That special day.

Today’s question:

What was your wedding like?

I ask because I want to know how the generational divide works here. We got married late in life, planned it ourselves and spent a little less than $5,000, at the time about half the average cost in the U.S. and enough to buy two — but only two — Martha Stewart-style wedding cakes at current prices. I thought it was a pretty nice wedding, but then, I was the guest of honor. There were things I’d do differently today, but on the whole, I thought it worked OK. I re-learned the most important lesson of any party, whether it’s for a bris, a marriage, a wake or a kegger — it’s not the food or the booze or the flowers or the table decorations, it’s the guest list. You can throw a great party for practically nothing, if you have the right friends. (And I’m not talking about getting your friends to design the invitations, although that’s a big help.) Which is one reason I’m so baffled by the MegaWedding phenomenon.

I’ve been to one of these affairs, and it was very nice, but it was the first of my experience that had a theme. You wouldn’t think a wedding would need a theme — Bob and Sue Get Married would seem to do the trick — but this one’s was Candy. The execution was sly and clever. The invitation came in a box made of white chocolate. Table assignments were on all-day suckers. The entrance to the outdoor area where they did the deed was flanked by giant “bouquets” of licorice whips, suckers and the like. There was an intermezzo course of cocktails named for candy bars. The tabletop candles sat in glasses crusted with rock candy. The placemats were peppermint-swirled. Toward the end of the night I picked up a lovely petit-four and nearly broke a tooth. It was a souvenir candle. Whoops, too many chocolate martinis.

And while I remember all of it vividly, when we talk about that weekend, we inevitably recall the elderly guest who had seemingly spent his entire 401(k) having his face lifted, contoured with implants and, I don’t know, buffed to a high sheen. Which is not to say a theme is unimportant, just that people were talking about the guy with the facelift. (Note: I hope they’re not talking about the drunk who tried to eat the candle.)

All this by way of pointing you to this interview with Rebecca Mead, author of “One Perfect Day: The Selling of the American Wedding.”

Mead’s book is said to be the first to tackle the American wedding racket the way Jessica Mitford did the funeral industry, which I find astonishing. Granted, I was long in the tooth and a practiced cynic by the time I tied the knot, but I hope, for the future of our country, that most brides-to-be could see through the naked greed and polished b.s. of so much of what you’re peddled between the she-says-yes and the I-dos. I recall one small item among many. It was a collection of small rings of not-particularly-precious metal, each attached to a ribbon. You — or your designated pastry chef — baked them into a cake with the ribbons streaming out. This cake was to be served at a bridal shower, where each bridesmaid would grab a ribbon and pull, thereby revealing her destiny. (Each ring carried a different symbol.) According to the advertising, it was said to be the hot new “tradition,” but all I could see was a cake that would be a pain in the ass to bake and then disintegrate when six girls yanked its guts out. Crumbs everywhere and a ruined dessert — that’s a wedding for you.

But then I recall the brides I’ve known who fell into real depressions after their weddings were over, after they returned from the honeymoon, opened all the gifts, put them on the shelf and said, “Now what?” It’s like nobody told them a wedding is followed by a marriage, which lasts a lot longer and features hors d’oeuvres only occasionally.

In the interview, Mead mentions In Style Weddings, the special edition of the consumer magazine that always features a celebrity bride on its cover. She doesn’t mention that for the longest time, this particular match was cursed — several consecutive couples broke up before the ink was dry. Even the zillion-dollar cake couldn’t save them. Imagine that.

So, bloggage before a busy day gets up and running:

Bill Maxwell left the St. Petersburg Times in 2004 to teach journalism at Stillman College, an historically black school in Alabama. It didn’t go well. The story is very sad.

Posted at 8:57 am in Media, Popculch |

65 responses to “That special day.”

  1. MichaelG said on May 22, 2007 at 9:15 am

    We did a nice wedding for my daughter about eight years ago. We had about 80 people, had a great party (what I can remember of it) and spent about 10 grand. Later my daughter spent a semester as the only white person at an all black college in the south. She didn’t find the experience pleasant and it did nothing to shore up her liberal leanings.

