An Essay on the Painful Truths of Marriage Without Money
22 June 2003
I want to get this straight right now: I’m not trying to impress anyone. I’m not trying to piss anyone off. I’m just trying to let you know why I don’t believe in tradition and why I can’t respect religion.
I grew up in a Ukrainian Catholic home. I went to church starting at a young age. I attended the Ukrainian Catholic Grade School for 10 years. Learned the language and learned the customs. I knew that my mother had an extravagant wedding when she married my dad. We had hundreds of photos in albums where I had easy access to them. I would flip through the pages over and over again… There were so many traditions, so many rituals that were practiced. They painted my world a pretty picture until I realized.
I’m gonna have to pay for this.
My parents had over 200 guests and their parents footed the bill. But that was twenty-two years ago and the cost of everything has skyrocketed. And no one goes to church like they used to. And my parents never saved a dime to donate to my wedding fund.
So I sit here at 20 years old, half-engaged. And I’m fresh off the bus of the procession of summer weddings… Only to ask myself: “Why is it worth it?”
nuptials n : the social event at which the ceremony of marriage is performed
When we think of a wedding ceremony today, what is the first thing that pops into our heads? White, church, flowers, happiness, dinner, dancing, presents, dresses, tuxedoes, bouquet, garter, music, pictures, cake, expense?
What happened to the days without caterers, when a couple headed down to the local chapel, said some things, then came home and made dinner for everyone? What happened to the days without limos, where the community helped sew the dress and then they all walked around town throwing rice all day? What happened to the days without deposits, where the mothers of the bride and groom would bake the cake and then the father of the bride would walk her down the aisle?
We all know now that those days are long gone. We all know that the divorce rate is over 50% certain. We know that the average price of a wedding is $20 grand. And we know that no woman is satisfied with a ring under half a carat (of diamonds for heaven’s sake!).
So when you’re spending $10K on a ring before you’ve even put a deposit down on a hall, what the crap do you think is going to happen? Kids are getting married so young these days that they should know better. Their friends aren’t going to give them back 400% on the $20 a plate investment. And they don’t talk to their grandparents, so there goes that $1,000 she owes for her dress.
Mom and dad haven’t saved a dime, so you’ve got to fly the family out (because you insisted that Arizona was going to be the place you’d settle down with your Prince Charming). Boston turns out the be a lot farther *expensive* than you remembered.
When you realize that the hall rental doesn’t even include a full bar, you get pissed. You get even more pissed when you realize that you’ve got to decorate it yourself. You start stocking up on the bridesmaids and groomsmen only to find out that it’s customary to spend money on them in the end, giving them each a gift for helping you realize the day.
By the time the big day does arrive, you’ve spent $14,000 more than you anticipated, you’re stressed out because your seating chart just turned to crap, your grandmother arrives and is already complaining that she doesn’t see you enough, your angel of a dog pees on the $1K dress—the dry cleaner is closed. Then you hear that your husband to be slept with the stripper at the bachelor party and you start crying and ruin your makeup. When you find out that it was just a the best man, you are fuming. The perfect reception turns out less than stellar. Everyone leaves early. Your perfect day has not turned out one bit like your dreams predicted it would.
For me, it took a little prodding. Don was always talking about how he wanted a small wedding. I was always thinking that I wanted 300 people to attend. He talked it out with me and I finally agreed… I didn’t give in, I just saw the dream in a different light.
But now I’ve radically changed my views on this marriage game. The traditions don’t mean anything anymore and they certainly don’t mean anything to me. Did you know that you’re not even supposed to toss the bouquet? You get a cheap replica made so you can *dry* the real one? How asinine is that one? It’s all just a way to make you spend more money. And all of it is a headache waiting to happen.
And when I think about myself and my beliefs and my Catholic values, I realize that I really don’t have any. I was brought up strict and resented it. I hate going to church. I believe that the church is full of hypocrisy and selfishness. I’m looking into other religions but I doubt that I could give myself to any single one.
So why marry in a church?
Don’s sister was the one to tell me that I needed to be married in the church, that if I wasn’t I would disappoint all humankind. But the truth is that marriage is the one sacrament in the Christian belief system that you don’t have to talk to some crazy priest and heed his saying or any of that crap. You just make a wish that for as long as you can keep your wits about you, you can keep on loving the person that’s standing next to you, wishing for the exact same thing. Then you’re done, simple as that. I already call Don my husband and he calls me his wife. Who cares? It’s all make believe anyway.
I say, let me and Don go down to the courthouse, have AJ witness our legal signatures and marriage, and then head on over to Buca di Beppo so that we can have an affordable meal with our immediate families so that no one’s got to complain about beef or chicken. (And who doesn’t like Italian food?) And I’m telling you… I’ll throw out anyone who pisses me off. First word out of my dad’s mouth about my red dress and he’s outta there! My grandfather is pissed because I didn’t invite his cousin? Go wait in the car! (I can do that because I’m technically the bride.)
But because I’ve been to so many weddings recently, it makes me long for that first dance or some veil monstrosity or something. But I’ve got a red dress on my mind—just because I can. And I want a wreath of red roses in my hair because it reminds me of my favorite picture—where my dad’s mom made a wreath of clover flowers for me to wear on my head when I was a little girl—now that’s tradition…
Then after our $400 reception at “Joe’s Basement”, call it a freaking night.
Don and I are gonna go down to Cartier and pick out some simple platinum bands because we like what the circle represents, and I like the idea of engraving my wish on the inside of it to keep it with me. But I’m not demanding a $10K diamond. I’m demanding a college education and a down payment on a house.
Save that debt for someone who doesn’t know any better.