worn White/Red Wedding Dress

This is my first sale on ebay. Unfortunatly my wedding was called off 2 months before the date. I have this beautiful dress that I used to love and now it make me cry to see it.
What, me upset?

Oscar Delarenta Designer Gown

This is a beautiful wedding dress. Unfortunately my wedding was called off at the last moment so I never got a chance to wear it.
(Get a look at the photo.)

The bridesmaids try to recoup their losses:

Bridesmaid dress: never been worn (set of 3 available)

These dresses are made by Mori Lee. They were purchased from a bridal shop for $175 each. The dresses were never worn or altered because the wedding was called off within a week of us picking them up. … The dresses can be sold as a group or individually. We are asking for $100 each.

A mystery:

Wedding Dress and Veil

Wedding Dress, Never touched, wedding called off. Veil included, plus dress but one of the most spectacular dresses you will see. Will have pic up as soon as can.
Almost a week later, there’s still no picture. Could she not bear to deal with it? Is the wedding back on? We’ll never know.

Shades of F. Scott Fitzgerald:


Reem Acra “Allure” Couture Bridal Gown Available!!! This breathtaking dress was featured in Town & Country Wedding Issue, Fall [October] 2006. Stunning hand beaded sheath gown. This dress is simply exquisite; the pictures pale in comparison to the actual dress. Double lined with ivory silk, the tulle overlay is dripping with hand beading details; seed pearls, silver wire thread, bugle beads, sequins, ivory silk thread. FREE WEDDING GIFT INCLUDED! I will include the 20 yards of matching bugle beads for your veil as a wedding gift. Here is an opportunity to be a bride with amazing style - stand out in the sea of standard wedding dresses! Dress never worn. Original unfinished hem. Untouched - not even tried on! Size 10, which will fit anyone in a size 8 to 10 range. Retails for $5980.00 at Reem Acra in NY and Marina Morrison in San Francisco. Can’t use it - we eloped!
Lydy (who’s visiting us just now): It’s a fabulous dress. The run-up to the wedding must have been awful.

Me: That, or she was so rich she didn’t think twice about writing it off.

Lydy: No. She’s going to all the trouble of selling the dress.

Me: Yes, but paying for the dress would have been Daddy’s money. What she gets for selling it is hers.

Finally letting go:

Sz 8, never-used satin cathedral length wedding gown

Up for auction is a brand-new absolutely gorgeous wedding gown. It is a size 8 and has never been worn (unfortunately for me). This gown is sleeveless and loaded with beautiful detailing featuring a cathedral length train, which bustles. I hope that my pictures truly show it’s simple, yet perfect style, if not, please email me and I will send you more pics. It consists of pearls, sequins and roping down the train with beautiful rosebuds in between and a simple bow in the back of the waist. It has covered buttons in the back. All I can say, is I hope some lucky bride will get to wear this down the aisle! It is truly a stunning gown with the tag still on it. It was purchased about 7 yrs.ago …
A dress which at this rate will never be worn:

Elegant Victorian style Wedding Dress - High Quality!

This elegant Victorian style wedding dress is one of a kind, custom designed and sewn, and never worn. It was originally designed and customized for a customer in an exclusive shop I managed some years back (the owner of the boutique lived in New York and he handled the details of the custom order). The selling price was $8,700. Today’s cost for a gown of this quality and design could be $10,000 or more. The customer’s wedding was called off and, being single at the time, I bought the dress at a discounted price, with the intention of wearing it for my own wedding someday. At the time I got married, I felt this gorgeous dress was far too elaborate for our wedding. Nevertheless, I have kept the dress as I loved it so much. However, I have no daughters (sons!) and I now feel that it is only fair for some fortunate young lady to be married in this storybook gown.
Say what?

Size 10 Ivory,off shoulder Wedding gown Chapel Train

You will be striking at your wedding in the beautiful, off the shoulder, ivory gown with 3/4 sleeves and roses on the shoulders and the top of the bustle and Chapel Length Train. …

This would also be a good dress for the corpse bride/dead bride.

Three collisions with the stork:

This is the most Romantic Wedding Dress….Ever

I won this Romantic, Off the Shoulders Wedding Dress on e-Bay – it was my Dream Dress. Unfortunately I never had a chance to wear it to my Wedding. There was no formal Wedding. No – my fiancée and I didn’t break up. Let’s just say, It is time for me to pass on some very important and excellent advice…………….”Ladies when you are planning your Dream Wedding make sure that you are using a good form of birth control”. Yes, I got pregnant – so under the circumstances, my fiancée and I decided that it would be best to elope. Heeeeeelllllllllooooooooooooo Vegas. So, here I am with this incredible dress and no where to wear it. It’s not like I can walk into the local restaurant wearing it. That is where you come in. If you fall in love with this dress as much as I did – I pray that it will bring you the dreams that I had when I was bidding on it.
Wedding Dress Eden 1135
Long story short, its never been worn down the isle. I bought this dress to wear thinking i would be 4 months pregnant, unfortunately, i lost the baby and will not be wearing this beautiful dress.
This is an ivory satin maternity wedding dress with chiffon overlay. Details include beading on the bust area and on the straps. The dress has a lovely train and ‘baby streamlining’ chiffon pleats fall from a diamonte clasp at the centre of the bodice.

This gorgeous wedding dress was an eBay buy after i had to admit that my origional dress just wouldn’t go over the bump (wedding planned for 2 years, baby planned but arrived a bit early)! It was made to measure for me (size 10/12, 7 months pregnant) in China but was made too big and needed major alterations when it arrived.

I never did get to wear it as the lady that was doing my alterations took too long to take it in by not enough and in the end I unfortunately had to buy yet another dress (oh the expence!!! We do these things when we’re getting married)

Therefore this dress is (part from 2 fittings) unworn and is essentially brand new, it would fit a very pregnant size 14 bride at the moment, but can be altered to fit any size from 14 down and any level of pregnancy (i have 3 weeks to go and it’s still roomy!). It is currently the perfect length for a 5 foot 6 inch bride wearing a 1 inch heal.

It is a gorgeous wedding dress and i’m gutted i couldn’t wear it! The tayloress at any bridal shop will be able to alter this for £70 up so as long as you leave yourself enough time and/or get someone who is brave enough to take in more than i inch at a time …

Simple fury:


This is a wedding dress my mother bought for me with good intentions. But, unfortunately I was marrying a can’t-hack-it-pantywaist, so I never got to wear it. I would just like to get enough to pay my mom back for the rest of the dress I haven’t paid her back for. The list price is $500.
Comments on Wedding apparel, never worn:
#1 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2007, 07:21 PM:

That second "collision with stork" is heartbreaking.

#2 ::: Adrienne ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2007, 07:32 PM:

I agree that the second "stork" story is heartbreaking but it's also puzzling. Was the wedding called off entirely because the bride was no longer pregnant? Did she still get married but in a different dress? Where is the closure?

#3 ::: Niall McAuley ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2007, 07:34 PM:

No. I won't stare at morgue photos of dead weddings.

#4 ::: Rich ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2007, 07:42 PM:

"This would also be a good dress for the corpse bride/dead bride."

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, over?

#5 ::: Eleanor ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2007, 07:45 PM:

As regards the dead bride; halloween is coming up, a friend of mine went to a party as a corpse bride once!

#6 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2007, 07:47 PM:

With reference to the "corpse bride", I'm thinking perhaps a goth wedding (I freely admit that I don't know enough about goths to know if this is a reasonable guess)? Or a costume based on the Tim Burton movie? (or something combining the two aspects...)

Fascinating stuff. And the idea of maternity bridal gowns makes perfect sense now that I know they exist, but I would have never guessed that you could buy them otherwise.

#7 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2007, 07:58 PM:

Me, I have a secret obsession with reading the LJ "weddingplans" community -- there is just so much drama involved with weddings, and it's so entertaining to read about.

Although now I might have to join in reading the eBay wedding dress descriptions -- speculating about the rest of the story might be more fun!

#8 ::: Kelly Buehler ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2007, 08:34 PM:

My favorite advertisement along these lines is something I read in a newspapert classified ad almost 25 years ago.

Wedding dress, size 10, worn once, by mistake

#9 ::: Kieran ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2007, 09:24 PM:

Little stories that put the hem in Hemingway.

#10 ::: Howard Peirce ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2007, 09:33 PM:

#4, #6: I think it's more likely referring to a prop costume for a "haunted house" attraction like one of those Jaycee's haunted house fundraisers.

The starting bid was only 19 bucks, so using it as a prop for that price is fairly reasonable. Slap the dress on a long-haired corpse prop, and you've got a nifty little Bluebeard room in your haunted house.

Note the seller's username. I wonder what other stuff she's auctioned.

On further reflection: I'm reminded of this classic urban legend.

#11 ::: rm ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2007, 10:39 PM:

Then there was this guy.

#12 ::: Brenda Kalt ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2007, 11:07 PM:

#7 Caroline, my fantasy is to go into a bridal shop, or even a consignment store, and try wedding gowns on. Factors stopping me: someone might see me (married 25+ years); I don't have the nerve to deal with a shop manager; I am no longer the right size for most off-the-rack stuff. I got married in the 1970s, wearing a white garden-party type dress. I was 90% in the minimalist mood of the times, and the other 10% of me thought it was easier to be minimalist than to think about what I couldn't afford. But oh, this grownup girl would like to play dress-up!

#13 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2007, 11:15 PM:

I suppose Great Expectations would have been very different if eBay had existed then.

#14 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2007, 11:18 PM:

Oh, jeez, these are all so sad! And SO EXPENSIVE, jesus H. crickenheimer.

I got married at court, and it was interesting to see what people wore. (You mill around in the lobby with the other couples while you wait your turn). One couple was there in jeans, sneaks, and matching tee shirts. I was in a white beaded sweater dress with fancy hair clips and whatnot, and hub wore a nice suit. The only traditional wedding getup - poofy gown, veil, etc - was on a mom-to-be who was at least 7 months along. No shotgun was in evidence, more's the pity.

#15 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2007, 11:20 PM:

Brenda 12: Pick an anniversary and "renew your vows" with another whole wedding ceremony. Tell the wedding shop people exactly what you're doing. They'll love it.

#16 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2007, 11:25 PM:

Say, speaking of sad dress stories, there's a blog called A dress a day that has several haunting stories about "The Secret Lives of Dresses." If you go to the main blog page and scroll down you'll see a section with links to those posts (unfortunately she doesn't seem to have a category permalink for them).

They're really quite wonderful. I don't *think* I discovered them from a particle link, apologies if I'm wrong about that.

#17 ::: AHT ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2007, 11:26 PM:

I worked in an iSold It store for about six months, during my last semester in undergrad. I was the customer service wench responsible for checking items in.

I had bridesmaids, brides, mothers of the bride, all coming in with horrible stories, tales of lawsuits and threats of violence, tears, shouting... there was one family we hesitated to list for at all, in case their stories *werne't* exaggeration. We had one would-be bride who was a size two, and the dress wouldn't fit into our dress form. She had to come into the store and put the dress on for us to photograph, and she cried the whole time, while her dad stood on the side and handed out tissues.

None of those people came even close to recouping all they'd laid out, and that always made it worse.

I hated that part of that job. It was one of many reasons I wasn't at all sorry to leave.

#18 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2007, 11:29 PM:

They were in a Particle, but it's still a good site. Makes me want to know how to sew. I'm already assembling something of a fabric stash, and I have forbidden myself any sewing until I've forgotten what happened with the Mother Of All Laundry Bags. And if that weren't enough, now I'm spoiled for current dresses.

#19 ::: Johan Larson ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2007, 11:36 PM:

This would also be a good dress for the corpse bride/dead bride.

There's a word for having sex with a corpse, but not for marrying one.

I blame the liberals.

#20 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2007, 11:46 PM:

The Economist recently had an article on the practice of "ghost marriages" in parts of China.

These are literal corpse brides; parents are "marrying" off their dead sons to dead women so they can be buried together.

"A black market has sprung up to supply corpse brides. Marriage brokers—usually respectable folk who find brides for village men—account for most of the middlemen. At the bottom of the supply chain come hospital mortuaries, funeral parlours, body snatchers—and now murderers."

Apparently at least one supplier decided that digging was too much work, and strangling would be easier. (This also meant that the merchandise would be fresher, which makes it more valuable—on the order of 100x the price.)

#21 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2007, 12:03 AM:

Re: the 'what, me upset?' photo - it's not clear to me that she was terribly upset. If she didn't want her face to be visible on on her eBay listing (understandable), and had limited computer skills, ripping a corner from a sheet of scrap paper and covering part of a photo before scanning it would have been an easy and expedient approach.

#22 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2007, 12:07 AM:

Christopher Davis @20: The Economist recently had an article on the practice of "ghost marriages" in parts of China.

I recently heard an interview with the author Lisa See about her new novel, Peony in Love, in which she mentioned a halfway version of this, as performed in the 17th century: if a girl died unmarried, her family would try to find a bachelor to whom they could pay her dowry in exchange for her being posthumously recognized and honored as his first wife; the first living bride he might take thereafter would have to accept the status of "second wife". Or something. (I've briefly riffled through this book in the store, but otherwise know little about it besides the basic summary in Amazon: "It figures into the plot that generations of young Chinese women, known as the lovesick maidens, became obsessed with The Peony Pavilion (a scandalous opera), and, in a Werther-like passion, many starved themselves to death.")

