Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Getting Personal: “He Asked; She Said, ‘Gross!'”


The following essay is a guest post written by Emily Morris, whose previous guest essays can be read here, here, and here.

A few weeks ago my boyfriend and I decided we would get married next year right after our tenth anniversary. We have talked about weddings from time to time but never picked a date, and a lot of it had to do with my reluctance to plan anything. I knew once we committed to the date it meant a lot of work for me and a lot of eye-rolling on my part. Hi, I’m Emily, I’m getting married, and I hate the wedding industry.

I should say right away that if your dream is a romantic proposal and a white wedding with a Cinderella theme, I’m happy for you. I hope it happens and you get everything you want and live happily ever after, the end. But that has never been my dream. I am not into weddings, brides, or huge white ball gowns. And marriage proposals gross me out. But that’s just me, and, if it offends you when someone talks about how she doesn’t like that stuff, perhaps you could go look at The Knot for awhile instead of reading on.

Anyway, as I said, I am grossed out by marriage proposals. First, the getting on one knee bugs me. What’s going on there? Is he begging? There’s also an attitude where the woman in the relationship is waiting for a proposal. I’ve heard it many times: “I’m just waiting for him to ask me!” What year is this? It’s one thing if everyone is a virgin and/or on “The Duggars” reality show; I mean, I guess they have to get married (apparently they can’t even kiss until marriage) and probably the guy has to propose or the Duggar Dad might shoot him. But for most people it seems archaic. Have a conversation about your future, and, if you’re dying for a proposal because of tradition or religion, why not make that clear in a non-nagging, non-whiny way? Like a grownup who is adult enough to get married.

We skipped a proposal and just decided to get married. We told our families and friends, and then I changed our status to ENGAGED on Facebook, which was akin to opening the flood gates. I really think there should be a status that says GETTING MARRIED. I see these as two different and distinct things. I don’t have a ring. We aren’t having a “long engagement.” We are getting married because we chose to do that as two people who have been together for a long time.

People asked if we had picked a date and I wanted to shout, “YES, that’s the whole point.” We’ve lived together for over six years, but people lost their shit when they heard we were having a WEDDING. I am very touched and happy that they are happy for us, but I honestly don’t get the level of HYSTERIA and screaming that we encountered. Happy screaming, but still. Slow your roll, people. I’m 38. I’m not a virgin.

So, we’re getting married and, even though I’m not into weddings, I now have to plan one. I started some wedding Pinterest boards and began to find things that were truly terrifying. Save the Dates that say, HE ASKED, SHE SAID YES (Gross. The worst one I saw said: “He asked, she said ‘about damn time!’” Wow, nice.), Miss America style sashes that say THE FUTURE MRS. ____ (Ew. I guess they’re for a bridal shower or bachelorette party, but still. Ew.). Also there’s a whole line of camouflage formal wear for the Duck Dynasty bride (ok, that I actually found pretty funny). Anyway, it’s an endless parade of things I have no interest in.

And I can’t help it, I feel like the whole wedding industry in general is all about tricking people (specifically women) into believing there are all these things they HAVE TO HAVE. I mean, look at a typical wedding checklist — I can’t even count how many items there are, let alone how many are unnecessary. I need a Xanax to get through the whole list. And even then, I still don’t understand a lot of it.

Like, why are the attendants for the groom called GROOMSMEN and the attendants for the bride called BRIDESMAIDS. Maids? Really? The groom gets MEN and the bride gets MAIDS. Why not “Groom’s butlers” or “bride’s women”? The more I think about weddings and things like that, the more I am left scratching my head. It’s all so sexist and creepy, and yet here I am planning a wedding.

And these days, we could have ANY KIND of wedding we wanted. There are so many resources for unique weddings now. Zombie wedding? Sure! Minecraft wedding? Why not! Crazy, over-the-top Lord of the Rings wedding? For many millions of dollars, yep! But our wedding will be small (around 70 people) and in my dad’s backyard. There is no theme, no extravagant decorations or garter toss. I will probably walk myself down the aisle. No one is giving me away. I’m not changing my name. I will not be wearing a white dress; I’ll be wearing a color, and I’ll look a million times better than I ever would in an ivory gown. And I’ll feel like myself, not a trumped up princess version of myself in a dress I’m uncomfortable in.

