DISCLAIMER: To readers and friends, this material is strictly for entertainment purposes. Whatever I write here may not be used against me.
The flowers are blooming, sundresses are plentiful, legs are showing, flirting is peaking, and the season of love is off to a great and gray start in Montreal. As young professionals in our late twenties and early thirties, we have dubiously noticed a progressive change to what used to be carefree summers. Instead, a line up of engagement and wedding commitments are boldly replacing the season that used to be jam-packed with amusing festivals and great evening drinks. Don’t get me wrong, weddings are lovely; the bond of two people who love each other is golden and celebrations are wonderful. A recent superfluous movement has, however, managed to elaborate such a pure and genuine occasion into a parade of lucrative and monarchy-like events for the couple – and into deep debt and slavery for the invitees.
What used to be a unique celebration for the union of two people has evolved to a profuse number of events. For many, the union of two lovebirds begins with a celebration dinner with family, a second with friends, following by an engagement party. It continues with the bridal shower, a henna night in certain cultures, to a generally grandiose bachelor and bachelorette, towards what we have all been waiting for: the final touch down (pause), the wedding. And that, dear young professionals, sums up ONE couple’s union. Now imagine having 5-10 weddings and joint revelries mostly concentrated into one season – summer.
Almost every event is partnered with a registry imposing a new trend of gift giving and debt inducement. As invitees, a budget needs to be set aside in order to attend these engagements without being judged as cheap. Soon enough the proposal will require a registry, or better yet, with the trending metroness of men in Montreal, we will start to observe groom showers; a union where the boys offer a gift, talk about fashion, about the romanticism of marriage, and, yes, of course play a bit of poker or video games to counter their blooming sensitivity.
Bachelors and bachelorettes, on the other hand, might be the only events that do not require a gift (yet), but the popularity of the Hangover and Bridesmaids movies have influenced men and women alike to make their “last night of freedom” as exaggerated and excessive as possible. Obligatory Las Vegas trips to brunch/spa/pedicure/dinner/drinks/clubs/weekend gateways (for one bachelorette alone) have also made this fun debauchery into a money-sucking weekend. This explains why many attendees drink excessively during these outings: to forget and evade their monetary status. Unfortunately what used to be exciting has now digressed into worry, sacrifice, and even lifestyle deterioration, all whilst stimulating a greater desire to marry rich in order to afford friends’ extravagantly harmonious unions.
Sigh, what is supposed to be sacred is, hmm, crap; a recent trend, nourished by the wedding industry that has not only transformed wants into needs, that has reformed a want into a fairy tale.
The Fairy Tale
The wedding industry has successfully made brides-to-be believe they are princesses (the only princess) who merely deserve the utmost royal treatment and wedding. After visiting a few of the very pink bridal boudoir events, and reading some wedding magazines, the initial grounded budget swells unhealthily. It augments for every detail and supplementary item. From the hand-made designer wedding dress, to the magical castle-like hall that rests on the lake or an island, to the elegant chairs, the porcelain tables, the seven-foot centrepiece, the exotic and tropical imported flowers, the classiest and largest limousine, the intricate cocktails, the pre-dinner buffet, the eight course molecular dinner, the extra aged parmesan cheese, the couple-shaped wedding cake, the midnight table, the chocolate fountain, the two o’clock snack table, the best DJ, the 10-member band, the Grey Goose second centrepiece, the pony, a horse carriage, and finally and most importantly, the rented doves that miraculously and coincidentally appear as the groom and bride kiss. All this for that special day, that one and only day, your first wedding – no detail can be spared. At this point of the preparation, the groom to be is no longer in the picture. The reason behind this party is forgotten, but perfection is what is sought. Soon enough, a better looking groom will be hired to fit the scenery.
Best men, or rather bridesmaids, are probably the worst off. As a side note to my wonderful friends who have included me in the bridal party, I was honoured and am not referring to you (although faintly inspired) in the upcoming criticism. As a bridal party member, you feel the need to perform. There is a sudden competition between the bridesmaids to showcase their skills and their perfectly delivered tasks. Tasks are composed of bridal party organization, bridal shower dole game planning (I cannot make a dress out of toilet paper one more time), bachelorette preparations, and a ridiculous amount of coordination. This not only becomes time consuming, but is yet another vacuum for money. The competition is so fierce and the princess’ imperial expectations force the bridesmaids to perform flawlessly. In addition to the embraced slavery role, bridesmaids are compensated with a bridesmaid dress with an instructed colour, imposed length and a commanded style that they pay for. How jolly! Finally the well-behaved bridesmaid needs to listen attentively and with genuine concern to the bride-to-be’s dramatic decision making: Raffia and magenta flowers or canary with lilac code 6 deviation? A white or white cream apron? A round or square-shaped table of honour? A blue or pink garter? And that, young professionals, makes an award-winning bridesmaid!
