When Wedding Appeal Meets Wedding Apparel

Tuesday, September 6, 2011
I've known we'd have a wedding to attend this September ever since the happy couple got engaged last autumn. Apparently, my friends and I are late bloomers. At the ripe old age of 26 and a half, this is the first wedding of a friend I'll attend and only the second wedding of a close acquaintance that's even occurred.

Now, we all know I have no issues with wedding hoopla and as the bride's personal attendant and a reader in the ceremony, I'm happy, honored, thrilled to be a part of her big day. Besides, it's awesome excuse to nab a new pair of ridiculous heels.

But this morning, I hit a wall with the whole wedding business.

I was sitting on L.L. Bean's website trying to figure out something for Andy to wear to the wedding that he wouldn't feel like a douche bag in but that would be reasonably acceptable to wear to a semi-formal wedding. My brother, also my newly appointed men's wedding wear guru, stated Andy'd have to at least wear a button up shirt and dress pants if he didn't want to feel completely under dressed.

I'd just spent over $50 on a new strapless bra, which for the record, cost more than the shoes above and I was feeling a little cranky about formal wear expenses. But I had no choice. The last time I was in a Victoria's Secret was back in May on Chicago's Magnificent Mile just hours before I bought the strapless dress I'm wearing to the wedding. And with the nearest actual, non-virtual lingerie store is a three-hour drive away and I had to bit the bullet and order the now necessary strapless bra online. (Oh mail-order bras do inspire fear in my little heart.) Granted I could have just returned to Victoria's Secret while I was still in Chicago, but frankly those stores intimidate me and I try to only go inside such places every few years. 

Cranky with the whole bra situation and having shelled out the close to $200 necessary to complete my outfit, I had to turn my attention to Andy's apparal. I am not exaggerating when I say Andy has one sweater which might be remotely appropriate to wear to a wedding. This boy's go-to clothing pieces are Polarfleece pullovers and Wild-Ass jeans. Andy's aunt (also our neighbor and a stalwart volunteer at work) literally cackles every time the subject of what in the heehaw Andy's going to wear to this event is approached.

As I poked through the men's chico selection, I felt my irritation growing. Why should my self-proclaimed "jack pine savage" of a boyfriend have to don unnatural and uncomfortable clothing in order to celebrate someone else's life choice?

It's nothing against this particular wedding, but against the entire concept of weddings.

By the time I receive a thank you note for the event, I will have bought two brand new outfits, paid for a portion of a cabin rental and numerous other travel expenses. I have shuffled my non-traditional work week to accommodate the event. I have handcrafted a wedding present. I have felt guilty sending my regrets when the bachelorette party and bridal shower invitations started rolling in. That's a lot of monetary and time obligations and I didn't even have to buy a bridesmaid dress.

Naturally, I want to celebrate the bride and groom and I want to be there to bless their future together. But we have created a wedding culture that necessitates consumption and conformity. Back when Laura Ingalls Wilder got married, you just headed down to the pastor's house and came back to your house to have one of Ma's homemade meals with your family.

It all recalls this:

We've created one unorganic, inescapable web of social niceties surrounding our friends' life choices. And sometimes, as someone less than a week away from her three year anniversary with no plans of wedding bells in the near future, it's a rather bitter pill to swallow.


  1. My initial reaction was to agree with you.... however, I thought about it.

    And while I think people shouldn't feel forced to conform to social niceties, I do also (as a guest/bridesmaid/etc at several weddings!) think it is nice to honor the couple by dressing appropriately. They are entering into a union that for them is a major life commitment, the least we can do is treat it with respect. After all, even in the days of LIW they still wore their Sunday's best to church!

  2. the last wedding I attended (2 weeks ago) my hubbie and I were in all thrifted clothes. Thank goodness for Goodwill! :)

  3. AMEN SISTER! When Kaylin and Brian had to be in a wedding last month, Kaylins dress alone was $90 and her shoes $20, Brian's tux $90, gas for both cars driving down, about another $90 and thankfully Brian declined the bachelor night or we'd be in the hole...a whole lotta money for someone elses wedding. OY! I totally know how you're feeling but I bet you and Andy are going to look fabulous in your strapless bra, those glamourous shoes, and his Wild Ass jeans :) Oh, and I'm guessing your friend does NOT read your blog... just guessing?

  4. Oh, I am so with you friend. And I'm with Carrie Bradshaw there, too. What if I never get married? Will I have spent thousands of dollars on my friends' life choices while they spent nothing on mine?

    I'm actually tempted to have a PhD-shower before I graduate. And I'm going to register for a bunch of expensive home appliances that I couldn't otherwise afford.

  5. As bitter as this post sounds, I have nothing against weddings, celebrating others' life choices, or dressing appropriately while doing so. But Mon Dieu(!), who created this monster that is weddings?!

  6. i could go on a MAJOR feminist rant but for the sake of my own sanity-- i totally agree with you. celebration is one thing; feeling compelled to to spend $40k on a party? it's just stupid. we rationalized that we could shell out $5k... and then, even that seemed ridiculous. we'll just have a housewarming, because for us, buying a house is a bigger life event than getting married.

  7. I guess if one doesn't want to conform to a particular wedding's expectations, attire wise, than not going is the only solution. I think it's a matter of respect. By dressing up to honor and celebrate the nuptials at a formal, or semi formal wedding, you are esteeming the couple with a high level of respect and honor...

  8. The boyfriend and I have been together five years now (lived together two) and sometimes discuss ways we could capitalize on the things we would have gotten if we wanted to get married. We're still trying to figure out how to monetize NOT getting married haha. I'll let you know what I figure out. I happen to love excuses to dress fancy, but I hate that its "expected." I've always been glad I don't have to dress up for work (I wear jeans every day) and so when I dress up its fun.

  9. Thought provoking...having just attended a wedding of a family member. Bought a new dress and shoes. Husband already had suit. Had to buy khakis and dress shirt for two teenage boys who did NOT want to wear them. But we did it. I keep thinking you young people will stop having these traditional weddings, but nope, they keep on going and going and going....maybe someday?

  10. My sister is getting married Sept. 24 and she called today saying the seamstress ruined the bridesmaids dresses and we have to completely go another route and find them locally. Talk about crazy!

    Stopping by from the I <3 Blogging hop.

    ~your newest follower


  11. Oh my gosh, I am so with you. So frustrating. I had a friend who decided to get married in Canada. A bunch of people had to get passports, there was only two months notice of the wedding so you either had to pay for your passport RIGHT THEN to get it in time or pay extra to get it rushed later. Then, you know, getting to the wedding destination, dressing, etc. It gets a little exhausting!

  12. As we (husband) planned our wedding, that was definitely something we tried to keep in mind. We tried to be as inexpensive for everyone else as we were trying to be for ourselves. We had a simple ceremony, the girls wore whatever the heck black dress they wanted, shoes were optional, we had the ceremony and reception in one place and absolutely nothing was extravgant about it.

    We still get compliments a year and half later about our simple and inexpensive wedding. I think it's all about selecting priorities. We are not rich by American standards and we didn't try to plan a wedding pretending that we are. We know that many people coming are also not rich. I sincerely hope that no one felt put out at all in being part of our day, but I agree with you. Weddings are such ridiculous hoopla today that most of the time, I don't even want to go.

    On a happier note, I LOVE those shoes!!! They are super awesome!!

  13. I guess it's one of those things you do for other people and maybe they do same for you when it is your turn. You just can't expect anything back. It is sad how much of a financial strain the wedding poses on people who are not even getting married. Lots to think about here.

    I am a new follower from the I Love Blogging Hop. If you have a chance, come see me at


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