Monday, September 19, 2011

Photographic Proof

In the interest of backing up all the things I've discussed here, I offer the following:

Dress:  The MIC uses heavy photography to justify spending as much as a year's mortgage on a dress, saying that since it's going to be iconic and there will be a gazillion pictures of it, it must be absolutely perfect.  Mine was $250, and unlike say, a mortgage payment, the dress is something I knew I was only going to use once.

Flowers:  The MIC waxes poetic about how you have to spend hours pouring over flower colors, types, and what sort of style they signify before settling on bouquets.  Not true!  Sam's Club has gorgeous wholesale flowers in pre-made packs that are absurdly wallet-friendly.

Theme:  There are plenty of people who have themed weddings, and ain't nothin' wrong with having a theme.  However, you don't have to if you don't want to or just plain can't think of one.  Ours was marriage.  Well, marriage and Borat.  A wedding sack was totally involved.

Cake:  You don't have to get a giant, expensive cake.  Nor do you have to worry about an insufficiently decorated cake table ruining your photos.

Costco cake: it's how we roll.

Not Shedding for the Wedding:  I don't care what they say about losing two dress sizes for your wedding.  It's ridiculous and unnecessary.

Note, if you will, my triceps, which are nothing like Michelle Obama's famously toned arms.
Husband: not running away.  Camera lens: not broken.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Post-Wedding Redux and Final Thoughts on the MIC

It's now been almost two months since the wedding, and as I said to my newly-minted husband as we drove away from the reception, "That was really fun and all, but let's never do that shit again."

In the last two months, I've had a chance to recover from the frenzy leading up to the blessed event, write thank you notes until I started going cross-eyed, and, most importantly, to think about everything that went into defying the Marriage-Industrial Complex.  And so, as I sit here in wedded bliss (hubs is making my favorite cookies as I type this.  I'm not kidding.  He's an awesome cook, and those cookies are fucking delicious.), a few thoughts from the other side of the wedding:

1)  Losing Weight for the Big Day is a Sack of Crap:
In the months leading up to my wedding, I was bombarded with ads for Slim-Fast, some heinous show called Shedding for the Wedding, and various weight-loss products -- all asking if I was wedding-ready and sufficiently skinny to be photographed from every angle.  The message, of course, is that if I didn't lose some weight, my husband would be grossed out and I'd look hideous in all my wedding photos.  This, obviously, would ruin them (and all my memories of The Most Important Day of My Life) in perpetuity.

This is -- how to put this delicately? -- a steaming load of shit.  I mean, most of the MIC is ridiculous, but this is really fucking asinine.  Look, I've never been super-skinny.  I'm built for sports, not for modeling.  But the fact is, my husband didn't fall in love with me because he hoped I'd eat nothing but Slim-Fast for two months before the wedding, exercise twice a day, and walk down the aisle looking like Miss Universe's mini-me.  He knew he was signing up to marry a woman who will always have soccer thighs.

So ladies, here's the deal: if your arms jiggle a bit, or if you don't have six-pack abs, your husband isn't going to run screaming in the opposite direction when he sees you on the big day.  The fact is, you don't need to be in the best shape of your life for you to be beautiful.  You don't need to be the skinniest you've ever been for your husband to be totally thrilled with his gorgeous bride.  Advertisements will valiantly try to convince you that this isn't the case, but that's a load of shit.  Your husband wants to marry you as you are, not because there's a Victoria's Secret model lurking somewhere inside you if you can just diet long enough to let her out.

Furthermore, not losing 20 pounds for the wedding isn't going to ruin your photos.  Trust me: there are plenty of photos from our wedding that show my totally not Michelle Obama-esque triceps.  But you know what?  My less than perfect arms didn't make the camera lens shatter.  They didn't ruin the pictures.  You know what would've ruined the pictures?  If a woolly mammoth was reanimated, lumbered onto the photo shoot, and crapped in the background.  But that's it.

These ads were annoying at first, but then they really started to piss me off.  I tend to be a smudge defiant -- well ok, I tend to be really defiant -- so out of pure spite, 14 days before our wedding I had pizza and frozen custard.  It was delicious.

2)  There's No Such Thing as Perfection
The MIC has everyone convinced that one's wedding day should be absolutely perfect.  Bluebirds and small woodland creatures should alight on your balcony while you sing and brush your hair on the morning of the big day, unicorns should frolic outside the reception hall, and everything should sparkle from an overload of fabulousness.

Again: this is bullshit.