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  2. john c said on May 22, 2007 at 9:23 am

    Mary and I got married kinda late – me 33, her 30. But unlike many people our age, we still had it in her hometown. and her mom and dad picked up the tab. Finding a room was easy, as there are only two places that could handle our rather large (350 guests) wedding. We picked one for the wedding and one for the rehearsal dinner. For me it was a lot of fun seeing my family – all born and raised in New England – schlep to little Richmond, Indiana on a dreary October weekend. Same with our group of friends, where were mostly reporters and advertising types from Chicago. The other interesting phenomenon was that we had several couples who were away from their young children for the first time. This meant that several people got completely hammered, though there were no major incidents. Mary did most of the planning. So I can’t say whether it was easiy or hard, just that she and her mom worked hard on it. We had a pretty kickin’ band, though the older folks might have found it loud. Lots of dancing, though. In the end, Nancy’s right. It’s about the people. Ours worked because we were with our friends essentially on a huge road trip, and because both our extended families were happy to be there, and happy to get to know each other.

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  3. John said on May 22, 2007 at 9:25 am

    We got married Groundhog’s Day 1980 with over a foot of snow on the ground. Very small family wedding held at my sister’s house in the living room. Biggest expense was the wedding dress following by the cake and flowers. Reception was a big dinner at my folks house. Entire wedding was under $1500. We had planned on a mid-sized church wedding in Betsy’s home town, but money had become an issue. So we moved up the date by two months and switched it my town. Of course, everyone (including my parents who had no qualms telling me that they knew it despite my denials) “knew” that Betsy must have been in the family way because of the wedding situation. Three years later, our daughter Wendy was “finally” born. 27 years down the road, could we have had a different wedding? Probably, but I’m happy with the way things have turned out so I don’t think I would want to change a thing.

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  4. Kirk said on May 22, 2007 at 9:30 am

    Our wedding was about as small as it gets: the two of us and the judge. We were in our mid-30s and had been living together for four years, so we decided to make it official. The judge was Woody Hayes’ son, who later popped up on a list of clients of a local whorehouse. He was nice to us, though, and we asked a woman with a motorcycle helmet to take our picture as we sat in a waiting room before we went inside. A couple of weeks later, my dad hosted a dinner for our immediate families (12 people, besides us) in a private room at Da Vinci Ristorante, a place Nance knows well, I’m sure. We’ll mark 20 legal years in August.

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  5. Emma said on May 22, 2007 at 9:36 am

    I was 8 months pregnant when I got married. I wore slippers.

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  6. brian stouder said on May 22, 2007 at 9:42 am

    The Stillman article was indeed depressing. I was taken aback by the attitudes of the bureaucracy within the university; on the list of problems enumerated, that one seems to be the most comprehensively damaging; and certainly the most surprising. One would almost assume that the staff’s professionalism (or lack of professionalism) might be the most amenable to rapid improvement….indeed, those people (the bursars and administrative staff) seem to be central to the problems of the students and the faculty there.

    And yet on second thought, changing the ‘corporate culture’ of an entrenched bureaucracy is probably the most difficult challenge anyone could face

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  7. Jonathan Arnold said on May 22, 2007 at 9:52 am

    We just eloped (is that word still in use?). We were in our late 30s, and she had been married before anyway. Neither of us liked ceremonies, and we had lived together for so long, everyone was just tickled we finally got married. Just the two of us and a JP, up on a widow’s walk in Nantucket. If we had known it was going to be so easy, we probably would have done it sooner. Just celebrated our 10th anniversary, so I don’t think the lack of ceremony hurt at all.

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  8. Marcia said on May 22, 2007 at 9:55 am

    I had the traditional wedding and reception paid for by my parents. I did have a theme–it was my husband and I getting married. Duh.

    all I could see was a cake that would be a pain in the ass to bake and then disintegrate when six girls yanked its guts out. Crumbs everywhere and a ruined dessert — that’s a wedding for you.

    I love you, Nancy.

    And wow, that Stillman article is beyond depressing. I talk at work about the dumbing down of society along with its loss of respect for anything of value–but I didn’t think it included college students. I guess I still had a rosy view of anyone pursuing higher education.

    And no one whack me with your liberal stick, but I gotta say that perhaps the education would be taken a lot more seriously if it wasn’t paid for by voucher.

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  9. 4dbirds said on May 22, 2007 at 10:06 am

    We married in my in-law’s home by a retired judge. Cost us maybe $500.00. This was 1980, before weddings became productions. I read that the change in weddings is because people have sex and live together before marriage. Therefore the actual marriage isn’t that big of a transition. It used to be people dressed up in their best, got married and had a small reception with a small group of family and friends. Then they started married life which was a very big deal. Not so much now so people need to announce that they’re committing to an important decision. Hence the big weddings.

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  10. Kat Coble said on May 22, 2007 at 10:06 am

    My wedding was entirely for my mother. Had I my own way I would have swapped vows in my parents’ garden and pigged out on cake.

