Ah, weddings. The pomp. The circumstance. The smoldering credit card.
Yes, it's true. I made a major life decision recently. I took the plunge. I drew a deep breath and walked down the aisle… in the store, right past all those wedding magazines and books.
This is because while planning my wedding I discovered that, according to the industry media, getting married is no longer a joyous event celebrating the union of two people. It is an incredibly complicated event that apparently requires a logistics and deployment group of several dozen people, which may or may not include the bride and groom.
My first clue that retail capitalism had discovered weddings was when I logged into a website a friend had recommended. At the very top of the screen was an ad that said: “How much can you afford? Check out how monthly payments can mean your $25,000 wedding is within reach!” This makes a lot of sense, because clearly, there is no better way to start out married life than by going into debt for $25,000.
My next clue was the Wedding Planner Schedule. According to this agenda, average wedding is supposed to take up to two years to plan. This is, of course, only slightly less time than it takes to plan a Summer Olympics, complete with opening and closing ceremonies.
Also according to this schedule, one of the pre-wedding rituals brides are meant to have is a makeup trial. This is where you go to a professional make up artist before the wedding to experiment with colors and looks.
Now as any woman knows, having a makeover is not the wonderful and giggly experience it's made out to in the magazines. This is because your makeup artist will first A) Gasp in horror and shock to make you feel like a complete amateur when you describe your daily makeup and skin care routine. B) Apply a makeup color scheme that you absolutely hate and C) Rip out most of your eyebrows.
Indeed, ripping out most of your eyebrows (euphemistically known as “eyebrow sculpting”) must be the single most important thing to have done pre-wedding, because just about every bridal and woman's magazine talks about it. I can imagine it must be a great relief to men everywhere when their fiances finally get around to having this done: “Oh thank goodness you're on that part of the schedule honey. I knew I couldn't possibly marry you with unsculpted eyebrows, but I wasn't sure if I should say anything.”
The next thing I noticed was the heavy use of scare tactics. For instance, if you flip through any bridal magazine, you'll see dozens of terrifying, gut-wrenching titles like:
Color Scheme Disasters: When Bridesmaids Clash
One Bride's Horror Story: “It Rained on MY Day!”
Flower Faux-Pas: I Chose Petunias And All My Friends Laughed For Days
Of course, the magazines and books offer all sorts of solutions to these terrible problems, most of which involve hiring a professional wedding consultant. As far as I can tell, the consultant has two jobs: A) To help you spend all your money and B) To completely drain any semblance of romance from the event. For instance:
CONSULTANT: Right, dahling, and then the minister will finish his blessing and the ceremony will be over…
GROOM: And then I kiss the bride, right?
CONSULTANT: No, zen vee pose for pictures.
GROOM: Er, okay. And then I kiss the bride, right?
CONSULTANT: No, zen vee valk down the aisle for de video camera.
GROOM: Do I get to kiss the bride then?
CONSULTANT: NO! Don't be silly. We can't have you messing up her makeup! This day is supposed to be perfect! Now then, practice looking like the happy groom. Come on, let me see some teeth, man!
So, if you're planning a wedding, my advice is: ignore all the advice. Otherwise, you'll be starring in My Big Fat Bleak Wedding.
To read more of Chandra's work, visit www.ChandraKClarke.com.