We have entered the wedding season. Who decided that late Spring and Summer was the time for people to plight their troth? If you live long enough to develop a broad circle of effective breeders, or come from a big family, the obligation to attend weddings becomes truly burdensome.
Only funerals (a subject for a later column) in the modern world are sillier and more anachronistic than weddings. Both are enormous industries. Weddings support a significant portion of the restaurant, resort/hotel, cruise, housewares, and jewelry business, and while there is some overlap, funerals account for all of the casket, mausoleum, and crematorium revenues. Weddings provide the foundation for diamond sales worldwide.
A wedding invitation requires the recipient to purchase a gift and more often than not travel a considerable distance. Most women feel the need for a new outfit. The host feels obligated to plan activities like golf, tennis or hiking, which requires special equipment which further aggravates the logistics of getting there.
Most young couples today are sexually active at a very early age and live together for years before formalizing a "relationship." Any significance to the "wedding night" has been long lost. Weddings cost a great deal of money. Preparing for one is a nerve wracking process which often calls for months of planning and creates friction and divisiveness between the respective families.
Living in the Northern half of the country makes summer weekends precious. To give up beach or boating time to sit in a hot stuffy church, overdressed, listening to a Cleric recite lines of little relevance, for a large group of mostly strangers, is taxing once – unbearable on a regular basis.
I have told my children I will reluctantly fund their weddings, but have urged them to instead elope and take the money required and buy tax-free bonds.
A great deal of crying takes place at weddings which I find mystifying as most parents are thrilled with the prospects of grandchildren and having their offspring on their own. The highlight of any wedding is the reception – the benefit one receives for dressing up and suffering through the ceremony. The more affluent the bride's father (for some unknown reason he pays for everything) the more lavish the postnuptial party. Champagne, acres of appetizers, fine wines and spirits, a banquet of epic proportions. All intended to give the newly marrieds the right send off, but in actual practice serves to get those in attendance smashed. The grander the reception, the fewer who even remember when the bride and groom left. The "CAKE" still serves as a centerpiece, but the current no carbo craze pressures people to either pass, or bring some home for the kids.
While 40% of marriages result in divorce and a large number of married people are adulterous philanders, the theory persists that marriage creates blissful commitment – that settled state that takes one from youth to maturity.
In actual fact, marriage is tough and to survive requires hard work and a level of compromise unacceptable to most single males and females. Spouses snore, belch and fart often with impunity – intolerable behavior among the dating. It often becomes harder to communicate with your life partner than with your personal trainer. Familiarity can and often does breed contempt.
Women no longer accept that their role is to stay home and to serve their male masters. Seventy-seven million American women work – often creating lucrative careers, which radically changes the traditional roles. There are a growing number of househusbands who cook, clean and take care of their kids. Same-sex marriages are being recognized in a larger number of states.
Every special interest group from nudists to the NRA wants to put its own spin on the wedding ceremony, so it is not uncommon for the honor guards to carry shotguns, or for the bride and groom to take their vows in the buff.
As organized religion has survived for thousands of years with a Doctrine that in many cases transcends believability, the wedding as we know it will no doubt continue to screw up summer weekends forever.