It’s wedding season! Amore's in the almost-autumnal air. Bells are ringing. Brides are blushing. And my bulletin board is bursting with “Save the Dates” and invitations. (The columnist suddenly finds herself in a curious quandary: To continue this auto-amusing but audience-annoying alliteration, or abandon the application altogether. Drat! It’s difficult to decide.)
The point is, I’ve got a wealth of weddings to witness in the next two months, which prompts me to examine how nuptials have changed since my "big day" in 1979.
Back then, there was no such thing as “Save the Date.” Nobody dispatched postcards, e-vites or YouTube videos so people would circle a Saturday on their calendars two years in advance. You booked the church and the reception hall, buzzed a few friends to break the news. Ringa-ding-ding. Date saved.
According to theknot.com, the average length of engagement today is 12-18 months. Mine was four, and we still managed to get everything done. Without a website, even!
I know people who have been engaged for 12 years. Take Oprah and Steadman, for instance. That poor guy popped the question in 1992. I know the big O’s been busy building an empire and all but - come on, girlfriend — you’re either tying the knot or you’re not. (And, according to reliable internet sources, she's apparently not.)
Wedding planners were unheard of in the '70s. That role typically fell to the MOB (mother of the bride.) Mom was my wedding planner, and a formidable one, at that. I remember watching in awe as she shrewdly negotiated with stationers, florists and bakers for the best deals.
She had three daughters coming up after me. Cost-efficiency was crucial:
“How much for a cake without frosting?” (She was tough, alright.) At my bachelorette party, I sipped sangria in a friend’s sister’s apartment and opened risqué gifts, including a board game featuring a rubber dart gun and illustrated chart that, according to the instructions, was to be affixed to the bedroom ceiling for “hours of naughty fun.” (Imagine the horror, years later, when my kids found the box next to Chutes and Ladders in the game closet.) If that wasn’t wild and crazy enough, my gal pals then drove me to a disco where we boogied all night — with each other, mind you — to Kool and the Gang.
After that… well, what happens in midtown Kansas City, stays in midtown Kansas City. But, I'm fairly sure I was home by midnight.
Today’s bachelorettes jet off to Cancun, New York or Vegas for sleepless, 3-day blowouts that are so over-the-top, feature films get made about them. Limos are leased, Cristal is consumed, and God only knows what goes on in those pole-dancing classes.
Speaking of Cancun, there was no such thing as a “destination wedding” 30 years ago, unless you count the time I travelled to Beaver Lake, Ark., to watch friends say their “I do’s” on an Ozark mountaintop. At least, I think that’s where I was. There was a little pre-wedding party in the woods that day. The rest is kind of a haze, although I vaguely remember someone singing “Muskrat Love.” Unless that was me.
Now, people think nothing of asking friends and family to join them in Bali, Aruba or Hawaii for beach-front ceremonies and week-long celebrations. I'd love to bask in the sun in all of those places, but not in a chaise next to the groom's granddad from Great Bend.
Besides, weddings have gotten so darn expensive. Vera Wang gowns, professional hair and make-up, manis and pedis all around, rehearsal dinners, bridal luncheons, bubble machines, wedding planners, videographers, signature cocktails, swans, harp players, homing pigeons (or are they doves?)... where does it stop?
Fortunately, the invitations on my bulletin board are for simpler affairs. A sign - driven by the economy, perhaps — that more brides and MOB's believe the "big day" doesn't have to be a big production.
I'm looking forward to them. Especially if someone sings "Muskrat Love."