In other notes, when opening this specific comment thread, Microsoft IE keeps warning me that they suspect the page of being a phishing site. Something about the eBay links, perhaps?

#23 ::: kate ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2007, 12:16 AM:

Hey Brenda - David's Bridal has off the rack gowns to size 16 +.

Do what Xopher said - they can't stop you. Bring a friend.

Eastern Star officers need white gowns. Many people use wedding gowns that have been altered. (ie: trains removed, etc.) If you are smart you go to a gown closeout sale with a few friends and have a fun time.

Kate Salter Jackson
(Who has done this - and never been bothered)

#24 ::: Howard Peirce ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2007, 12:28 AM:

There's a word for having sex with a corpse, but not for marrying one.

Necromony? Corruptials?

#25 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2007, 12:42 AM:

Sometime in the last year, I read a story in which ghost weddings played a part. I can't remember much more than that, though.

When I was in Rainbow-- also Masonic-- we had to have formal dresses. Everyone went to bridal shops to look at the clearance rack of bridesmaid's dresses. Mine was exactly what I wanted, save that it no longer fits.

Go play dress-up! Renew vows, or pretend you're planning to.

#26 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2007, 12:47 AM:

Kate, the thing about David's Bridal is that they have a firm No Returns policy. I'd have far fewer interesting listings to read if girls weren't getting stuck with dresses from David's. (And while we're both here: have you put yourself on the waiting list for Ravelry?)

Mary Dell (16), I love A Dress a Day, and I've Particled it a couple of times, but there's no guarantee that's where you saw it. I got to meet its charming author recently when I was in California. She's a lexicographer. When she's not writing about dresses, she compiles dictionaries.

Expensive (14), amen. I'm always shocked. I made my dress, and a matching shirt for Patrick. I don't think we'd have looked any nicer if we'd been wearing clothes that cost the equivalent of our next year's salaries.

Want to see a perfectly daft wedding dress? That thing looks like the butt-plumage has outgrown its larval stage and is now trying to burst forth from the back of the dress. And it's a bargain at only $12,000; normally it would cost $24,000.

#27 ::: Naomi ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2007, 01:04 AM:

Teresa, have you ever seen this site? It's daft dresses with snarky commentary, and very, very funny.

#28 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2007, 01:08 AM:

My goodness.
The veil looks like it's trying its best to kill the model, but then the dress will eat it. That dress contains two cushions and a chair.

I once shocked my mother by saying that perhaps I wouldn't get a wedding dress. After all, I have a perfectly nice white suit, and many people have complimented me on it. I'd rather spend several hundred dollars on books.

#29 ::: yeff ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2007, 01:15 AM:

These ebay entries remind me of Hemingway's classic six-word short story:

"For sale: baby shoes, never worn."

#30 ::: Nomie ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2007, 02:00 AM:

The "what, me upset" picture: I guess the wedding must really have been called off at the very last moment. (Unless she was taking pictures in full gown and veil getup a few days before as opposed to the day of.) Yikes.

#31 ::: Margaret Organ-Kean ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2007, 02:08 AM:

Well, I came to about twenty-four hours from being able to sell an unworn veil on ebay.

A veil, not a dress. The dress was happily and well worn at my wedding.

The veil arrived the day before the wedding after having spent two months stuck in the Hermiston, Oregon UPS depot as a result of the UPS strike.

I was so happy and excited about getting married that the whole mess didn't matter to me.

#32 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2007, 03:31 AM:

An acquaintance of mine in Georgia has been bitching about the cost of her daughter's weddings. which led into a whole series of exchanges about arranging airline tickets to Las Vegas, and safely rigging ladders at her daughters' bedroom windows.

A wedding is a family occasion, but the costs seem to be getting out of hand. Or maybe we just hear about the expensive instances. The glossy wedding magazines don't cover the less expensive end of the market, and so their claims of the average cost are inflated by a biased sample.

Anyway, if going down to the Registry Office in a bus is OK for the Prince of Wales....

#33 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2007, 03:54 AM:

Christopher, #20: Bones had an episode about that last season. They believe in ripped-from-the-headlines plot devices!

#34 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2007, 04:13 AM:

Christopher Davis @20
From your linked article, regarding the man who murdered women to sell as corpse brides:

This January he was arrested again and confessed to strangling six women and selling their bodies. Killing for corpses, he said, was an easier way to make money than digging them out of the ground.

Burke and Hare found much the same thing.

#35 ::: Eve ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2007, 05:13 AM:

Mary@14: I got married in Pima County Courthouse. My husband was the only groom waiting in line who wasn't wearing Western wear, and I'm pretty sure I was the only bride wearing black.

#36 ::: bad Jim ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2007, 06:06 AM:

Why are so many women led willingly up the bridal trail? The dry cleaners in my town have window displays of wedding gowns attractively boxed,
like presentations of embalmed corpses.

#37 ::: Connie H. ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2007, 07:08 AM:

My sister-in-law had a significant train on her wedding dress, which I looked at askance until after the ceremony, I saw how it buttoned up very cleverly, and securely, into a pretty bustle that let her move around normally without accidentally taking out a good portion of the reception furniture and unfirm relatives.

Brenda, if you ever make it up to Boston, the real, original Filene's Basement has a designer wedding dress section where no salesperson will look askance as you try them on. (IIRC, there's still no dressing rooms, so prepared buyers wear lycra bodysuits under their street clothes.)

#38 ::: G. Jules ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2007, 07:10 AM:

Brrrr. David's Bridal. I can very easily see someone having to sell an unworn dress on eBay because DB altered it to fit someone else entirely -- I know of several people that's happened to. Hems shortened by chopping off inches of brocade, measurements given to the wrong dress....

Friends don't let friends get alterations at David's Bridal. They aren't even cheap -- I paid $35 to get a bridesmaid's gown altered at a local shop, where they did a lovely job, while another bridesmaid in the same wedding tried to get the same alteration at DB and got charged $90 for them to ruin the dress. They took it in several inches more than was needed, and unevenly, at that. It was a miracle they managed to get enough extra fabric from around the zipper to repair the thing.

#39 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2007, 07:17 AM:

Dave Bell #32: My wife is a church musician. She's played weddings that cost over half a million dollars and weddings where the best man was waiting in the church car park for the pizza to be delivered for the reception downstairs. I can tell you that every Saturday, the biggest churches in Atlanta do a roaring trade in expensive weddings.

#40 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2007, 09:39 AM:

#32--There's an entire commercial sector dedicated to making sure weddings are extravagant, over-the-top occasions, since it is, after all, The Most Important Day of Your Life--or, depending on who's writing the copy, The Happiest Day of Your Life. Both usages, but the latter one especially bother me--it's the thought that everything after that will be downhill from there on.

A friend of mine works as stage manager, and also works Events on the side. She helped someone else in the same business with the set-up and take down on a wedding last year that cost well over $150K. The color the bride selected was pale blue--and they had to custom-dye everything (no, not just the bridesmaids' dresses and shoes--I mean Everything--ribbons, table cloths, all of it) to get it the proper shade of pale blue. The decorations included topiaries of white roses lining the aisle. And so on.

The couple were in divorce court in under a year.

My mother is fond of pointing out that her wedding, in May, 1942, came in under a hundred dollars, including the dress, which was a blue silk afternoon dress, since she suspected she'd have trouble buying nice clothes For the Duration (as the War Department put it in on the letter my father got, calling him up for active duty) and they managed to make it last for 47 years.
Others here who have opted for similarly frugal nuptials may take this as an omen, if they like.

While the elaborate wedding has existed as a social phenomenon for a very long time, as it permitted the family involved to make an impressive social display, the lavishness was largely aimed at making the guests and the new in-laws speak well of the good taste and the quality of the hospitality the bride's family could manage. The new trend is part of the Everybody Wants to Be a Star/Celebrity trend we have turned loose on the world--and the guests are not there to be recipients of generous hospitality, but simply as an audience for a private fantasy.

#41 ::: Trey ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2007, 09:41 AM:

Ah, tales of the marital-industrial complex. Followed shortly thereafter by the natal-industrial complex.

#42 ::: JonathanMoeller ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2007, 09:41 AM:

I keep telling people that they only need two things, just two, for a successful wedding:

-Lots of pizza.

-A variety of refreshing adult beverages.

Alas, no one ever listens to me.

(Plus, a moratorium on excruciatingly bad poetry read by the bride's younger sister wouldn't hurt anything, either.)

#43 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2007, 10:22 AM:

Teresa Nielsen Hayden @#26:

I made my dress, and a matching shirt for Patrick.

Now that's romance. The whole wedding industry is designed to stamp out that sort of thing in favor of the notion that spending money is the only way to show love. I don't know how I've managed to stay married for 8 years without a steady stream of diamonds, actually.

#44 ::: John L ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2007, 10:23 AM:

My wedding was put together while both my wife and I were still in college, held the weekend before finals (so our friends could attend instead of disappearing to the Four Winds after the tests).

One of our friends majoring in Design made my wife's wedding dress for her senior project, and she charged only for the material.

I think the most expensive item was the wedding cake; all in all the whole event probably cost my wife's parents less than $300. We're still married 23 years later...

#45 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2007, 10:25 AM:

Teresa (#26), on the perfectly daft wedding dress: That looks like those ribbon rosettes for 'best in show' have been afflicted by gigantism and metastasized all over the train. Yikes. And isn't the whole point of a train that is supposed to trail gracefully behind you, rather than bump along?

#46 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2007, 11:24 AM:

Naomi (27): I know that site. I occasionally revisit it to get the giggles all over again. Cup holders!

Debcha (45), "best of show" rosettes were the first thing I thought of when I saw it. I can't figure out how the dress is supposed to work. I'd have thought that rearmost cushion cover is too far down the skirt to be gathered up into a bustle, but perhaps the skirt is designed to hang gracefully when kilted up like that. If so, she's still going to look like she's got a white satin version of a fancy Valentine box of chocolates stuck on her rump. Or possibly the "best of show" portion is propped on a hidden wheeled support structure so it'll dutifully trundle along after her?

I'll admit I kind of like this one. I'm a sucker for interesting materials. On the other hand, if I had that much Alençon lace (whether real or a good fake), I doubt I'd use it on a dress I'd only wear once.

Dave Bell, Fidelio's right: weddings are getting more expensive and fantasy-driven. The wedding industry is never going to tell a susceptible bride-to-be that she doesn't need to have the tablecloths match her chosen wedding colors, or that no one's going to forget whose wedding it is if the couple's initials aren't engraved on the Waterford crystal champagne flutes.

Certainly no wedding planner is going to tell her that. If brides and their families didn't get mired in the preparations for out-of-proportion weddings, the wedding planner's profession wouldn't exist.

Miss Manners deplores it, of course. She says that if you're putting on a wedding that's so far beyond your normal party-throwing habits that you have to hire a professional wedding planner, you're in over your head, and should scale back. "Like the parties you normally throw, only a bit fancier" is a good rule of thumb.

AHT (17), I was struck by your comment. It's the same story, only in your case it was face-to-face live action. Selling off an unused wedding dress is bound to be fraught. (I don't even want to think about this one).

#47 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2007, 11:52 AM:

fidelio 40: I wonder if there's actually a negative correlation between price of wedding and probability of the marriage succeeding? (We can count five years as survival, the way they do with cancer.)

If so, I expect it's because people who have such enormous lavish weddings tend to be spoiled upper-class brats with no ability to do the compromise and give-and-take needed for a successful marriage.

#48 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2007, 12:06 PM:

Xopher @ #47: I think you might have a point. I've been married 13 years, and our biggest expense was annoucements/invitations. I have a ridiculous number of wonderful relatives.

Get married inexpensively, blow lots of money on a fabulous honeymoon. Or a down on a house. Or stick it in the bank for when something bad happens.

#49 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2007, 12:22 PM:

I just got married earlier this year, at my favorite convention. We reserved one of the convention's panel rooms, grabbed a few cakes from the local bakery, and retired to the con suite for the "reception". Total cost was somewhere under $200, I think.

But while I was never tempted by the giant bride-eating dresses, I did spend some time wisting over the time-intensive wedding favors some people described making. While I can't see investing a thousand dollars in a dress when I already hate wearing dresses, I would have gladly invested the time and money into making two dozen knitted guest favors if I'd had the skill and sufficiently low stress level to manage it.

#50 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2007, 12:36 PM:

#47--Xopher, my mother would not disagree--but her rationale has nothing to do with economic or social class (you can have an extravagant weding, in terms of amount spent/your actual income, at any level) but the spoiled tag does come in to it. The basic question is: Do you want to be marrried to each other, or do you want to be the Star of an Event? (I won't argue that there isn't some factor of "I want it to be a Nice Wedding, with Cool Stuff that people can remember and talk about later on present even in a lot of simple weddings, or that this is a bad thing in itself--most of us would like to have the important memments in our lives made pleasantly memorable)

If what you want is to be married to each other most of all, then you can get past whether everything possible (except the dog, maybe) has been dyed to match or not fairly easily, as the wedding is just a celebration of what you want most: being married to each other. If what you want is to be the Star of a Major Production, the work involved in being married is likely to become tiresome quickly, once the ice sculptures on the buffet have melted and all twelve of the bridesmaids have put their dresses up for sale on eBay.

