Damn You, Greg Beherendt
Now, I read his first book because I thought he had a novel approach. Even though he co-wrote with a woman named Liz Tucillo, he got most - if not all - of the accolades. Wether that's because he broke some ancient boy-code by revealing the secrets of the male mind, or was just metrosexual enough to talk about it, I don't know. What I do know is that I was kind of perplexed that it seems to have taken a man to teach women what they should have gleaned through observation. (DISCLAIMER: I'm not getting all feminazi on y'all... I'm just taking a common sense approach to what I believe should be true)
I mean, Women observe all kinds of things. They know what the male wore on their first date (Dave wore his banjo jacket - and it was not nearly warm enough for the frigid temperatures of that November). Women know how her man likes his coffee (Dave likes his with just cream or milk). Women remember minute details of days men would rather forget (Like the night Dave asked permission to kiss me *on the lips*). Women, however, don't seem to know when a man is into us... They need Greg Behrendt to tell us.
So, Damn you, Greg Behrendt.
As a woman with a day job, I'll admit that until recently, I haven't seen more than a promo for the Greg Behrendt Show.... and wasn't really that interested in seeing a man pontificate to women about how we should conduct our relationships... In fact, I've been living my life Greg-free - until the other day, when Pennsylvania experienced a nasty, late-season winter storm... one that actually closed my office two hours early. After the grueling twenty minutes it took me to drive the two miles home (sheesh), I decided to sit on the couch and watch daytime TV.
With a click of the remote, I found Greg. He stood in front of an audience of all women. I thought "well, let's see what the hype is about." His guests were a young engaged couple. The woman wanted a grandiose wedding. Her fiance wanted as little fanfare as possible. The messy-haired Greg turned to his audience. In his smug, preacher-teacher-slash-motivational-speaker voice, he inquired, "How many of you think that a wedding is about the couple?"
The majority of the women in the studio audience raised their hands.
"Wrong," he said, "Weddings are a big dinner party for your friends and family. If you want the wedding to be about you, go to an island, and get married on the beach."
The audience gasped. I don't know why. If most women thought about the moment they lost control of their own weddings, they'd've slapped their observant foreheads and exclaimed, "By jove! My wedding was all about my mother... Or Mother-in-law... Or my ex-best friend the bridesmaid... or my father, who needed a party that his co-workers would be jealous of..."
My own sisters may have recalled their very own weddings - when Jill's mother-in-law overshadowed the entire reception by yelling "Where are the peanuts?!!!" at various intervals. I swear, that memory is the most vivid of the day. That woman had the most penetrating yowl in the history of sound.
My other sister often complained that HER mother-in-law simply HAD to have things she had no intention of doing at HER wedding - but caved to keep the family peace.
I cannot tell you how many times, in my 14 years of photographing weddings, how many family members took over - the mothers who were obnoxious - the fathers who tugged at me all night saying, "Take this photo..." "Take them right there." - How many bridesmaids failed at their duties - the friends who saved the day by taking charge - the temper tantrums, drunken relatives, and nervous children stole the spotlight from the couple. It's not always bad (especially when a ring bearer steals the flower girl's basket - because throwing petals on the ground sounds very much like a boy thing to do)... It's just the nature of weddings... And somehow, that audience needed Greggy to point this out to them.
In barely unrelated news, I'm getting married!
I've been engaged for a few months - but have been keeping it quiet because I had this nice little picture in my head of surprising the guests at my housewarming party with a spontaneous wedding. I liked the idea because... I have a few reasons:
1) After attending hundreds of weddings, the magic of the ceremony is utterly lost on me.
2) I'm a low-key girl. I don't like the spotlight (you'll just have to take my word for this)
3) My desire for a solid marriage overshadowed my dreams of a fantasy wedding.
4) I just bought a house. I don't have the will to allocate funds to a single day... I just don't...
A note to all of you brides out there - I would never tell a bride not to have the kind of wedding she (or her family) wanted. Honest. This is just for me. I don't really care to have a big wedding.
Ok. I also knew that if I sprung a surprise wedding on my family, they'd be so angry, I'd never be able to show my face at Christmas ever again. So I told them.
And then they freaked out anyway.
One by one, several of them called, asking for certain wedding elements I was neither thinking of nor planning on... One wanted a procession. One wanted to know who my bridesmaids were going to be. One wanted flowers. One told me I couldn't wear black...
My Dad was actually cute in his request. He said, "So if a Father is supposed to walk his daughter down the aisle, and a best man is supposed to stand next to the groom, then where do I stand?" I didn't have the heart to tell him that I wasn't really thinking in a linear aisle mode... My mom needed to know a date right away - so she could buy a dress. My sis-in-law told me she heard a rumor that I was getting married at the Justice of the Peace, and that wasn't very special - so could she do something for me? Then my sister told me I had to register for a shower... (Good heavens - I have no time to register for a shower right now!!! I'm packing my life away, I'm swamped at work, and trying to answer all of my family's questions.)
I don't want you to think I hate my family - I don't. I love them for wanting good things for me - I'm just feeling that - by wanting something very simple and non-complicated that I'm disappointing them.... in a major, catastrophic way.
So I gave up my surprise wedding plans.
Dave and I talked about it, and we're having a family-only ceremony in the new house. I have given in to the following familial demands:
- I'll bundle up some lilacs for a bouquet.
- I'll march down the rug runner in the living room and ask Dave's brother to play something wedding-ish.
- I'll have my friends Glenn and Pam perform the ceremony in a traditional way.
- I'll buy wedding bands (don't tell my family I purchased them on E-bay).
- I will serve a catered dinner, complete with cheesecake (that regardless of the fact I've already told my Mom I wanted one chocolate cheesecake for my sis-in-law and one raspberry chambord cheesecake, she's suggested the eclair cheesecake, so I will let her have the eclair cheesecake.)
- I will march through the living room with my Dad - who can then stand by Dave.
- I will give flowers to all the ladies.
- I will attend the shower (although I've made one concession - and asked my sister for a gift-card shower so I don't have to take the time this week to register) She may even do it the way I've asked.
I will do this for my family because I love them, respect them, and don't want to see them hurt. I will do this - because I understand - more now than ever - that weddings are about families. At the end of the day, I will do this because it's quite possible I have no other options...
I will then expect in return, that my family be as good to Dave as he's been to them - and to me (I know they will).
And then, after the wedding, when everyone's gone home, I will pour myself a glass of something alcoholic, and give a little, quiet toast: "To Greg Behrendt... because, dammit, he's right. He just is."