A writer is like a dog. You live in an eternal present.
FEBRUARY 6, 2012 8:09PM

Dirty weddings, done dirt cheap

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The  average cost of a wedding is going up. An article in the Sydney Morning Herald ( reports that the average amount spent on a wedding these days in Australia is $35,000. And that, whereas in the past, parents of the couple would have paid for most of it, these days it’s the couple themselves who will foot the bill.

I’m horrified. And inspired to start a movement: Say no to the wedding industrial complex. Hm. That's hardly catchy. I have a better idea, I’ll start a business called ‘Generic Weddings'. Generic Weddings would be a business based on the fact that weddings, and in fact the whole notion of romance, is generic. It’s a narrative that we all intimately know. A Generic Wedding would feature a lot of flowers and a lot of white. Unless you opted for ‘Something different’ and then it would feature a lot of temporary tattoos and a lot of black. Guests would be requested, as a favour to the couple, to act all outrageous and/or outraged. It would have a cake – most definitely a cake, I very strong feelings about cakes – and the bridal couple would dance. Or not. If the couple chose ‘uptight wedding’ or ,rather, ‘tasteful’ they would raise a glass to one another, instead.

What makes me sad is that spending up big just as you're setting out is a recipe for disaster. To the woman who has a fantasy of what her wedding day is going to be like, I would say that the Prince Charming of your childhood fantasies now has a face and a name and it’s time to get real about the relationship as well. People – mainly people with something to sell - like to say to the bride ‘well it’s your day. You should have it how you want it to be.’ I couldn’t agree less. When you were single every day was your day. Now you’re getting married. It’s your relationship’s day. That means  you should make your relationship your number one priority in every decision about your wedding that you make. From how much it costs to how much time and stress and energy you’re going to pour into it. To the couple who want to stun and amaze their community with a stunning wedding, I would say do that by staying happily married for a long time.

The central fallacy of the wedding industrial complex is that you’re special. And that specialness should be expressed or reflected somehow in the myriad trivial details of your wedding. But the thing is, none of us are that special, we're pretty much like most other men and women in most ways. A lot of human experience is universal, and there’s a lot to be enjoyed and celebrated in that fact. To me a wedding, far from being a celebration of a couple’s uniqueness, is a celebration of a universal rite of passage in the human journey. And there’s a kind of simplicity and peace in accepting and honouring that.

I like being married and I think it’s beneficial for a couple, for any children they might have, and for the wider community for two people who love each other to make a commitment in front of their friends and family. I’m pleased, if somewhat amazed, that gay and lesbian couples want to join an institution that has been so smeared and trashed by straight people for centuries. It’s a sign, to me, of an essential goodness in the idea of marriage that its appeal and relevance endures.



 Just a simple white dress and bunch of flowers picked from the garden will do. The groom should wear something that he feels comfortable in ...

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Good ideas, though I doubt even the worldwide recession is going to stop everyone from going broke on outlandish weddings.
Thanks, Mary, and I think you're right.
It's great to hear someone say this stuff - I agree! I planned two weddings - the first one was cancelled as the fuss drove my partner and I crazy. The second wedding we planned was the one we actually followed through with. I still found it stressful, although I enjoyed myself on the day. Overall, I think I would have much rather purchased one of your generic weddings, if they were available. I love your line about surprising people by staying married! So true. A reason my husband and I stuck with fairly traditional marriage vows was to recognise that we were just one couple amongst millions (billions?) that go through this ceremony, and we wanted to say the same words that so many had said before us - I found this a great reminder that we were not special, and I also found it quite comforting. We said the generic vows, which makes me think we would have liked one of your generic weddings.
Dear Melita,
Thanks so much for sharing your experience. As your 'best woman' or matron of honour or whatever it was I was, I found your wedding to be beautiful and simple and moving. The food was incredible, as well. xx