I Do

steve-martin-brideMy elder daughter will soon be wed. Yes, of course I’m a proud father, and yes, of course I’m happy for her, and yes, of course I’m pleased with the man who will be her husband, and yes, blah blah blah.

But in case Western society hasn’t caught on, we’re in the twenty-first century. The antiquated notion that the family of the bride has to pay for essentially EVERYTHING associated with the nuptials ought to be just that—antiquated. Yeah, yeah, the groom’s family is paying for the rehearsal dinner. Big whoop. Let’s compare lists, shall we?

Bride’s family: Announcements. Save-the-date notes. Invitations. RSVP cards (all stamped, of course). Bride’s dress. Mother-of-the-bride dress. Maid-of-honor dress. Attendants’ dresses. Hotel rooms for out-of-town guests. Shoes. Hair. Make-up. Nails (hands AND feet). Flowers. Candles. Organist. Violinist. The church. The preacher. Catering. Reception venue. Reception band. Reception tent. The cakes (bride’s AND groom’s). Reception drinks. Napkins. Limousine. Et cetera. Ad infinitum et cetera.

Grooms’ family: Dinner.

I think the whole notion of the bride’s side paying for everything started back when women were “expected” to be “married off” and live a life of servitude in the house, while the man went out and earned a living, thus “repaying,” over a lifetime, the marriage expenses incurred on behalf of the woman in exchange for being taken care of for the rest of her life. (If you’re a married man, perhaps not happily so, you may be thinking that you are indeed “repaying” those expenses emotionally, but that’s a topic for another time. Say, your next therapist’s session.)

But thankfully, we live in an age when women have been freed from such domestic bonds (if that’s what they want; some women want to be homemakers, and good for them; others have no choice, and that’s sad). My daughter is intelligent, educated, independent, ambitious, and hard-working (she takes after her mom). She fully expects—and wants—to have a career outside the home. (In the interest of equal time—and to avoid unpleasant jealousies—I need to say that BOTH of my daughters are like that.) My future son-in-law is the same.

So why do I get stuck with all these bills? Why isn’t the cost split 50-50? I know that some families do that these days. Why couldn’t I have been born into one of them? It seems that here in the South especially, the bride’s family paying the freight is more prevalent. Now, I’m glad I live in the South, and I admire and respect many of its traditions (civility, a general lassitude of living, sweet tea), but this ain’t one of ‘em. Equal pay for equal work? Absolutely!

And when did weddings become such a HUGE deal anyway? Why, in MY day (…here we go…), we got married in the Baptist church and had a small, quick reception in the Fellowship Hall. A few cheese straws, a few mints, maybe some mixed nuts, and a bowl of punch. OK, the cake. (Notice that was singular: the WEDDING cake. Period.)

A thousand, maybe a couple of thousand dollars, tops. And guess what? Thirty-three wonderful years later, here’s what we remember from our wedding: whatever is in the pictures. And I suspect my daughter and her husband will do the same. Except, of course, they’ll have the video disc (or whatever medium that’ll be around 30-plus years from now). And they’d BETTER by-God still be married 30-plus years from now. I didn’t just write that publicly, did I?

Now, of course, weddings are a HUGE production, with a cast of thousands. And a cost of many of them.

All daddies have, or should have, the same thought about their daughters: nothing but the best for my little girl. But more and more, I’m thinking of modifying that: nothing but the essentially adequate for my little girl.

(I’m kidding, of course, sweetie…whatever you want, Daddy—and Mama—will pay for. I’m happy for you, I’m proud of you, and I love you. PS I’m too young—and too broke—for grandchildren, OK?)

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Image: From the movie, Father of the Bride (promotional photo/fair use).
Richard Eisel

Richard Eisel

Richard Eisel lives in Georgia. Besides writing, he enjoys reading, sailing, and baseball. He has been working on his first novel for about thirty years.  So far, he has written three paragraphs, but they are really good paragraphs.