Even though there are obviously things about weddings I have a problem with, I don’t have any issue with MARRIAGE. Especially now that so many more people in love can get married in so many more places. I have had some issue with the idea of being a wife, but, since we already feel married in a lot of ways (we share a home and pets and our lives), I like the idea of being a LEGAL family now.

I think our wedding day will be a very happy day. After ten years we’re getting married, and I can’t wait to have all our favorite people in one place — people who love us and want to celebrate with us. Soon, I’ll start sending out Save the Dates, and I’m pretty excited about that, too. They’re very simple ones, in case you’re wondering. Of course, if you’re interested, I can always tell you where to find some “Lord of the Rings” Save the Dates.

emily brownhairEmily Morris is a lifelong New Englander who eats too much cheese and drinks too much coffee but regrets neither. She loves Mark Ruffalo, Scottish accents, and the beach. She hates turtlenecks, the Kardashians, and her neighbor with the leaf blower. She is a currently a nanny, but her 2014 resolution has been to do more writing. She lives with her drummer boyfriend, two dogs, and one cat in Boston. You can find her wasting time live-tweeting award shows on Twitter.

51 comments… add one
  • Nookie October 30, 2014, 1:29 pm

    I’m with you, I had to look through a bridal magazine at work the other day and it turned my stomach. Nothing but 300+ pages of white women in white dresses… I think marriage is a lovely thing but weddings have been turned into such cash cows, it sucks all the romance out of them for me.

    Now that I’ve been all negative, I hope you have a great one!

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  • Miel October 30, 2014, 1:37 pm

    That was actually such a refreshing essay to read. The “typical wedding checklist” you linked just gave me anxiety and I’m not even planning a wedding. My reaction going through those lists is basically “invitations…ok, dress shopping…ok, favors…HA NOPE!”. I don’t even think I want a wedding party, because those look like too much work. And I just got my first limo ride last week and I hated it. I think I just want a very normal car for my future wedding. I’ll ask my dad to drive me or something.
    I think I don’t guess what is the big difference in between a wedding and all the other events where all my family is invited. We are like, a big total of 30 persons (and that’s inviting EVERYONE), and we do that every christmas or something. People usually figured it out without a website, we cook a turkey, open a couple of bottles of wine and that’s pretty much it.
    Now that I think about it, maybe I’ll have a christmas wedding in my parent’s living room. That would make things extremely simple.

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  • ktfran October 30, 2014, 1:55 pm

    I don’t really care one way or the other in regard to weddings. If you want a big fancy affair, go for it! Small and intimate is you thing (or mine thing), good for you! No wedding, not a problem!
    But, Emily mentioned being annoyed at people who got super excited she was getting married, and then she mentioned she can’t wait to celebrate with people she loves… so I’m wondering, what’s the problem with people showing the initial excitement? I’m sure they are just letting you know they are happy for you and are excited to celebrate a life milestone, i.e., legally marrying somebody you love. I guess I just don’t get all the hate when other people express joy when you admit to getting a little excited about it.

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    • Buzzelbee October 30, 2014, 2:06 pm

      I know for me it wasn’t so much before the wedding but after when people were all excited Mr. Buzz was now my HUSBAND that I got annoyed. On one level I felt they were suggesting that the 7 years we had spent together unmarried were no big deal and that we couldn’t really have been comitted to each other without the legal paper and title.
      I honestly don’t know if it’s what they meant but I think it’s really frustrating that in American English we don’t have a word that’s generally accepted to mean long term comitted relationship beyond just Girlfriend/Boyfriend.