    We still had a relatively inexpensive wedding for the time (1991), but there was sooo much folderal that I could have done without. All of it put together by my mother and her friends as sort of a grand Party for Mothers. It was beautiful, but I remember almost none of it, seeing as how it wasn’t really my party.

    Years later I actually worked for awhile in a part of the Wedding Industry–yes, the insiders call it that–and was sickened at how the slick marketers found a way to weasel even more money out of people. “Save the date” cards–a pre-invitation invitation!? Pretty much sums it up. Extraneous ridiculousness.

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  11. ashley said on May 22, 2007 at 10:09 am

    First, a peeve: “too many chocolate martinis”. Martinis are made with Gin and Vermouth. You perhaps had a chocolate cocktail, but there is no such thing as a chocolate martini.

    Second: all this recollection makes me feel like the white trash I evidently am. Here’s a mini story of our wedding, but for NN readers, My evil mom, who planned the thing, forgot to call the church, and the place was locked.

    We show up, and the doors are all locked. Nobody to be found, nobody’s around, nobody’s answering phones. Fortunately, a friend brought liquor and beer, so I wandered around the church, kicking in the down gutters, drinking my beer, cussing like a longshoreman, and checking all the doors and windows.

    My mom said “I can’t believe you’re treating God’s house this way”.

    I got in her face and said “It must not be God’s house, because He would have opened the fucking doors!”

    Then the reception was at an Elks lodge with concrete floors and paper plates. My mom thought “class” was something that she quit going to in the 8th grade. No band, but a buddy at a radio station had burned 2 CDs, and a buddy at a music store lent us a sound system.

    Cash bar. I went up to the bartender, gave her two Franklins, and told her to tell me when it runs out. Keeping my MIL drunk kept her from weeping.

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  12. LA mary said on May 22, 2007 at 10:10 am

    Best wedding I ever attended was two grad student friends in Colorado who married in a church and had the reception in the church basement. They had no money, so the families brought food, an uncle brought an accordion, and the combination of Argentinian and German music and food worked well. Grandfathers and little kids danced together. There was a lot of beer. About seventy guests, maybe. It was like a really good party. The big deal weddings I’ve been to have been a lot less fun.

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  13. LA mary said on May 22, 2007 at 10:16 am

    Ashley, I looked at your website and read your story. By coincidence I went through the same thing with my cat, Albert, last fall. Even the same outrageous total bill, and the same incremental increases every day. It wasn’t the cat food issue, because he wasn’t eating any wet food at the time. My 5 dollar pound cat now has a grand and a half invested in him.

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  14. Jessica said on May 22, 2007 at 10:25 am

    Our commitment ceremony, known to one and all as the Weddinglike Thing or WLT, was held in a very large backyard with 120 guests, including our families and many friends. A friend with catering experience did the food, which went fine once I persuaded her that anything made from any part of a pig counted as pork and was Not Ok for My Dad.

    A niece did the beautiful and delicious cakes, another friend sewed the outfits (which was a mistake as she barely finished in time, by 15 minutes).

    My non-negotiable demand was two identical buffet tables, so one dithering guest couldn’t hold up the entire proceedings for minutes and minutes.

    A friend who is a licensed minister did a vaguely Jewish ceremony, we did the invitations ourselves, and the whole thing including a large tent and a string quartet, cost $7500. Well worth it.

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  15. Danny said on May 22, 2007 at 10:44 am

    We got married twice. For under $5000.

    We had planned for July 4th in Coronado, CA, but got tired of waiting and while visiting my parents in North Carolina, decided the morning of May 26th to get married that afternoon. My parents and a local pastor who knew our pastor in San Diego attended.

    Then we did the repeat of vows and party in Coronado on July 4th with a traditional 4th cookout and volleyball and balloons for about 60 friends. And we had Love-American-Style fireworks all over the Coronado skies that night.

    The biggest cost was the presidential suite at the Marriott Coronado Bay. The best deal was our friend, Loic, the French pastry chef who did the 3-tiered carrot cake.

    Oh, and we were on the local news that night.

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  16. Marcia said on May 22, 2007 at 10:48 am

    Mmmm. Chocolate martinis.

    I had a mint chocolate chip martini the only time I’ve ever dined at M.

    It was luscious.

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  17. Peter said on May 22, 2007 at 11:01 am

    We had over 200 people at our wedding in 1984 and the whole event cost about $8,000.00, which included a mighty fine wedding dress. We paid for it by saving $60.00 each from our weekly paychecks during the engagement.

    For me, the depressing part of the whole experience was when we looked for a wedding photographer. We stopped at a well known high profile place, and they showed us several books of wedding photos. You could tell that no expense was spared at those weddings.

