by Kenneth B. Lourie
Thanks to the proliferation and integration of computers into the business world, and thanks to the marketing person who had the genius-stroke to solve a centuries-old problem (he must have once worked in the “Returns” department), the issue of what to buy the bride and groom and where to buy it has effectively been solved.
Selections(preferences)are made months in advance by the future Mr. and Mrs. and then registered via computer at the stores of their choosing. The names of those stores are then included in the envelope along with the actual wedding invitation.
This week I’d like to discuss the personal side of that pre-selection business, specifically as it involves the bride and groom. They must spend hours together making these selections, and they must be made before the invitations are mailed (duh), generally six weeks before the affair. And their choices are hardly arbitrary. When you see their very detailed list, you will realize that lots of thought - and presumably discussion and agreement - between future husband and wife, must have occurred. No decisions or descriptions are left unmade: Size, style, shape, color, model number, capa city, bells and whistles, etc., are all indicated. But I wonder, amid all the pre-wedding activity, how do the bride and groom find the time, and quite frankly the balance in their lives, to do all that shopping and selecting?
I mean, when you consider all the discussion involved to make all these choices and all the shared opinions and individual preferences expressed, the potential for disagreement on taste, usefulness, benefit, desirability and space even, combined with the inexplicable idiosyncrasies we all have, is enormous. And this ongoing selection is occurring simultaneously with the inevitable but typical problems/anxieties associated with a wedding - issues like religion, the ceremony, divorced and remarried parents, cost, travel itineraries and hotel reservations for out-of-town guests, alcohol, food, entertainment, music, flowers, seating arrangements, first-night and honeymoon accommodations, and of course, last but certainly not least, the bride’s wedding gown and the formal attire for the bridesmaids and groomsmen.
You wonder how any couple ever survives it. Now add to this already combustible mix of family, friends, finances and potential faux pas the requirement that the bride and groom must find the time to spend pressure-packed hours together (which they probably feel they don’t have) to plan their future - in the midst of their present - by pre-selecting hundreds of hoped-for gifts, everything from the mundane to the magnificent, at a variety of stores, some even nationwide, and you’re not simply asking for trouble, you’re begging for it. It has to be, to quote my mother, “too much for anybody’s nerves.”
When Dina and I got married in the last century, we didn’t pre-select or register anything (other than the hotel). If we had had to spend the countless hours together shopping - as today’s brides and grooms apparently do - necessary to decide on hundreds of gifts - the stress would have pressured us, severely. And given that Dina and I are so different, I can’t imagine how we would have agreed on A - Z then, when we rarely agree on A, B and C now.
I can appreciate the benefit of eliminating the guesswork that leads to the purchase of unwanted gifts. But it’s the bride and groom’s legwork that worries me. So to all those couples who have pre-selected and persevered, who have planned their wedding and participated in its preparation, go forth and multiply. The world needs more people like you. Have a long, healthy and prosperous life. You’ve earned it!
Lourie is a regionally syndicated columnist who resides in Burtonsville, MD.