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Posts Tagged ‘Wedding’

The new bridezilla — show me the dough or I’ll shame you on social media

In behavior, domestic life, family, life, love, Money, news, Style, urban life, women on October 20, 2013 at 2:50 am

By Caitlin Kelly

Wedding

Wedding (Photo credit: teresachin2007)

Here’s a seriously depressing story from The Globe & Mail about bridezillas’ latest depths of greed and entitlement:

Earlier this month, a bride whipped out her phone and texted one of her guests: The newlywed woman was still waiting on a money-stuffed card and congenially reminded her guest that she’d attended “for free.” The guest, a childhood friend saddled with student loans, fired back with a refreshing smackdown. “If you cannot afford a wedding, then do not have one,” she wrote in a letter. “Do not dare make your friends/family feel financially responsible for your decisions/parties/extravagances.” The guest taped a penny to the letter, then bid farewell to their friendship.

It’s the third nasty blowup of this kind since summer, all leaked by the guests and highly publicized. In July, another wedding guest revealed a Facebook message she’d received from a bride dissatisfied with the gift of $100 from the guest and her partner: “We were very much short on paying off the reception,” read the complaint. And before that in June, two guests from Hamilton got blasted for their admittedly unusual wedding gift, a wicker basket brimming with pasta and Marshmallow Fluff. The bride didn’t mince words in subsequent texts and Facebook messages to the pair: “I lost out on $200 covering you and your date’s plate,” she wrote, later adding, “Weddings are to make money for your future not to pay for people’s meals. Do more research.”

There are few occasions more id-revealing than weddings. God help us.

I used to be really good friends with  a woman I’ll call J. We were besties, I thought, for life. Hah!

I threw her a wedding shower, at a point in my life when spending even $100 to welcome 15 of her friends — only one of whom I knew — was a real financial strain. When she arrived the first words out of her mouth weren’t, “How lovely. Thank you!” but “What time will this be over? I need to let my fiance know what time to pick me up.”

Nice.

Then she held a destination wedding on a Caribbean island far from New York, where we live. Another $1,000+? Nope.

Another friend kept having showers and parties, like the dinner inviting a group of her friends, (many high-earning or married) to a midtown restaurant full of Wall Street guys eating $40 steaks. Women at the table ordered many bottles of wine and the bill arrived — my portion (!) was $100, an absolute fortune for me at the time. Every shower required another gift. By the time I attended her wedding I couldn’t afford another thing.

Enough!

I’ve been married twice; the first time my family gave us some money for the wedding. I married again in 2011, in Toronto, and it was all on us. We managed to make it charming, stylish and affordable.

We loved our gifts, but, apart from the actual ceremony, considered the day a large party. I don’t ask my friends over and present them with a bill for dinner…

People in a marquee enjoying a wedding feast.

People in a marquee enjoying a wedding feast. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What do you make of this notion that wedding guests need to cough up — or else?

Has it happened to you?

Have you done it?

Just give me the ring, already!

In behavior, culture, domestic life, life, love, men, Money, women on March 23, 2013 at 1:40 am
Promotional art by Frank King (c. 1941), highl...

Promotional art by Frank King (c. 1941), highlighting Skeezix’s marriage proposal to Nina Clock. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here’s a scary/sad trend — spending shitloads of coin on a wedding proposal to make sure that:

1) it’s seen by millions of strangers on social media;

2) it makes you Famous;

3) it makes your proposal so much better than all your BFFs;

4) it’s something you’ll never forget.

(H/T to Small Dog Syndrome.)

Having been the recipient of a few marriage proposals, here’s my wisdom on the matter:

Don’t waste a ton of cash on the proposal. Weddings are expensive. Honeymoons are expensive. Kids and housing and student loans are expensive. Is this truly the best use of your limited funds? (Billionaires and trustafarians, fire when ready.)

If you’re buying an engagement ring, make sure it’s something she’ll love wearing. Both my engagement rings are unusual, and neither is a single diamond in a raised setting. Not my style! Both are pave, and super-comfortable. Is she sporty? Girly? Super-traditional? Crazy about vintage? (And if so, which styles?)

