AKIE BERMISS: As a musician I have pretty strong feelings about weddings. I love them, I hate them. When they are good, they are awesome. There’s really nothing like the feeling at the end of a really good wedding. But when they aren’t awesome — they get horrible pretty quickly. And a bad wedding is a bad wedding is a bad wedding.
I can tell you this: know what you want. Don’t waffle, don’t waiver. Know your budget, know your expectations, and find the place where the two intersect. If you want a BIG outdoor wedding in the middle of July then I say: go for it! But expect everyone to be hot and uncomfortable. If you want a wedding suffused with the colors of Autumn, don’t be shocked if it cold out! There are a million ways to go when you just know that you want a wedding. And for every good plan, there are things that can (and probably WILL) go wrong. And, also, know that when you choose a plan sometimes that means you have to give up other things.
My world is music, so when I do weddings — I’m thinking about the music end. Now, mind you, I’ve done tiny weddings (like fifteen people), medium weddings (like 70 people), and HUGE weddings (like 200 people) — and each one has its unique challenges. But each, also has a unique kind of pay-off when things go right.
When asked for advice, I try to shy away from a single answer. I know its in fashion now to tell everyone to go small, to forget about hiring a band or even a DJ and just use their iPod. To ask their friends to bake the cake. To have a local restaurant provide the food and have everyone eat buffet style. And there are all manner of money-saving, tradition-shunning concepts that are getting a lot of attention these days. For those of us who DO what to go in a different direction than the usual, or who DO want to get as much bang for our buck as possible — its a great idea. If you’re not overly concerned about the sanctity and “perfectness” of the day — than put it together however you please. I’ve done plenty of weddings where my job is to show up, play a couple of tunes while the bridal party walks down the aisle, and then maybe do one or two at the reception — and that’s it!
However, if you want to go in for a traditional wedding then don’t be swayed by the current trend toward iconoclastic thriftiness. Weddings aren’t necessarily meant to be cool. Or meta. Or whatever. Sometimes a wedding is just a wedding. And you invite all your family and friends, people rsvp and they get dressed up, and you play “Here Comes the Bride” on the way in and Mendelssohn’s Wedding March on the way out. And there’s a cocktail hour. And there’s a reception. And the band play a bunch of classic soul and rock. And when things really get cooking, the whip out “Brown-Eyed Girl.” And there’s a cake cutting, and bouquet toss, and everyone goes back to the hotel piss-drunk.
And guess what? Everyone has had a good time! And the wedding is a memorable occasion and you can look back on it and know that (to paraphrase Joe Biden’s comments about HCR) it was a Big-Frickin’-Deal! And that’s alright. That’s totally cool. There really, really: ain’t nothing wrong with that.
The real problem is that weddings cost so damned much. There’s the church, and the reception hall, the catering, the caterERs, the band or DJ, the bar (is it open or cash?), the hotels, the transport. And so on. If you in my tax bracket, I might tell you: small is the way to go. But if you can afford to get what you want to get, there’s really no reason not to. I know we live in a somewhat embarrassingly consumerist culture and that a little moderation could go a long way, but a wedding is one of those few occasions where it makes sense to go whole hog, over-the-top, full-tilt boogie. Its not a birthday party (those come every year for most of us) or an anniversary (same deal) or graduation (which can happen a couple of times) — its a wedding. Whatever the numbers on divorce may be (and they’re climbing, last I heard), a wedding is still an event that brings everyone together. Friends, family, and strangers. Big or small, pomp or understated — it matters not. What matters is that it is done right. If its worth it, then its worth it. Save money of toilet paper, on movies, on car insurance. When it comes to the wedding — you get what you pay for.
MOLLY SCHOEMANN: I know it’s just the polite, making-conversation thing that people say to you when they learn that you got engaged, but I’m a little tired of having people ask if I’ve set a date for my wedding or not.
Have I set a date? No. Am I excited to lawfully wed my sweetie so that he can be on my insurance plan and we can visit each other in the hospital and get tax breaks and we will both have cool wedding bands and can continue to plan our lives together?
Hell yes. Am I excited about my wedding? Hell no.
I’m just not a ‘wedding’ kind of girl. I don’t watch any of the eight thousand television shows about weddings and bridezillas. I don’t read bridal magazines. I have never imagined what my perfect wedding day might be like. I just really don’t give a flying boutonniere.
I like going to other people’s weddings because I like parties and open bars and cake and dressing up, and it’s nice to see my friends pledge their eternal love to each other and then to drink a lot and do the Macarena. But I also tend to find weddings boring and formulaic and overblown and I hate wearing pantyhose and making idle chitchat with people I barely know.
But now I have reached the point in my life where I am ready to get married and move on to the next stage of life as a married person, which is great! The only thing stopping me is the damn wedding. It’s like marriage is on the other side of an iron gate covered in taffeta and frills and icing and guarded by a photographer and a caterer and an overpriced dress and flanked by 300 of my closest friends and loved ones, and it costs ten grand to pass through.
A few weeks into our engagement I got the brilliant idea that if I dropped enough hints, maybe my closest friends would band together and throw me a Surprise Wedding. How great would that be? One day I’d come home and – Surprise! There’s Brian, in a tux! And all our family & friends! And a minister! And flowers, and snacks, and booze, and music, and everyone looks nice. Surprise! It’s your wedding! And you didn’t have to plan anything! My friends, who are wonderful at planning surprise parties, are somehow not enthused at this idea. I’m pretty sure that I’ve dropped the heaviest hints possible, (“Man, I hate the idea of wedding planning. I wish SOMEONE would just throw me a surprise wedding. Oh well.”) but to no avail.
So I could go the Vegas Route. I could go the City Hall Route. I could go the Backyard Barbecue Route. None of those routes really appeal to me either though. It’s a special occasion and a special day, and I’d like it to be special. Just not “hundreds of dollars on table place settings that will be thrown away at the end of the night” special. Not “you can’t invite Great-Uncle Phil or Great-Aunt Agatha will disown our side of the family and by the way did you invite the guy at Dunkin-Donuts who always gets your coffee right?” special.
There has to be a middle ground. Something that’s not chintzy OR over elaborate. Something that’s a nod to tradition and yet still feels representative of our relationship.
Or I guess we could always have a Zombie-Themed Wedding like Brian wants, and call it a day.