Columns Jan 23, 2013 at 4:00 am

Not Getting Married (By Me)


Hallelujah on the destination weddings! I truly do not understand this trend. (Unless, as Dan says, you pay to fly in everyone you want there.) How about using the destination to which you've always wanted an excuse to go for, oh, the honeymoon?

6 is very true. I still remember the wedding at which the groom realized the main tent was about to collapse in the torrential rain (the section where I was sitting just had). He grabbed the knife from the table with the cake, leapt onto another table, and stabbed the rapidly-filling canvas so the roof drained rather than collapsing. Damn good wedding. (Yes, they are still married more than a decade later.)

The only spot I disagree: I did not find 5 true at all. There's way too much to stress over the morning of the wedding: once it's happened (see 6) and there's nothing left to forget or mess up, things are great. (This does suppose you leave your reception as though there is something you'd like to do that evening besides hang out all night with 100 of your closest friends.) It had a "wow we're married now" glow--the happiness is the only part I clearly remember.
I would go one further than IPJ @2, and say that a couple shouldn't even assume they will have sex at all on the wedding day. There's too much stress, often too much to do, family and old friends all around, superstitions about not seeing each other, whatever. Afterwards, if they're not too exhausted, and as long as expectations of the quality are realistic, sure, but expecting great sex at the end of a long and busy, and perhaps highly emotional day/night might be a bit much. I'd suggest planning on a newlywed snuggle and being happy if more than that occurs.

But the next day should be a total fuckfest. And in between, eat the leftover wedding cake.
Well said Dan, so very good.

My personal opinion is that most weddings are witless. Not getting married mind, but weddings. I think it's a ghastly money grabbing industry where you are sold on this "fairy tale" nonsense.

A small intimate wedding with only your closest friends and family you LIKE is the way to go. Fuck the rest.

Back in the 80s when I was supposedly straight, I got married and we (by which I mean she) spent north of $20,000 of money we didn't have on this stupid wedding that didn't last. (Because she was a bitch incidentally, not because of the not-straight thing, which would have killed it eventually)

Chances are north of 50% that you are going to split up. Don't. Waste. Money.

Finally, Dan is SO right. Do NOT have a destination wedding. We have declined two so far in the last couple of years and it has strained friendships. I don't care. I don't see why we should spend thousands to watch you get married with a high chance of failure and then exchange three words at the reception.

Still, I am older than Dan (his real age) and have no gravitas, however, listen to this old fool young people. You CAN learn by other peoples' mistakes. Nothing kills a fairy tale quicker than starting life with unnecessary debt.
@2, that groom sounds like a superhero!
Re 4, the odds of success are slightly better than 50%, and higher than that if neither of you has ever been divorced.

Re: Spending Money on Your Wedding. If you're going to splurge, splurge on an open bar. Goes a long way towards everyone's happiness. Seriously.
I honestly can't remember, 20 years later, if we had sex on our wedding day. So don't sweat it. Enjoy all the family that you have the rare opportunity to see together. Honeymoons are for sex.
Yaay again, Dan, on another great column! Spot on advice for IAO.
IAO---congratulations and all the best!

@7: Spot on about providing an open bar! Cheers!!
I am as shocked as Mr Woodhouse could be that any self-respecting same-sexer would ever actually EAT wedding-cake.

Don't ask for money at all. People may choose to offer, and decide on the relative gains and losses then, but never ask.

When in doubt, cut - especially the guest list. And above all do not give in to pressure to invite unrepentant homophobes. Make them recant for the record, because it isn't just for the sake of one day.
"Fuck first" on your wedding day is possibly the most male advice I've ever heard Dan give. It took long enough that day to get my hair to cooperate; there's no way I was going to roll around all over it before the ceremony.
Well, I'll be back next week since this was a complete snore. Let's get back to something interesting, like hash smoking straight guys having sex with trans sex workers.
Our wedding was this huge casual summer event with a free bar, big buffet and giant cake. Everyone remember the day and though we didn't get to fuck on our wedding day, we have been happily married for 1½ years now.

To the happy couple I'd say to do what makes you happy. Though I agree with Dan on the destination wedding - if that's what makes you happy - you'd better pay for it yourself.
I'd scale back the definition of destination wedding from Spain and such to this:

If a guest has to stay in a hotel in order to be there, do not expect that guest to be me.
@13 I'd tell the happy couple to do what is affordable and makes the most number of people happy, while not making the bridal party especally *uhhapy.* Your day should as beautiful and wonderful and special and unique as you can afford without going into debt or taking charity. Fuck the night before, if possible, and then write the wedding day/evening off entirely. It's a day of stress and preparations, of clothes and hairdos that should stay looking intact until the whole party is over.And everyone wants a piece of the bridal couple. It's a public day/evening. Then comes the exhaustion.

The cool thing, and the thing to remember about getting married is that there will hereinafter be tons of opportunities to have sex; slow, loving, romantic, "honey-I-can't-believe-we're-really-married-now sex," wild, joyful, "we did it!" sex; hot, kinky "now you really belong to me, and this is what you will do, my slave" sex. You two have literally all the tine in the world to have precisely the kind of sex you want to have--at least while there are no kids . . .