    My lovely fiance told the salesperson that those weddings seemed so special and nice, and that those were very lucky people indeed. It was then we found out that the photos we were shown were from couples who divorced so soon after the wedding that they never bothered to pick up the wedding album.

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  18. colleen said on May 22, 2007 at 11:02 am

    Sad story all right. Sad. I think I’m entering my curmudgeon years, because I find myself tsking about the younger generation all too often these days.

    Wedding. Almost five years ago. We were old…me 35, him 50. But in my family, weddings are a big hoo hah doo dah, and people have so much fun, so we had the same kind, (thanks to my parents who put it on) and it was a blast. My goal for the day (other than ending it married) was that guests would look back and say “oh, yeah, that was a FUN” wedding! We got married at St Paul’s in downtown FW, and had the reception at the Holiday Inn, so we walked over, leading the guests. THAT was very cool. But yeah…the wedding industrial complex is a little scary. I didn’t have an aisle runner, we did pictures before the ceremony, and the unity candle didn’t light, yet my marriage is just fine, thank you.

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  19. brian stouder said on May 22, 2007 at 11:20 am

    Well – Pammy and I had a very fine wedding in Royal Center, Indiana – and then a pleasant reception/hog roast in Logansport.

    We had a Diet Coke/Coke/Sprite (etc) fountain dispenser (which I loved!!) – and no booze or beer; and this caused some grousing!! Looking back, we were honestly surprised that some folks were irritated by that lack of free-flowing alcohol.

    Mostly everybody had to zoom down the highway to get there (generally from Fort Wayne), and (in hindsight) that raises some safety/liability issues; and in any case, Pam and I always drink soda pop, and it was our party, and….and…and …well, I’m sorta defensive, I guess.

    It was a push-button decision that drew a surprising reaction – which I guess shouldn’t have surprised us. Anyway, another benefit was that by 10 pm the party was over and we were on our way to the honeymoon!

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  20. LA mary said on May 22, 2007 at 11:29 am

    About twenty one years ago, I had a root canal that went bad and I ended up very sick. I had no health insurance. The person with whom I had been living for ten years had amazing health insurance, so we decided to get married. I needed surgery. He had coverage. We called a former next door neighbor who was an Episcopal priest, still legal but no longer practicing. He was running a bogus dental hygienist school. He met us in Lincoln Park, next to Plaza de la Raza, after we had made a quick stop at the downtown courthouse for a marriage license, and he married us. Our witnesses were one drunk sleeping it off in the shrubbery, and a duck. We then all went to the all you can eat buffet at a nearby Holiday Inn.
    The next day I had surgery, which would have cost several thousand dollars, but was now covered by insurance. Our marriage lasted nine more years. Two great kids. Lots of not so great stuff.

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  21. Dave said on May 22, 2007 at 11:46 am

    We were married in 1988 for about $1000. We were invited to a wedding this past weekend where I think the value of the alcohol vomited cost 3 times more than our entire wedding. When I look at theirs and look back at ours, I’m so glad we did it small.

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  22. nancy said on May 22, 2007 at 11:48 am

    These stories are tremendous. You guys are great. Ashley’s story made me laugh the hardest, and for wedding disasters is a first runner-up to my friend Ron’s. He had a Christmas Eve wedding two days after an early-season blizzard, which was followed by a Canadian cold front that drove the temperatures to minus-20. The highways were closed to all but emergency travel, so hardly anyone showed up. The church refused to warm above 50 degrees. The reception hall was even colder. There’s a picture of the 12 guests dancing, one in a blaze-orange deerstalker hat. The Just Married-mobile refused to start, and they had to get it towed to a gas station. He has a picture of his wife sitting — in her wedding dress — in front of a display board of fan belts.

    And yes, the marriage didn’t last.

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  23. derwood said on May 22, 2007 at 11:54 am

    We got married in 1989. My sister did the food, flowers and cake. My wife’s mom paid for her off-the-rack dress and my parents flipped for the rehearsal dinner. Got married at Zion Lutheran at Hanna & Creighton. 3 sets of sirens can be heard screaming past the church during the ceremony. We had to hire a security gaurd to watch the cars while we were inside the church. We threw a pretty good party and paid for most of it ourselves. I always tell people we did a 15k wedding for 3k.

    When my brothers oldest got married he offered her 20k to elope. I think he ended up spending close to 30-35k. The wedding was more for my sister-in-law than my niece. They had something like 750 people because they had to invite the entire church. Even though ours went well, we have always said if we had to do it again we would have eloped and just thrown a big party.


