I'M GETTING MARRIED this summer. You're probably not invited, but let's not make this awkward.
Sure, there's love/commitment stuff, but at its heart a wedding is just a catered party our parents are paying for, and in the middle we make out a little. It should be simple. Instead we, the engaged couple with no party-planning experience, are the primary targets of a massive industry whose motto is "If you don't buy the expensive one, you're not really in love."
CAKE AND BAKE
I always assumed the cake tasting would be my favorite part. That I'd be stoked just to get to do a cake smelling. But alas, it's not all buttercream and smiles. First, there is very little cake present at a cake tasting. The little plugs of cake you get to taste are almost mean—like we were on a diet we didn't know about. Walking to the bakery from the parking lot burns the measly calories of a cake teasing.
Much more abundant are the photo albums of other people's cakes, like somebody printed out a corner of Pinterest for you to browse. We tasted cake in three price ranges: $300, $500, and $1,000. Spoiler alert: They taste about the same. It's flour, sugar, and butter. Nobody's figured out a way, for $700 extra, to make cake taste better than cake. If the cake had half an ounce of gold nuggets mixed in I'd be like, "It's too crunchy, but it's a good deal for a gold cake." Instead, all that extra money goes into making your cake look like a dragon or a rug, using a Play-Doh covering that your guests will have to pull off and throw away before eating your gold-free cake.
The more you spend on the cake itself, the worse service you can expect. The $500 bakery charges $25 to rent the cake stand for the day (I don't know anything about the cake-stand market these days; should I rent or buy?) and another $25 if we want them to PLACE FLOWERS YOU PROVIDE ON THE CAKE (a service the $300 baker will gladly provide for the more reasonable price of free because OF COURSE). The two cheap cakes have free delivery, while the $1,000 baker wants another $50 unless you want to eat the cake in their kitchen.
- Illustration by Kim Scafuro
OTHER MONEY PITS
We're under budget on our Save the Dates. That's the good news. We spent money on pre-invitations to warn people that the real invitations are coming. That's insane.
Save the Dates (STDs) are necessary because, apparently, it would be ghastly to get invited to a wedding without being forewarned about the invitation's impending arrival. I don't know how every other party in the world manages with a single invitation, but wedding invites are so monumental you need time to brace yourself. Personally, I think getting an STD with no warning seems unfair, but we decided not to send a "Save the Space on Your Refrigerator for Our Save the Date."
We got our STDs on the cheap, so they only cost us about $200 including paper, printing, photos, envelopes, and postage. It's not a bad deal as far as STDs go, but we could have sent a Facebook invite for free, then put that money toward two hours on a bouncy castle rental. This is supposed to be a party, after all.
Even dumber are chair covers, which one rental company insisted we would need. They're cloth and ribbon combos that you put over your chairs because it would be GHASTLY to have people sit on uncovered chairs. They run between $1.50 and $5 a chair to rent (another market I know nothing about; can we go with a lease-to-own option?). If I were a chair-rental business, I'd be embarrassed to tell somebody our chairs weren't of sufficient quality for even the butts of guests.
Chair covers also look terrible. When we saw one picture, my fiancée immediately stopped the conversation. "We can't rent those, they make it look like a Klan rally for chairs." At least I'm marrying up in terms of humor.
- Illustration by Kim Scafuro
There are a million other dumb ways to spend money. Cake toppers can cost hundreds of dollars just so that the action figures playing King of the Hill on our chocolate ganache reflect our personalities. We can pile up the middle of our tables with colored rocks, glass, and plants until everybody feels like they're at a wedding in a fish tank. And we can monogram our initials on everything like ranchers worried some scoundrels will rustle our napkins.
We can, but we will not.
We needed inspiration for our decor and some designer friends suggested we create a mood board. Try Pinterest, they said. You'll love it, they said. They were wrong.
Pinterest is the social network site where women share recipes they haven't tried and look at pictures of weddings they weren't invited to. The wedding posts share a common aesthetic (a sea of mason jars, chalkboards, and paper lanterns) and a general agreement that you are nothing unless you're married (mixed in with the mason jars are posts advising you on keeping your house cleaned, making your husband happy, and how you're a valuable human now that you're a Mrs. instead of a Miss).
Most people seem to be planning weddings that aren't even scheduled yet. Comments and board titles are frequently of the "Someday <3" variety. A note to ladies: If you like pinning photos of weddings and you're not planning a wedding, you need to hide that shit like a porno collection. I speak for all men here (I asked, they said it was fine) when I say THAT IS SO CREEPY. You're not interested in a wedding that reflects your man's mutual style? Guys are all just plug-and-play? Gross. "Someday my prince will come." Yeah, and when he meets you hopefully he won't notice how long you've spent planning his future before he even met you.
Even more interesting, I found several posts from women who were already married. "I know I'm married, but I love these dresses so much." That anybody could make it safely through this process and want to try it again baffles me. Unless the board is called "Someday my prince will leave."
We're still a few months away, but things are falling into place. We settled on a baker (hint: free delivery), coverless chairs, and a small selection of mason jars with our initials on them. And at this point, the most romantic part has been looking at my fiancée and knowing we've worked as a team to only be taken advantage of a little bit.
- Illustration by Kim Scafuro