As far as the party aspect of it goes, the friend I mentioned who has part of the hired help at the dyed-to-match wedding is getting married herself. Her goal for the festivities: "I'd like our guests to be glad they came, and I'd like for us to be able to remember the day as a great start on our lives together." This seems to be to as good a mindset as you can get when you plan a wedding, I think--and you'll notice it says nothing about whether or not things are dyed to match, how much The Dress cost, or any of the rest of the spending traps wedding planners get their profits from.
She also notes, as one experienced in the business end of weddings, that mnost people in the industry--caterers, florists, bakers and so on--charge more for anything associated with weddings, because the people involved are so often exceptionally difficult to deal with.

#51 ::: Alan Braggins ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2007, 12:38 PM:

> Anyway, if going down to the Registry Office in a bus is OK for the Prince of Wales....

You could hardly call his first wedding cheap and understated though, could you?

#52 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2007, 12:45 PM:

Big weddings seem to be the norm among my husband's friends and family - the main expense being the open bar (folks around here* are mostly descended from drinking cultures). Taken as a social system, it actually works pretty well--someone different gets married every summer and bears the expense, but the same folks gather for each party. In big families where the generations get jumbled over time (aunts younger than siblings, that sort of thing) you can count on a steady stream of weddings, pretty much forever. Oh, and the weddings are fun, because the marrying couple view it as their big day to throw a party, rather than their one moment of romantic perfection.

One of the things this system kind of enforces is that your wedding shouldn't look too much grander than anyone else's, and if you have more money to spend than your cousin, you buy better booze, to everyone's benefit.

*Chicago southwest suburbs

#53 ::: cantabridgian poet ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2007, 01:13 PM:

I couldn't care less about whether our napkins match the color of the ribbons on our invitations, but since we want to throw a party for all our friends and family where we feed them dinner and dance into the night, we're already up pretty high in terms of cost. Feeding people is expensive, as is renting a spot big enough to accommodate all the people we'd like to have--and I don't *want* to be one of those people, who spend tens of thousands of dollars without blinking an eye.

#54 ::: Sharon M ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2007, 01:43 PM:

bad Jim @ 36: at least the boxed-for-posterity wedding dresses were chosen by the brides.

A friend who really got burned (petticoats! peach hats! matching earrings!) proposed a Bad Bridesmaid Dress party, so at least we could wear the things one more time (beware the phrase 'and you can wear it again').

She didn't go through with it, though. The not-insulting-people logistics ended up being to much of a hassle.

#55 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2007, 02:30 PM:

I've got a feeling that the worst thing that can possibly happen to you from an organizational stand-point, if you're getting married, is to take your parents up on any offer to pay for the event.

Once the parents get their teeth into organizing the big day, the poor couple at the centre of the maelstrom are no longer in control. So you see parents who're writing the big cheques using it as an opportunity to work out their own issues in public. If they feel they've neglected their offspring, they spend extravagantly on the wedding -- then guilt-trip the poor youngsters into going along with it ("look how much I'm spending on you! You do look good in that dress, don't you?").

Then there are the parents who were themselves the victims of a drive-by parent-organized wedding a generation ago. They never had the wedding of their dreams, but by golly they've got a chance to organize it this time round! Thus passing the frustration on to another generation.

The wedding industry plays on this -- on feelings of inadequacy, or on mum's frustrated desire for her own dream wedding -- and adds the conspicuous consumption, and the celebrity culture envy, and the diamond engagement rings (a tradition invented out of whole cloth by de Beers earlier in the century), and a whole bunch more stuff on top. It's the worst kind of guilt-driven marketing, and it's inflated the cost of the average wedding in Scotland up to £17,000 -- even though the average full-time wage is only £18,000.

(It didn't occur to me to propose to Feorag until we were thoroughly independent and effectively immune to drive-by wedding management, so we Escaped. We got married four-and-a-bit years ago ... on our tenth anniversary. And we organized the event and footed the bill ourselves, and it cost a lot less than that average, even including the honeymoon. How did we do it? Well, for starters we didn't spend £650 on hiring a tent for the day. Or £200 to hire a bagpipe-playing fool, or £3000 on a dress -- that's the average price, apparently! -- or £150 to hire a Rolls Royce. Or £800 on flowers. The mind, she boggles ...)

#56 ::: Scorpio ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2007, 02:31 PM:

What gets me is that size 10-12 is billed as "Large". Now that represents a sick culture.

#57 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2007, 02:48 PM:

In deference to everyone who has had, who plans, or who has been a part of big (or biggish) weddings that were not nickel and dime affairs but were a lot of fun--I really think the cut-off line is not whether one spent over $x dollars, but the attitude the people having the wedding went into (and through) the proceedings with. Wanting to entertain your guests well (with "well" defined as seeing to it they have a good time and a lot of fun, and that "good time" and "fun" are not defined as making book on whether the bride and her mother will kill each other before the day is over, running a cost estimate on the various decorative details involved, or speculating on whether the marriage will last once the groom's sobered up and the bride has come down from the high of being a princess for the day) is not the same as being an extravagant idiot about the details.

It's the attitude that you carry in there with you that makes the mood, more than anything else you do. Some things just aren't going to be cheap; finding a place for a reception can be a challenge, and even if you have friends who'll cook for you as free labor, providing a meal (which, if a lot of people have traveled from out of town, is exceedingly thoughtful, as well as a chance to relax and visit) costs money. Like any other form of hospitality, though, what matters most is how the people most closely involved see the occasion: a small budget affair can be stingy and grudging, or simple and charming, depending on how you treat each other and the people who come, and a large budget affair can be warm and welcoming, or just an exercise in ostentation. Once you've been to your share of weddings, you can tell the difference.

To compare, Mary Dell's in-laws with their open bars and big dinners are re-connecting with their family and long-time friends, and are beginning to bond with new family and friends, while the girl with everything but the dog dyed to match was living out a fantasy fueled by purveyors of luxury goods; it was an exercise in the care in feeding of an ego, and not a feast of love among friends; except as an audience, and as sources of wedding gifts, the guests didn't matter much to her.

#58 ::: dlacey ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2007, 03:23 PM:

Hmmm, this thread is bringing up some bad memories of the time when I was maid of honour for a very good friend and the groom backed out an hour and a half before the ceremony was about to begin. That was a bad day, and my friend was devastated, as was I seeing her so deeply hurt.

Regarding the expense of a wedding, I have never understood how a couple, particularly a young couple starting out, could spend the kind of money on a party that would essentially cover the down payment on a house.

#59 ::: Johan Larson ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2007, 03:57 PM:

I have never understood how a couple, particularly a young couple starting out, could spend the kind of money on a party that would essentially cover the down payment on a house.

Several reasons come to mind.

1. Because mom and dad are paying. 2. Because that's how it's done in the family. 3. Because they'll probably never have a chance to splurge like that again.

I must admit I would be interested in attending a truly extravagant wedding one day. I've only been to two of them, and both were fairly restrained affairs.

#60 ::: R. M. Koske ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2007, 04:03 PM:

I'm honestly not sure how much my wedding cost. I think it was somewhere in the $3000 range. That covered everything but the honeymoon-dress, tuxes, venue, food, everything. I do know we spent considerably less than most of my cousins did, and considerably more than my father was happy with.

The advice from Miss Manners that Teresa mentions sounds like the reason I ended up so happy with the whole thing. Our wedding was rather like an SCA revel with buffet food and a wedding ceremony at the start. I don't know if I would throw a regular party that large, but if I did, it would be exactly like that.

I listen to people talk about weddings at work, and I'm fascinated and appalled by the scope of the things. No wonder everyone goes crazy.

#61 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2007, 04:08 PM:

cantabridgian poet, that's the thing. It costs money. Everybody says they will have a simple wedding, and some people actually do, but it's not always possible. As you say, if you want to celebrate with friends and family, you want to feed them. And just the space and the food can cost a LOT, especially depending on where you are. It's not necessarily about frippery, greed, and neuroses. I've never been a pretty-princess kind of girl, but I know if/when I get married, I want to celebrate with my family and good friends, and there are kind of a lot of them.

I actually ran across a great post on this topic today, from what I think is one of the better personal-finance-advice blogs out there.

God, that sounds spammy. Check my previous posts! I swear I'm a real person!

#62 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2007, 04:25 PM:

Scorpio @56: What gets me is that size 10-12 is billed as "Large". Now that represents a sick culture.

If it makes any difference, bridesmaid/wedding gowns are generally sized smaller than standard RTW in the US (iirc, closer to sewing-pattern sizes? I don't sew, so I could be mistaken); one online shop has a list of charts here.

Meanwhile, while trying to source when/where I'd seen this, I discovered to my horror that since then, it's been outdone.

#63 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2007, 04:36 PM:

Meanwhile, from another Brit newspaper article:

Then there was the recent wedding of "anarchic knitter", Freddie Robins. Organised by Rachael Matthews of the Cast-Off Knitting Club, and hosted by the Pumphouse Gallery in South London, the bride wore a hand-knitted gown and carried a woollen bouquet; afterwards, there was a knitted cake, sandwiches and bottles of champagne.

#64 ::: Kathryn from Sunnyvale ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2007, 04:38 PM:

I recommend the book One Perfect Day: The Selling of the American Wedding, based on my skim-read of it. It's like "The American Way of Death" for the wedding-industrial-complex. (I picked it up because a good friend is going to be married next year, and I'm going to be the matroid of honor*.)

* there needs to be a "Ms." equivalent for this job.

#65 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2007, 04:56 PM:

charlie stross,

I've got a feeling that the worst thing that can possibly happen to you from an organizational stand-point, if you're getting married, is to take your parents up on any offer to pay for the event.

that is why you have to choose your parents carefully. the bulk of our wedding was paid for by both sets of parents, but we got pretty much exactly what we wanted, & there really were no fights, either among the couple or among the families.

my parents live two continents away (also they are hippies & had married off two children already), & they told me how much they'd spend on my wedding, and then sent me a check for that amount. i could spend it on whatever (they didn't know 'til the day what my dress looked like or what the menu was), but i couldn't go over.

mike's parents live in the same area as us, & ended up spending rather more than i had hoped. it was my fault, cause i wanted to have the wedding at their house (they have a nice house and a giiiiant backyard, & they built it all themselves shortly before mike was born). they did spent thousands, but it all went into getting their place into the standard they thought (i kept saying it was fine as it was, i swear!) they needed to host a reception for 60. so they spent a lot, but it was all on their own home & grounds, so they get to benefit from it for more than one day.

our goal was for us to have fun, & our guests to have fun. my biggest expenditure was on food: it had to be kosher, & it was important to me that it be good (not fancy) and enough. in judaism, the first requirement for happiness is lots of good food.

everyone i heard from said it was one of the best weddings ever, beautiful, laid-back, & delicious. & it wasn't even the best day of my life, or the best day of my marriage so far.

#66 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2007, 04:56 PM:

#56 ::: Scorpio winced:
What gets me is that size 10-12 is billed as "Large". Now that represents a sick culture.

Well - given that the current size 10-12 would have been a 16-18 50 years ago...

The sick part of the culture is the obsession with numbers, not the numbers.

#67 ::: Robert L ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2007, 05:03 PM:

Teresa (and Naomi #27): There's also this site:

which I learned about through an article in People magazine on the subject.

#68 ::: pat greene ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2007, 05:14 PM:

R.M.Koske, my wedding was around 3K as well. If pressed, I could find my planning notebook.

That was 25 years ago. My father said he would pay for it, but he wanted me to give him an estimate in advance of how much it was going to cost. (I knew the date a year in advance). I took estimates on all the relevant known expenses, threw in a 10% "Things I forgot or didn't know about" factor and a 3% inflation rate, and gave him the numbers. I brought the wedding in on time (well, of course) and fifty dollars under budget.

Only time in my life I've planned something that well. On the other hand, I did force several men in my life to wear powder blue tuxedos.

#69 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2007, 05:15 PM:

Johan Larson @#59:

I've only been to one extravagant wedding, and it was definitely a show the parents were putting on, with the kids as the main players. I don't mean that in a cynical way - it was an absolutely lovely wedding. Hindu, ceremony trimmed down because the bride & groom were 1st-generation Americans and weren't going to tolerate a 3-day shindig, so it was "only" 2 hours or so of actual ceremony.

Everyone in the room was dressed in gorgeous fabrics and jewels - the room was at the Palmer House Hilton and there were probably 200 guests. The bride and groom's clothes were handmade silk, embrodered with gold thread and she was practically dripping in diamonds. They were married under a canopy of long-stemmed roses, and there were so many roses placed around the room that you could smell them before you came into the space.

The ceremony didn't seem to include vows--there were a lot of sections with people instructing, admonishing, or praying over the bride and groom, and several trips around a sacred fire. The feeling of the ceremony was that it was about a change in status, not just from being single to being married, but also into being regarded as adults by the rest of the family. And the love expressed in the ceremony was about family, not romance--the ceremony begins with the bride's family welcoming the groom as he's presented by his parents, and then with the bride bidding a weepy goodbye to her brothers. A veil is held up between the bride and groom until they're formally joined to each other. It's a cool ceremony.

For the reception, all the young people in the wedding changed into western-style fancy clothes--not wedding-gown fancy, but nice long party dresses, with a white one for the bride. Dinner was buffet-style, Indian food on one side and American on the other. There were ice sculptures and other fancy touches, as well as heaps more flowers.