Don’t propose at the bottom of a hotel escalator. That was proposal Number One from Husband No. 1. I said no, because — really? He tried again in a restaurant about 10 minutes later. No. Then on a street corner in Hanover, NH. The final one was, (cue Rocky theme), on the steps of the Philadelphia Art Museum, with a gorgeous ring we had finally chosen on a visit to Boston.

Think twice about the whole bended-knee, in-public thing. For every woman who loves that much attention, some of us hate it. This is a major moment, not a made-for-TV drama! (And what if she says no?)

Even though she’s crying, don’t assume why. I did weep when HN1 proposed, but, (spoiler alert), because I didn’t want to get married to him right away. Maybe, (I realized with a mixture of confusion, guilt and terror), ever. The ring was so damn nice!

If your sweetie says she really doesn’t want an engagement ring, think long and hard before you heave a sigh or relief and blow that cash on something else. She might not like diamonds, (especially conflict diamonds), but she might really welcome something lovely as a memento of this important moment. Earrings? A pendant?

An engagement ring doesn’t have to mean a trip to Kay Jewelers or Tiffany. My first one came from a fancy Boston jeweler, but my second was an estate piece I found at Saks; it looks like an Art Deco ring and would have cost double if it were new, or that old. It might be a family heirloom or something you design or find on Etsy.

Classic "one-knee" proposal, ca. 1815

Classic “one-knee” proposal, ca. 1815 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pick your moment/location carefully. Jose, my second husband, could not have done it better when he chose to pop the question. We emerged from midnight church service one Christmas Eve and it had just started to snow. He knew that two of my worst-ever memories had both happened on Christmas Eve and he wanted to “re-brand” that night with something happier. And so he did!

Have you proposed or been proposed to?

Did you enjoy it?

What Exactly Is A Wife?

In behavior, culture, domestic life, family, life, love, women, work on September 19, 2011 at 1:28 pm
Bride before ceremony

Image by PeterJBellis via Flickr

I’m a new noun!

The word husband is also a verb, which I really like — to till, or cultivate. A good marriage is a living thing that demands attention and care.

Wonder why there’s no equivalent verb for being a wife…

Becoming someone’s wife means a lot of things. You might cover parts of your body with henna or scars. You might have to show everyone the blood-stained sheet after your wedding night to prove you had been a virgin beforehand. You might move into your in-laws’ home and become their virtual slave.

For a feminist and someone who had been divorced for 17 years, it’s an odd feeling to be a wife again. It feels good! I realized it was a piece of myself I was holding in abeyance.  I’ve finally heaved a sigh of relief to have closed a door that remained open; we’d been engaged for eight years.

Three older women friends from church, congratulating us both, said they all knew it was me — and it was — who had been the reluctant one, not Jose, which most people (sexists!) assumed it must be. My first marriage, which lasted barely two years after five together beforehand, did mean leaving behind my career, family and friends in Canada to start again, at 30, in New York in a recession. It was terribly hard and lonely.

When I joined Jose at the altar two days ago, I was meeting an old, dear friend of eleven years, a man whose character I know and trust, a fellow journalist — not the glittering but controlling doctor I married the first time. This time, I already had a career in the U.S., my own identity certain, my accomplishments sufficient to capture that most valuable of real estate, a New York Times wedding announcement.

I also wanted to arrive at the altar feeling terrific about myself, after a rough few years. And this year has been a wonderful ride: “Malled” published, its sitcom script awaiting CBS’ approval for a pilot, offers of chances to consult, new magazine clients. I finally felt like the old me again. Now I could become a full(er) partner.

When you marry, or remarry at 54, that walk to the altar feels very different than it did for me at 35. If you have kids (we do not), they’re grown up and may have kids of their own. You’ve lost friends to premature death; we lost 12 in two horrible years. You’re facing your own health issues or those of aging parents.