Best men have it so much easier – I have nothing else to add.
At this juncture, invitees may be thinking they spent all their dues for their friends’ celebration until they realize there is still the wedding, the most important event that got overshadowed by the hundred other transactions.
In the role of an invitee, one generally has the ceremony, cocktail and reception to attend. Generally it’s all timed awkwardly; church at one, cocktail at five pm, leaving no time to get ready before the ceremony and not enough time to get ready between the ceremony and cocktail. Regardless, one manages, and buys a last minute card, the same one as everyone else and debates the amount to give. After asking several other invitees, a deep breath is taken and a hefty sum is given at the expense of a desired pair of shoes.
The walk down the aisle that last somewhere between 30 seconds and 3 minutes is generally the most appreciated and even tear shedding part of the celebration.
The rest of the ceremony enables invitees to power nap to gain the energy for the rest of the day. After hours of either rushing or procrastinating, it’s cocktail time, where the purple or lavender-themed colours are repeated as the last 10 weddings attended.
The evening begins. Invitees are dictated the entire night when to speak, dance and eat. “The first dance! Everyone stay quiet and watch.” First dance is followed by an upbeat rhythm inviting (ordering) everyone to dance. The usual “CELEBRATE GOOD TIMES COME ON, Just celebrate,” followed by “Shake, shake, shake, shake shake shake, shake your booty,” is echoing in the hall while the old generation is uncontrollably shaking. Everyone is ordered back to their seats for the first course meal and the first speech. Followed by the second, third, forth speech, second course meal, two songs to dance to, the sorbet to refresh the pallet, another dance, the main meal, three songs, one speech, the bride and father dance, the groom and mother dance, another meal, one slow dance, and so on and so forth.
Bride & Groom and the Bridal Party
The bride and groom and bridal party have it even worse. They have an excel sheet (created by the couple) to abide to, listing tasks beginning with a 5am wake up call for hair and make up. The tasks are scheduled by 15 minutes cells including some layered tasks, transforming the excel sheet into a pivot table for greater flexibility. Pee breaks are scheduled, but food breaks are often forgotten. The photographer is up in everyone’s business from the beginning, creating an obstacle to respect the timeline.
12:45; church arrival. 13:00; walking up the aisle, and then comes the church ceremony – the hardest part for the day. It’s an hour of standing up and boredom and a deep desire to sleep due to the 5am wake up call, but no where to refuge. Instead, a permanent smile is glued on the bridal party’s face, while knees are breaking and calves are cramping from the five-inch heels. The best mens’ toes are killing because of their newly purchased pointish shoes. The bride and groom kiss. All the bridal party is starving, but is dragged to a three-hour photo session. Grass starts to look appetizing at this point. The end is near; never mind, this is only halfway through the day. The bridal party members are forcing themselves not to faint and keep smiling.
After being abused by the paparazzi for hours, the bridal party finally makes it to the cocktail where they swallow a tray of whatever hors d’oeuvres they are serving to compensate for the last 12 hours of food deprivation. And the night continues despite tiredness. The newlyweds haven’t eaten all day and continue to take pictures with the entire hall, including the concierge. The bridal party feels the duty to stay until the end to fulfill their roles while panicking because of the next day’s early celebration brunch.
Many who have lived this overwhelming scene try to avoid all of it and prefer to have a destination wedding when it is their turn to get married. Sadly it is yet another money sucking idea, but one hell of a good time!
Next Steps; It’s Not Over
This lengthy marathon of events is done and you may think your wallet is liberated from this one couple. The newlyweds, however, find other means to beg for gifts. Housewarming parties become the next thing. One-year celebrations are next, and then come the baby showers. Money and time realize that there is no escape to this long-winded industry! You become a prisoner of everyone’s sheep-like behavior.
As you may have guessed, I find this entire industry quite senseless and backward. I mean, a large portion of people get married. It’s been done for years; it’s not really an accomplishment, so why all the instant recognition and admiration? Given the huge divorce rate, I vouch that people celebrate after completing 5 to 10 years of marriage. Now that’s an accomplishment. Anything before then is ordinary and pitiful.