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  24. Dorothy said on May 22, 2007 at 12:07 pm

    Sniff sniff – my comment I posted at 11:08 AM has not shown up yet. What did I do to offend the NN.C gods?!

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  25. nancy said on May 22, 2007 at 12:12 pm

    You somehow got spammed. Thanks for the heads-up; you’ve now been cleared for entry. Amusingly, the spam file also contained a comment from Emma about dirty band names, mentioning a lead singer named Bianca Butthole. At least we know how THAT one ended up there.

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  26. Connie said on May 22, 2007 at 12:19 pm

    I married right after grad school. We wanted a quick and simple wedding, and fought my parents every step of the way. I bought my wedding dress off the Gantos after prom sale rack for $46. I ordered flowers only for the wedding party. I cried when I got to the church and found it full of what I thought were someone else’s flowers. Then my Dad told me they were his flowers. I am the only daughter.

    The reception was open bar, live band, and endless hot hor doerves. ??SP?? and two sheet cakes in back that no one every actually saw before they were cut.

    The reception was memorable for several things, most of which Tom and I missed: It was the last time my mother and all her siblings were together, two died unexpectedly in the next three months. My Aunt S passed out drunk in front of everyone. First hint anyone had that this sweet quiet churchgoing woman had a problem. (Long ago rehabbed.) And I found out much later that my cousin Frank was handing out cocaine to my college and HS friends in the Country Club parking lot. He is still serving the life sentence he received a few years later.

    At 3 a.m. we left our hotel room to find something to eat, and ran into a crowd of creepy guys from HS who had just closed down the bars. I still remember Charlie’s comment: You just got married? Then why the heck are you in this crappy restaurant?

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  27. Dorothy said on May 22, 2007 at 12:26 pm

    Ah okay, well good thing I like to type cause I don’t mind startin’ all over again!

    We wed, at age 22, in October 1979. St. James Church, and reception at the East Pittsburgh Moose. We paid $3.75/person (!!!!) for hot and cold buffet, and we had open bar. German, Irish and Polish Catholics like their booze, but no one got drunk. I come from a huge family, and Mike is an only child. We 225 people accept the invitation (invited 300), but had to pay for 250 (minimum charges, etc.) The food was very tasty, I paid $120 for my dress and I made the 4 bridesmaid dresses. Mike and I paid for it all ourselves. We were engaged for 18 months, and saved like crazy. He had a little money from his grandfather, who had died in 1973, and that helped us to put a down payment on a house. We had no honeymoon. I’m fairly sure the whole thing cost around $3,000. (that does not include the downpayment on the house!)

    The Stillman story was so sad and discouraging. I hope his article helps to change things – at least in the snotty administrative department. Those women should be ashamed of themselves.

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  28. Dorothy said on May 22, 2007 at 12:31 pm

    Oh I forgot – we tasted only a little bit of that yummy dinner we paid for. By the time we got downtown to the Hilton, we were starved. I found a pizza place that delivered, and of course I had to tell them we were newlyweds. The pizza arrived with “Pizza is for lovers!” written on the box. That was fun!

    My son is getting married next year and he and his fiance are being very careful with the budget. They are making the invitations themselves, she changed florists twice already when she found a better deal, and their reception is at 2 PM instead of dinner so it would be less expensive. He grew up with a mom who watches $$ so it is coming naturally to him to be budget-conscious.

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  29. Marcia said on May 22, 2007 at 12:50 pm

    Speaking of sad, is this story pissing anyone else off?

    The couple said they were concerned about the long-term effects chemotherapy would have on Noah

    Right. The alternative was so much better.

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  30. LA mary said on May 22, 2007 at 1:03 pm

    On a completely different note: A midlevel aide from the White House was sent to Jerry Falwell’s funeral. None of the presidential candidates chose to attend.

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  31. brian stouder said on May 22, 2007 at 1:14 pm

    Marcia – YES!

    Mary – I mis-read your post at first, as “a medieval aide from the White House” – and in fact it sort of works!

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  32. Kirk said on May 22, 2007 at 1:16 pm

    Funny. “Medieval” is what my eye saw, too.

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  33. Marcia said on May 22, 2007 at 1:33 pm

    The aide then left the funeral en route to the Renaissance Festival….

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  34. brian stouder said on May 22, 2007 at 1:43 pm

    The Age of Steam aide is busy holding back momma Barbara, and the Gilded Age guy is tied up over in the Cheney basement…

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  35. LA mary said on May 22, 2007 at 1:57 pm

    The position of Age of Enlightenment Guy is currently vacant.

