Vowing To Be Different

When my son and his wife were married five years ago, there was a moment in the planning stages where I realized their wedding day would be anything but “traditional”. Credit their beautiful outdoor venue (no church), the “mixed-up” wedding party (ladies aside the groom; men aside the bride), their Keds canvas sneakers (no formal shoes beneath the tuxes and dresses) or the trays of truffles after dinner (no wedding cake) – they found dozens of details to make their day unique and memorable. But given the most recent wedding trends, perhaps my son and his wife were more old-school than I thought.

Hindsight being what it is, my own wedding to my wife thirty-two years ago now seems downright formulaic.  We were married in a church, accompanied by an organist and harpist.  We exchanged rings and vows before a priest.  We lit a “unity candle” at the altar.  Our reception was in a hotel ballroom, with an open bar and live band.  Dinner was served, wedding cake was cut, and the only time the dancing stopped was to toss the bouquet and garter.  Our one and only off-script detail? We included a contemporary John Denver song in the ceremony (much to our priest’s dismay).  Otherwise ours was a carbon copy of just about every other wedding of the 1980’s.

I’m sure you have examples of just what makes weddings different these days.  Let me guess.  They’re no longer just outdoors; they’re now in backyards or in barns or at faraway “destinations”.  The ceremony is facilitated by an officiant (“basic online ordination package” – $29.99!)  The bride grooves down the aisle to something more like Metallica than Mendelssohn.  The vows – far removed from the dusty “to have and to hold” – could double as songs or poems.  The receptions take place in twinkly-lit tents.  The food is more likely “finger” than “buffet”.  The wedding cake has been replaced by a cupcake tower.

“Non-traditional” should be a non-surprise when it comes to modern-day weddings.  After all, the average age of today’s marrying couples is 29, which typically follows years of living together or even a purchased home.  Four of five couples who marry are millennials, and millennials are all about personalization.  Thus, 44% write their own vows, and only one in four have their ceremony in a religious institution.

Fido bears the rings?

Let’s dig deeper, shall we?  If you’re not convinced the traditional wedding has gone completely off the altar, check out the Chapel of the Flowers website (“Voted Best Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas!”), particularly their article, “New Wedding Traditions to Trade In for the Classics”.  Perhaps you and your future spouse will consider the following from their list of suggestions (not that I would):

  1. Rings – Skip the jewelry store and head for the tattoo parlor.  Your wedding band tat will never fall off and the ink will remain… “until death do you part”!  For that matter, your tattooist might also be an officiant, so you can have the whole shebang right there in the parlor.  I’m sure the biker dude in the next chair will be happy to witness the signing of your marriage certificate.
  2. Wedding Dress – Skip the white in favor of pastel hues or bright, tropical colors.  After all, the “innocence, purity, and light” of white may not be – ahem – the appropriate statement.
  3. Pocket the Phones – As in, ask guests to refrain from taking their own photos.  Really?  Is the Force with you or something?  Unless you hand out physical restraints as your guests walk through the doors, those phones will keep on a-clickin’.  Moving on…
  4. Smaller Wedding Parties – 1-3 family/friends at most.  This suggestion is either overlooked, ignored, or most likely mocked.  If anything, wedding parties seem to be getting bigger these days.  Moving on again…
  5. Gifts – Out with the wedding registry and in with “donations to a good cause”.  Say what?  I get that modern-day couples live together and already have most everything they need, but what about cash?  Clearly, money dances have fallen by the wayside.  Donations to good causes works for funerals but not for weddings.  Hard pass.
  6. Delayed Honeymoons – Don’t delay… I repeat, don’t delay.  I know several couples who never had a honeymoon because, well, “more important” things got in the way (i.e. real life).  I also know a couple who divorced before they even made it to their honeymoon.  Don’t delay.  Have some fun while you’re still carefree and unconditionally happy.

No matter how you feel about “new traditions” at weddings these days, there’s an underlying positive to be gleanedAt least we still have weddings.  The vows may raise your eyebrows.  The food and festivities may not be your particular glass of champagne.  But those details don’t really matter, do they?  At the end of the day, you still have two “I do’s” and one “I now pronounce you…”, sealed with a kiss.  You still have a marriage.

Some content sourced from the Wall Street Journal article, “They Solemnly Swear Their Wedding Will Ditch Tradition”. (8/6/19)

Tryst With a Twist

I’m leaving my wife for another woman. There, I said it.

I never thought it would come to this; I really didn’t. My wife and I have been together for thirty-one bliss-filled years – as smooth and as satisfying a marriage as one could hope for. And yet, tomorrow afternoon, I’ll catch a ride to the airport, kiss my beloved goodbye, and board a one-way flight to Las Vegas. All my worldly possessions stay behind, save for the overnight bag in my hand and the wad of cash in my pocket. When I get there, I’ll dress up, head over to one of the finer restaurants on the Strip and reunite with a woman over thirty years my junior. We’ll smile at each other and raise our glasses in anticipation. A new adventure will commence.

Now then, let’s shed a little more light on my tryst, shall we? Yes, I’m leaving my wife (but only for a day and half). Yes, I’m going to Sin City on a one-way ticket (but then I’ll turn around and drive back home the next day). And yes, I’m meeting up with a woman thirty years my junior. She also just happens to be my daughter.

