Big (Bad) Day

My husband and I were having dinner with another young, married couple the other night and, as we’re still in the process of getting to know them, the conversation turned to weddings—how was yours, when was yours, etc. It didn’t take long after the initial few pleasantries, however, until the truer tales of our respective eventful days began to unfold. . . .

I’ve long since figured that wedding planning is stressful no matter who you are, no matter what your family’s like, no matter how much you spent (or didn’t spend) on the dress, the cake, the venue, the booze. The pressure of all that white, hopeful permanence—not to mention the misleading misnomer “the happiest day of your life”—somehow manages to bring out the worst in people.

Take our couple friend: They’ve been married for eight years, but the wounds of a wacky and hectic wedding were still fresh. An angry parent who threatened to not attend the wedding—within hours of the ceremony. A stubborn rabbi who changed the ceremony halfway through, to the chagrin and discomfort of the bride and groom. A torrential rainstorm within moments of exchanging “I do’s.”

Though some of this seems like the stuff of overblown rom-coms, it really does happen—even to the most prepared people. You discover that close friends are in fact not if they don’t take a plane flight to attend your wedding—even though the ticket had already been bought (true story). You discover that parents have more riding on the day than just your happiness—that in fact, the wedding says more about them and their ability to throw an amazing party and impress their friends than it does about your impending lifetime of wedded bliss.

So why do the demons come out to play on wedding days? If you take the amateur psychologist track, maybe it’s the maelstrom of emotions—loss, hope, giddiness, terror, sadness, unfamiliarity—or that big, six-letter word, CHANGE. But whatever the reason that bridesmaids get into cat fights, fathers puff up their chests, brides melt down, grooms go into hiding, “best men” forget to write their speeches until they’re halfway into the toast (another true story), the big question is this: Why can’t we all just get along?

Maybe it would help if we all stop calling it the bride and groom’s “Big Day” or “the best day of their lives.” Shouldn’t a wedding be just the beginning of what one hopes are many, many good days shared over a lifetime? And, more realistically, a good day among many that will be difficult, trying and at times just downright tiring?

I think we should start using a new phrase to wish a bride and groom good luck at their wedding. And I think it should start with, “So you made it through the ceremony. . . . Can I get you a drink?”

Want to share your crazy wedding story? Or have a cathartic chuckle at someone else’s wild and wooly day? Check out Something Awful for some hilarious, hair-raising tales.

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