Last week I celebrated my negative first wedding anniversary. Don’t be alarmed if you’re not familiar with this holiday –– Hallmark doesn’t even know about it, and people who know our wedding date could not figure out the significance of the day exactly one year before. If the first is your paper anniversary, then negative first couldn’t be much higher on the totem pole than dirt.
We celebrated anyway. My fiance, who has never in three-and-a-half years with me bought me flowers because he knows I just don’t care, presented me with a small bouquet and half bottle of our favorite champagne when I came home from work. We went out to dinner. It was nice, sort of: we were celebrating a holiday of our own invention, and I felt mildly ridiculous. Because here’s the thing about weddings: almost everything about them, from the biggest planning decisions to the smallest details, is over-hyped to an extreme.
And apart from my negative first anniversary, I –– the one who’s expected to turn into a manic bridezilla in the months leading up to the wedding –– am not the one creating the hype. Just by posting my engagement on Facebook and attending a bridal showcase, I opened myself up to massive quantities of directed advertising on Facebook, in my E-mail inbox – now with a folder labeled wedding/junk – and in sales calls that come straight to my cellphone.
One of the first calls I got was from a wedding planner who was positively convinced I could not pull off a wedding without her. I happened to be in the car with my parents and fiance talking about the wedding because, really, what else was there to talk about? We thought we were doing just fine without the planner. The planner disagreed, despite our brief conversation, which went something like this:
“Do you need help finding a ceremony venue?” “No, we have one.” “Well, how about a reception venue?” “No, that’s all set.” “Caterers? Florists?” “We have lists from our reception venue to choose from.” “Well, you know, having a planner can be very important in terms of, like, finding a band and stuff.” “Ok I’ll call you back if we decide we need a planner.” I hope she’s not holding her breath.
As it turns out, the planners are well aware that much of what they’re selling isn’t worth buying. One local planner admitted as much to a coworker, explaining that most of what they do is highly marked up just because the party is a wedding. And a lot, it seems, is just as easily done yourself.
But if I don’t need a wedding planner, I definitely need scented candles for each table at the reception. Who wouldn’t want the smell of apples, cinnamon, and wax to drown out the sizzling filet mignon odor? I haven’t given much thought to centerpieces, other than to rule out scented candles, but that hasn’t stopped one woman from sending me no fewer than six E-mails advertising her candle services. Among the E-mails were a frantic “LAST CHANCE for $5 tealights” and an invitation to connect on LinkedIn that I promptly marked as spam followed immediately by yet another “Centerpieces and Gifts for Your Wedding!” E-mail.
But the candle lady is losing in the E-mail tally to David’s Bridal, from which I have already purchased a dress. Nonetheless, I have received exactly 24 E-mails from them since then, announcing super-exciting sales on wedding dresses I am no longer in the market for and even more exciting sales on bridesmaids dresses that would be better directed toward the actual bridesmaids. But the best parts of these E-mails are the supposedly awesome savings they offer: for example, $50 off dresses that start at around $1,200 for a maximum discount of a whopping 4 percent.
At least the Mary Kay make-up consultant for whom I absent-mindedly filled out a survey while I was shopping for my dress was offering a service I didn’t already have set up. It seems that simply by virtue of having filled out that survey, I earned myself a free make-up party with a group of my friends. She called to tell me the good news while I was sitting at my kitchen table addressing engagement party invitations. It’s really important, she assured me. Getting your make-up right is one of the most important parts of your wedding day, and everybody usually has a lot of fun at the party. It sounded great for a group of 12-year-old girls. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I never wear make-up and will maybe be coerced into wearing a bare minimum for my wedding day. I told her I would call back on the off chance I could find a convenient day.
But maybe my favorite was a call that came in while I was at the bar at Winberies with my fiance discussing –– what else? –– our wedding. “Congratulations!” the woman said. “You won our drawing. You get your choice of prizes.” I couldn’t quite hear everything she said. Something about a stay at a resort or a discount on furniture. But she was quite clear in her explanation that all I had to do to claim this prize was show up that Wednesday at 7 p.m. at a showcase of the furniture she clearly wanted me to buy to outfit my non-existent new home.
She sounded shocked when I expressed my regrets that weeknights really didn’t work for me. This, after all, would probably be my only opportunity to pick up bigger ticket items I wouldn’t receive as gifts at a great discount.
Speaking of which, the only places involved in the wedding business that haven’t attacked my inbox with a zeal and urgency unmatched by me, my fiance, or any of our relatives and friends, are the stores we’re considering for our registry. Their response to our inquiries was at best lukewarm, even going so far as to discourage us from registering there by highlighting all of the negatives of their registration systems.
That’s probably OK. We seem to be generating enough excitement all by ourselves.