The bride and groom were about 24 years old and had been dating since halfway through college, and were both working normal jobs that people have at that age. Their families were paying for the wedding and buying them a house. The whole feeling of the event was very sweet, with the bride's father particularly bursting with pride and everybody very happy. It didn't seem like the young couple was being indulged--just the opposite. This was their way of indulging their parents' desire to have an opulent traditional wedding for their children, and it helped smooth over the whole issue of choosing their own mates and other premarital indulgences.

#70 ::: cantabridgian poet ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2007, 05:15 PM:

fidelio: That's reassuring. I keep telling myself variations on that theme, and we won't be going into debt or anything (both sets of parents are being extremely generous, and if they weren't, we would find a way to have a party we could afford), but there's definitely a feeling that we're succumbing to pressure from the industry. It's nice to have an outside reminder that we're throwing the party we want and ignoring the parts we don't care about, like engraved invitations or massive floral centerpieces or a designer dress or ten attendants. We still can't invite everyone that we'd like to, but we hope it'll be close.

Caroline, that article was great--it's really useful to hear "yes, you can have what you want" instead of the standards of cutting down the guest list, just having a cocktail reception, or finding "free" alternatives. We don't have time to handcraft 150 invitations; we don't have friends in the area with enormous backyards (although if we did we'd consider it); we're certainly not going to assume that our friends who are photographers will donate their time, effort and materials with no compensation.

#71 ::: cantabridgian poet ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2007, 05:29 PM:

pat greene: My mother did that too! She says now she wishes she'd let my dad wear his military dress uniform. My dad says he wished that then.

#72 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2007, 05:47 PM:

cantabridgian poet (#70): I recently gained a brother-in-law-in-law at a lovely low-key wedding where the "rehearsal dinner" was a pair of 26" pizzas[1] and the "church" was a grassy area on the shore of Lake Crescent.

Sure, it could have cost less money (on down to the "go to courthouse, pay fee, sign papers, congratulations" level) but it was very much what the couple wanted it to be, and we all had fun. I don't think you can really ask for more. Have the party you want, and enjoy yourselves.

[1] If you're in Port Angeles, WA and want good pizza, call these folks.

#73 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2007, 06:02 PM:

Our wedding was low-key. A few friends, some munchies, and a pre-recorded videotape of Forbidden Planet. Yes, all present were SF fans. How did you guess?

#74 ::: Kristin S. ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2007, 06:17 PM:

Scorpio @56: What gets me is that size 10-12 is billed as "Large". Now that represents a sick culture.

As Julie L said, not only is a 10-12 considered large, it's really equal to your average size 8-10. So, as someone who is a borderline 10-12 in normal clothes and getting married next year, I have to try on size 14 gowns.

Which, although a little disheartening, is fine. Except, for instance, when I tried to go shopping at the non-profit Bridal Garden in New York. They sell donated and once worn dresses and give the proceeds to a children's charity--I thought that I could get a great dress and do a good deed.

Too bad that they told me not to bother coming in. Apparently, they don't have a lot of "dresses that big."

It's not their fault that their selection is limited, after all, they are accepting donations. But still.

#75 ::: Eleanor ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2007, 06:34 PM:

About 15 years after my parents got married, my dad wore my mother's wedding dress in a New Year's Day fancy dress fun run. Which proves, I suppose, that a sense of humour is more important for a happy marriage than an extravagant wedding. This year is their 34th anniversary.

By the way, the Eleanor who posted upthread isn't me.

#76 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2007, 07:43 PM:

Kathryn from Sunnyvale @#64:

* there needs to be a "Ms." equivalent for this job.

I've heard "Best Woman" once or twice. Although on one occasion that was because the groom's best friend was a woman, so she was in the Best Man role, not the Maid/Matron of H. I believe I've heard of "Man of Honor" for a male Bride's best friend, too, but that might just be my imagination.

#77 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2007, 07:45 PM:

Mary Dell (#69): Other than the choice of venue, your description doesn't sound unusually extravagant for a middle- or upper-middle class South Asian wedding - it could be a reasonable description of my siblings' weddings - and it's a nice reminder that the 'princess for a day' pathology is not a cultural invariant. Hindu weddings are a) really, really important events and b) about both families and not (traditionally, at least) about the couple. For example, there are no groomsmen or maids of honour; both sets of parents, and possibly a sibling or two (like an elder son) sit with the bride and groom. And weddings are almost always planned and paid for by the parents. While there is inevitably going to be an element of showing off one's social status, it's not an exercise in control by a single person. And, like weddings in your family, they are normally large and attended by every member of your family, so there is plenty of opportunity for social reciprocity.

I'm sure there is a lot of cultural variation in what weddings are like - anyone else want to kick in?

#78 ::: vian ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2007, 08:36 PM:

charlie stross:

My husband and I got around the parents-hijacking-the-wedding problem by simply living together for ten years before we got married.[1]

When we decided to get married, we announced it to my Very Catholic and Rather Disapproving folks (assuming all the while that we would be paying for it, because, well, they were Very Catholic and Rather Disapproving, and how cheeky would I have to be to expect a red cent from them?) and my dad was so delighted and relieved he pretty much agreed to all our plans: 50 people, max, bride wearing red, at a winery. My thesis supervisor, coincidentally a Catholic priest, as celebrant. $2Kish including the dress, and we drank the winery out of chardonnay. Well, I didn't. I'm a red drinker.

So, it's all in how you prepare your parents for the Big day, really. A bit of careful planning, and they will behave themselves.

[1] Well, OK, that's not why we did it, but it makes a better story.

#79 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2007, 10:56 PM:

There've been several citations of size deflation answering Scorpio@56. Wasn't there a full thread on that topic, not that long ago?

We did the JP thing, partly for sanity (we were both busy at work) and partly to keep the 'rents out of it -- no hostility, just a desire to KISS. Dropped the announcements in a mailbox afterward (the only person who knew in advance was the witness) and went off to a fannish getaway weekend.

#80 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2007, 11:50 PM:

bad Jim, #36, my mother's wedding dress was later worn by three other women so I think it got a good bit of use.

Connie H, #37, a lot of trains just detach.

Charlie, #55, I once went to the wedding of a friend, held at a hotel, and there were about 10 of us who were actually friends of the bride & groom. The rest of the 300 or so guests were business colleagues/clients (with wives)) of the bride's father. (Wedding didn't last a year, but none of us had the nerve to warn them ahead of time.)

Julie L, #62, those brides in the Sun were children.

#81 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2007, 11:52 PM:

Marilee @ 80... a lot of trains just detach

Steam-powered or diesel?

#82 ::: vian ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2007, 12:06 AM:

Marilee, #80 those brides in the Sun were children.

They didn't look like children. They looked like people whose deepest desire was to look like a dolly-toilet-roll-holder. Or two.

Hang on, maybe they did look like children. May their marriages be longer than their trains, and fuller than their petticoats.

#83 ::: Nomie ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2007, 12:08 AM:

My parents had a fairly ridiculous wedding given the time - they were both only children, so it was really a case of satisfying their parents. But then, like vian@78, I think the elders were all glad that my mom and dad were finally getting married after living together for five years (and moving in together a week after they met).

Coincidentally, today was their thirtieth wedding anniversary. Or yesterday, as it's just passed midnight.

#84 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2007, 01:08 AM:

I'm near the beginning of the age where my peers are getting married-- graduated college last summer, and that led to at least three weddings. Besides realizing that some of my mother's advice is right-- don't get married too young because none of your friends can buy you good gifts yet-- I noticed that the first wedding of the group is guaranteed to have problems. They're not usually major problems, because planning a wedding during one's senior year of college, in between grad school interviews, usually means one's parents do the heavy lifting, but little things like the church being more stadium than chapel or not having anywhere for guests to sit while they wait for the photographer to finish. I could see the other couples' brains working as they learned from the little mistakes.

#85 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2007, 01:09 AM:

Teresa, #46: If she's selling a size-24 wedding gown, it would be nice to see it on a size-24 model! That must be a picture cut out of a bridal magazine, and it doesn't fill me with confidence about how the actual dress would look at rather more than twice that size. Not saying she should necessarily model it herself, but couldn't she borrow a friend or a friend's fitting dummy?

I hired a wedding organizer, which may or may not be the same thing as the "wedding planners" you're talking about. In my case, it was the convenience of one-stop-shopping for a lot of things I'd have otherwise had to arrange for by myself -- decorations, flowers, and catering being the main ones. But her prices were very reasonable, and none of what she did could have been described as lavish; "attractive but modest" was the look we were going for.

My now-ex and I were paying for most of it ourselves, specifically because we wanted to be the ones with the final say over what was done! IIRC, it came in for something under $3,000 because we were creative with our options -- for example, we got a good deal on the university chapel because of my alumna status; I bought fabric and a pattern for my gown, hired a theatrical costumer to make it, and did the beadwork decoration myself; my engagement ring was my grandmother's engagement diamond, remounted in a vintage setting from the local jeweler -- that sort of thing.

Fidelio, #50 & #57 -- Yes. That.

#86 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2007, 01:55 AM:

I mentioned, earlier this month, that I had a family wedding to go to which interfered with our ability to go stay with friends at Lake Chelan, and then I never mentioned the wedding. It was a bit of a hodge-podge, in a way- the bride, groom, and best man wore high-test formal wear, but there were no bridesmaids identifiable as such.

My cousin has spent the last forty-five years improving on her excellant genetics, and chose a dress which was both lavish in detail (a laced-up back closing and crystal bead embroidry) and simple in outline tos how off the success of her self-improvement to best advantage.

The reception was in her parents' backyard, which interfered with his vegetable garden plans for the summer; the flowers on the dining tables would have cost the earth, for anyone else's wedding (our mutual aunt is a florist) and the catering was quite nice, with an open wine and beer bar, and an espresso bar as well. Dinner was roast beef, sauteed chicken, twice-baked potatoes, and two kinds of salad. I wish mine hadn't been the last table served and the first cleared, but, oh, well.

Now if the groom's family hadn't treated all of us on the bride's side as if we were a bunch of heathens/hicks/non-people, it would have been a wonderful wedding.

#87 ::: Annie G. ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2007, 10:01 AM:

debcha #70, as another cultural data point, I've attended some truly lavish weddings in the NYC area. No true society weddings, but several where quite a bit was spent, and at least one where cost was entirely beside the point. That one was, of the (many) weddings I've attended in the past 5 years, the most about putting on appearances for the guests and the least fun.

Diatryma #84, you learn a lot as a wedding guest about how to plan a wedding. My husband and I got married relatively late in the post-college and -law-school marital bell curve you're describing, so we had attended some 30-35 weddings in the 5 years we had been dating before our own. That, plus our experiences as attendants (six attendant gigs between us), helped us to be aware of pitfalls to avoid.

My recent wedding wasn't low cost, but I tried to be conscious of where the costs were coming from and why I was incurring them. For one thing, I grew up in Brooklyn, and it was important to me to get married in my childhood church, and to hold the reception in a place that was meaningful to me (and pretty). There were also a number of family members and close friends, on all sides (mine, his, our respective parents), that we felt it was important to invite. Unfortunately, the cost of renting a space and feeding that number of guests, at NYC prices, was high. However, I felt that those two factors-- places and people that were important to us-- were worth that cost.

#88 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2007, 10:53 AM:

Charlie Stross (and others): eventual weddings of long-time live-togethers* can certainly take most of the anxiety and expense out of things. Any surviving parents and close relatives are just relieved, and frills aren't necessary. Kerry and I wore simple Old West Formal -- Locus ran a picture taken in a photo booth several months before the actual marriage -- and it was a courthouse wedding. (Nice old courthouse in Prescott, from back when it was the Territorial capital.) The restaurant dinner later was lousy, since we didn't really know the local eateries and didn't pick it out ourselves, but with a minimal number of relatives and friends it was low-key, just as we wanted.

*nearly 17 years, in our case -- next year we'll have been together for 25

The only real bummer was the death, not long afterward, of the officiating judge (in a car crash). He'd endeared himself to us by coming in on a snowy day and doing the ceremony in his socks.

#89 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2007, 11:00 AM:

#88--Faren, I'll see your shoeless judge, and raise with the judge who married some friends of mine several years ago--she had brought her recently spayed cat into her chambers, as the veterinarian had told her to keep an eye one the patient, and make sure she didn't jump around a lot. So during the ceremony, the cat explored the courtroom, mooching for sttention from us and from the pair of lawyers who'd shown early up for a conference with the judge.

Luckily my friends are cat-lovers, and found it amusing to have this additional guest.

#90 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2007, 11:42 AM:

Mary Dell (76): My second sister-in-law had a Man of Honor as her only attendant. He was the friend who had introduced them.

That was a nice wedding. They had planned to elope and have a reception later, but so many people were disappointed by the prospect of missing the wedding itself that they changed their minds and threw it together in about six weeks. Small--about 40 people, at least half of them immediate family. Outside in a local park, catered by her former boss as a wedding present, with my father officiating and my mother providing the music.

#91 ::: TChem ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2007, 11:43 AM:

Diatryma #84: That's exactly when I got married, the summer after I graduated college, and that's exactly what happened. We were the first ones, and we did an acceptable, reasonably-priced job of it, but in the 5 years since, it's obvious that we provided an object lesson to many (people have also imitated some of the cool stuff we did too, which is nice).

