I don’t usually have any embarrassment about what I’m reading in public.  One notable exception was when I realized that I was reading The Position while in the waiting room at a pediatrician’s office.  Oops.  Fortunately all the patients were too young to read (or were too enthralled with Sponge Bob).

Since I started reading it, I’ve been quietly tucking One Perfect Day away in certain company and deftly hiding the title when on the subway. I carry it back cover out as I walk down the street.

 I feel so guilty about hating weddings.  

No one wants to be that asshole who rains on someone’s parade.  And not just any parade – a wedding is the biggest ticker-tape, socially acceptable,  self-congratulatory parade we have in our society. No other event (except perhaps the birth of a child) holds so much sway over everyone.   

Hating weddings is like hating baseball, babies, apple pie or the Bush Administration. Admit it and you’re sure to be on a list of dissenters somewhere.  You’re considered the worst kind of anti-American.  You’re dangerous and must be stopped.

I’m in two weddings this summer which brings the entire process way too close for comfort. My heart races and I feel claustrophobic in David’s Bridal (somewhere I hope never to go again); I pace like a caged animal, becoming increasingly white blind by all the tulle and chiffon.  I fidget in the bridal shop, laughing too loud at my inane jokes about my lack of femininity, which the proprietor finds decidedly unfunny. 

It took me several months to figure out that it’s not my lack of girliness that’s the problem (though it does add another dimension to the whole fiasco). I spent so many hours worrying, pondering, and wondering why I didn’t fit in that you’d think I was thirteen again. In the end of I figured out at least one thing – the problem is not that I’m not a girl.  It’s that I’m not a bride.   And never want to be one.   

Don’t be fooled, a bride is not just a girl in a pretty white dress.  She’s a creature all her own, created in our own image to act and behave the way we expect her to.

Thankfully One Perfect Day is the perfect antidote to the unavoidable wedding syndrome.  It examines the oftentimes diabolical, always shrewd and sometimes genius wedding industry, which is responsible for creating this bride creature that make some of us cringe.  And the author Mead, holds no punches about what American weddings say about America (suffice to say it’s not good).

That this book elicites a certain defensiveness is no surprise.  How dare anyone criticize one of the most sacred icons of our country?  But Mead strikes a good balance between exposing the yellow underbelly of the wedding industry without blaming or poking fun at what she obviously considers the hapless and victimized brides (a point sorely missed by the defensive and no doubt otherwise intelligent reviewer Jodi Kantor see article here).  That most people don’t enjoy their own weddings is a fact not lost no Mead.

Take for instance  one of the most idolized ‘traditions’ of weddings – the diamond engagement ring.  It’s become so commonplace it seems historical but it’s absolutely not.  The prevalence of diamond rings is solely the marketing genius of the DeBeers company (circa the 1930’s).  A Diamond is Forever.  Maybe it is, but it wasn’t always. 

Or another sanctified wedding tradition, the Apache wedding prayer (because plain old WASPY traditions aren’t enough for today’s weddings, despite the fact that practically none of us are American Indians).  If you’ve never heard it (which probably means you’ve never been to any wedding before read it here).  It’s not Apache, or Navajo.  It’s from a movie made in the 1950’s called Broken Arrow (starring Jimmy Stewart) based on a book called Blood Brothers

To use an appropriate metaphor, this book rips off the luxurious wedding dress (‘custom made’ exclusively for the bride on a factory floor in Taiwan, hand beaded by a worker paid 40 cents a day), and only to show the bride in her skivvies (though if this metaphor were more accurate, those skivvies would be worth hundreds of dollars, down to the obsolete and non functional garter).  The truth about American weddings is pretty embarrassing, though they are inarguably just plain pretty.  What American weddings say about America is what the rest of world already knows – that we are style without substance.  We sacrifice integrity for appearances. 

Thank you Ms. Mead, for assuaging my guilt and giving me badly needed validation. 

I do despair that Mead will not find her audience (there are likely few of us). However, I really appreciate that Barnes and Noble puts this book on a shelf in the wedding section. 

Because everyone should read this book.

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An unfortunate side effect of despising weddings is that you latch on to anyone, anyone who shares your opinion.  Thankfully not everyone is so quiet about it.  Even famous authors are willing to admit it in public read Meg Cabot’s article here.

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