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      • ktfran October 30, 2014, 2:13 pm

        We totally need a word for that. And I do get that it’s annoying, or shitty, or something that a lot of people need to go to a wedding or see the signed paper or name changed to view a long-term, committed relationship just a valid as a legal relationship. Like, who cares?
        I do get excited when people tell me their getting married though if it’s something I know they wanted. I’m just happy for them because they’re happy. Plain and simple.

      • something random October 30, 2014, 2:36 pm

        What if people just decided to call each other husband or wife if it felt appropriate but didn’t use the word “married”? I don’t see how the legality really affects the social standing. Maybe there would be other problems that would come up that I’m not thinking of?

      • Buzzelbee October 30, 2014, 2:43 pm

        I think it’s one option but personally I would have found it weird to refer to him as my husband prior to him actually being my husband. My English parents used the English term “partner” but since that has such a connotation in the US with same sex couples (at least 8 years ago) it didn’t feel quite right. I kinda like the Swedish term sambo but just because I think it’s an adorable word.

      • something random October 30, 2014, 2:54 pm

        Oh “sambo”. I might need to start using that in place of “husband” or god-forbid “hubby” which are starting to feel tainted. Like there’s too much baggage associated with judgements about who’s a “real” couple versus the un-legalized outsiders. But I do think it’s a life long thing. “Life partner” sounds over-thought. I’ll ask my Sambo tonight.

      • ktfran October 30, 2014, 2:56 pm

        People for sure care way too much.

      • Buzzelbee October 30, 2014, 3:05 pm

        I like it! Just start using it and I’m sure it will catch on, on mean it’s so adorable how could it fail.

      • Taylor October 31, 2014, 10:08 am

        The other one that’s starting to make me twitch is “my love”. It’s all over FB.

      • ktfran October 30, 2014, 2:49 pm

        So, we do a Christmas drawing every year on my dad’s sad of the family. Personally, I think it has gotten ridiculous. Speaking of ridiculous, I have this one aunt who insists that unless you’re married into the family, you’re not allowed to participate. Also, as soon as you turn 18, your name is thrown in whether you like it or not. Anyway, I bet a lot of crazy people are truly concerned about this, like my aunt.
        Now, my mom’s side of the family, nobody cares. We just had family photos taken at my sister’s wedding and long-term boyfriends/girlfriends were included. They were not on my dad’s side.

      • something random October 30, 2014, 2:56 pm

        Yeah, that is ridiculous. I remember my family wouldn’t let my sambo participate in the exchange even when we were engaged. Someone actually said “no ring no bling”

      • something random October 30, 2014, 2:59 pm

        Like he really wanted that $20 kitchen catchet soooo badly. He was just dying to get a piece of the action.

      • something random October 30, 2014, 3:03 pm

        I meant gadget but catchet also works.

      • Buzzelbee October 30, 2014, 3:03 pm

        Ugh, it’s people like your aunt that made this one of my soap box issues (if you can’t tell). I got so annoyed feeling like I somehow had to defend the legitamacy of my relationship to people.
        On a not unrelated note Mr. Buzz’s parents are Swedish and decided to go back to Sweden to celebrate my now father in law’s 60th birthday as well as the christening their first grandchild. They generously paid for everyone’s ticket except mine, because we weren’t married. I was a little annoyed but I wasn’t their kid or married to their kid so that’s fair if that’s the line they want to draw. What really annoyed me was when I had to sit in a pew behind his family at the christening because I wasn’t actually a part of the family. We had been together for at least 3 years at that point…. Good news is that now all is as well as can be with one’s slightly annoying in laws. After all, they’re legally my family 🙂

    • prettycrabby October 30, 2014, 3:49 pm

      I never said I was annoyed. I also don’t hate any joy or excitement sent my way. It just confused me because we have been together so long.

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      • ktfran October 30, 2014, 4:19 pm

        I apologize if I misread, or misunderstood then.

