BALTIMORE, MARYLAND – “They’re not having a full mass?”
“Stop the wedding; my shoes don’t match my dress.”
“What… she lost an earring…?”
“No problem… not a big deal,” says Dad. But there are times when the calming voice of Father-knows-best is as hollow and worthless as Federal Reserve policy. In a hotel room before a wedding, for example. Everything is a big deal.
“Where are the rings?… Is a bus going to pick us up?… I can’t find my shirt studs. What… they lost your reservation? You left your luggage in the Uber?”
Married in New York
On Saturday, we attended a wedding in New York on the Upper East Side. With no time to puzzle out the money world today, we’ll simply tell you what it was like.
The first dance
From all parts of the U.S… and some parts of Europe too… the guests came into the city. For one of them, with a southern drawl, just getting into Manhattan was enough:
We drove up from Virginia. Everything was smooth until we reached the Lincoln Tunnel. Then, good God… I’ve never seen such a mess. We have crazy drivers down in Charlottesville, but we don’t have so many aggressive drivers. Honking… yelling at each other…
By the time I got to the hotel, the doorman had to pry my fingers off of the steering wheel.
And this morning, we had breakfast. I couldn’t believe it, it was $137.
Ready for Anything
Weddings bring people together. Brothers-in-law, uncles, cousins – many of whom you haven’t seen in years – show up for the party.
Of course, the bride and groom are united. And their families. And each side of the aisle has its quirks and kooks. We recall one wedding hosted by a rigid bourgeois family where a nephew showed up in full “steam-punk” regalia – studded boots, black shirt, kilt, and ponytail.
“How did that happen?” stunned relatives asked.
You have to be ready for anything. There’s the cousin who drinks too much and falls down on the dance floor. There’s the aunt who cries in church and the uncle who leers at the bridesmaids.
Our advice: Have a vegan meal at the ready… and have a glad and welcoming hand for everyone.
“Hi, I’m Andrew,” announced a young man in a dark suit. “This is my husband, Peter.”
We were at one wedding, years ago, where the groom stood up after kneeling in prayer and fainted straightaway, falling over the communion rail. The bride had to revive him with the eucharist wine before the wedding could recommence.
Another wedding didn’t happen at all, when the bride called it off on the day before.
Weddings are emotionally intense. And they should be. The father of the bride “gives her away.” In ancient Rome, she left her father’s house and moved to her father-in-law’s house. She left her family behind… and her family’s gods.
Traditionally, the bride marries not just a man, but a way of life – for better or for worse. If the groom is a farmer, she becomes a farmer’s wife. If he is a shopkeeper, she learns to tend the stock and the customers. If he is a hedge-fund manager, she quickly adapts to his oh-so-clever friends and summers in the Hamptons.
The bride takes her husband’s name and shares his fate. If she marries badly, it is typically the worst mistake she ever makes, for nothing damages her life more than a bad marriage.
But times change. Roles evolve. A “new normal” intrudes on old customs. Many people think of marriage today like buying a car… They stick with it only so long as it is working.
“It’s more equal that way,” said a young acquaintance, explaining the new lay of the land. “We both work. We both take care of the children. We try to keep it even.”
We tried to warn him that there may be flat tires from time to time… that one or the other might have to do most of the driving… and that the division of labor, between husband and wife, might be somewhat “hardwired” by a million years of natural selection.
But the young always know better… at least until the car runs off the road.
Most Important Win-Win Deal
Besides, there are always nuances, exceptions, and surprises. While the bride usually takes up the husband’s name and his life… an old saying tells us that it is the son who is lost to his family:
“A son is a son until he finds a wife. A daughter is a daughter for life.”
Mothers don’t necessarily want to give up their sons readily, even to nice brides.
And so, the lovely bride – dressed in a beautiful white gown – came down the aisle slowly on Saturday.
The guests all turned to watch… and every woman held her breath. For she was making the most important win-win deal of her life. And while fathers looked on with dumb, approving smiles, mothers’ eyes grew moist… their hearts pounded…
They knew what was at stake…
Pay Up or Shut Up
Weddings are expensive, too. A relative recalled:
“I remember when I got married. It was so simple. We went to the church for the ceremony. Then, we walked over to the church hall for the reception. We had all pitched in the night before to make the refreshments… and do the decorations.
“But now, young people either don’t get married at all… or they want to have a big, expensive wedding. I saw in the paper that banks are making wedding loans of $50,000. Why would anyone spend so much?”
“I spent more than that,” answered another guest.
“Hire a band. A florist. A wedding planner. A place for a reception… drinks… a meal. A photographer. It adds up fast.”
“But you don’t have to worry about that,” he continued, turning in our direction.
“The father of the bride’s job is to pay up. The father of the groom’s job is to shut up.”
Simple enough… As the father of the groom, we held our tongue… and enjoyed the festivities.
Then, as the band packed up and the liquor was stashed away, we noticed a tear. It was falling from the groom’s mother’s eye. We turned to console her:
“Honey… you may have lost a son… but you still have me.”
“Boo hoo hoo hoo…”
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