The joy of planning a wedding is something girls dream of as soon as they are big enough to make toilet paper veils. Thanks to fairy tales like Cinderella, there are actually girls who believe a handsome prince will rescue them on a white horse and they will, in fact, live in a castle happily ever after. But, normally, like me, the thoughts never went far past the pretty poufy dress with a 12 foot train, with willing servants carrying it down the aisle followed by the reception with a perfect cake sporting layers of sickening sweet icing dripping with flowers and topped with the tacky plastic bride and groom. Really the groom never entered the picture in these dreams, it was all dress and cake until years later when reality kicked in and wedding planning came full force for me.
As a soon to be mother of the bride, as well as being involved in the wedding of two of my best friends, I have stepped back and taken a different look at the whole wedding planning process -- and got a lot of insight on this devious, ever growing monster from the soon to be grooms and one of my guy friends. I challenge one of you guys to actually say you have dreamed of your wedding day since you were six, much less that you knew you would ride a white horse to rescue a damsel in distress and take her off to the land of milk and honey. Boy dreams and plans probably consisted of how, if you were GI Joe, you would kill the bad guy (and maybe, a Farrah Fawcett fantasy or two), but with relative certainty, not your wedding. Maybe while parading through the living room during Saturday morning cartoons in their Superman Underoos, a few may have ventured outside their proverbial box and actually wondered what kind of cool job they would have to save the world from its many evils. But, rest assured, their thoughts never, NOT EVER went out to contemplate the color of tuxedo they would wear in their wedding, or whether it would be the tails or straight jacket with a vest or no vest, bow tie or traditional.. I GUARANTEE THAT.
Even when guys do finally take the leap and pass the ring to the one they feel is the love of their life, they never stress about things like menus, venues, color themes, wedding schemes, decorations and the perfect music, a cake designer, a wedding planner, showers, or any other host of a thousand things associated with creating a "dream wedding." In fact, stress about a wedding is something they do not understand or even fathom. The word "dream" has never been associated with a wedding -- perhaps a fantasy football team or a lottery -- but never a wedding.
In fact, men do not even get to take part in very much of the planning, and I would venture to say they are not losing a lot of sleep over that fact. Other than having been dragged to every "woman created" event from the "Save the Date" photos to engagement and even invitation pictures, far before the actual wedding, their life remains somewhat normal, aside from a few bridal meltdowns during the planning process.
A permanent fake smile is something they strive to maintain by month three into the planning process, or should I say planning "ordeal." Men also have little to do with the damage a woman can do to her parent's pocketbook. In fact, if parents of the bride would compensate the groom for debunking wild ideas created in the brides' mind, the capital investment might be manageable. Rest assured, each new idea will cost, at bare minimum, at least a few hundred dollars -- even if it just covers those "have to have" bows on the back of 100 guest seats at the reception.
An "ideal wedding" to a man involves short vows he doesn't have to write at either a justice of the peace or a small church he is familiar with or grew up in. As long as there is some kind of manly cake, or even a moon pie and beer at the reception, most are happy. But, a "dream wedding" to men might also involve some type of meat, preferably pork or thick steak and a potato on the menu. After that, he could care less, other than that honeymoon suite has a big screen TV with a high definition connection to ESPN and maybe a hot tub. Men do not care if the napkins match the tablecloth or if they are folded like a fan or a rectangle, if the glasses match the theme, if the centerpiece is tall or short, or even if they have a salad or not and sure don't care if the bride wears heels or flats, it is not a big deal. AT ALL.
But before the big day actually arrives, there is also a myriad of "girly" events the bride is blessed to take part in. A little research shows bridal showers began in the 1920s, when the idea of showers sprouted out of earlier dowry practices. When a poor woman's family might not have the money to provide a dowry, or when a dowry was refused because the marriage was not approved by the family, friends of the woman would gather together and bring gifts that would offset the missing dowry or allow her to marry the man of her choice.
When I was young, brides had one shower and didn't receive additional wedding gifts at the reception, if guests also attended "the" shower. Each generation, the process becomes more and more complicated. I am sure, by the time I have grandkids, there will be furniture and appliance showers. But currently, these "anti-male" events are still a bit smaller in scale such as pantry showers where the bride is lavished with food staples to fill their cabinets. Then there is a mandatory lingerie shower, where the bride is given every type of lingerie one can imagine. There is nothing like trusting a friend to pick out your wedding night negligee for you. Then, there is usually more than one wedding shower, one from a family member, one from friends, maybe a church shower and a work shower. Prior to the wedding showers, the bride once again gets control of something resembling a weapon, full control I tell you, because my soon to be son in law told me so. Brides to be can do more financial damage to the budgets of anyone they are remotely familiar with, with just one zap of the infamous scan gun.
You know these guns, the ones employees of every major retail store hold with that satisfied look of control over their domain. The bride can either scan every item in the store she would like or add them to her registries at home on the internet by the satisfying click of a mouse that indicates "add to wish list." The old days of going to Walmart and grabbing tan or white towels and some bowls is over. Those giving gifts must either log on to the world wide web and surf away, or make a road trip to a store that is located at least an hour from Sharp County, only after printing twelve pages of gift requests before leaving.
As I looked through one of my daughter's registry's I found one item out of the generous selections that I am certain her fiancÚ picked -- a simple six pack of beer mugs. I am pretty sure he had no say in the floral comforter set or other items which men may not even know exist.
When I questioned my friend's fiancÚ about gifts for her shower, he simply said, "I love daisies," laughing. As I was preparing to attend her shower I also visited with a male friend, who is probably solely responsible for the content of this column and my new way of thinking about weddings and all that pertain to them. He said, "Men always get screwed at those things," in reference to her shower. While the groom would really like something manly such as a new fishing lure, some beer or even a cooler for the beer and perhaps a fishing hat and chair, these items are something that never seem to materialize in the massive pile of bags and gifts that we all know contain mostly towels, sheets, dishes and kitchen gadgets.
I happen to agree with my friend -- the more I think about it, the women get the diamond, while the men get the stone. But men do come out better financially while outfitting themselves for the wedding. It's probably a good thing too, after footing the bill for the ring that could beacon ships from the sea and fulfilling yet another princess dream, the honeymoon. Men wear a rented tuxedo for less than what most women's shoes cost. The bride spends over a thousand dollars on her dress, hose, body shapers, shoes, jewelry, veil, tiaras, getting their hair and nails done, and then to have the dress preserved. A dress that undoubtedly, in 20 something years, her daughter, if she even has one, will not wear and its fate will eventually be on the table at a yard sale for ten bucks.
I am sure the entire ordeal would be simplified if men could plan and implement the entire wedding. There would be punch, mints, nuts, chocolate and beer, and everyone would dance and be happy, then go home early so the happy couple could leave for their honeymoon in their truck -- not a limo or some white horse with a girly carriage -- and cuddle up with some ESPN.
And to top it off, they would still be just as married.