      • Dear Wendy October 30, 2014, 4:02 pm

        I’m one of the friends who is excited for you and here’s why: obviously, it’s something you want (or you wouldn’t be doing it), so regardless of what your reasons are, I’m happy for you that you are doing something you want. Also, I know you and I know that you, like a lot of couples, have had ups and downs, so I’m really happy for you that you’re in a place now that you feel very secure and committed and want to make a public declaration of that commitment in a way that is different than simply being together for a long time. Being together for a long time is awesome and I don’t mean to take away from that. But there is something about standing in front of people and saying, “I choose this person to spend the rest of my life with.” Even if you have been saying that privately for a really long time and even if you have been sharing that with loved ones for a very long time, there’s something about saying it in front of all your loved ones at the same time and, yes, making it legal. The commitment DOES feel … deeper afterward. And I’m excited for you guys that you will feel that and also that you will reap the rewards of marriage (both legal and emotional). It really is a wonderful thing and I’m happy for you and Im happy so many more people can enjoy the benefits of marriage these days and I look forward to a day when EVERYONE can legally marry the person he or she loves. And, plus, who doesn’t love a fun party??

      • prettycrabby October 31, 2014, 4:41 pm

        Thanks, lady! xoxo

  • Buzzelbee October 30, 2014, 2:00 pm

    OH man, I remember those feelings and it’s a refreshing break from things like TLC wedding Friday (oh god I know that’s a thing). Weddings are the biggest PIA and somehow despite best intentions it can be hard to shut out all the wedding industry stuff. I got married in my parents backyard with about 85 people and had no strong opinion on things like table cloths or place settings but someone will ask and then want a decision and I didn’t feel I could just say I don’t care to everything (except the dress, food, and booze – on those I had opinions). Thank god I got married before pinterest!

    I’m also totally with you on waiting for a proposal, I mean WTF!! ! I proposed to my then boyfriend and he said yes. We then picked out a ring together and he did plan the day he would give it to me (over a delicious homemade breakfast) but I also got to plan things for him that weekend. I was given a little bit of grief but I’m an adult who gets a say in the rest of my life damn it!

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  • something random October 30, 2014, 2:02 pm

    I think this wedding sounds like one that would be fun to go to. I enjoy myself at other weddings because I love the people, not because they are actually fun. Getting together in the backyard for a good time and to celebrate with friends actually sounds nice!

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  • Addie Pray October 30, 2014, 2:11 pm

    I’m in love with Emily.

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    • honeybeenicki October 30, 2014, 2:48 pm

      Sorry, she’s taken 🙂

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    • prettycrabby October 30, 2014, 3:50 pm

      Aw, let’s get married! Oh… wait.

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      • Ty Richey January 5, 2017, 7:32 am

        Love connection with a magical body rub could just do the magic! 😉

  • MissDre October 30, 2014, 2:27 pm

    70 people is considered a small wedding these days???? Holy crap! I don’t want anymore than 20 people at my (hypothetical) wedding, what’s that considered? LoL

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    • something random October 30, 2014, 2:30 pm

      An intimate gathering. I don’t know, 70 sounds average-big to me.

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      • MissDre October 30, 2014, 5:02 pm

        Intimate gathering sounds nice 🙂

    • FireStar October 30, 2014, 2:41 pm


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      • MissDre October 30, 2014, 5:01 pm

        Destination isn’t quite right, because I have no desire to go anywhere. I (someday) want to get married right here in my hometown at my favourite restaurant.

    • ohsoridiculous October 30, 2014, 3:35 pm

      We are having 19 people total at ours, counting the bride and groom.

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    • prettycrabby October 30, 2014, 4:23 pm

      I guess it’s not “small” exactly. I feel like most weddings I have been to have had over 100 people so it feels at least smaller than that.

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      • MissDre October 30, 2014, 5:06 pm

        I feel so out of the loop when it comes to weddings. The only wedding I’ve ever been to was my mom’s and she just got married at city hall and had a dinner afterward for her closest friends at a restaurant. So…. I have zero wedding experience.

      • ktfran October 31, 2014, 8:59 am

        Personally, I think that sounds like a lovely wedding day. I’ve seen City Hall wedding pictures and people just look so happy. I kind of want to do that then have a party at a restaurant I love.

