Despite the terrible exchange rate and horrendously expensive air fares, I am currently in Europe celebrating the wedding of one of my closest friends — we participated in a high school exchange together in 1994 and have been friends ever since. I have heard a lot about how the traditions differ here, from having to be married twice if you want a religious ceremony to the relatively simplicity of the festivities in comparison to the "average" $27,000 American wedding. But, folks, let me tell you: the Wedding Industrial Complex cannot be sated with the domination of American bridal traditions. Like an airborne virus, it is making its way through Europe and it cannot and will not be stopped. Some of the imported excesses from my eyes, after the jump.Now, let me say for the record, my dear friend (who prefers her name not be mentioned, so we'll call her A.) is far from a Bridezilla, not that I could really translate that anyway. She and her now-husband have been together for 6 years and lived together for almost 2 and so she was ready to eschew some of the grander absurdities of wedding traditions — including letting her poor blogger friend crash in her living room for a week. And Germans are still all about the white dresses, and there was a full Catholic Mass, and (reportedly) some hurt feelings about who was and was not invited to the reception or asked to be witnesses to the marriage (and none of that came from me, as I don't live here, have a terrible German accent and am not a practicing Catholic). But there is a fully functioning bridal magazine business attempting to sell more expensive dresses, bigger parties, larger cakes and the full range of pre- and post-nuptial activities for which American weddings have come to be known. There might not be wedding rehearsals, but they'll tell you how to have a rehearsal dinner. In a hilarious mistranslation in the "biggest" wedding planning book, the author tells brides that their dresses should match their mothers' dresses (as opposed to matching the "colors" of the wedding or whatever horseshit they're pedaling in the States these days). Hilariously, the car that drives the happy couple away from the church comes equipped with a sign: "Just Married," in English even. There are gift registries (though hardly anyone actually uses them, since most people these days seemingly live together before marriage) table gifts and wedding cakes — and, as in America, literally everything that has "bridal" before it costs twice as much as the same thing for a normal party. On the other hand, my German friends were shocked that one would have an afternoon reception that ends before dinner (as my sister has planned for the fall). My friend and her husband attended a wedding last year in which the ceremony started at 8:30 in the morning... and the reception went until 8:30 the next morning. There is no rest (or sex) for the wicked, and their reception went until 4:30 am on Sunday morning after which we were dropped off back here and passed out like normal people. Thankfully, such parties leave no time or energy for "official" brunches that hardly anyone wants to attend anyway, but if they keep importing our made-up, WIC-propagated traditions, there are going to be a lot more unhappy, hungover Germans cursing American culture, let me tell you.
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It still blows my mind that people spend that much on weddings. I got married almost four months ago, and although I wish we could have afforded to do it a little bigger, we were both really happy with our probate judge + party at a friend's swanky house. Actually, what I really wish we'd spent more money on was a professional photographer, so I guess I can kinda say it's the memories that are important, not the stuff?
But seriously, if you gave me $27,000 for a wedding, I don't know what I'd even spend it on; I don't think I could spend it on a wedding. I'd keep saying to myself, "But I could pay off the car, and my student loans, and buy the cats some fancy collars..." I swear, I can feel my Puritan ancestors spin in their graves every time I think about spending money.