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  36. 4dbirds said on May 22, 2007 at 1:58 pm

    Marcia, I am the mother of a childhood cancer survivor (JMML, a rare leukemia) and yes chemo, radiation and her eventual bone marrow transplant were a bitch. However, now when I want to talk to her I can stop by her room (she’s 17 and moody LOL) and don’t have to visit her at the cemetery. Those parents make me spitting mad but what can one do? After 50 years on this earth, I’ve come to realize that some people are bound and determined to kill their kids to prove a point about their personal beliefs.

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  37. LA mary said on May 22, 2007 at 2:03 pm

    Was Mickey Rourke the shiny facelifted guy at the wedding? TMZ has a photo of him in just that condition.

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  38. Marcia said on May 22, 2007 at 2:04 pm

    Link, LA Mary?

    BTW, you just made me snort my iced tea.

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  39. LA mary said on May 22, 2007 at 2:17 pm

    scroll down to it.

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  40. Dorothy said on May 22, 2007 at 2:37 pm

    That Mickey Rourke picture is positively scary. And I think I could see myself in his forehead.

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  41. LA mary said on May 22, 2007 at 2:54 pm

    TMZ is my site of choice while sitting through a long conference call.

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  42. ashley said on May 22, 2007 at 3:11 pm

    Mickey was in demand for “Sin City II”, as they would not have to use any CGI on him to get that “look”.

    And yes, Marcia, I hope those parents get their own little room in Hell, where they can think about this.

    One good idea was to hand out disposable cameras at the wedding. We got all kinds of unique shots — especially at the open bar at the Elk’s lodge. Like all of us singing along to “Bohemian Rhapsody” after a friend decided to start a food fight.

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  43. kia said on May 22, 2007 at 3:47 pm

    When I was working a few years ago (managing a newspaper actually) on the tiny and rather expensive resort island of Nevis a crowd of people came to a famous local beach bar from the Four Seasons hotel next door. They were all wedding guests who had been flown in for a wedding to be hosted at the Four Seasons. What the airfare and the accommodations must have cost simply stagger the mind… It was one of those theme weddings. The theme was P.Diddy. They were all white people, by the way, from Long Island if I remember right. I only remember that one feature of the P.Diddy theme was that everyone had to dress in white.

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  44. ashley said on May 22, 2007 at 3:49 pm

    Note that the tuition for Stillman dwarfs the tuition of neighboring U of Alabama. Sigh.

    I have many friends who teach at Xavier of New Orleans (aka Xavier University of Louisiana, aka XULA). While it is a HBCU, it is the only one that is also Catholic. So, the kids in there seem to be more motivated than the students described by Maxwell.

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  45. nancy said on May 22, 2007 at 4:10 pm

    I think P. Diddy’s social “arrival” in the Hamptons was marked by his “white” party, in which all the guests were asked to dress in same.

    That was back when he was Puff Daddy, though. Guy changes names more often than Zsa Zsa.

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  46. LA mary said on May 22, 2007 at 4:22 pm

    Is that the party where he asked on the invitation that all the ladies attending be manicured, pedicured and waxed? Classy.

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  47. Joe Kobiela said on May 22, 2007 at 4:31 pm

    Wife made her wediding dress, we saved gallon milk jugs to use as beer pitchers, so no one would run out, friend played records, ham sandwiches and chips, stopped at a beer store on the way to the reception for a six pack, cousin took photo’s, friend did the cake. We took a three for a quarter picture of our self and had a friend draw our invitations. Lots of rugby players and pilots and one hell of a party. will celebrate 24 yrs in June.

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  48. Dave said on May 22, 2007 at 4:35 pm

    Goodness, our wedding 29 years ago sounds positively boring, when I read of all of yours. Church wedding, fellowship hall reception, gathering later at the new in-laws, before departing for the honeymoon. I haven’t any idea what it cost but it wasn’t exorbitant, the biggest cost was the wedding pictures, I suspect. It was a lovely April day after a weeks’ worth of rain and we thought that a good sign. So far, it has been.

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  49. Scout said on May 22, 2007 at 4:47 pm

    John’s do (from up near the top of the comments) sounded perfect to me. A road trip gathering of family and friends, many of whom are getting to know each other for the first time. What a great memory for all involved.

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  50. LA mary said on May 22, 2007 at 4:48 pm

    Dave, your wedding is from about the same time as the grad student wedding I attended. I think it sounds lovely.

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  51. nancy said on May 22, 2007 at 5:05 pm

    I hope my BFF Deb (wedding memory: golden almonds, bust of Elvis bobbing above dancing crowd) will drop in and relate the story about the one she attended, in which the bride got up and sang a song she composed. Refrain: “I’m crazy, I’m crazy, I’m crazy, I’m crazy, I’m nuts!”

