Matters of Opinion

Congratulations! (But do I have to go to the wedding?)

wedding cake

Last June the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, the truly hateful law that barred the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages in states that permit them. Right now, thirteen states and the District of Columbia have legalized same-sex marriage, and states all over the country that still ban it are fielding a myriad of lawsuits that are suing to achieve equality. While we celebrate every victory we know that none of us are free while others are oppressed and we cannot rest until all lovers, gay and straight, are able to share equally in the rights of marriage. But that doesn’t mean I like weddings.

I get the fact that a wedding enables the happy couple to be seen at their very best on the best day of their lives. I understand their desire to announce their commitment to a gathering of friends and loved ones but not why they would gleefully spend over half the median annual income of all U.S. households to do it. Why would they squander the equivalent of a down payment on a new house when afterwards they have to move back into a two-bedroom condo with a carpet that smells like cheese?

Some see weddings as a photographic opportunity. An occasion to create digital memories of the happy couple dancing in the traditional costumes, surrounded by children and classic melodies and applause, which they could frankly get much cheaper if they both took parts in the local junior theater production of The Sound of Music. But of course that’s it, isn’t it, the theatrical nature of the wedding, the ritual of introducing the couple, the toasts, the first dance, the cutting of the cake, which I have found are easy to avoid if you find the right excuse. For instance, they always serve shrimp at weddings and with a little research you can learn to fake anaphylaxic shock and spend a half hour in the lobby.

At my cousin’s wedding last summer I didn’t have to fake getting sick, I fainted. Prissy even as a child, the kind of kid who would rat you out in a pool if she saw bubbles coming out of your bathing suit, she insisted that all the bridesmaids make their own identical powder blue dresses, which assured they all looked like scrub nurses. The groomsmen were instructed to rent black tuxedos.

The ceremony was held under the stars, on the kind of hot humid night that you can watch mold climbing up your bathroom wall. It was a mixed marriage, a Jewish woman and a Lutheran man, and to please both sets of parents, a rabbi and a minister were hired to administer the vows. I was in a long line of suffering groomsmen, and simply keeled over, as the clergymen, competing to prove their devotion to god, enacted a kind of religious pissing contest and talked for an hour each.

I had to go to that one, not only because it was family but because half their friends had already bailed out. Now here’s a hint, if you’re going to plan a wedding, gay or straight, and ask people to spend money on clothes, transportation, and a present, don’t have it on a Sunday night, a move engineered to save the couple money but offering the best excuse to friends. When they scribble a little note on the response card that says, “So sorry, but I have a 7 AM meeting on Monday morning” what they really mean is, “I’m going to miss Dexter for this?”

t was, of course, the worst of all possible weddings, the destination wedding. Eight hundred dollars for airfare, a hundred-fifty for the tux, three-fifty for the hotel room, plus breakfast and lunch and drinks before the party, all so you can spend three hours at a table with their relatives from Oklahoma who think universal health care equals fascism. Originally they were going to have the wedding in Scotland because they thought it would be cool to be married in a castle. When they moved the ceremony to Disney World we were all relieved, until a storm cancelled the flight home and we stranded at the Orlando airport for eighteen hours.

I support everyone’s right to marry. I will take to the streets. I will write to your governor. I’ll boycott. I’ll march. I’ll contribute to your candidate. But please, don’t ask me to the wedding.

I’m Ira Wood…and that’s my opinion.