Weddings have always offended my sensibilities. They are like a masquerade where no one has any fun, yet everyone must pretend to have fun. The woman comes down the aisle wearing a hideous dress that she would normally never be caught dead in, with hair piled high on her head in a manner she would never wear and make-up that is worse than a Halloween mask. As if it wasn’t bad enough that the dress is frequently either ugly or boring, it is usually the most expensive dress a woman will ever wear. What a waste of a good opportunity. The one time in your life that no one will look down on you for buying the most expensive outfit you can possibly afford and we are condemned to strip ourselves of all individuality and buy the same stupid white dress.
And eat bad food.
And dance badly to bad music.
And the men appear just as ridiculous and even more uncomfortable.
About a year before my sister got married, I was initiated into the expense of weddings by the unfortunate occurrence of being asked to be a bridesmaid. I’m convinced this woman hated me. I have no idea what I had done to her to deserve such punishment. Would you ever ask a friend to do such a terrible thing. Apparently, being a bridesmaid entails helping to plan this monstrosity known as a wedding. She, another college friend and sacrificial victim, and I schlepped out to some place in Queens. Don’t ask me where, but the bride-to-be in question insisted that this place was well-known as having the world’s biggest selections of gargantuan white dresses. I still have nightmares of being attacked by headless dresses. A woman asks you what you want and brings out a series of gowns. Personally, I thought the entire process was geared to getting you to spend too much money. At one point the sales woman coerced the bride into a thing that resembled the costume worn by a ballerina doll I had as a child. The sales clerk turned her to face the mirror. “You look like a china doll!” she exclaimed.
“I’m fucking Malaysian, and I don’t want to look like a goddamn doll!” She may have been born in Malaysia, but she was raised in Brooklyn and proceeded to display the vocabulary to prove it. She ripped the dress off and threw her street clothes back on. On the subway back she said, “And did you see the damned prices on that crap?”
Ah, the prices indeed.
So a year later, when my sister announced her revenge for all the mean things I did to her as a child by making me her maid of horror, we decided to forgo the whole wedding dress boondoggle from the get go. I said to her, “When was the last time you bought a dress without even considering the price?”
She said, “Never.”
I suggested that she go to her favorite store buy a white dress not marketed as a wedding dress. “Don’t even bother looking at the price. Just buy one you think is pretty. It’s almost guaranteed to be less expensive than what you would buy if we went shopping for a wedding dress.”
She said to me, “Can you do it for me?”
A few days later I phoned and said to her, “I saw a pretty dress in a store the other day. I think it would look good on you. Do you want me to take a photo or something.”
“Nah,” she said, “Just buy it in a size eight and stick it in an envelope.”
So I did.
She looked great, but the was one little problem with the dress. We couldn’t find any underpants that weren’t visible. It was the strangest effect. Without underpants, nothing was visible, but no matter what we tried, even the thinnest littlest thong, we could still see them. Finally, we all decided that my sister had to get married sans panties. All day long my grandmother kept jabbing her with her finger, laughing, saying, “You’re the bottomless bride!”
Better a bottomless bride than a bridezilla.
Some women get married in scarlet in a register office, without a hairdo, reception, music etc. We did have a honeymoon weekend, ie Saturday night away. And I could use the dress afterwards. Unlike the two vile bridesmaid dresses I was obliged to wear. I’ve posted a ghastly pic of that somewhere but won’t add the link 😀
I was married by a notary public, myself. There was a shop in Greenwich Village that sold these hand crocheted dresses, not specifically wedding dresses, and I always liked them but I never went into the shop because I suspected they were pricey. They were, but nothing compared to a wedding dress. So I bought one and got married in that. My ex returned to Canada and I went back to New York because we still had to work out the immigration stuff.
My mother and father also got married just the two of them, in Atlantic City. She wore a street length dress that my grandmother made for her.
We got married when we were working and living in Kuala Lumpur. I wore a Chinese silk cheongsam that was not expensive and my man a silk Malaysian shirt. We got married at the equivalent of a registry office at 8.30 in the morning – you had to take a ticket and wait your turn, the expectation was that you would have a religious service of your own later. We just had a party at our apartment, inviting just the friends we had made there, with Indian food and lots of wine and a riotous time was had by all. Happy memories 🙂
It sounds lovely.
Reading this made me laugh out aloud, especially how you describe the horror of the wedding dresses people wear.
I was at a wedding yesterday- or sort of- because we arrived when the couple were in church and we decided not to go into the service, when it ended they went away for a photo moment. By the time they were returning almost two hours later, we had decided to head to a pub, so we didn’t see the dresses or the looks on their faces.
I’m glad you stopped by. I was going to shoot you an email because I read a post that I thought you might like: The Many Roots of Christian Europe. It deals with the subject of contribution of Christianity to liberal secularism. I came across Kenan Malik’s blog a couple of weeks ago. His work is interesting me a lot at the moment. I’ve mentioned before that I came from a leftist background which I found challenged by the concept of multiculturalism. My attempt to reconcile the interests of competing groups in my mind led me to a somewhat idiosyncratic version of liberalism that has left me feeling somewhat alone politically. It is interesting to me the Malik as developed ideas that, at least so far, seem surprisingly similar to my own.
As I think you know, I’m not a big fan of marriage. My ex and I married because of the legal issues involved, specifically immigration. We essentially needed to be married in order to live in the same country and the long distance relationship was getting stressful.
Thanks for sharing that link.
My observation has been that even though some of the philosophers in the middle ages were from the Arab world, most could not be said to have been Muslim. I will need to reread that article at a later date.
I have come to view marriage in legalistic terms and am truly not a big fan either.