Here’s the detail. After a year of living and working in Los Angeles, our youngest has decided to return to Colorado to give Denver a try (the “new adventure” I refer to above). The drive between those cities – if you’ve ever done it – is Las Vegas and a whole lot of nothing else. Imagine a twenty-hour jaunt in a lunar rover on the moon, only somewhere along the way you get thirty minutes in Disneyland. That’s LA to Denver: no people (at least, no sane ones) and a whole lot of cactus, dotted with a single oasis of slot machines and casino-hotels. Come to think of it, I’d wager big money the moon is more interesting than LA-Denver, especially the never-ending portion of the drive known as southern Utah.

Anyhoo, (to use a word from my daughter’s unique vocabulary), I’m sharing the Vegas-to-Denver drive with her – responsible father that I am – fully fourteen of the twenty hours it takes from Los Angeles. Somehow the idea of my daughter and her cat all alone in the desert doesn’t sit well with me.

The more I ponder this little adventure, the more I wonder if I shouldn’t be worried more about my time in Vegas. Think about it. I’ll show up at the hotel, and the front desk will undoubtedly eye my much-younger companion from head-to-toe. “Oh!”, I’ll say with a sheepish grin, “she’s my daughter.” Yeah, right pal, your ‘daughter’. When I arrive at the restaurant for dinner, the maitre d’ will say, “Sir, if you and your – uh – ‘niece’ will follow me, I’ll show you to your table.” Or let’s say I get my daughter to blow on the crap table dice for luck. Stink eyes all the way around. Hey big spender; who’s your prom date?

This is a no-win situation. Short of a blood test and a doctor’s proclamation, “Holy cow, they’re actually related!”, I’m destined to a jackpot’s worth of dirty-old-man looks in the next few days. At least I won’t be mistaken for a gigolo.

What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. Sorry, I beg to differ. I’ll be pleased as punch to share the intimate details of my time with my “other woman” in Sin City. Heck, maybe I’ll even make it my next blog post. We checked into the hotel. We went to dinner. Dropped a few quarters into the slots. Went to bed early so we’d be rested up for the long drive head. Riveting reading, huh?

Midwest Cookie Madness

I wonder how many modern-day brides still wear “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue” on their wedding day.  This time-honored gesture of good luck includes a nod to 1) continuity, 2) optimism for the future, 3) borrowed happiness, and 4) purity, love, and fidelity.  But some brides would rather not mess with the dress, understandably distracted by other wedding-day traditions.  Like 18,000 homemade cookies.

Thirty-one years ago, after my wife and I exchanged our rings, we sliced into an impressive three-tiered wedding cake at the reception; miniature bride and groom perched on the smallest layer at the top.  Per tradition we took that smallest layer home, stored in our freezer and shared on our one-year anniversary: a toast to continued good luck and prosperity.  Had we been raised in Ohio or Pennsylvania however; our guests might’ve been drawn to the cookie table instead.  So says a recent article in the Wall Street Journal.

Thousands of cookies at a wedding reception?  Sounds to me like the latest quirk of the my-wedding-is-more-memorable-than-yours game (besting cupcake towers and chocolate fountains).  On the contrary, cookie tables are almost as traditional as wedding cake, dating back several generations.  They are the reception obsession of some Italians, Catholics, Greeks, and Scandinavians.

Cookie tables are traditional in Ohio and Pennsylvania as well, and these communities take their baking seriously.  There’s even a Facebook page to exchange recipes, ideas and guidelines (see here).  Cookie tables may soon become a wedding reception norm from coast to coast.

Here’s a “taste” of cookie table guidelines.  Every item must be homemade by family members; or if purchased, only specially-ordered from your neighborhood bakery.  Cherished recipes (i.e. “lady locks” and “buckeyes”) must carry over from generation to generation, no matter how time-intensive the preparation.  Cookies must be as fresh as possible, leading to a flurry of baking in several houses days before the wedding (and lack of freezer space in those houses).  Even the layout of the table itself has rules; considering the number of cookie varieties and which varieties deserve prominent placement.  Finally, the table “reveal” must be decided: 1) Already on display as guests arrive?  2) Revealed by the bride and groom with a dramatic pull of a curtain?  3) Self-serve, or closely guarded by tuxedo-ed cookie stewards?

Cookie tables have one advertised – if not followed – rule-of-thumb.  The ratio of cookies to guests should be around 12:1. That number allows a guest to sample several cookies at the reception, and take several more home for later.  If I apply the 12:1 ratio to the 18,000-cookie wedding (a real-life example), there should have been 1,500 guests.  In fact, there were only 360.  According to the mother of the groom, “…my goal was to have a spectacular cookie table…”  I’m sure the guests thought it was spectacular, helping themselves to an average of 50 cookies each.

Competition plays a role with cookie tables, with the goal of “mine is better than yours”.  One example boasted of “…tens of thousands of cookies, filling nine banquet tables… six people worked for two days on the display”.  Another boasted of “reserved varieties, prepared especially for (and only for) family members of the bride and groom”.  Even the take-home boxes get a personal touch.  With all this attention to cookies, wedding cake – or any other dessert for that matter –  stands in the shadows (like the bride and groom themselves?)

When my son or daughter gets married, perhaps my family will extend the tradition to Colorado and prepare a cookie table.  With my baking skills, I’ll commit to an impressive 3:1 ratio, five different varieties (provided I’m allowed to use store-bought refrigerator dough), and guests will delight in a consistency I can only describe as week-old-but-slightly-burnt.  I guarantee it’ll be memorable.