Examples: double check times with every service provider several days before. Include a map to the hospital in the "info for out-of-town guests" packet, if you're making one up (90+% of our guests were out-of-town, so there wasn't a critical mass of collective wisdom). Set up some chairs near the dance floor. Don't get sick.

My advice for people is always the same: "Make a list of the bare minimum that will make you happy that day. Refer to that frequently. It *always* gets more complicated, but you'll get less wrapped up in it if you remember what's important."

#92 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2007, 12:18 PM:

Oh, the cool-things list is growing too. The only two family wedding rules I know of, declared by my mother, are that "Sunrise, Sunset" is not a wedding song and that the officiant will walk partway down the aisle during the vows so everyone can see the couple's faces. I'm stealing and adapting the wedding favors from the first wedding of the summer-- most of the guests were bio majors, most of the wedding party was headed to grad school in molec bio of some sort, and the favors were culture dishes with pretties inside. I don't have any plans to get married (I don't have any plans to *date* at the moment) but I love the idea of culture-plate Jell-O. Just in case the guests hadn't realized I'm a nerd.

#93 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2007, 12:26 PM:

Fidelio #89:

And I'll raise you a JP (ours) in the gazebo in the square-block park opposite the courthouse, closing the wedding by saying "Y'all go and vote, now!", it being a municipal election day.

So we went back to the house with the friends who had shown up (no written-out invitations, just a "we're getting married on Saturday at 11:00"), had the fancy Pepperidge Farm cookie assortment and some inexpensive Spanish sparkling plonk, and then the two of us and our Best People (who themselves got married in the same place by the same judge seven weeks later) went off to brunch. After which we all went off and voted.

#94 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2007, 12:44 PM:

Diatryma @92: "Sunrise, Sunset" NOT a wedding song!?

And I quote:

"Now is the little boy a bridegroom, now is the little girl a bride...Under the canopy I see them, side by side..."

#95 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2007, 12:58 PM:

It is a wedding song, in context, but everyone on my mother's side of the family is forbidden to use it in an actual wedding. I don't think anyone has really considered it, but the ban stands.

#96 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2007, 01:42 PM:

Caroline (61), that was an interesting article, so stop apologizing. Someone in the comment thread linked to a further article about wedding costs, also interesting. I wrote a comment on the first article:

It's all very well to go on about how much money you saved on your wedding -- no doubt lots of good ideas there -- but it does start sounding like the Four Yorkshiremen talking about how hard they had it as kids: "You got married under a tarp held up by four sticks? Luxury! We'd have given our eyeteeth to have a tarp, if we hadn't sold our eyeteeth already. We got married in a cardboard box on a traffic island on the Interstate Highway, and thought ourselves lucky..."
(Way too many commenters had explained at length how cleverly they'd managed to get married on some below-average amount of money.)
Here's the heart of the matter: retail businesses have their pricing structures. Within those structures, there's almost always a level near the top of the scale that's there to catch people who don't ask how much a thing costs. Those people are spending Fool Money. The most expensive thing you can say is "Price is no object." You're really saying "Hello, charge me the Fool Money rate."

It's worse if your fantasies about fairy-princess luxury include the idea that fairy princesses never have to stop and consider how much something costs. In some families, budget discussions are always painful. They're not about the sense of power and reassurance you get from being in control of your own finances. Instead, they're always and forever about not having enough money -- even if the family in question is well off. If you internalize that emotional response to budgeting, the only way to not have that flash of pain when you consider buying something is if you don't consider the cost at all. And how can you have your special, perfect day if all the preparations for it hurt? So the lid comes off the budget.

There is, in fact, a link between overspending at weddings and the incidence of divorce. Money problems are the single biggest source of stress for young couples. Taking on a heavy load of wedding debt may not break every marriage, but it makes things a lot harder than they need to be.

The trick isn't to not have fantasies. You're going to have them. That's good. They nourish the soul. But you have to learn to manage them in non-destructive ways. Loading yourself down with years of debt in order to film an advertisement for the life you wish you were having is not a good plan for happiness.

For instance, I keep hearing young women justify their wedding spending on the grounds that they've been dreaming about this day since they were little girls. Well, so what? Little kids have lots of fantasies, but most kids don't grow up to be firemen or cowgirls or clowns. Why should this little-girl fantasy about the perfect wedding day be so overwhelmingly important that it makes you throw reason and prudence out the window? Learn some new stories! Fantasize about something else!

Besides, the perfect wedding day makes a lousy fantasy. You get ONE DAY of pretending you're the most special girl in the whole wide world. Is that it? Will the rest of your life be an anticlimax? Is getting married the only adventure you can imagine having?

The other reason the perfect wedding day makes a lousy fantasy is that weddings take place in the real world, and they involve other people. All it takes is a freak thunderstorm, case of food poisoning, scheduling mixup, regional blackout, heart attack, decamped caterer, bad fall on a polished floor, et cetera, to bust you back down into the thoroughly imperfect everyday world. And those are just physical mishaps. There's no guarantee that none of your guests are going to be involved in an acrimonious lawsuit with another guest, or grab the mike from the DJ and start exhorting everyone to Come to Jesus, or get drunk and decide to have it out, at the top of her lungs, with the older cousin who sexually abused her as a child and the aunt who (as she sees it) let it happen. If your wedding-day dreams can't encompass the sudden eruption of messy real-world events, you need to re-think them.

The point isn't to have the cheapest wedding possible. The point is to not think of your wedding as something that happens on another plane of reality from the rest of your life, and plan for it like you'd plan for any other major expense.

I'm late to the party, so I doubt anyone will reply to what I said there, but it'll be interesting if they do.

#97 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2007, 02:15 PM:

Teresa, I had a mental flash when reading your comment...

Considering the amount of money that can be involved in throwing a wedding, why is it that no bank, savings'n'loan or credit union has marketed a "wedding" account?

Like those old "Christmas Club" accounts that some financial institutions used to have?

I have visions of little girls saving their pennies to put into their "hope" account, just like young ladies of earlier eras putting items in a "hope chest."

#98 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2007, 02:27 PM:

Lori Coulson #97: Speaking as a former bank teller, I can tell you that at least some banks still have Christmas Clubs. And thanks a lot for that nightmare...

#99 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2007, 02:48 PM:

I've been a bit defensive, reading my thread. Barring the land war in Asia, you'd think we'd made all the classic mistakes in our wedding. My parents paid for it, for one thing, and the dress cost over $1,000 for the silk alone.


But I'm the first daughter in generations to get along with her mother. So after a history of quick weddings (my mother gave her mother two weeks' notice of the ceremony) and even a genuine elopement to Reno in the 40's when you did not do that*, this was the first time any of us could have fun with the frills and furbelows‡.

We learned from previous weddings (disposable cameras on all the tables at the reception, reception at the place the previous couple had held a handfasting). We saved money where we didn't care about money (stereo from the house rather than a band to dance to) and where craftsmanship substituted (ikebana flower arrangements as a gift, invitations printed on my father's letterpress, dress made by my mother).

Though we had one uncontrolled screaming battle in the preparations, the planning time was mostly happy time. And we threw it like a party, not an event - invited people we loved**, served good food (chocolate wedding cake with white chocolate icing), laughed a lot. It was the kind of wedding where long-running quarrels were resolved and estranged friends talked again for the first time in years.

That was 14 years ago. So we don't match the "expensive wedding = short marriage" pattern. Probably because we spent the money for the joy of it, not the appearance of it.

* Complete with shotgun†, not because my grandmother was pregnant, but because my great-grandmother was Really Displeased that the wedding had occurred.

† No. Really. Fired, even, in the discussion, albeit just into the air to make a point.

‡ Of Chantilly lace.

** my gentleman of honour was the guy who introduced us, too. However, with the men in kilts, it was useful to have someone in trousers in the bridal party.

#100 ::: mk ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2007, 03:11 PM:

The wedding industry here in Hawai'i includes businesses that do lavish traditional Japanese/Western-style/combination weddings for Japanese visitors, including planners, non-denominational chapels, and formal-wear rentals. I'm trying to find an English-language page or site for an example, but am not having much luck (perhaps for the obvious reasons). One of my clients is a wedding singer who works primarily for chapels specializing in these weddings. She says Disney movies have provided song selections, along with the usual standards.

I will be a bridesmaid for an upcoming wedding in which the US-born bride will appear in 3 wedding costumes. The latest plan is for her to wear a vintage wedding kimono for the ceremony (less expensive than buying new), a colorful kimono for the receiving line (these are available as rentals by the hour - usually includes cost of having an on-site dresser to get the bride into and out of the kimono), and then a Western-style dress for the reception. She won't be renting her wedding kimono because she plans to have it framed and hung on the wall in their bedroom.

#101 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2007, 03:27 PM:

Abi, I don't think your kind of wedding sounds like the kind people are talking about negatively here. A few thousand for a dress isn't in the 20k 20 stone category.

I'm not going to presume to ask you the final bill, but I don't think anyone here is against nice weddings, just extravagant ones. Things you've said in your post already take you out of that category (I always admire the stereo/mp3 playlist people. Every time I've been to a wedding that used one of those it's been better than a live band).

The point is to have a good wedding within your means where every detail is not the subject of intense scrutiny/obsession.

I've been to some damn nice weddings in the last few years, with very different levels of expenditure. No prima-donna brides though, and I think that's why everything went well... from the Quaker Meeting hall one to the one with the gold and crystal tiara. It's all about your rational means, and the emotions behind it. There's no set price that is "foolish."

#102 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2007, 03:41 PM:

Comign soon to the SciFi Channel... BridesMade of Frankenstein...

"Young lady, you are not marrying that walking corpse!"
"I will. I love him. He makes me laugh. Yes, I'll say it, he leaves me in stitches."

#103 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2007, 03:53 PM:

Speaking from experience, I'd say, don't accept an offer from parents to pay for the wedding unless either you've got a really good relationship with your parents and are absolutely sure they will let it be your wedding reception not their social event on the event of your wedding, or you don't mind if it's their social event rather than your occasion...

ALSO, if it is going to be a big family affair, with all the second cousins, your parent's friends etc. etc., count the number of people, divide by the number of minutes in the day, allow for time taken by the ceremony, eating time (for them, at least - don't presume you'll have time) and so on, and you'll realise you won't have much time to spend with your friends. You know. The people you rarely get to see because you're scattered all over the country/globe, and who have come all this way to be with you on your big day. So organise a pizza supper or something the day before the wedding, inviting just those friends - a relaxed time when you can actually sit down and chat a bit. Then you won't mind as much when you spend most of the wedding day saying hello and goodbye to all those people your parents invited.

#104 ::: Howard Peirce ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2007, 04:09 PM:

Coming soon to the SciFi Channel... BridesMade of Frankenstein.

Serge, I can just see the invitations: A lovely mezzotint of the Matterhorn, and beneath it, the simple inscription, "You will be with us on our wedding day."

#105 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2007, 04:22 PM:

Howard Peirce @ 104... "My heart goes to the newlywed couple. In fact, here's its UPS tracking number."

#106 ::: Lurking Maggie ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2007, 04:41 PM:

I'm currently in the preliminary stages of planning my wedding (very, very preliminary), and while the bridal-industrial complex scares the screaming tulle* out of me, I have to admit the Four Yorkshiremen problem has got me feeling a little defensive about having a wedding at all.

However, my sister just got married, and it was a good example of how a wedding can go right. They prioritized -- food and music were the important things, and everything else was flexible -- and kept track of everything. (The Big Binder of Wedding Documentation was a daunting sight.) The people who ran the site where it took place kept saying it was one of the most laid-back weddings they'd seen.

So it's heartening to know that even with tuxes and Dupioni silk, you can have a laid-back wedding. We'll be working on a much tighter budget, but that just means we'll have different priorities and ultimately a different result.

* There are dresses that really look as if the bride crapped either tulle or buttercream frosting. The more bridal magazines I read, the simpler I want the whole affair to be.

#107 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2007, 04:45 PM:

Lori Coulson @ 97, the fellow who wrote the original article in fact argues that people ought to do just that -- start a savings account specifically for their weddings. He makes spreadsheets to lay out how much you ought to be saving per month, based on the assumption that you will marry at 27 and the wedding will cost $28,000. (At age 20, it's something like $300. By 25, it's more like $3000. I am somewhat behind the ball here. $3000 is....well, let us just say it is more than one month's paycheck for me.)

That proposition is a bit fraught, because of all the politics involved with a woman planning her wedding before she is engaged -- people will jump to the "Insert Groom Here" assumption. Even my boyfriend, who has known me for more than six years and knows that I am just the sort of fiscally prudent person to plan ahead like that, would probably be pretty awkward if I started saving for a wedding.

(While I'm recommending things, I will recommend Kamy Wicoff's book I Do But I Don't, for an interesting discussion of how that dynamic plays out.)

Also, I think Teresa's comment is fantastically insightful.

#108 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2007, 04:53 PM:

Some years ago, I surprised a college roommate by saying that no, I'd never thought about my wedding, except the rules I mentioned above. She said that every girl she knew had the wedding planned-- bridesmaids had been alerted in some cases. In fact, that was pretty close to when she decided that I'd be a bridesmaid at hers. I agreed, though I should have thought to say, "As long as we both know each other and are friends."
I'm just not from a wedding family. My mother handed her wedding preparations to her mother; her unmarried sisters were playfully resentful at the precedent. I'd do the same, except Mom doesn't want to plan a wedding. I don't mind big weddings, fancy weddings, perfect weddings, but I'm not willing to put in that kind of work before it's even a possibility.