My mother, glowing and thrilled in a yellow silk dress last time, is now in a nursing home with dementia and did not attend. My stepmother, with whom I always had a tough relationship, has been dead for four years. My Dad, healthy and strong at 82, looked fab in a bow-tie and double-breasted navy blazer, his new partner Mary, in a saffron yellow silk jacket — just back from Hong Kong and the marriage of her daughter.

Intimacy and constancy are, for me anyway, more precious than ever.

Canadian journalist Ann Kingston examined the world of wife-dom in her 2005 book.

Here’s a recent essay about the issue from the Canadian national newspaper, The Globe and Mail:

The marriage is happy, the husband fantastic. But the word “wife” remains itchy and ill fitting. When my husband’s work took us to a foreign country for a year, his colleagues tried to make sense of my presence. Neither employee nor local, I was an appendage, and experienced a shrinking each time I was branded as such. “Oh, you’re the wife,” the colleagues would say, followed by a smile of tolerance, even kindness, but never excitement. “Wife” eclipsed all of my other identities: Writer! Runner! Mother! Parking-ticket fighter! No further investigation was required: Wife was my beginning and end, alpha and omega.

What does being a wife mean to you?

My Long Slow Path (Back) To The Altar

In behavior, domestic life, family, life, love on September 15, 2011 at 3:07 am
The Toronto Islands, as seen from the CN Tower

The Toronto Islands...Image via Wikipedia

Well, kids, it’s almost W-day. The sweetie and I picked up our m-m-m-m-m-m-marriage license yesterday in Toronto, my hometown.

It’s been 19 years since I last walked the aisle, on May 31, 1992. My last words to my maid-of-honor?

“Be my friend if this doesn’t work out.” And two miserable years later, we were done. He’d bailed to marry a woman he worked with.

This time I’m marrying a man I’ve known for 11 years and lived with for ten. We’ve had some crazy fights. We’ve visited France, Mexico and my native Canada many times. My friends know and love him. We share an Episcopal church and minister and a Buddhist lama, a love of French bistros, strong red wine and laughing too loudly on the stuffy/boring commuter train.

We picked up my ring yesterday, buying it from the Toronto jeweler I’ve been visiting since I was a little girl, with a Granny who had the means to indulge her whims in some gob-smacking ways. It’s a lovely link to my past. (Jose’s silver ring we found on Etsy.)

We will have only a very small group, only 21 people, including friends I’ve known since high school and barely beyond. My Dad, in blessedly fine fettle at 82, will walk me down the aisle. No maid of honor or best man or attendants. No garter or bouquet toss or DJ or limo — we’ll arrive at the church, on Toronto’s Centre Island (a huge park, basically, with fab views of the city) in water taxis instead, en masse.

We had a two-hour meeting with the minister here who will be marrying us, a hospital chaplain with five kids and a ponytail.We needed some advice on how to integrate Buddhist details, so he left his office at the hospital and reappeared five minutes later with — who else? — the hospital’s Buddhist chaplain, a nun of Jose’s specific lineage, in her saffron and burgundy robes. I do love my multi-culti country!

Turns out, she told us, I am supposed to give him an arrow (!) and he to offer me a vase.

Too late. We already registered for more conventional things like a coffee grinder and kitchen scale.

Here’s a link to the small, white, Victorian-era church on an island where we’ll tie the knot at 5pm Saturday.

Wish us luck!

Is A Marital Tune-Up Worth It?

In behavior, men, women on June 29, 2010 at 9:43 am
Best wedding cake dolls ever.

Image by ToastyKen via Flickr

Tara Parker-Pope in The New York Times:

“It seems like we’re even more resistant to thinking about getting help for our relationship than we are for depression or anxiety,” said Brian D. Doss, an assistant psychology professor at the University of Miami. “There’s a strong disincentive to think about your relationship as being in trouble — that’s almost admitting failure by admitting that something isn’t right.”

Marriage counseling does not always work, of course — perhaps because it is so often delayed past the point of no return. One recent study of two types of therapy found that only about half the couples reported long-lasting improvements in their marriages.

So researchers have begun looking for ways (some of them online) to reach couples before a marriage goes off the rails.

