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The Bride Wore Black
By Chris Colcord
Fort Wayne Reader
It's not unheard of for the newly betrothed to set a wedding date in the month of November — though late-fall weddings have never been traditional choices, November weddings have become surprisingly popular in the past decade. Nearly 7.9% of all American weddings take place during the month, making it the 7th most popular time — not as common as the summer dates, of course, but more popular than April or December "Holiday" weddings. (FYI, the traditional "June Bride" weddings are no longer the most popular — July has overtaken the top spot (11.1%), with August (10.4%) now second. June (10.1%) is third now, followed by September (9.1%), October (9.1%) and May, 8.6%)
Wedding professionals are somewhat surprised by the data and offer only hypotheses as to why couples are eschewing the perennially popular summer dates. The prominence of "destination" weddings account for some of the numbers — couples want to combine their ceremony with a quick vacation for the wedding party to warmer climes, usually Florida, but also Arizona, California, the Virgin Islands. Also, wedding planners have noticed that couples in the 21st century are more willing to buck tradition when it comes to planning their special day. They don't feel it's necessary to get locked into the usual June-July weekends and want the freedom to find a date that has particular resonance to their relationship.
I have another hypothesis that explains the November weddings and their sudden prominence, and it's a lot less complicated: scheduling a wedding during the "off-season" means that wedding guests won't have nearly as many excuses to bail out of attending the ceremony, which guarantees a higher turnout. And since modern American "mega-weddings" have become almost a tribute to narcissism, it's inevitable that couples would schedule a date that would all but ensure that the greatest number of eyes will be watching each and every second of every movement that the couple makes during the wedding celebration.
Which, by the way, isn't just limited to the Wedding Day itself. The Wedding Day is now a Wedding Week, or a Wedding Month. And, as any bridesmaid or groomsman will tell you, being a member of the wedding party is no tiny thing; it demands a lot more than just grabbing a dress or renting a tux. In addition to the wedding itself and the reception, there's the rehearsal dinner, the bridal shower, the bachelor and bachelorette parties, the brunches, the fittings, alterations, manicures, salon treatments, the gifts, etc. Instead of a brisk weekend celebration, members of the wedding party are now expected to put in some pretty grueling hours and shell out some pretty serious coin for the honor of being the girl who holds the bride's flowers or the guy who drags the ancient grandparents up the aisle. Accepting the request to be in someone's wedding always brings a flush of pride and affection, but later, when you tabulate the costs and the time and realize that you just dropped a cool grand that you don't really have and took off work three days early and spent endless hours getting bossed around and herded about and you remember that you actually had to pretend to have an opinion about seating arrangements and floral motifs. . . well, at that point you might wonder just how much of an honor it really was.
But I know, I know, it's a once in a lifetime event, right? (And yes, I'm just going to ignore that cynical voice in my head — and in yours — and leave the question unanswered.) Who wouldn't want to be there, to be a part of their friend's Special Day? But the problem is, it's not just her "Special Day" anymore, it's now like a combination Cinderella's Ball/Broadway Opening/Paris Fashion Week Runway Debut." And worse, it's become sort of accepted by all that the bride is allowed to act like a tyrant during the entire wedding week, because, you know, it's Her Day.
It's become that horrible thing where people start acting in a certain way not because they want to, but because that's what they think they're Supposed to Do. I wonder, in the midst of these excess-fests, if the bride and groom take an exhausted moment and wish to God that they had just kept it simple, or eloped. If maybe they should have focused a bit more on the impending marriage and less on their star turns.
I know you can't put a price on friendship, but man, if I were a Maid of Honor and expected to foot the bill for three bridal showers (this recently happened to a friend of mine), I might be tempted to come up with a figure: under $1000? Excellent, best friends forever! Over $1500? Jeez, we weren't "that" close. . . she never cleaned the bathroom in college, she dated that bartender once who she knew I had a crush on. . .
Why someone is having three bridal showers, by the way, is something I can't pretend to understand, but I was assured that it was deemed necessary: one in the girl's hometown, one in her college town, one in the city where she currently works. Apparently it was determined that without the three separate showers, there was a chance that someone the girl had once breathed on wouldn't be able to attend. And God knows you can't have that. Not on her Special Day.