Let's get a grip on reality: things won't be perfect.  Something will be different from how you'd imagined/planned.  Logistical snafus happen, people forget things, vases get chipped, makeup gets smudged.  But -- again with the whole "getting a grip on reality" motif -- it doesn't have to throw the whole day into disarray and a downward spiral of sadness and failure.  The MIC will tell you that things have to be perfect or else they're ruined (in which case you really ought to just give up on life and toss yourself off the nearest cliff), but that's not the case.

Only a small handful of people will even be aware of how you'd planned things in the first place, so if there's a change of any kind -- different music, different cake flavor, different anything -- no one's going to know the difference.  And even if there aren't any last-minute changes, there will be minor imperfections...but chances are, no one will notice.  If they do notice, they won't care.  And if they do care, they're not the sort of people whose opinions you need to worry about.  They're the sort of people who need to get a fucking life.

I'm your great aunt (twice removed) Mildred, and I have no friends - but I
do have 27 cats.  Because I'm so bored, I spend time nitpicking
people's weddings and being as judgmental as humanly possible!  Yaaaaaay!

3)  You really don't have to spend a fortune in order to have an awesome wedding:

When I first started researching weddings and figuring out what to do, I was totally floored by the sheer cost of these things.  There seems to be some sort of cultural expectation that if your wedding doesn't cost at least 20K, it's going to be trashy.  People tend to think that if you don't spend a lot of money, your guests will have to dine on PB&J sandwiches and Spam while the Macarena plays in the background.

(I don't know if you've noticed a trend here, but in case you didn't see this one coming, wait for it...wait for it...) THIS IS BULLSHIT.

We spent nowhere near that amount of money for our wedding, and it was lovely.  I cut plenty of corners: for example, instead of an $8 per slice wedding cake, I went to Costco and got some motherfucking sheet cake.  If I'd gone the traditional route and gotten a big wedding cake for 120 people, I would've been out $960.  Costco, however, decorates the cakes in whatever colors you want.  We chose white icing with some wedding-y colors for the flowers, and spent $72 for four sheet cakes.

Happily, people loved it and thought it was delicious.  An added benefit was the fact that I didn't feel the need to fly into a blinding rage upon seeing uneaten cake.  If I'd gotten cake for $8 per slice and anyone had dared not eat their share, I would've chased them down in the parking lot and force-fed them the damn cake to get my money's worth.

Furthermore, we nixed the DJ and instead hooked my laptop up to the sound system in the reception hall.  Hubs, his brother, and his best friend spent a couple hours putting together the playlist and fixing the iTunes so that it would cross-fade and sound like a DJ -- and you know what?  It sounded just like a DJ.  People danced their faces off, and we saved a few thousand dollars.

I also decided to forgo a florist and instead ordered flowers wholesale from Sam's Club.  For $320, I got six bouquets, a box of rose petals, six boutonnieres, and four corsages.  Had it not been for the fact that we had people over when the flowers arrived, no one would've been the wiser.

However, despite the Costco cake, the lack of a DJ, and the wholesale flowers, the wedding wasn't shitty.  We had an awesome time, and we were able to stretch our budget amazingly far.  So, seriously: save your money!  Use it to make a down payment on a house, save it for your future kids' college funds, use it to go on a badass honeymoon -- but for the love of God, you don't have to spend it all on the wedding.

The MIC wants you to think you do (after all, this is the bread and butter of the entire industry), but that just ain't true.  The expectation that this is what you should do -- because after all, everyone else does, and you wouldn't want your wedding to look lame next to all your friends' weddings -- is both ridiculous and infuriating.  The MIC, of course, relies on this expectation, and I'd be lying if I said I didn't hate it just a little bit.  Well, ok, I hate it a lot.

I hate the MIC and the ridiculous expectations it produces so much that,
if I could, I'd totally shoot lasers and machete-wielding
velociraptors at it with my eyes.

The main point here -- and what I've hoped to convey through this blog -- is that you don't have to listen to the MIC.  You don't have to have an extravagant wedding involving tons of money, lighting experts, or linens that perfectly match the accent color in the bouquets.  You don't need elaborate centerpieces or cakes the size of Wisconsin.  An insufficiently decorated cake table will not make or break your photos.  You don't need to worry about what subtle messages are sent to your guests by the color, font, or decorative motif of your save-the-dates or invitations.

All you need is to focus on what's most important to you, and ignore the rest.  Because at the end of the wedding day, you and your newly-minted spouse should be able to say "The wedding was awesome, and I'm thrilled that we get to spend our lives together," not "How the hell are we going to pay this off?"

And so, with that, here's to eschewing the Marriage-Industrial Complex.