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The guilty pleasure of wedding shows

February 15, 2011

You can be a princess too!

When I got married, at the Dawn of Time, there was no such thing as a million dollar wedding. When girls dreamed of the “perfect wedding,” they compared real life to scenes out of Disney movies, like Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty.

My mother’s generation had Grace Kelly’s wedding to sigh over, and so I was given paper dolls of Grace Kelly in her wedding garb. In the years between age four and being old enough to get married, however, Women’s Liberation took over, everyone got divorced, and old people started telling me how great “free love” was.

Therefore, marriage was not a goal in my generation. This means that I was, in essence, cheated out of a really great party. I think this is why I am now glued to wedding shows. I watch them all. My favorite is the one where the Really Horrible Demon-Girl is going to marry the Long-Suffering Victim-Guy.

Watching these girls self-destruct, taking everyone down with them, always reminds me of the Velociraptors in Jurassic Park. Just when you think things can’t possibly get any worse, the Velociraptor leaps on its victim, ripping him to shreds. I always wonder how the guy gets out of the jungle after that, limbs intact.

Oh wait. This isn’t a horror movie, it’s a “reality” show.

In real life, which is not the same thing as a “reality” show, a groom-in-waiting wouldn’t tolerate this crap for five minutes, would he? God in Heaven, I hope not. And I’m stupid enough to sit there on my couch, giving motherly advice to the TV family, telling them to lock this little tramp in her room and find the muzzle, or the shotgun. Or, at the very least, get her into therapy, not that there’s usually time right before a wedding. You shouldn’t start therapy unless you have months to devote to it, I’ve found.

I’ve noticed that the subject of weddings is very in. I see movies about young women making everyone’s lives miserable everywhere I go. Young women are desperate to get married, apparently, and TV shows and movies, our social misbehavior mirrors, reflect that need. The “I want my MTV” generation has morphed into the “I want my Marriage TV” generation, because women of my generation were trying very hard to avoid marriage, not rush to a hyper-expensive rose-lined altar of their dreams.

Then you get this nice man, David Tutera, who is unbelievably sweet, endlessly compassionate, and tirelessly understanding in a way no man on the planet could ever possibly be (thank you, “reality” shows, for inventing this kind of man). He is kind enough to dress rotund girls in black satin and lace, girls who would otherwise get married in the Moose Lodge behind Pizza Hut. Now the whole wedding thing has snowballed, until the bar has been raised and no one can just go to City Hall. Every wedding has to be Extraordinary. Nothing less will do, and David Tutera has to be there to usher you to the front door of  The Rest of Your Life.

This is the scene when David Tutera turns into your fairy godmother

The theory is that little girls grow up with a fantasy in their minds about how their wedding has to be. You hear this drivel all the time: the myth that women have thought this through carefully from the time they were four and have planned out “the perfect wedding,” replete with fabric swatches and color chips.

Little girls also grow up with the Princess motif swirling around their heads in shades of pink and blue. Eventually, pink and blue rays begin to penetrate her brain, and the girl is permanently demented. That’s when she starts lugging file folders filled with clippings from girl magazines, and the whining begins about this magical day, which, by now, has been blown out of proportion, into a MetroGoldwynMayer-level extravaganza, Wedding Day IceCapades.

Now we’re in Wedding Disneyland, where every girl “deserves” to be a princess and spend megabucks proving to herself, and everyone else she knows, that she is one. This will require massive quantities of tulle and Swarovski crystals, apparently, because no princess ever ascended her mini pink and blue throne sans Swarovski crystals. The wedding cake has to be something no one has ever seen before. This cake needs to be constructed of butterfly wings, Hawaiian sunshine and clover, rolled in coconut hand-harvested on the black beaches of the west coast of Maui, flown out that morning on a private jet to your gourmet cake maker in Hollywood, where the coconut will be hand-grated and dyed to match your bridesmaids’ gowns.

Is this tacky? I can’t tell anymore

Now, the above is the good news. The bad news is, getting married is the fastest route to a divorce. If you ever feared that you and your prospective groom-to-be will disagree on personal values, the process of getting married reveals these discrepancies. Potential in-laws just make this worse. They stick their noses in and everyone forgets that there will be a marriage, a sacred union of two people, and two people alone.

The day belongs to you and your spouse, but in the frenzy of consumerism, keeping up with the Joneses, and immaturity, the two people, who are mere mortals and do not actually require a pink stretch Hummer to travel the 1/4 mile from their double-wide to the church, tend to forget what’s important, and opt for the tasteless excess of the rentable faux castle, instead of the tasteless tulle-wrapped almonds of my era.

However, watching these shows now that I’m much older fulfills some deep inner longing, some deep-level narcissistic need for attention I never allowed full rein back in the day of restrained taste when no one ever considered hiring a team of marketing experts trained in turning my otherwise small, quiet wedding into a carnival sideshow. Damn. I missed a great opportunity. I coulda been a princess, if only for a day.

Are these tacky? I can’t tell

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