#109 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2007, 04:53 PM:

You don't have to spend huge amounts on a dress, even for a "wedding dress" type dress. I went into one bridal store, looked at the creations/confections on offer, mentally noted that I didn't want to look like the wedding cake and declined to make an appointment to try the dresses properly. Then I went to the evening-wear section of a department store, found a lovely, very simple, long cream strapless dress with matching stole - for a fraction of the price of a bridal shop wedding dress, and much more "me".

The only ornamentation was the red-crowned cranes (Grus japonensis), unison-calling, which I embroidered onto the stole (took about 50 hours, but it was worth it!)

#110 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2007, 05:07 PM:

Caroline -- Agreed. I've always thought that the point of a wedding was to make a party where the couple shared their joy with both families and friends. Some of the projected budget figures make me short-of-breath.

($3K a month -- I've never made that much per month, let alone had it as spare change. And if I had, I'd have bought a new car...)

#111 ::: T.W ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2007, 05:15 PM:

As a bride, bridesmaid, decorator, seamstress, cook and florist I've seen a lot of the good and bad of weddings.

The best weddings were very organized, and the couple focused on what was important to them and what was a realistic goal. And stuck to budget.

Worst were chaos, had impossible fantasies and the focus was on what everyone else wanted and not the couple's needs. And had money spiraling out of control.

And as a florist I and all my peers at every trip to the wholesalers would repeat "Martha Stewart must die!" Her wedding magazine caused the greatest client hells.

#112 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2007, 05:50 PM:

My key goal at my wedding was that I would end the day married. Whenever things got out of hand, I remembered that everything else was subsidiary to that.

#113 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2007, 06:05 PM:

abi @ 112... You wouldn't happen to have photos of the Event, would you?

#114 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2007, 06:08 PM:

We decided that anything that wasn't completed by noon on the day of the wedding officially Did Not Matter. It took a lot of the stress off. (Although there is a photo in the wedding album of me, already in dress and makeup, with jeweler's pliers in hand finishing the earrings I intended to wear. But it wasn't quite noon yet...)

Although I haven't looked at it since the wedding, I remember getting a lot of good advice from the book How to Have the Wedding You Want (Not the One Everybody Else Wants You to Have).

#115 ::: Ronit ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2007, 06:30 PM:

*reads Teresa @ 96, delurks*

Much wisdom there, Teresa. Thank you.

*goes back to lurking*

#116 ::: Ashni ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2007, 06:37 PM:

The basic rules for our wedding were:

-Everyone, from the allergics to the vegetarians, has good food available.

-Everyone has at least one song they'll enjoy dancing to.

-Real cake is a better symbol than tasteless plastic cake.

Doing all that for 80 people wasn't shoestring, but wasn't bridal-magazine expensive either. And our guests are still talking about how much fun they had, three years later. I expect that to continue until one of our sibs gets married.

We also had two mantras:

-Things will go wrong, and everything will be perfect anyway.

-The best thing about a wedding is that you wake up the next day and you still get to be married.

#117 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2007, 06:43 PM:

abi @112: you're so right.

#118 ::: Nancy C. Mittens ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2007, 07:14 PM:

My friend says that her father taught her that 30 things will go wrong on a wedding day. If there are more than 30, you get more points!

#119 ::: John Houghton ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2007, 07:20 PM:

Lexica (114):

Although there is a photo in the wedding album of me, already in dress and makeup, with jeweler's pliers in hand finishing the earrings I intended to wear.
You are officially a geek*. To what address do we send the certificate?

* This is a Good Thing.

#120 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2007, 07:48 PM:

The bride carried pliers?

That sounds like Truffaut's The Bride Wore Black if it were remade by Quentin Tarantino.

#121 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2007, 08:39 PM:

abi, I think your wedding sounds lovely. Handmade silk dress and a gentleman of honour. Sigh...
I've been a groomsmaid twice, I would love to meet a gentleman of honour.

#122 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2007, 08:41 PM:

Serge and ethan - I've been waiting for one of you to insert a Bridezilla versus Mothra-In-Law comment. You know, with casting and direction, perhaps a bit of dialogue...

#123 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2007, 08:54 PM:


My key goal at my wedding was that I would end the day married.

only i effed up that one, too. i didn't know i had to apply for a marriage license, i thought the jp would take care of it...

so our wedding was on august 15th, but our marriage took place on august 17th, with us & his parents in the jp's living room.

but we looked at it as a sign of luck, as in nancy c's comment.

#124 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2007, 08:56 PM:

so our wedding was on august 15th

i mean july. i've forgotten my own anniversary & it's only been a month. dude.

#125 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2007, 09:03 PM:

It's ok miriam. I always forget the year we got married. I have to remember how old my cats* are (born about 4 weeks before the wedding), and then I can calculate back.

*the kittens were fostered by the same person that made our cake. The cake had to be finished at the hall before the wedding because she couldn't keep six kittens and a mom cat out of the cake and frosting.

#126 ::: Janet Lafler ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2007, 09:07 PM:

I can't remember how much we spent on our wedding -- maybe $5,000, of which the food was about half and another big chunk was the rings. (My dress -- dark blue velvet -- cost $85.) This was a lot more than I ever thought we'd spend, but we tried to spend time and money and attention on the things that mattered to us. We agreed on two basic goals: a) get married, and b) make sure that we and our guests had fun.

I have a couple of pieces of advice for people planning weddings.

1. If you're having it catered, consider having the food served family style. This is such a great way to do it I don't know why it isn't done more often. No buffet line, but people still get to choose what goes on their plates and take seconds if they want. If there are people sitting at the table who haven't met before, it gets them talking, too.

2. If there are going to be children as guests, make sure there's someplace for them to play, and hire a baby sitter! This was one of the smartest things we did for our wedding -- it made it much nicer for both the kids and the parents. Part of the impetus for this was a truly awful wedding I went to many years ago. A friend brought me to her sister's wedding with the explicit goal of preventing her from killing any of her family members. Anyway, one of the things I remember most clearly was a protracted photo session, outdoors on a hot day, that included a 3-year-old flower girl. Bringing a child that age outside in a fancy dress that she's supposed to keep clean (so she couldn't run around or even sit down on the grass), and making her wait around while the photographer snaps pix of every possible permutation of wedding party members (and this was by far the biggest wedding party I've ever seen) -- well, in my book that's child abuse. (Actually, now that I have a toddler, I wonder how they kept that dress clean for even five minutes.) Kids are guests, too, and their needs should be taken into account.

#127 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2007, 10:11 PM:

Debcha @#77: It didn't seem overdone or spoiled, just very fancy and complex, compared to what I'm used to. Also much more was over 10 years ago and I can still picture it clearly because I was overwhelmed by how lovely all of the guests looked, and how basically everything I looked at was a pleasure to behold--food, flowers, clothes, jewelry. It was my first peek at a culture that doesn't equate feminine virtue with drabness.

The big wedding parties I've been to in recent years have all been my husband's people. My family and friends tend to slink off and get unobtrusively hitched and then invite a couple of people round for dinner after. My wedding was more populous than I expected, with 10 family members joining us. I'm not saying other people should do it this way; it's my family's way of working around numerous room-elephants. Putting the whole gang in a room together is a sure recipe for a stampede. But I understand the desire, and I sometimes wish I came from that kind of extended-family system.

#128 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2007, 10:25 PM:

Tania #122: I don't have nearly the wedding expertise to pull that off. From my experience, a wedding is either an event where you sit, bored, in a church, after which you eat bland food and sit, bored, while a terrible DJ plays terrible music, or some kind of low-key quick ceremony followed by a party where I'm the DJ (and NO ONE IS ALLOWED TO BE BORED).

#129 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2007, 10:28 PM:

Teresa (#96): That's an absolutely wonderful comment. I've suggested to friends that they ask for pricing for a "family get-together" when doing wedding plans, because the "w" word often triggers the Fool Money price sheet.

#130 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2007, 10:54 PM:

We had a fabulous wedding in 1978 that cost approx. $1000 and we all had a good time (We had 40 guests at my parent's huge house out south of KC and then I don't know how many showed up for the 'liquored up' reception in Lawrence, KS).

We gave my mom and dad three weeks, actually my mom only had two because she was taking care of Grandma in Miami, Okla. when Jim proposed to dad. Dad didn't have the nerve to tell her on the phone.

One brief upset was working the house guest list (limited because of space), she wanted my Aunt Marie and family (who aren't really related) and I wanted the Smiths (the family I baby sat for in the summers for a long time and the kids really wanted to come when they heard). It all worked out, and we had a nice group including all that showed up.

The other was that I drove the iced cake parts home from Lawrence the night before and a yahoo ignoring a stop sign on the county highway made the cake do Newton's Law in its boxes (thank Ghu for boxes!!! or it'd have been all over the back deck of my Nova). My sister got on the phone to friends and had a frosted set of cake layers ready the next day -- the cake was decorated with real flowers, not icing. (My sissie is the best, still is...) Cake decorator had layers frozen in case of emergency and all she had to do was ice them.

I had an off-the-rack non-wedding dress, we got married on a Saturday 19th of August and went to Iguanacon for our honeymoon. I'm a bit surprised I remember so much of the convention, it was also very romantic and fun.

And the stuff they used to mark up the car caused the paint to start coming off after a couple of years (you could trace the letters at first...) but almost all '78 Novas with that color looked pretty much the same after seven years...

And it is about having the good time you want and celbrating with your friends and loved ones. At the farm house we had cake, punch, etc. and at the Lawrence apartment refreshment there was alcohol, but people there weren't far from home.... like, walking distance.

#131 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2007, 12:01 AM:

Paula 130: when Jim proposed to dad

He asked your father to marry him? Radical, in 1978.

#132 ::: Dawno ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2007, 12:44 AM:

Paula, I have the same wedding anniversary! It was last year and we went to WorldCon in LA for our honeymoon.

#133 ::: Margaret Organ-Kean ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2007, 02:00 AM:

For us it'll be ten years the day after tomorrow (the 23rd). I still fondly remember the conga line at the reception, the roast beast (we're still wondering where Dad got the mammoth), and (less fondly) having the doctor get the birdseed out of my ear two days later.

We went to LoneStarCon for our honeymoon. :)


P.S. Also, the rehearsal dinner at my parents' farm. We all sat out on the grass after and watched for falling stars until 11:45 - that's when my dad came out and said that we could stay there as long as we wanted - but the automatic sprinklers started at midnight.

#134 ::: Jeliza ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2007, 02:09 AM:

My dayjob is at least partially in the wedding industry (production manager at a wedding/portrait photography studio), and I've got to say, the weddings where everyone was clearly having the most fun have ranged all over the budget map, from the extravagant billionaire's elegant soiree to the totally DIY do a local designer had in the backyard (most steal-able idea: replace huge wedding cake with a tiny cake for symbolism and a sundae bar for dessert.) What I usually tell prospective brides, especially the ones frightened by our top packages, is that if you blow your budget, you won't be happy, and we like happy customers; they tend to come back later for family portraits. So never be ashamed of having a budget and sticking to it.

The downside of working in the industry is that it makes me want to throw a big wedding-esque party to clebrate our (non-legal) vows, because I get to see all the cool things people come up with. But I should probably just put money into my daughters' college funds instead.

#135 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2007, 02:10 AM:

I'm waiting patiently for the category of Disastrous Experiences as a Best Man for 500, Alex. I predict I'll do well, and if the Daily Double consists of Worst Things Ever Said By Someone Who Doesn't Know The Wife Has Just Left Her Husband I confidently expect to win enough to take home the set and the Control Booth.

#136 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2007, 03:14 AM:

Charlie Stross @ 55

I've got to agree that having the parents take over is The Beginning Of The End™. It's not how much money gets spent, it's who decides how to spend it.

3 Cases to illustrate that it doesn't have to be that way, from cheap to expensive:

When Eva and I got married we were estranged from both our families because of the wedding (among other things). At the time, we were both out of jobs and living on savings, so we did the whole thing ourselves, wedding dress, reception food, Tom Cobley, and all. Cost us about $100; we put the guests up in our apartment, had the ceremony in front of the Justice of the Peace in the local court house, and borrowed the use of a nearby state park whose ranger we knew for the reception. We've been married 37 years now.

The other two were both in 2005. Our older son got married on the beach in Florida at sunset. He and his fiance did all the planning and arranging; we did some of the grunt work and buying the food and such. Total cost, not counting lodging for everybody, was about $4000. They've only been married for 2 years now, but they were living and working together for a couple of years before that. I think they'll make it.

My niece-in-law was married that same year. She wanted to do it up all the way, and her parents were willing to pay about $45K for it, while letting her do the planning (I watched, because my sister-in-law is a well-known taker-of-control, and her daughter stood her down on most everything). They had a great time at the wedding, went off for a few days of honeymoon, and were back to work and graduate school the next week.

#137 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2007, 04:05 AM:

Caroline, #107, wait, wait. I'm 52 and never married. Doesn't that mean the bank owes me something like $25K?

There was a good Fox show called _The Wedding Belles_ where sisters inherited a wedding palace from their parents. The sistorial interaction was cliched, but the problems with the weddings were hilarious. I think it lasted four episodes.