    • othy October 30, 2014, 4:30 pm

      We had 25 people, and that felt perfect.

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    • Lyra October 30, 2014, 8:04 pm

      Oh man…70 people wouldn’t even be all my immediate family so I basically have no choice because we’re all close and we all have big weddings. Here are approximate numbers:
      Immediate Family: 2 parents, 1 brother
      Dad’s Side: 17 aunts and uncles, approximately 25 immediate cousins, approximately 6 spouses, 6 kids of cousins
      Mom’s Side: 8 aunts and uncles, 5 immediate cousins, 4 spouses, 8 kids of cousins
      That alone is over 80 people, and most of them would attend. Plus I have a select number of great aunts and uncles who I am very close to as well. Oy.

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  • CeeSea October 30, 2014, 2:28 pm

    To the question of why bridesmaids are called what they are – the term “maid” refers to “maiden”, as in unmarried virgin which is what bridal parties primarily consisted of back in the day. It’s also why some people have a matron of honor (married friend) in addition to, or rather than, a maid of honor.

    I did see an episode of Bridezillas once where the bride said “you’re a bridesmaid, that means you’re the help and you have to do what I say until the wedding is over”. I wanted to tell her poor friend to give her a history lesson.

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    • Nookie October 31, 2014, 5:47 am

      Sure that makes sense, it would seem to me that traditionally it may have been a way of introducing not-related young people to each other with the hope of more marriages?

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  • FireStar October 30, 2014, 2:40 pm

    When I read the title I thought it was going to be about someone not liking the ring. A friend of mine proposed once and the girl asked to see the ring first before answering!!!!!

    But I believe to each their own. I think it’s stupid to go into debt for a party – but then I’m a small wedding kind of girl (we had about 70) and I bought my dress sight unseen from my friend’s supplier. All I think about when I hear big weddings is the girl I know whose parents spent $100,000 on her wedding and she is married to a closeted gay man – who is mean to her – and they have never had sex – four years post wedding and they dated for three years prior. That was just not money well spent.

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  • ohsoridiculous October 30, 2014, 3:16 pm

    I agree with a lot of this. Especially the whole white dress thing. I’m getting married next month and while I was looking at (and hating) all the white dresses that were so not me I just realized, I don’t HAVE TO wear a white dress. So I’m not. Peacock green looks much better on redheads anyway.

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  • Taylor October 30, 2014, 3:33 pm

    My sis was my “best woman” at our wedding =)
    Has anyone checked the comments on Wendy’s list of stuff you don’t have to have to get married, the Huffpo posting? Oy. My favorite was a wedding planner who said something like “wait until you’re trying to enjoy your day while worrying about the dozen centerpieces!” Talk about missing the point.
    Anyhoo, spoken as someone who had a biggish, and fairly traditional wedding, I love the sanity of the folks on this site. It’s a rare the thing on the interwebs.

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  • catz47 October 30, 2014, 4:57 pm

    PREACH SISTA! (I just had to use a CALCULATOR to log in here. I am the dumbs at math).

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  • muchachaenlaventana October 30, 2014, 5:15 pm

    I feel this so much and now with 3 of my best friends getting married have to swallow it all the time so I don’t offend anyone. Also they are all so old fashioned, my best friend waited about 5 years for an engagement-how many times I told her to just ask him, but ha no that would never happen. IDK I just think for whatever reason people revert back to the 1950s around weddings/engagements/etc. it is a very bizarre phenomenon.

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    • muchachaenlaventana October 30, 2014, 5:16 pm

      Some of their future sig other’s have even planned for the girls to have had their nails done so the picture they post on FB of the ring looks good..I mean what? No these things should not be important.

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      • Nookie October 31, 2014, 5:51 am

        Weddings have become another thing that we consume and as status symbols, some people want to have the best one… it’s a shame but it seems to me it’s deeper than just the actual consumption of the wedding, it’s how we define ourselves through them.

        Or something. I should go write an essay while I’m all wordy.

