Thoughts from the ammo line

Ammo Grrrll is thinking about MARRIAGE VS. WEDDINGS. She writes:

I’m warning readers in advance that I might inadvertently be stepping on some toes today. Truly, I mean no disrespect. Please believe me that if you already had a big wedding, I hope you enjoyed every minute. If you are currently planning a wedding with 400 guests for a son or daughter, mazel tov and more power to you. We Jews are enjoined to “celebrate with the bride and groom” as a major mitzvah (commandment). It’s all good.

All I’m saying is, if it had been up to our family, the wedding planners and whole gouging industry would have gone out of business long ago. Heck, my cousin had a Bride Doll when we were kids that I thought was the only toy more boring than Barbie. She (the cousin, not Barbie) had a giant Texas wedding with eight bridesmaids, their groomsman escorts, two flower girls and two ringbearers. The photographer could hardly get the whole wedding party in the picture without a crane shot. The marriage lasted about 15 years. Just sayin’.

My dear parents were married in the living room of Mama’s small home in Astoria, South Dakota, when Daddy was home on leave from the Navy. When I took Mama to the town’s 110-year reunion, I learned from a lady who had been about twelve at the time that she and her three littler sisters stood on tiptoe outside the window of the house to watch the ceremony. She told me that Mama and her sister were considered to be “almost movie stars” they were so pretty, and this little wedding was quite a thrill. As kind readers know, Mama died last year. She and Daddy had been married for 71 years.

Mr. AG and I eloped in June of 1967. (To Chelsea: Yes! I was a child bride because of global warming…) After the brief ceremony in Kalamazoo, Michigan (one of just three states then that would allow a man under 21 to get married without parental consent), we had a “reception” party back on campus at Northwestern that lasted about three days and eventually included celebrants we had never seen before in our lives.

My parents were in attendance for the first night and our hippie friends, forewarned not to antagonize my conservative father, wore their Bar Mitzvah or Confirmation suits and ties. With their long 1967 hair and beards, beads and headbands, they looked like modern versions of Centaurs – with the head of a hippie and the clothes of a Yuppie. A wrinkled, and mothball smelling Yuppie in tight jackets and very short pants in some cases. For those who might be math-challenged, that means we celebrated 50 years of marriage. Last week.

And now the tradition continues into the next generation. A couple of weeks ago, our son and his fiancee announced when we were back in Minnesota to get our house ready to sell that in 48 hours they were planning to get married in the 3rd inning of a double-header at Target Field. In a suite that held 24 people, later upgraded to 36. Luckily, I had just bought a cute little dress at Bass Pro in Texas on the way to Minnesota. Though Bass Pro is not famous for wedding attire, it sufficed. Sadly, there was no camo involved. The Mother of the Groom is traditionally supposed to “wear beige and keep her mouth shut.” How much better then would it be for it to be impossible even to pick her out of the wedding pictures due to camouflage? We had great ballpark food. It was truly the most fun, relaxing wedding I have ever attended.

My beautiful new daughter-in-law said that she had friends who were still paying off humongous wedding bills – after their divorces. She really didn’t want to squander a lot of (anyone’s) money on a one-day blow-out when they could put that money to a downpayment on a new house or even a world-class honeymoon. She thought I would be upset. Mr. AG and I were both over-the-moon thrilled. The Twins did lose the first game of the double-header, however, but everything else was magnificent. They have already been married for 19 days.

In fairness to the Big Wedding advocates, I have read that some research indicates that those marriages last longer than smaller affairs. The article speculated that the arduous task of planning every detail together provided a foundation for future conflict resolution. I think most of the “conflict” is probably between the Bridezilla and her mother. An Internet list of 100 reasons it’s great to be a guy featured at #28: “Wedding plans take care of themselves.”

Two more recent trends that I find troublesome – keeping in mind that “recent” for me means within the last 30 years, especially where music is concerned – are the “Destination Wedding” and the practice at the sit-down meal of everyone in the wedding party speaking about the bride and groom with either the mandatory hyperbole of a Comintern testimonial about Stalin or the excruciating embarrassment of an idiot reminiscing about when he and the groom got drunk at a strip club. My nephew and I sat next to each other at a wedding three years ago and whenever we have texted since then one of us always says, “I think the bridesmaid is close to winding up her tearful remarks.” (Some “in” jokes never get old…)

I do not know who was the first couple to say, “Hey, people, we’re going to be married in Monaco, and we’d like y’all to take out a second mortgage on your home and join us.” Okay, who wouldn’t rather be photographed in January on the beach in Kauai than in front of a snowbank in Left Overshoe, Iowa? Then do it. But expecting your friends and relatives to up and join you just strikes me as amazingly presumptuous unless you are paying for their airline tickets and hotels. Am I wrong?

Actually, I have a niece planning a classy Destination Wedding for the young and carefree who would like to join them in Mexico but is having a nice in-country reception back in Minnesota for the geezers who can’t make that. That seems a reasonable compromise.

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