Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Wedding Effect

{This Morning's Op-Ed in the Times}
Our gal Maggie Shipstead (author -if you've somehow escaped my cyber-trumpeting- of my favorite summer book Seating Arrangements) wrote a brilliant op-ed in the New York Times this morning about weddings. Chiefly, about being a 29-year-old unmarried woman going to heaps upon heaps of weddings, and the resulting numbing from the whole gauntlet. It's witty, skeptical, hilarious, and true.  (Full disclosure: it may or may reference a certain wedding in which I was, in fact, the bride.)

Read it here. I think Mags is in good company. Thoughts? 

Image above of the Wedding Dog and Anniversary Rug. The hound of love was acquired a mere week or so into our fledgling marriage, while the rug -a vegetable-dyed dhurrie- was purchased by P. in Jodhpur as a gift to yours truly on our third wedding anniversary. He carried it rolled up on his back on the bus back to Jaipur. We don't do presents often, but when we do, we try to make them count. And have spots. 


  1. Such a great read! I can completely understand how she is feeling. I grew up in an environment where people get married rather young, so I went to a lot of weddings as a single person. The thing I consistently noticed was the sense of competition that came out in EVERYONE. If you were the bride, you wanted your wedding to be better and you be prettier than so and so. If you were the family, you wanted to out do so and so did for their kid. If you were a guest, you talked crap about the choices at the wedding or other guests that you thought might be trying to swoop in to attract the other singles at the wedding. Most people couldn't be there stone cold sober so there was always a rogue bottle of whiskey making it's way around groups of carefully selected people. I hated it all. (Except the whiskey, that is.)

    We got married when I was 25 and had a tiny little wedding, in the hopes of avoiding all that mess mentioned above. We had no attendants, no party after (only snacks and treats because I wanted everyone to leave shortly after the ceremony) and the only reason we even had a wedding was so that our families didn't kill us.

    It seems like something that is so sacred and special (the uniting of two people) shouldn't need all that other stuff, unless that's what they want. And I think the older we get, the more we see what matters and what doesn't when it comes to weddings. And marriage. Because no amount of partying the day you get married is going to help that marriage work out in the end. And that should be the main goal, me thinks.

    (Sorry for the novel...) xoxo

  2. My greyhound has the exact same markings! What breed of dog do you have?

  3. Also spots.

    Hope the reading went well!

  4. snarfed all over my computer screen with that bit about the melodious toast. i like this maggie character more and more each day, though i admit we diverge on two points: yay toasts, nay veils. to each, her own.

  5. My first wedding was all about the guests and the 'impressing' the world...(hmm, I confess)...That marriage didn't last...When I married again, we traveled to Scotland (not Gretna Green though, we should have done really) and got married in Perth, with four witnesses, and my three young children from my first marriage...It was the best wedding ever, we were crying so hard the witnesses who didn't even know us almost started crying too. We went out to an Indian restaurant right after and blessed our special day with lots of 'Scottish curry'! The children were startled but happy. (I am not sure what they will write in their memoirs...)That was over ten years ago...and 'they tried to live happily ever after' , and still do:)
    And now I can go and read your friend's article.xx

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    1. Maggie shares my sentiments for a perfect wedding scenario. Cabin hangs at a lake!

      My boyfriend and I totally skinny dipped in Lake Huron at his cousin's wedding last summer to the delight of a community of retired houseboaters! Weddings bring out the cra cra ;)

  7. Puppy on a rug!!! You know I can't help myself. Great story. Honestly? The way weddings go down these days or any celebration for that matter (baby shower, sweet 16, engagement) it's KA-RAZY!! It's not a freakin' photo shoot for a magazine people! Spank it ALL down already!

  8. Love that line of "conjugal musical chairs". A lot of my friends are waiting to get married because they think they can't afford it, or they do a courthouse ceremony and fun party later to save money for wicked housing prices, so I haven't had quite the same experiences (I'll be 29 this fall, gasp!). But I've definitely had friends suffer from the wedding effect in terms of dating! I still love going to them, but I also say no to any invite from someone I wouldn't give a Christmas or birthday present to, you know?

  9. By the time I married my sweetheart at 29, a generation ago, most everybody had been married for 10 years or so. I didn't want a normal ceremony, so on Friday the 13th, July, at dusk, with one bridesmaid, a flower girl and 10 ushers for all the guests, we exchanged vows in front of the whole town I grew up with, and then partied til the sun came up the next day in my parents backyard, overlooking the Mojave River. It had rained, imagine that!, so hard earlier that day, the swimming pool was over it's flagstone edges, but at the elected time of gathering, the clouds parted, rainbows arrived, and the band played on. And on, and on, until very very late, as were the guests, whom my Mom finally threw out of the hot tub the next morning, so clean up could begin. Slowly, over brunch. (I have it all on VHS tape.) Such funny memories your Ms. Maggie brings out with wedding stories. Makes writers out of all of us, it seems. Still hitched, 28 years later, with our own dhurries and doggies in tow. Your simple, sweet writing forces us to share stories. I think you have a porch essay inside you still.

  10. Loved the book and the article. I got married much younger than my friends and way before the advent of the wedding blog, so I just made decisions and moved on. I'm sure it's much more overwhelming these days! Your comment about Dazed and Confused made me smile, though- what an awesome time that would be :) My husband and I went on a 2 week honeymoon and after the first week, we started wishing our friends had traveled with us so we could extend the fun we had at the wedding.

  11. Mmmm that last paragraph.

    It makes me think what I actually think quite often: if my friends actually got married more often, at least with big weddings where we all attended and/or looked like weddings, I'm not sure I could do the job I do. I think I'd need a break, or to hide under the bed. But the fact that our friends are still, even though we are 32, not exactly the marrying type, means I don't have very many stories like this. Three weddings in one year would be an impossibly banner year for us. So writing (undercover of writing about) weddings becomes more manageable.

    And I DO need to pick up the book.

  12. THAT RUG. Also, you just reminded me to pick up Seating Arrangements before I (gasp) find myself on the beach in a few weeks with nothing to read.

  13. I'm halfway through Seating Arrangments and it's DESTROYING ME! Ms. Shipstead I hope you are reading all the comments here furtively, because I want you to know you are killing it with your writing and I hope you write a billionty more books. Your book is Mrs. Dalloway meets the high WASPS plus extra wonderful characters! Livia! Dominique! Biddy! I'm halfway through and I'm struggling with finishing it RIGHT NOW, versus trying to slow down and savor all the words. Your descriptions of the cape and the houses and the glasses clinking and the lawn at dusk....dying. That's all, I wish every book published was this good. I don't even care what happens at the end, or if it ends.

  14. Wow, that article was so well written. I think you've talked me into getting her book! Every year of our marriage I think about our wedding from a different perspective. Certainly at 29 ,and beginning the wave of friends' weddings, I felt the exact same way as Ms. Shipstead.


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