  • something random October 31, 2014, 9:18 am

    So I’m just going to say that I don’t think anyone in the States should refer to their husband as a Sambo. It seemed like such a warm and cozy word. I feel so silly that I didn’t know the other meaning. I think there was a thread awhile back about things you should have known a long time before and now I have one. I can’t believe nobody told me earlier up on the thread! What’s up with that?

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  • arod11 October 31, 2014, 12:54 pm

    I agree with Wendy about weddings being super special without all the rampant consumerism. What makes it a wedding is that you are there with the person you love, making a statement in front of witnesses. I had the proposal (in a public place, but it was a private moment between just the two of us) and the huge wedding with the white dress and everything else, and while it was one of the happiest days of my life, I would never do it that way again–I’m glad I had the experience and so grateful to my family for helping me with it and being there, but it was so stressful and expensive and it was really just one day. I know it could have been just as beautiful and meaningful without the expensive favors and the cocktail hour with 25 different stations. But at the same time, my family wanted to give me that–they wanted the best party for me and all of our relatives, and they wanted to welcome my husband to our family. That’s what I remember (and am grateful for) about that day. Do I think some people get really carried away with competition and materialism during the planning process? Of course–like Emily said, there is a whole industry dedicated to making us feel like we’re not doing it “right” if we don’t pay for certain things. But I don’t think that makes proposals and bridesmaids and groomsmen “gross”–it just makes them outdated in her opinion, and a bad fit for the kind of wedding she wants overall. The fact that she’s still having a wedding, instead of say, going to the courthouse and doing this with no fanfare, shows that she still sees value in and wants to have some of the traditional “getting married” experiences, so I don’t understand why she has to be so snarky and condescending about it, especially since all the people whose excitement has so seriously pissed her off are wishing her nothing but happiness. I studied for my Masters degrees for two years before my actual graduation day–does that mean I should be pissed at all the people who waited until I had my diploma to congratulate me? It’s just a really ungrateful attitude to have toward people whose opinion is just different than yours because they may not be looking at it through the same progressive lens. I don’t think Nana is expressing the hope that you’ll live a lifetime of Duggaresque indentured servitude just because she didn’t jump for joy that you were living together before but did now that you are getting married. And the people who choose these things–the public proposals, the “Bride” or “Future Mrs.” sashes, the gender-divided bridal parties–are not people who who need to be looked down upon for their “gross” traditions. As long as they are keeping love and family at the center of their “getting married experience,” we have no more right to judge them than we have to judge you for skipping out on the catering hall and ivory tulle.

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    • prettycrabby October 31, 2014, 4:45 pm

      Did you miss that part where it’s a personal essay? And I don’t begrudge anyone their choices. This has just been my experience.

      And, I never said anyone’s happiness towards our impending marriage pissed me off. The MAIN REASON we are having a wedding is to celebrate with the people we love.

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  • wobster109 November 12, 2014, 6:18 pm

    Emily, why are you the one planning? I hope that future spouse of yours is planning too.

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  • LisforLeslie January 5, 2017, 10:27 am

    The weddings you remember fall in to the good/meh/omg category.

    Meh: crappy food, crappy music, bad date (tuesday night)
    Good: Good food (can be pizza and soda as long as there is enough for everyone and it’s not crappy pizza), good music (ipod with fun dance tunes can serve but I do prefer a fun band that takes requests), decent alcohol, easy -ish location to get to (do not make me rent a car and drive hours out to nowhere New Jersey to sit in a barn in March when you live 15 minutes from the NJ parkway)
    OMG – crappy food or not enough food to go around, a cringeworthy DJ (or your younger cousin being put in charge of music and having a weird compulsion to keep playing crap that no one can dance to), bathrooms that are difficult to get to, dirty or otherwise not user friendly.

    Those are the things that make the difference. I’ve been to weddings in rec centers, VFW halls, restaurants and gigantic facilities designed for major weddings. Food, music, bathrooms. Doesn’t have to be fancy, just has to be fun.

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