Big uber-conventional weddings aren’t for everyone. Or are they? I mean, they seem to be. All the young couples I know have a rigmarole they follow because . . . because why? Is it superstition? If the boy kneels before his intended with a ring in his hand or hidden in the chocolate pudding in their favorite restaurant, and if they proceed to send out letterpress invitations and chum for florists, wedding planners and caterers, will that keep their love sacred and eternal?
Do the betrothed even take a moment to appreciate this sacred and eternal love, buried as it is under lobster Normande and a bridal gown more costly than the new Pope Francis’s crozier and chasuble? Here’s a cautionary tale about how much good a big ol’ wedding may achieve to ward off the big ol’ demon of incompatibility:
Back in Los Angeles in the 70s, Marty and I knew a young TV writer so smitten by a Miami Dolphins cheerleader that on his second whirlwind weekend to Florida he proposed to her. The wedding took place at a prestigious old club on the sands of Santa Monica beach. As the bride and groom drove away from all the hoopla, the cheerleader wept. But not for him. “I miss my mommy! I miss my daddy!” Within two weeks, she moved out of the writer’s unassuming apartment in the Hollywood Hills. She took with her all their wedding gifts and copies of his pay stubs.
Can you win alimony for two weeks of marriage? Who knows?
It was bad karma anyway. The young groom hadn’t summoned the gumption to tell his girlfriend of two years that over the weekend, oops, he got married! There were bridesmaids in lavender gowns, an adorable five year-old flower girl, champagne cocktails and doves released to provide snacks for sea hawks over the splendid bay.
A plea to all my friends and acquaintances who ply the Vineyard wedding trade: Don’t hate me! My humble pitch for couples to please consider humble — yet lovely! and romantic! — weddings, is only intended for those rare souls who in their heart-of-hearts yearn for a private little ceremony.
And wedding specialists, you will not receive a drop fewer customers, I guarantee it. The big celebration with all the trimmings has become a titanic rite of passage for this fresh, young, matrimonially-minded generation.
Besides, what kind of advice on this subject should anyone accept from a thrice-divorced, loopy old columnist?
But here’s my faint exhortation on bended knee, sans ring, to those few couples out there who might be attracted to a whimsy-laden little ceremony on the beach followed by a simple party at the seaside home of an aged aunt. Please, as Nike says, just do it! You’ll be just as married. And if you’ve got some extra cash left over, even a fraction of what some of these big ol’ weddings cost, then spend it on travel. Go see the world. Get to know your beloved beside the bookstalls along the Seine and dangling from zip-lines over the Laotian rain forest.
You’ll have the same implacable 50 per cent chance of making it, long-term, as a couple. Or not.
I know, I know, these big ol’ weddings are great fun for your friends, inclusive of the bachelor party (Hangover, the movie, anyone?). Friends and family and even ex-inamorati with whom you’ve remained close have the opportunity to travel to your shindig in some fun spot, slug back Lava Flows or Uppercuts, and enjoy a fabulous reunion with old buddies, a reunion that just happens to have a wedding ceremony in the middle of it.
But somewhere along the line, if these pals haven’t already staged their own nuptials with more events and scene changes than all of Shakespeare’s histories put together, they’ll need to kneel with the ring and send out the letterpress invites and host the gala to end all galas of their own, one that happens to contain their own wedding in the middle of it.
But, again, don’t take a cranky old divorcee’s advice on this.
Although, I will say . . . When I was recently, briefly married, the ’til death do us part’ part lasted a mere 13 months, but we both continue to affirm that we loved our wedding.
We sent out a goofy color-copied collage of us, the Island, an X marking the spot for the knot to be tied at the Aquinnah town hall (rental price: $25), a photo of our Boston terrier with a note to guests to bring their own dogs, should they care to. Because neither of us had any money (what kind of a misbegotten idea was that?!), we made the party potluck and B.Y.O.B. Also, and this was Jack’s idea — Jack being my temp husband — we encouraged people, should they feel inspired, to bring a square-pan-sized cake. Exactly 12 people did so, and we put the squares together and, oh the joy of it, we had a multi-colored quilt cake about the size of a poker table.
Before Jack and I exchanged vows, our grown kids took a few minutes each to “roast” us (we have roastable personalities). The dogs romped and got fed extraordinary amounts of cake and other tidbits from passing pet-lovers. Our friend Mike Cassidy of Edgartown played deejay and pumped up the CD player. Cute young girls, including Mike’s talented daughter Samantha, grabbed the microphone and sang songs. A good time was had by all, even the bride and groom.
Say, maybe there’s an equation here. You spend 13 dollars on a wedding and the marriage lasts for 13 months. A buck a month.
I take back everything I’ve said. Go ahead and plan that big ol’ wedding, and buy yourselves some tens of thousands of months of connubial bliss.
I’m not very good at math, but that should last a lifetime.
Cheers. Felicitations. Mazel tov.
Gazette contributor Holly Nadler lives in Oak Bluffs.