One federally financed study is tracking 217 couples taking part in an annual “marriage checkup” that essentially offers preventive care, like an annual physical or a dental exam.

“You don’t wait to see the dentist until something hurts — you go for checkups on a regular basis,” said James V. Córdova, an associate professor of psychology at Clark University in Worcester, Mass., who wrote “The Marriage Checkup” (Jason Aronson, 2009). “That’s the model we’re testing. If people were to bring their marriages in for a checkup on an annual basis, would that provide the same sort of benefit that a physical health checkup would provide?”

I’m mixed on this one. Having watched my first brief marriage implode, I know it takes two committed people to make those vows worth anything, not merely the desperate attempts of one half.

But the sweetie and I did try counseling a few times, and it taught us some useful lessons. Our therapist, Marc, was just what we needed: funny, warm — and tough. Whatever problem is poisoning  a marriage, he sternly told us, each of us owns 50 percent of it, not the comforting fiction of, say, 15 percent or five percent. It’s so easy to finger-point and blame. “If only he”, “She always…”

Much harder to acknowledge and name the individual demons we each bring to the most intimate relationship in life.

We haven’t seen Marc in years but his lessons have stayed with us. In the old days, our fights were crazy — we’re stubborn, stuck in our ways, used to getting what we want. It’s been a decade now, so we know each other’s trigger points and when we’ve hit them, or are about to. We’re a lot better at apologizing, and quickly.

It’s not easy to soften and change. You have to want it.

Have you tried couples counseling? How did it turn out for you?

Golf Towel? Soccer Net? Cat Box Liner? How One Man Uses His Ex-Wife's Wedding Dress

In behavior, men on June 19, 2010 at 7:50 am
wedding dresses

Image by killrbeez via Flickr

June, the month of hope and cake and brides and dreams…

Not.

Gotta love this website, devoted to one young man’s idea of recycling.

Getting Married? Avoiding The Nuptial Arms Race

In behavior, business, women on April 11, 2010 at 4:02 pm
WUHAN, CHINA - MARCH 6:  People talk behind we...

Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Named a community service pioneer by Time, Katie Fewings knew brides blow serious coin on their weddings — the American average is now $28,000. She launched ethicalweddings.com, a British site, in 2005 after she used fair-trade wine and a gown made locally of organic poplin for her own ceremony.

I love this one, held in Denmark — check out the Legos on their cake.

When I married, I wore a vintage dress from around 1905 and my maid-of-honor a Victorian dress, both bought from local vintage clothing stores; total cost, less than half what one new gown would have been. I didn’t do it to be green or PC. I hate white satin and felt weird wearing a traditional dress; something comfortable and pretty and distinctive worked well. Instead of cut flowers, I used ivy topiaries in the shape of hearts and potted red geraniums. The reasons were budgetary, but the effect was charming. Our budget, more than 15 years ago, was less than half of what brides today are spending, but we had all the elements that mattered.

My marriage? Brief and not happy. But, hey, a stylish affair on a tight budget — one that many friends planning their own weddings borrowed ideas from. At least we got something right.

There are many ways to have a fun, chic, cool wedding without buying into the bridal arms race, described by New Yorker writer  Rebecca Mead in her 2007 book “One Perfect Day.” From Publishers Weekly:

In its nascence in the American lexicon, the term “Bridezilla” has inspired articles, reality television and watercooler tales of brides gone mad. This phenomenon piqued New Yorker staff writer Mead’s interest, sending her on a three-year investigation of the current American wedding and the $161-billion industry that spawned it. “Blaming the bride,” she writes, “wasn’t an adequate explanation for what seemed to be underlying the concept of the Bridezilla: that weddings themselves were out of control.” Interviewing wedding industry professionals and attending weddings in Las Vegas, Disney World, Aruba and a wedding town in Tennessee, Mead ventures beyond the tulle curtain to reveal moneymaking ploys designed around our most profound fears as well as our headiest happily-ever-after fantasies. Goods and services providers alter marital traditions—and even invent new ones—to feed their bottom line. Stores vie for bridal registry business in hopes of gaining lifelong customers. Women swoon for what retailers call “the ‘Oh, Mommy’ moment” in boutique fitting rooms—an unsettling contrast to the Chinese bridal gown factory workers who make them possible, sleeping eight to a room and scraping by on 30 cents an hour. Part investigative journalism, part social commentary, Mead’s wry, insightful work offers an illuminating glimpse at the ugly underbelly of our Bridezilla culture. 