Teresa, are you going back to find out if the dresses sell?

#138 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2007, 08:25 AM:

So, who wants to share wedding pix? I'll try to get a couple of mine scanned tonight for flickr--anyone else willing? I'd love to see them, particularly the handmade dresses Teresa and Abi wore...pretty.

#139 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2007, 09:01 AM:

Marilee @ 137: Yes. Yes, that's exactly what it means. (I am nodding Very Seriously.)

Mary Dell @ 138, oooo! I want to see handmade dresses too! I could only provide pictures of myself as a bridesmaid, which has only happened once. Oooo, but I'd like to show off the Zombie Formals from that wedding....

(My boyfriend is a photographer and shot that wedding. He knows formals are dull, so had us all pretend to be zombies and then had us pretend to run from zombies.)

(He then shot a wedding where the groom worked for the NSA. The groomsmen broke out actual tinfoil hats during the formals.)

(He's not a wedding photographer by trade, but dang if he doesn't do a better job of it than some full-time wedding photogs I've seen. Like the one who blatantly walked all over the altar, flash going, during a beautiful Greek Orthodox wedding.)

#140 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2007, 09:49 AM:

Mary Dell (#127): It didn't seem overdone or spoiled, just very fancy and complex, compared to what I'm used to. ...[B]asically everything I looked at was a pleasure to behold--food, flowers, clothes, jewelry. It was my first peek at a culture that doesn't equate feminine virtue with drabness.

It's really, really important to dress well and colourfully at Indian weddings. I mostly wear outfits that are variants on 'black t-shirt and black jeans,' so my friends and family have a tendency to fall over when they see me at weddings, swathed in yards and yards of brightly-coloured and brocaded silk and decked out in traditional (albeit borrowed) jewelry. It's just part of the culture, and even someone who's as distant from it as I am knows that you don't mess with weddings.

#141 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2007, 10:19 AM:

A friend of mine had problems, not with overbearing parents, but an overbearing wedding coordinator. She had her reception in the same hall as the groom's brother some years earlier, so they knew what to expect. The wedding coordinator didn't give them all the food options, told them that they couldn't have the tables set up the way they wanted them, and did her best to make them rent a dance floor. It was stressful, but since they knew that all the things they wanted were possible-- they'd seen them a couple years earlier-- they won out, and it was a lovely reception.

#142 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2007, 10:37 AM:

My brother and sister-in-law had a professional photographer at their wedding. My Mom, who loved the pics I took of our Hawai'ian vacation, asked me to take some of their wedding as well...

I got double pics and sent half of them to Mom. The bride absconded with them, saying they were better than the pro's. I ended up sending Mom the rest of the batch (laughing to myself all the while).

#143 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2007, 10:52 AM:

Mary Dell,

I was the official photographer at my son's wedding, so I've got some nice shots of the beach ceremony at sunset. I've slso got some shots from our wedding scanned in. Unfortunately, they were taken by an old friend who was a professional photographer, who ceased to be a friend shortly after the wedding, because all he could give us of the wedding photos was two full-size prints and half-a-dozen contact sheets from 35mm film. He'd somehow screwed up the negatives and refused to admit it, or to show them to us. The scans aren't bad (thanks to Photoshop and some hours of work), but they do add grain to what was already pretty grainy; it was the height of cool (sic) to shoot everything in natural light without flash with high-speed B&W film back then.

I'll post some of the stuff today at lunch, but I won't be able to post here (stupid nannyfilter at work). So drop by my blog about 2 or 3 Pacific time if you're interested.

#144 ::: JennR ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2007, 11:19 AM:

Mary Dell @138: I made my dress for both weddings I've been in (one as a bride, one as a bridesmaid). I'll have to see if any of the pictures of the red bridesmaid dress have been scanned (the pictures themselves are in a box in the basement (in the corner, in the dark) and everything in the basement is crammed into one corner as we're finishing the rest of the basement). I know the pics from my wedding are scanned in, I just don't know where the OB has them filed. I'll let ya'll know when I get them posted.

#145 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2007, 11:31 AM:

oops. Jim asked my dad for my hand in marriage.

No photos I'm willing to show...

#146 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2007, 11:37 AM:

Paula Helm Murray @ 145... I never asked Sue's father for her hand and all the parts attached to it. But I did kneel when I asked Sue for her hand. Mind you, I did it over the phone as she was living 3000 miles away. Who said that technology killed romance?

#147 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2007, 12:43 PM:

I don't think this has been linked to yet here: clever and creative wedding proposal.

#148 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2007, 02:04 PM:

Sadly, our wedding photos are not digital anywhere. And until our scanner has drivers in Vista, they can't be.

#149 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2007, 02:26 PM:

abi @ 148... Bummer. Say... I was told that this photo was of your first meeting with Martin, but are you sure it's not of him proposing?

As for our own wedding, there isn't a single photo because everybody assumed that someone would bring a camera. Of course, nobody did.

#150 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2007, 02:53 PM:

A college fraternity brother of mine went off to work for Brown and Root in Bahrain shortly after graduating. He'd been seriously dating a girl at Arizona who somehow or somewhy later ended up at American or GW or Georgetown (one of those DC schools, anyway). He sent me a copy of her hometown paper's photo of him standing in a phone booth in the Gulf while he proposed to her as she was in somebody's office at her school. She accepted, although I think it ended up in divorce down the road.

He told me in the note accompanying the photo that he had a six-pack of Budweiser in the phone booth for Dutch courage. It was not pictured.

#151 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2007, 03:21 PM:

Abi writes:

We learned from previous weddings (disposable cameras on all the tables at the reception...)

At some wedding receptions, I have strapped two disposable cameras together, side by side, with a stout rubber band, and set out to shoot guests at various tables.

I have learned that it is prudent to give the subjects of my photography a sign to hold up, bearing the words STEREO PAIR in bold letters. This makes it simpler to match up the snapshots correctly when they come back from the drugstore later.

#152 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2007, 03:25 PM:

mary dell,

i'd be happy to link to wedding pictures, since i already pimped them out once when i put them online. this is a good shot of the dress, & mike's tie, which was dyed to match the dress, by the seamstress.

i found the seamstress/designer through a friend, who got the same dress as me but in red. her site is flash-y, but the dress is called "yowying" & it's in bridal, if you care to browse through. you can see the white zigzag embroidery, which didn't really come out in my pictures. i call mine "the wedgwood dress" 'cause the colour was inspired by a little stoneware box my parents have.

(in another bit of d.i.y., my naturally-straight hair was set up in rag curls the night before by my little sister, & then pinned up loosely. the daisies are from the bouquet mike's aunt insisted on getting me, even though i insisted i wouldn't carry one. she was happy with the compromise.)

#153 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2007, 03:56 PM:

Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey @151:

We never did stereo photography.

What we did do was to take one of the cameras from the table at my brother's wedding, drive back to his house (10 min away), use the keys he had entrusted to the groomsman in on the trick, and photograph ourselves all over his house. Then return to the wedding and place the camera, a few shots left in it, to a table.

My sister in law had the funniest expression on her face when she got the pictures back...

Janet @126:
We never had childcare, because our family weddings have always been paced to allow the kids to stay in the mainstream.

Two weddings after ours, someone started the tradition of the wedding piñata. That was a brilliant move; I wish we'd had one.

#154 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2007, 05:49 PM:

In #133, Margaret Organ-Kean writes:

For us it'll be ten years the day after tomorrow (the 23rd). [...]

Really? You got married the same day Kelley and I did. Many happy returns!

We went to LoneStarCon for our honeymoon. :)

So did we! (But I didn't meet you till years later. Worldcons are big.)

#155 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2007, 06:01 PM:

Two weddings after ours, someone started the tradition of the wedding piñata. That was a brilliant move; I wish we'd had one.

That is brilliant! I wonder if next year I can justify buying one of those under the excuse of an anniversary party. What are the usual stuffings? Standard hard candies and the like, or something different on account of it being a wedding?

#156 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2007, 06:32 PM:

A college friend once hosted a party with a Young Adult pinata.

Contents: Dice, cheap cigars, refrigerator magnets, foil-wrapped condoms, bandanas.

#157 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2007, 07:40 PM:

Lori, #94: I think it's "not a wedding song" in the same sense that I absolutely refused to have the "Wedding March" anywhere near my ceremony. We processed to a nice French-overture-style version of Mouret's "Rondeau" and recessed to Meyerbeer's "Coronation March". Had I been a little more confirmed in my geekiness, we would probably have used John Williams themes instead.

Ashni, #116: Or, as I was counseled and have since counseled others: "No matter what goes right or wrong, when all is said and done you're still going to be just as married, and that's what counts."

#158 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2007, 12:07 AM:

I've put my and my son's wedding pictures here I think the sunset wedding was very picturesque.

Oh, I forgot to mention that the ceremony took place the day before Hurricane Wilma roared through Florida, east to west. We were still there, and rode out the storm on the liquor and food remaining from the reception.

#159 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2007, 12:25 AM:

miriam beetle @#152: Pretty! I love the colors and how it matches your husband's shirt and tie.

Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) @#158: Your son's wedding looks really lovely, and the canopy is particularly beautiful. But your own wedding is my favorite - I love the "period garb" and you look really happy.

Thanks for sharing - sorry if I missed any, I'll comb through this thread again tomorrow after I figure out where the FRELL I put my own wedding pictures!

#160 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2007, 02:29 AM:

Bruce, I was in Tucson at the time, but your wedding looks a lot like ones I attended (well, other than that of the AFROTC guy I knew).

I may even have owned one of those headbands.

#161 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2007, 09:23 AM:

Fidelio @ #40, in my family we call that "putting more effort into the wedding than into the marriage".

As for my own wedding, since I married at 19 most of the guests were my parents' and parents-in-law's friends rather than mine; it would have been a LOT smaller if we'd removed from the guest list people neither the bride nor the groom would recognize on sight. My folks paid for the wedding (the dress was a last-year's-sample for $250); his folks paid for the rehearsal dinner. Four bridesmaids (including his sister), four groomsmen (including my brother). One of the groomsmen got lost and never made it to the wedding, but fortunately I had a spare nephew the right size to fit his suit.

I remember that I pitched a fit and insisted on fresh strawberries for the reception. In December. I didn't even eat one.

But we managed not to bankrupt anyone and we're still together 26+ years later.

(and fidelio @ #57, it occurs to me that the simple test for whether or not to spend X dollars on X is, "will it make the guests have a better time?" If not, forget it. Nobody will remember the matching tablecloths.)

dcb @ #109, that sounds STUNNING. Do you have pictures viewable online?

Ashni @ # 116, the "still get to be married" line is one of the best I've ever heard on the subject.

#162 ::: Thena ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2007, 02:35 PM:

Linkmeister@160 -

I misread your last line as "I may even have owned one of those husbands" which was even better, in context...

#163 ::: Terry Karney ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2007, 03:34 PM:

Maia and I have been talking around the wedding for years, but it's going to be Quaker, which kills off a lot of the frippery (no hideously expensive dress, no bridesmaids/groomsmen).

The expense is going to be the party. It ought to be like a dead-dog, no one has to leave. Catering it will be less than trivial, but doable. And for that we might be able to lean on families.

I was groomsman at a friends wedding recently. Last minute moving up of the ceremony (which changed a lot of the details... got a call on a Thursday, telling me tux-details would be sent by Monday, for wedding the following Saturday).

It was, for them, pricey, but the idea was more good times for all/sharing than showing off. Her grandfather performed the ceremony, his band irishey) did some singing, the DJ wasn't terrible, the food was decent; bar was cash).

His mother decided to host the wedding party to dinner (his comment, "don't worry about, it's coming out of my inheiritance") and we had a great meal, with about 15 people, where he gave gifts to the groomsmen (flasks, and whiskies to go in them; since empty they are just wasted space).

So, despite the rush, and the bustle, and the "bridezilla" aspects, everyone had a good time, which, it seems to me, is the whole point of having something which we call a celebration.

#164 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2007, 04:54 PM:

Lee @157: At one of of my college roommates wedding, the bride and groom recessed to the "coronation" theme from the end of the first Star Wars movie.

As no sheet music was available at that time*, they got John William's office number** and called to ask how to obtain it, and missed speaking with the composer by a few minutes -- he'd just gone out to lunch!

William's office sent the sheet music for the march with his congratulations shortly thereafter.

*The wedding was held about 3 months after the film was released.

**Fandom in action I suspect...

#165 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2007, 05:11 PM:

Lori Coulson @ 164... When one of my Toronto buddies got married, he wanted to have Queen's wedding march from 1980's Flash Gordon. That idea got nipped in the bud by the bride.

#166 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2007, 05:21 PM:

At one of the weddings I recently attended the bride and groom recessed to the Katamari Damacy theme. The favors left on the table were the bride and groom's favorite books, tiny glass roleplay counting stones, and plastic ninjas and kittens.

It was a traditional Geek wedding. The reception contained karaoke. Unreasonably awesome, and filled with theft-able ideas.

#167 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2007, 05:37 PM:

Thena @ 162, now c'mon. Bruce said that wedding took place in 1970, not 1860. The Emancipation Proclamation was issued in 1863, and I've followed its edict ever since.

#168 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2007, 05:41 PM:

At the first wedding where I officiated, the recessional was the Liberty Bell March (warning: sound).

