(First appeared on WA Today, The Age and Sydney Morning Herald Thurs, May 9, 2013)
I think I’m broken. So many people are convinced that they’re essential, but I just don’t get weddings.
A few of my friends have done their weddings well. A tent on the family farm, an uncle cooking the barbecue, granddad sorting a spit roast, aunties on the salads, serve yourself beer and cheap wine. Plastic plates and cups, a playlist instead of a DJ and no need for a hotel room, drive home or pitch a tent – but the oldies get a bed in the house.
I wouldn’t even go that far. You know that round the world trip you’ve always dreamt about? That home deposit? Those kids you wanted to have in the next five years? Forget it.
Instead, why not blow all that money on extended family you rarely see, workmates you barely tolerate, and friends that you’ll hardly see again after the ceremony?
Over-spending on everything for the sake of shouting to the world, “Look at all the money I used to have! That they let me borrow! That it will take me years to pay back! It was all totally worth it for that fuzzy photo in the local paper.”
At least the big shiny car, mammoth house or designer clothes are things you get to keep, but what have you got after a wedding?
A dress you will hopefully never wear again, a ring you’ll constantly be terrified of losing, hazy memories of an argument with a friend over nothing, a colossal hangover, and a million photos and hours of boring video that only reminds you and your partner of how good you will both never look again, and will sit hidden in a drawer.
Then there’s the preparation. People stressing for months about making everything perfect, but perfection takes way too much work and is actually really boring.
It’s the weddings where things go wrong that are the most memorable and fun.
The band plays the wrong song for the bridal waltz, the dress splits, it rains, two different family factions get into an ineffectual brawl, someone vomits on the dancefloor, someone else gets caught shagging in the toilets, and you forget to order dessert. Nobody ever eats dessert at a wedding, so forgetting to order it is actually a big win.
Some people strive for a traditional wedding, but that white dress thing isn’t much of a tradition. Started in 1840 by Queen Victoria, and that’s after the English arrived in Australia, and I’m pretty sure weddings have been around a lot longer than that.
Next there’s all that thought and effort that goes into making your wedding special, individual and memorable. From countless options you need to select the flowers, invitations, suits, dresses, vows, colour and type of confetti, venue, celebrant, your spouse, napkin rings, and on and on. All so that the wedding is distinctly yours, but it’s all for nothing because, let’s be honest, all weddings are pretty much the same.
If you really want to make your wedding memorable, you need to get creative.
Instead of formal, semi-formal or full-on formal, make it fancy dress. Everyone comes as their favourite cartoon character, something to do with the first letter of their name, or their own interpretation of a porn star robot from the future.
Better yet, you should be wed while sky diving, in a shark tank, or on fire. Or shoot the bride out of a canon and into the groom. Nobody would forget that. Anything but walking down the aisle and just standing there.
For the reception, instead of holding your own with all that cost, why not just crash another party? Who’s going to knock back a newly-married couple? Better yet, just arrive at a bowling alley, restaurant, or football game. The drinks and food would be cheaper, and it wouldn’t matter if you wrecked the place.
Or what about we just ban weddings entirely? Still have a party sure, but no ceremony and no more marriage. I support gay marriage, and in Australia we’re moving so disgracefully slowly on that one that I think we should take marriage away from everyone.
It’s that old schoolyard rule – if you don’t let everybody play, then nobody is allowed to play and I’m taking that ball and locking it in a cupboard. Not the closest, the cupboard.
If there were no more marriage, then there’s no debate about gay marriage, there are no weddings, and there’s no need for divorce. Which also removes the need for all those ugly court cases, and discussion about divorce rates, and the need for re-marriages. The only thing that’s a bigger waste of money than a wedding is a second wedding.
There are obviously some legal issues with all this, but I’ll leave those to the legal people. I can’t do everything.
Xavier Toby is a writer and comedian currently touring the comedy walking tour 2013 – When We Were Idiots at the: