A wedding is like porn in that it promises far more than it’s ever going to deliver; unlike porn, we witness this scene with our grandparents and our kids.
Some tongue-tied, giddy swain slumps to one knee and tugs a velveteen box from his pocket, and his sweetheart, who up to this very moment has quite liked him, is more acutely embarrassed than she ever thought humanly possible. She stares at the pitiful diamond. The engagement ring is the ugliest, gaudiest piece of jewelry most women will ever wear. It sets in motion the most stressful and tearful year of their lives.
Then you look at the clothes and you wonder why any human would want to appear dressed like that in front of a crowd of people, most of whom they’re going to have to see again.
She has to wear “The Dress.” The first bride to popularize white wedding dresses was Queen Victoria. She was a tiny, round, plain girl with a nose like a claw hammer and less chin than a terrapin. Charitably, the best thing you could say for her on her wedding day was that she looked like an ornamental toilet-tissue cover.
It’s universally said that all brides look beautiful. Every bride is told repeatedly that she is breathtaking, but white is an unforgiving un-color unless you’re a baby or a corpse. White is particularly bad on pale, pinkish people, but not quite as bad as on sprayed-orange people.
Wedding dresses are a collective blind spot, an aesthetic dead zone. We are brainwashed to believe that a wedding dress is magic, that it has the ability to transform everyone into a raging, shaggable piece of hot, virginal, must-have, never-been-had gorgeousness. But, like all fairy spells, it only works for one day.
In any other context, a wedding dress makes you look like a transvestite, which is presumably why the groom isn’t allowed to see it before it’s too late to change his mind.
How wonderful the bride looks in her dress isn’t the only lie told at weddings. The happy couple is wafted up the aisle in a fog, a cacophony of lies. There are lies about the in-laws, about gaining sons and daughters, and about not having slept with any of the bridesmaids.
We lie that we like the cake, we lie that the best man’s speech was funny, and we lie that this was the best wedding ever.
Viewed from the pews, weddings are theater produced by straight amateurs using their own money. The resulting spectacle is what a dog show would be like if it were organized by the dogs.