Getting Married On The Cheap? Step Into My Parlor

Amanda Marcotte flagged this piece on “recession brides” on Twitter the other day. It does a nice job of explaining the compromises some couples have to make when they can’t afford to chump out $29,000 — the average price of a wedding these days.

As a pastor, I can tell you that it’s very true that prices get jacked up for weddings. Some of that is because nuptials are a damned nuisance, and trust me, Bridezilla does exist. But yes, some is due to garden variety greed.

A certain amount of the expense comes from social expectations, though. Everybody has an idea of what The Perfect Wedding looks like, and they’re often all too willing to inflict them on the happy couple. Then there’s those monstrous etiquette and how-to books brides get their hands on. They have all of these perfectly lovely and practically impossible notions for the big day. They also contain the most godawful sample services that read like they were scripted by the chaplains and bureaucrats at Disneyworld. Couples are sometimes surprised that I will not pronounce them “man and wife by the power vested in me by the State of ____.” I don’t allow patriotic color guards in the sanctuary, either, so there.

My own grandmother and grandfather of blessed memory got hitched in the minister’s parlor. This, I gather, was the religious equivalent of a visit to the JP back in the day. Two other couples got married the same day, and were treated to a little coffee and cake after the service.

Grandma and Grandpa couldn’t afford a church wedding with a proper reception. Those were more the exception than the rule in their community. But since they left the bulk of their family and friends behind when they emigrated from Denmark, I suspect the parlor service suited their needs just fine.

I keep wondering when the parlor wedding is going to come back into style. We have a serviceable living room here at Casa Pastor, and if you got on Mrs Pastor’s good side, she might even agree to hold your train.

The room’s not very big, though, so attendants and couples on-deck would have to wait in the dining room. Maybe Mom and Dad could sit on the stairs and watch the proceedings.

Better yet, we have a Wii hooked up to the television. I imagine there’s something like a “Wii Wedding” module out there with cheering Miis lining the pews. The bride could even toss her bouquet with the remote to a distributed network of maids via the internet. And then everyone could march right over to the virtual bowling alley and boogie the night away on Dance Dance Revolution.

I know this whole scheme sounds a bit harebrained. Hold a wedding reception in a bowling alley? We do it all the time in Wisconsin, no extra charge. You do however have to pay for the shoe rental. But in these hard economic times, everyone must make some sacrifices. I’d research Wii Vacation, if I were you. Come to think of it, you may want to consider carrying the bride over a virtual threshold and invest in Wii Fit. At the rate we’re going, that might be the only housing and health insurance you can afford.

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