Any tips from your frugal/green wedding you’d like to share?

What Sandra Bullock And I Have In Common — 'Runaway Husbands'

In behavior, men, women on March 20, 2010 at 9:34 am
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 07:  Sandra Bullock...

Image by Getty Images via Daylife

It sure isn’t an Oscar!

The challenge is, when hubby bolts, you’re supposed to feel humiliated. Well, you do. That’s true. But he made the choice.

We both faced the nasty reality of a “runaway husband”, the subject of a new book by marriage therapist Vikki Stark, whose own husband ran out on her after 21 years.

I was with my ex for five years before we married, and our marriage barely made it past our second anniversary. He was re-married to his second wife (whom he’s still with) within the year. She’s even in my wedding pictures, his “best friend” (cue Psycho music here) from work.

I’ll spare you the grim details, but it was hell. He was gone a lot — a doctor, officially overnight “on call” at the hospital or, helping her with her young baby as a single mother, at her home. I relied on his income 100 percent, which left me unwilling to push back as hard as I needed to, let alone move out or kick him out.

For those of you whose hubbies have strayed, or you fear they might:

1) Do your due diligence before you marry. Seriously. I had plenty of reason to worry about my ex-husband when I met his family. His mother was so miserable in her marriage she told me all about it. His older brother had already bailed on two wives, each with a young child. Not a good sign! I loved my ex deeply, felt sure we’d figure it all out — and still demanded a pre-nup to seal the deal, just in case.

2) Pre-nup. If you are entering a marriage, like Bullock and many other women with assets, protect yourself. Make sure your finances, if entwined, won’t drag you into court for decades. Know his FICO score. Know what he earns, saves and invests. I was sufficiently alarmed by my ex’es family misery I wanted a pre-nuptial agreement to protect myself, having left my country, family, friends and a thriving career to marry him. As a nosy, mistrustful reporter, I went and interviewed a divorce attorney — $350/hour in 1992 — to find out my legal rights should my marriage end, especially if it ended quickly. I would, he said, have gotten nothing — after putting my career on hold and marrying someone making a lot of dough. My ex had to write me a five-figure check once he’d left, and that was before alimony kicked in. Divorce is expensive, so I calculated in: moving costs, lawyers’ fees, therapy fees and a month or two to get back on my feet.

3) Protect your assets. These include your professional skills, the one thing many women let atrophy if they stay home and mother their kids exclusively.

4) Keep your friendships strong. I was extremely isolated when my husband walked out, June 15, 1994,  a Wednesday night. Yes, I remember. I had very few friends, had quit my job and my family of origin was far away in Canada. I didn’t eat for a week (looked great, though!) and only the kindness of a compassionate, elderly neighbor I barely knew put food in my mouth after she took me into her apartment and made me a sandwich and made me eat it.

5) Keep your professional network, even sporadically, alive. There’s no excuse now. Between Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, you can, and must, maintain some professional networks, even if you’re convinced your marriage is made in heaven and can’t possibly (hello, Titanic?) fail. Should you suddenly need income, and you will if your husband bails, a few colleagues or clients who’ll come through for you quickly is essential.

I knew my marriage faced challenges — I begged my maid-of-honor, just as we walked up the stairs to the church, “Just be my friend if this doesn’t work out.” She did and she is, celebrating her own 20th. wedding anniversary this year. Every marriage faces challenges, whether you’re clutching an Oscar or struggling with infertility or unemployment or illness or you hate his mother or he hates your sister.

The brave, loving husbands are honest enough to say, clearly and without screaming — and before bedding a skank, or a whole bunch of them — “This isn’t working for me. We need to talk.”

And we need to listen.

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