Every year, as we enter wedding season, I go to the bookstore and pick up a bridal magazine. Then I crumple to the floor with lower-back spasms, because during wedding season, bridal magazines achieve roughly the same mass as Ted Kennedy, D-Mass. They have hundreds of pages of advertisements and articles designed to help the bride, as she gets ready for her Special Day, go completely insane.
She can't help it. Your modern American wedding is more complex, in terms of logistics, than the invasion of Iraq. For one thing, the invasion planners don't have to decide on guest favors; the bride does, and it's not a simple decision. Here is what Modern Bride has to say on this topic in its 312-pound March issue:
"Gone are the days of giving guests mixed nuts in little plastic cups as wedding favors ... Brides today have so many options ... Choose unique favor container -- tiny tins, clear plastic cones, little gossamer bags -- and fill them with your favorite treats. Give each guest a silver frame ... Or tie a stack of your favorite cookies together with personalized ribbon. The choices are truly endless!"
And they are! Truly! Endless! Which is why tonight, while you're snoring the snore of the carefree, some stressed-out bride-to-be, who had once hoped (The fool!) to get by with mixed nuts in a cup, will be staring at her bedroom ceiling, asking herself: "Tiny tins? Gossamer bags? Personalized ribbon? Should I maybe personalize the gossamer? What the hell IS gossamer?"
At dawn she's still struggling to make this decision, so she can get on with the other 158,000 critical bridal decisions -- decisions she must make by herself, because she stopped talking to her mother weeks ago, following a bitter argument about the cake frosting. The bride, alone, must decide on her dress, shoes, flowers, invitations, place cards, caterer, photographer, and all the other wedding elements that must be perfect or her Special Day will be RUINED RUINED RUINED.
And don't tell me that the groom can help. Please. The groom is useless. Statistically speaking, something like 92 percent of all grooms are male. If you let males plan weddings you are going to wind up with Skee Ball at the reception.
No, the groom dropped out of the picture minutes after he proposed. For all the bride knows, he has been kidnapped by aliens. It does not matter. The bride must plunge grimly ahead, making decision after decision, day after stressful day, night after sleepless night, until she has, at most, two remaining marbles.
Unfortunately, the bride reaches this state just when she is turning her attention to the most abused victim group in America: bridesmaids. If you've ever wondered why you see so many weddings where the bridesmaids are unrecognizable, the answer is that these poor women were following the fashion orders of a crazed bride who wants all her bridesmaids, regardless of their physical nature, to have exactly the same "look," because otherwise her Special Day would be RUINED RUINED RUINED.
A few years ago, my wife was a bridesmaid; the bride was the sweetest, most thoughtful person we know. But she insisted that all her bridesmaids get a certain hairdo, which meant that my wife emerged from the beauty salon with this foot-high THING on her head formed by (1) her hair; (2) a substance that appeared to be either very strong hairspray or Super Glue; and (3) 14 million bobby pins. She had enough steel on her head to make a Cadillac Escalade. Her hairdo was interfering with aircraft compasses. She did not look like my wife. And she wasn't! She was ... a bridesmaid!
Can anything be done to halt this craziness? Yes. Alert reader Lori Rispoli has come up with a brilliant solution:
"Have you ever wondered," she writes, "why it takes a bride months and months to plan a wedding, but a good funeral can be pulled together in two days? The elements are all the same -- church, minister, music, flowers, guests, food."
Lori is absolutely right. What we need is a law prohibiting brides from planning their weddings more than, say, a week in advance. A bride caught violating this law would be subject to severe punishment, such as being forced to walk down the aisle to the tune of "I Shot the Sheriff".
Wouldn't that be great? Brides -- and their loved ones -- would be spared months of insanity. Weddings would be simpler, cheaper and more relaxed. Everybody would win! Except of course the people who put out the bridal magazines. They'd have to find something useful to do. But I'm sure they'll have no trouble. The choices are truly endless.