Copyright 2003 Linda Marcas - All Rights Reserved

Crank's Corner

                                          Borrowed and Blue

    Back at the dawn of time, when I was four years old, my favorite
garment was the dress-up "bride" outfit my aunt had given me.  Imagine a
geeky little kid, traipsing and tripping around the house in a too-long,
grubby white satin something with a wrinkled veil, a ripped hem, and a
bedragled bouquet of artificial flowers, and you'll have a fairly accurate
picture.  By the time I actually got married the first time, my stylistic
preferences had changed to the point where my dress was a plain, floor-
length black velvet gown.  "Married in black, you'll wish yourself back"
proved to be an accurate prediction, so for my second wedding I opted for
better luck with some subdued tie-dye; I'm still married, so I guess that was
a good choice.
    It's June, the traditional month for weddings, and, while any
"traditional" weddings occurring this month must have been in the planning
stages since sometime last year, the television ads for bridal boutiques still
abound, designed perhaps to catch the future trade of some hopeful bouquet-
snagging bridesmaid or guest.  Last week I heard, also on TV, that the
"average" wedding these days costs $20,000 (that's
Twenty...Thousand...Dollars), and that for something really posh, the sky is
the limit.  After all, this is The Happiest Day Of Your Life, right, so who
wants to let a little thing like money come between you and your dream
    I was lucky, because I outgrew my fascination with a bridal fantasy by
the time I was six, when pretending I was a witch, a gypsy, or an alien
offered more active and varied scenarios for play than that simple walk
down the aisle.  My Barbie doll had a wedding dress, a bathing suit, and a
stewardess outfit; more often than not, instead of dressing her up for her
wedding, I'd pretend that the plane she was working on crashed in the jungle
while she was on her way to her wedding, and she was captured by cannibals
and then rescued by G.I. Joe or Tarzan, with whom she then eloped, leaving
Ken at the altar in his rented tux.
    Many young women, however, never outgrow their early wedding
fantasy fixation, and our culture does nothing to help them do so.  Soap
operas find ways to have their characters get married over and over, because
their wedding extravaganza shows always garner high ratings.  Printers,
florists, dressmakers, caterers, rental halls, limo services, hotels, department
stores, and myriad other industries have a vested interest in persuading
women to have big, expensive weddings, and they play on our emotions to
do so.
    It's not surprising that the size of a wedding is somehow tied to "how
much do they love me?" in some women's minds.  Pink-collar workers,
secretaries and assistants who do most of the work while their male bosses
get most of the credit, the power, and the paycheck, might be most
susceptible   to inflated wedding expectations, because this might be the only
time in their lives that anyone will ever bow to their wishes in every detail,
where they are the Queen, and this is their Day.  That sense of power must
be giddying; they want to milk it for all it's worth, and all the wedding-
related retailers want to help them to do so.
    If the Father of the Bride, who's traditionally expected to foot the bill,
has always treated his daughter like a cross between a household slave and a
hothouse flower who's too stupid, frail, or inept to make her own decisions,
then this is her chance to make him pay for all those slights (and pay, and
pay), and Mother of the Bride will probably help with the squeeze.  If the
future Groom persists in thinking that competition belching is funny, when
he knows that it embarasses his fiancee to tears, then the least he can do is
accede to lime green and fuchsia as the wedding's Theme Colors.  And if the
Bride's Best Friends have sometimes been less than kind in their opinions
and actions regarding her, what sweeter revenge than forcing them to
purchase, and to wear in public, some hideous taffeta confection that will
clutter their closets and irk them for years to come, because it's too ugly and
useless to wear again but was too expensive to throw away?  No one can
deny the Bride's wishes, because, in this one circumstance, that would be
tantamount to saying "I don't love you" to her face.
    Couples who pay for their own weddings can fall into the same trap,
particularly if the bride has been fantasizing about her Perfect Wedding for
years before she ever meets the groom.  The visions of that Cinderella dress,
that jungle of flowers, and that ballroom reception have been her
companions through lonely nights for years longer than he has, and she's not
going to abandon them now, at least not before the credit cards are maxed
out and the bank refuses a loan.
    Going into debt to pay for a glamorous wedding is one of the dumbest
things I've ever heard of, and, even if you have the cash up front, it's pretty
silly to equate the degree of your love with the cost of the shindig and the
size of the guest list.  Save something back for when the furnace stops
working next winter, and stop thinking that your wedding day will be the
happiest of your life, because that might turn out to be the case, and the rest
of your days will be miserable.  Be careful what you wish for, because you
might get it; if you borrow money for a fancy wedding, when the bills come
rolling in after the honeymoon, you're going to be blue.

love letters or hate mail?