    Now I’m starting to feel bad about saying that about the plastic-surgery guy at the Candy nuptials. Maybe his face was rebuilt because it went through a windshield or something. Although, as I recall, he was one of those guys who turned himself out with special care (straw boater/fedora hat thing), so I’m thinking it was intentional. I also treasure the party favor from that affair (besides the toothmarked candle) — a custom-mixed CD with a peppermint-swirl label.

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  52. Ricardo said on May 22, 2007 at 6:24 pm

    My wife and I eloped to Las Vegas 4 years ago. The license bureau downtown is open until midnight on weekends. After we left the chapel, we parked near the bureau to walk over to Fremont St. All evening, limos pulled up and brides and grooms would dash in to get their license, then dash back to their limo to go back to the hotel to their ceremony. Many were wearing their gowns and tuxedos, a sight I will remember for a while. We went back to the casino, where my wife won $2000.

    Just last Labor Day, my daughter had her wedding. I think she spent about $5000. She went to one of the old houses in town now converted to a B&B. Gourmet food, bar, and a nice big back yard for the reception, she planned the whole thing. Sure was hot, though. It was hot in Vegas too.

    Back in my teens, in Downriver Detroit, I played in combos at a lot of weddings. Once, the bride and groom fought because the band was late (us) and one of them didn’t want to pay the full amount. The arguement got more heated and they ended up leaving in separate cars. Another time, it was a wedding of Southerners from Taylortucky. The highlight that night was a 45 minute brawl of most of the attending men at the reception. Blood everywhere!

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  53. LA mary said on May 22, 2007 at 7:25 pm

    One of my co-workers, the same person who thinks her computer is haunted, is planning her daughter’s wedding. She and her daughter and her sister and her father fight a lot about how things should be done. From the accounts I get, I think the daughter wants something small and nice, but other forces want stretch Hummers and Disney centerpieces. I think I’m missing some piece of gender memory because it all sounds horrible to me other than the small and nice part. My eyes glaze over hearing the plans. Going into debt to marry the guy you’ve lived with for five years seems silly. Use the money as a down payment on a house and have a nice intimate party celebrating making things legal.

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  54. Kim said on May 22, 2007 at 8:47 pm

    We paid for our great party — I mean wedding. Wore my mom’s dress ($30 to clean the rice still stuck in the lace, kept nice by the cedar chest it’d been stored in, needed not a single alteration), $2 shoes from a thrift store. Made the maids’ dresses, all different styles but same fabric. A restaurateur friend trying to get a foot in on catering did the grilled dinner, cheapo candles and greens on the tables, open bar. Catholic church (the priest said he could’ve predicted the chilly weather because my mom had told him it’d be a cold day when I got married; he left the priesthood soon after and married a parishioner). Reception at a not-yet-renovated mansion/equestrian estate in a forest preserve. Reggae band.

    My father (a firefighter) died when I was a kid, and when my sister married a couple years before the “I do” part was muffled by the wail of firetrucks’ sirens. This, according to all who attended, was A Sign. I, too, had a sign: My crazy friends were smoking on the mansion’s patio, dropped a still-lit butt through the metal grate that covered the basement window well. The butt ignited the dry sill, which my crazy friends attempted to extinguish with martinis (not chocolate, but reg’lar). I have a great picture of me, in mom’s dress and some dead lady’s shoes, looking like one of the New Christy Minstrels hanging off the pumper.

    LA Mary, totally agree on the debt part. I come from a family where you go into debt for shelter and/or education — even transportation is a stretch for credit to them. Germans.

    Sadly, I have a story too similar to the Stillman one. Except I’m not a black man.

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  55. basset said on May 22, 2007 at 9:45 pm

    The way to do it, guys, is to live without a phone in another state, tell her to make whatever arrangements she wants, and show up when you’re supposed to. You can put up with pretty much anything for a day.

    Our own wedding pales next to most of these stories. I was living in Terre Haute and had just gotten a call to come to Jackson, Mississippi for a job interview.

    “Can’t make it Saturday, I’m getting married in Kalamazoo.”

    “How about Monday then?”


    What the hell, honeymoon in New Orleans didn’t sound that bad so we got in the Pinto Sunday and headed on down. Left her asleep in the motel, interviewed, took the job, then looked around the city and wondered exactly what in the hell I had gotten myself into.