That was also the wedding where the cake was an edible depiction of Godzilla destroying Tokyo, the table favors were little windup toys (stomping Godzillas predominated), and one of the gifts was a 6' plush pink flamingo (with which the groom tangoed at one point).

It was unusual for the priest to catch the garter, but I did, and wore it as an armband for the rest of the weekend (a science fiction convention, which made hotels cheap for out-of-towners).

It had no effect.

#169 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2007, 02:00 AM:

ethan, #128: I wish you'd been the DJ at one wedding we went to! This was some SCA friends of ours, and while it wasn't an SCA wedding, there were a LOT of SCA-folk in attendance. There was a DJ at the reception who kept trying to get the (largely white, middle-class, middle-aged) crowd to dance by playing disco and dance mixes, with notable lack of success.

Until someone at one of the tables where the SCAers were sitting tapped out the beat and said, "Hey, you could do Korobushka to that!" A dozen couples bolted for the floor and proceeded to do a Russian folk dance to disco music, in business suits and high heels. The DJ's jaw bounced. It was the highlight of the reception, and of course no one had a videocam. These days, it would have been on YouTube within hours.

Bruce D., #135: If you're waiting for someone to ask, consider it done. :-)

#170 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2007, 02:04 AM:

Lila @ 161.
No, but I can e-mail one to you. I'll see if I can do that tomorrow when my eyes will stay open.

#171 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2007, 05:16 AM:

He then shot a wedding where the groom worked for the NSA.

NRO wedding photos. "Okay, everyone look upwards... now. Thanks."

#172 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2007, 08:54 AM:

Lee @ #169: there were enough SCA'ers at my rehearsal dinner that we taught the non-SCA'ers "Hole in the Wall", providing the music vocally.

dcb@ #170: thank you!!

#173 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2007, 09:16 AM:

I remember a wedding where the hired singers were quite startled when a bunch of us joined in on "Sumer Is Icumen In." They were Markland, we were SCA. The rest of the reception was a jolly affair.

#174 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2007, 09:27 AM:

ajay @ 171

Ah, that explains Project Argus, way back in the 1960s*. It was the mother of all flash guns.

* before Before

#175 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2007, 11:24 AM:

Xopher (#168): That was also the wedding where the cake was an edible depiction of Godzilla destroying Tokyo.... That sounds so cool! Almost makes me wish we'd sprung for an imaginative cake (though I couldn't have eaten any parts containing cream -- sigh).

#176 ::: Sarah S ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2007, 11:36 AM:

We had kazoos (the cacaphonous metal kind) as wedding favors. Since we didn't have dancing at our wedding, much of the fabulousness of the reception involved groups of friends and family breaking into artful kazoo renderings of various standard love songs and classical wedding pieces.

I tell you, nothing redeems the dreariness of the Pachelbel Canon as wedding music like hearing it spontaneously performed in 4 part harmony on kazoos.

#177 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2007, 11:51 AM:

Faren 175: But the dream collided with reality: his head kept sliding off. Let that be a lesson.

#178 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2007, 11:57 AM:

Faren @ 175... I couldn't have eaten any parts containing cream

With Godzilla around, it'd have been crême brûlée.

#179 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2007, 02:31 PM:

Faren Miller #175: Almost makes me wish we'd sprung for an imaginative cake

My brother's wedding cake was a UFO landing.

#180 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2007, 03:02 PM:

Our wedding pictures are here.

I'll have you know that getting married on the cheap in a public park is actually a family tradition -- my parents did it too.

People came from other states; we put several of them up in our house. Everything went brilliantly.

I am the one in the grey three-piece suit, which I'd found, in new condition, for ten dollars. I'm still flabbergasted by that unexpected blessing.

#181 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2007, 09:32 PM:

Nice pictures, A.J.! Does Rebecca always point the right direction?

#182 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2007, 04:14 AM:

ethan @ 179

There's a baker named Duff Goldman who runs a bakery in Baltimore called Charm City Cakes. He also has a TV show on the Food Network* called Ace of Cakes. I'd be tempted to call him a sculptor rather than a baker; he does really amazing and imaginative cakes.

* Did I mention that Western Civilization is now officially decadent?

#183 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2007, 04:19 AM:

A.J. @ 180

Lovely pictures, very romantic, and just a tad in-your-face. You have good taste in weddings. Congratulations.

#184 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2007, 10:08 AM:

AJ Luxton @ 180... It's going to be two years soon, eh? Congratulations. As for my wife and I, we'll have been together for 22 years the day after your anniversary. (We actually tied the knot a bit later, two days before the space shuttle Challenger blew up.)

#185 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2007, 10:24 AM:

Elle a aux yeux des hématomes de chez Dior
Et foi qu'ils soulignent la beauté
Qu'il lui manque en son fort

Elle a du rêve plein les yeux des autres
Et une robe aussi blanche que son visage déchiré
Qu'elle ne portera pas

Elle a des milliers de noms
Toujours inchangés
Toujours la même histoire
Toujours le même non
Infinies variations
Trahissant son espoir

Elle jure comme un charettier
Qu'on ne l'y prendra plus
Si ce n'est à ses dépends

A.J. Luxton @ 180: nice pictures. Love the hats.

#186 ::: Caroline ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2007, 11:11 AM:

Xopher @ 168, that sounds like the best wedding ever.

If my boyfriend and I ever feel the need to get married, I will definitely be keeping all of those items in mind. (His parents' household has had a large Godzilla action figure as mantel decoration for years.)

#187 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2007, 06:57 PM:

Sheesh, finally found where I stowed my wedding pix! Here's a few.

I also put up a few more recent pics of my husband and me, in case anyone's curious. (These wedding pics don't really do him justice). Trivia: I had a project last year that required several photos of the two of us together, and this was all I came up with...I'm usually the one wielding the camera. So for a couple of months I had to stage little scenes with my friends and family to get the rest of the necessary pictures.

#188 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2007, 07:10 PM:

AJ Luxton @#180: Thanks for sharing the pictures--that's a killer suit. Nice ink on Rebecca, too, and her dress sets it off perfectly. True north.

#189 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2007, 07:13 PM:

Mary Dell... Thanks for the photos.

#191 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2007, 09:18 PM:

Mary Dell, I love the arbitration picture!

Caroline, the guy on the right has the zombie idea.

#192 ::: Bruce Cohen (SpeakerToManagers) ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2007, 09:24 PM:

Mary Dell @ 187

Nice wedding pictures. I especially like the idea of Mandatory Arbitration as a way of deciding what gets into the wedding and what doesn't.

#193 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2007, 12:01 AM:

Caroline @#190: The zombie pic is my favorite wedding photo EVER.

#194 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2007, 12:04 AM:

Hm, I guess I meant to say, the "running away from zombies" pic is my favorite ever, but the other is a close second.

#195 ::: A.J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2007, 10:03 AM:

Wow -- thanks, folks, for all the compliments and congrats.

Marilee -- very good question and the answer is yes; Becca has an innate sense of direction like unto Polynesian navigators. There is an in-joke among us of walking up to her, touching the art on her sternum, and saying, "North!"

I think Caroline wins the thread with the zombie wedding. It deserves to be pulp-cover-ized in bold yellow.

Mary Dell, Bruce Cohen, nice pictures... Something about viewing the looks on your faces, in all these wedding pictures, is a fabulous mood elevator.

#196 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2007, 12:41 PM:


Bruce D., #135: If you're waiting for someone to ask, consider it done. :-)

Well, the wedding was my friend's second. (We'll go into what happened to the first marriage in a bit.) I've lost track of the bride since she divorced my friend and married her step-brother (possibly because she was the first person to ever tell me to my face that I stammered--something I'd been blissfully unaware of until then and which I've never been able to forget since), but there were early signs that things would not go well--with the wedding day being a prime example.

After a bachelor party featuring the groom and the best man wandering from 25 cents per peep window to 25 cents per peep window (and I've never heard of a sadder, more desperate, and more inept example of debauchery--nor would I wish to), we had gone home to Vashon Island. The next day he picked me up in his car and we set off for the wedding.

Of course the ferry was late and we arrived about 20 minutes behind schedule. I found out later that the mother of the bride spent the time dodging into the setup/makeup/whatever the hell it is room the bride was in every three to four minutes and loudly announcing "He's not here yet. He's stood you up."

We arrived at the park building where the wedding was to be held (no rehearsal of course), and I discovered it was a CCC era long cabin that had been ridden hard and put away wet by the Parks Department.

The ceremony started. The bride came up the aisle and I had a chance to look into her eyes. I don't want to sound like a sexist pig here, but I have to say seeing a woman who looks like a Playboy centerfold so nervous that her eyes are ping-ponging left to right once every second is profoundly disturbing, especially since it's supposed to be her "happiest day" and I now feel partially responsible.

The ceremony finishes. We do the signing thing on the paperwork. Then we have a public unwrapping of wedding presents--something I've never run into before but hey, it's not my wedding.

Necessary background information: my friend was incredibly poor at this point due to events surrounding his first marriage (which we'll cover in a moment).

Anyway, they couldn't afford a wedding videographer, so one of his brothers who had a camcorder offered to videotape the day and make them a copy. He did a good job--it's a professional quality video--but unfortunately he ended up sitting next to the bride's grandmother during the wedding present opening, and he didn't think to turn off the microphone on the camcorder. This means that when the bride and the groom got to watch the video they not only saw each gift and heard their reactions, but they got the grandmother's comments of "They gave her that? It's so UGLY! And it's cheap, too."

Then they went outside and Mike found that his brothers had tied the beer cans full of rocks to his rear axle rather than the bumper, insuring that if he tried to drive off the twine would wind up the axle and ram the cans and rocks into the axle and break it. This meant that the groom got to spend the next half hour on his back in the mud under a car untying knots in twine.

After that they drove to Ocean Shores to use a friend's cabin for a honeymoon retreat. It had one of those short and stubby conical metal fireplaces and he thought a fire in the fireplace would be cozy and romantic so he got out a bottle of campaign, laid out the kindling and started a fire as his bride sat on the couch and watched...

And a seagull flew down the chimney and burned to death in the fireplace.

As far as Worst Things Ever Said By Someone Who Doesn't Know The Wife Has Just Left Her Husband, it's a much shorter story. Mike's first wife was a college student trying to get her degree in Education and a teaching certificate. To be with her he gave up the job he had found in her home town of Forks and went to work as a boxboy in a supermarket in the town where she was going to college--taking a paycut in the process--and stayed there in an apartment working while she stayed in another apartment in the Seattle area doing her apprentice teaching. (That's where the debt came from. This post is turning out to be too long or I'd tell you the story of the week I spent wifesitting and how stupidity saved the day--ask me another time.)

Anyway, she got her teaching degree and ran off to Forks with a guy that had stayed celibate for four years because she was married to Mike.

Mike told the grocery he needed the weekend off and went home. That night he and his sister and a cousin went to the movies on Vashon and I got invited along as an honorary family member.

The key thing to remember for this next part is that going to a movie on Vashon on a Saturday isn't just seeing a movie--it's a Social Event. People come in before the show starts, spot friends or relatives they haven't seen in awhile, and catch up on what's going on. Unfortunately, an old friend of ours from High School sat down with a bunch of her friends three rows ahead of us and after looking around the theater saw us.

"Hi, Mike!" she shouted. "How's Michelle?"

At this point my eyes went wide open and I could see that the same thing had happened to Mike's sister. With a sudden burst of telepathy I could tell what she was thinking: "Oh God. Well, it could have been worse."

Mike told our friend that Michelle was visiting her family in Forks.

Our friend promptly bellowed out "You mean you left her there, all by herself?"

My eyes got wider. Clearly the sister and I were the only two with telepathy that night and I could read her loud and clear: "OH, GOD! Well, it could have been worse."

Mike said yes. The friend, blissfully unaware, thundered out "Well, I guess the Honeymoon's Over!"

I maintain you couldn't have done more damage in three sentences without a research grant. When Mike excused himself to use the restroom ten minutes later I waited a minute or two and then followed to make sure he hadn't broken a sink to slit his wrists with the porcelain. I ended up telling this to the friend a year later, and for the next two years whenever she spoke to him the conversation on her part was "Hi! Mike! How! Are! You!?" because she was fighting the urge to throw herself on the floor, wrap her arms around his knees and scream "OhmygodI'msosorryI'msosorryIdidn'tknow!"

So. Do I win the set and the control booth?

#197 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2007, 02:09 PM:

Bruce D.: That all happened to the same person? Jaysus.

Oh, no, wait. For best comic effect, my only response should have been: The poor seagull!

#198 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: August 26, 2007, 06:52 PM:


Yes, those were both Mike.

And it was pretty awful for the seagull, too, but I comfort myself with the fact that it didn't go on as long for the bird...

#199 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: August 29, 2007, 05:10 AM:

After that they drove to Ocean Shores to use a friend's cabin for a honeymoon retreat. It had one of those short and stubby conical metal fireplaces and he thought a fire in the fireplace would be cozy and romantic so he got out a bottle of campaign, laid out the kindling and started a fire as his bride sat on the couch and watched...

And a seagull flew down the chimney and burned to death in the fireplace.

"Honey? Dinner's ready!"

-- another in the continuing series of Reasons Why It Is A Good Thing Ajay Isn't Married

#200 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2007, 01:04 AM:


"Honey? Dinner's ready!"

I admit I thought of the episode of This American Life with the rookie cop and the squirrel...

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