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  56. MichaelG said on May 22, 2007 at 9:58 pm

    We were married at a friend’s house. The preacher was an Episcopalian priest who ended up by saying “I now pronounce you man and wife. May I have a gin and tonic?” We were both nominally Catholic but divorced. No Catholic priest would touch us. Food was by our hostess and my brother in law. Great party late into the night. The wedding night was no surprise since we had been living together for several years. The marriage lasted for about thirty. Ended in March. No fault, no hate, just an end. Sigh.

    Oh, and watch the DJs. I had to hold a counseling session with the one at my daughter’s wedding. He was under the misapprehension that it was all about him.

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  57. Mary O said on May 22, 2007 at 10:00 pm

    If it’s not too late…
    1992. I was 31, my husband 35. Married in my home town, at the church at the high school I attended. 120 people. My dress was a jacket dress from Nordstrom. My sister was matron of honor. Husband’s brother best man. No tuxes. Nice dark suits. Reception at my sister’s house, in her backyard. Bathtub full of microbrews. Everyone had a blast. Set my dad back, I think, about $5k. Camping honeymoon in British Columbia, on the cheap.

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  58. Jeff said on May 22, 2007 at 10:21 pm

    Wow. I miss the best threads . . .

    Anyhow, we got the hitchin’ done 22 years ago last week for under $2400, and it felt like a big wedding — which was likely due to the number of musicians involved in the service (the sound check is what i wish we had a recording of, not the wedding itself).

    Nancy, your line “It’s like nobody told them a wedding is followed by a marriage, which lasts a lot longer and features hors d’oeuvres only occasionally” sums it up nicely. I do weddings as a minister, paddling upstream against the apparently inexorable current of expenditures when i can. But my main point has been the first half of your line: i try to get couples to talk to me not just about the wedding plans, but their plans for a marriage. They are usually delighted to have *anyone* invite them to speak aloud about anything that happens after the return flight from the apparently obligatory Caribbean honeymoon.

    Don’t get me started about high school prom being turned into the warmup act for Extravaganza Weddings.

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  59. Connie said on May 22, 2007 at 10:30 pm

    Then there was the buddy’s back yard wedding we attended years ago in Tawas, just a few weeks before our own. The preacher was the bride’s grandfather and couldn’t remember the groom’s name. There was an old cast iron bath tub in the yard that was filled with ice and beer. The bride’s many brothers provided the sound effects during the ceremony by popping open the beer cans.

    And Tawas also lives in memory as the only time I actually saw a fight in a bar. My many Tawas visits in those years are remembered through a fog of alcohol, mostly tequila.

    We gave up our honeymoon when I was offered a very nice job that required me to move to Columbus and start working 6 weeks before our long established wedding date. Then we waited too long to make a hotel reservation for the night of the wedding. We spent our first night of marriage in the Wooden Shoe Motel in Holland, the next day in Saugatuck, our second night in my room at my parent’s house, then headed back to Columbus to go back to work.

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  60. Danny said on May 22, 2007 at 10:57 pm

    Joe, you sound like someone with whom I would like to have a beer. Good wedding story. Basset, you too. Man that was minimalist excellence.

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  61. Dorothy said on May 23, 2007 at 7:20 am

    Man oh day, would it be fun to get all these posters together to share stories in person! Can you imagine how great that would be?!

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  62. John said on May 23, 2007 at 8:24 am

    We used to do campfires with whatever folks we could scare up in the campground. One of our favorite games was to hand a roll of toilet paper to people as they walk over and tell them to take as many sheets as they need. Once they had a handful, we would explain that each sheet equals one story. So the night would be spend telling life stories and laughing around the fire.

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  63. brian stouder said on May 23, 2007 at 9:20 am

    That sounds great! – and fittingly, you’d get the most campfire stories from the people who thought they were the most full of s##t!!

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  64. basset said on May 23, 2007 at 10:55 pm

    our wedding was not too many months after a tornado took out a big chunk of Kalamazoo’s downtown, and several churches had gone in together to share a building, generic cinder block as I remember it with the various equipment and trappings of several congregations all hanging off the walls and ceiling.

    so when we got there my 16-year-old brother, blinking through a haze of weed, looked around amazed and asked what kind of church this WAS, anyway, there’s all this stuff, maaan…

    then on the way to the reception at the UAW hall out by the GM stamping plant the wedding party stopped at a grocery store so my new SIL could buy some formula or a pacifier or something her kid needed. we’re all walking through the store in our wedding outfits and one of my guys sees a good price on water-softener salt, hoists a fifty-pound sack of it onto his shoulder and heads for the register.

    people stopped what they were doing to look at us. imagine that.

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  65. Hattie said on May 24, 2007 at 2:05 am

    It’s not just at that college. It’s everywhere. I am glad I don’t have to teach any more.

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