Destination wedding? No. Elopement? He||s yes. We didn't surprise anyone by running off to get married--everyone knew we were getting married, and everyone knew when and where it would be. But we didn't expect (or, let's be honest, even want) guests. So instead of spending our budget on renting a venue, catering, a ridiculous wedding cake, dress, rehearsals, flowers and whatnot... we spent it on a wonderful and unforgettable honeymoon. When we came back, we had a reception for family and friends. Incidentally, family and friends also seemed pleased by this arrangement--they were not required to buy bridesmaid gowns or rent tuxes, and didn't have to sit through rehearsals. No one had to think up "toasts" or worry about oddly-outdated wedding rituals.
@16 has it right.

Also buy real estate.
Sensible advice about weddings, Dan, especially the one about not going into debt!

I also approve of your disdain for the destination wedding fad. I hope that passes into fad history as it should, although I'm pretty sure a lot of touristy places are to blame for the whole trend, and will fight tooth and nail to keep it going.

Personally, my husband and I had a common law marriage and were very happy for 21 years until his death. I like attending others' weddings, but still cringe at the idea of being the bride at one myself.

That said, I did not start out with all the matching, registered gift stuff that my formally-married family/friends got and divvied up during the divorces.
I disagree about not having wedding night sex. There's something extra special about getting it on while you are still wearing a tiara. It's a freakin' tiara, Dan!
@14 SifuMark I appreciate and understand the sentiment, I really do. I certainly don't want to burden family and friends unnecessarily in order to attend my wedding. But SOMEBODY is going to have to travel, because my family and his family live about seven hours apart by car. Not to mention that his mother is in another province entirely (24 hours or so of driving away).

It sucks and I'm sorry for it and I certainly won't be upset with anybody who can't manage to travel or get accommodation (we have some space to put people up, but not enough to accommodate everybody). But there's really nothing we can do to fix it.

We're aiming for a casual event, and we're spending most of the wedding budget on booze and food. I think that people mostly won't find it too odious to attend, if they can manage the travel aspect.

As for the "fuck first" advice, I don't think that can apply here so well, Dan! The time leading up to the ceremony and reception is almost guaranteed to be filled with planning and adjustments. No time to fuck until later, no energy to fuck afterward. Best just to save the fucking for the honeymoon.
In terms of wedding advice, for the love of God (or a reasonable facsimile thereof), do counseling. If you're not in a faith tradition that does it, get a counselor. Sitting down with a professional and going through what each of you expects from your life together is invaluable. A good counselor will ask for four or six sessions, and will take you through what sort of expectations your families of origin have given you. You'll also cover money, kids, family roles, careers, where to (or if) you'll settle down. It's a great way to find friction points and get them into the open before they become problems.

Any clergy worth their salt will require it, but if you're getting a wedding for hire they may not bother; and of course if you're going to the courthouse or justice of the peace (do we still have those?) counseling is well outside their brief. I know it sounds like a pain in the ass, but it's seriously worth it. Best money and time you'll spend on your wedding.
Destination wedding--depends on the destination. We're eventually going to get married, and would love to do it at a bed and breakfast along the California Coast where we've been going for years. OF COURSE we will pay to rent out the entire place.

Since it's a three hour drive from where we live, though, I'm a bit torn about offering people gas money. One part of me says yes, don't make people pay for anything. The other part says people might be insulted if I hand them each $30.
Do not have an open mic for toasts for whoever the hell wants to drone on and on. Vet your best man and maid of honor (or best men, maids of honor, whatever) toasts.
We had our wedding on the beach in Malibu, and brought the whole thing off for less than two grand. Big, lush, expensive weddings are ridiculous.
Spend the money necessary to provide your guests with excellent food and free alcohol, if you're going to offer them a meal at the reception. That's what the guests will remember ten years later, not what kind of party favors they took home afterwards.
I've never been a wedding person. My husband teased me that I missed out of the "bride gene". I wanted to do a destination wedding, with 8 people on a beach. That's it. (Incidentally I agree with your destination wedding opinion. If you want 50+ people to see you get married in Istanbul, you better be prepared to pay for it. I only wanted parents and his 2 brothers)

My (then) fiancé was the one who went wedding crazy and wanted the big huge thing. I'm sure it's because he grew up seeing HUGE catholic weddings. So a big wedding we did. It was important to him and his family. We did make it our own though, and didnt spend crazy money on it.

In the end I am glad that we did the big wedding, because his mother died only a few moths after that and it was wonderful to have that memory.
If you're doing a buffet sort of thing after the wedding--as opposed to a sit-down meal--have someone stash a plate of food for both of you so there's some left when you're done with all the congratulations and photos and such. Then when you realize just how fucking hungry you are--having barely eaten all day, and maybe even fucked at some point--you won't be picking over the last few sweaty chunks of cheese.
I've always thought that the bonus of a destination wedding is being able to keep the party small without making anyone feel left out, by making them decline instead of just not inviting them. I have a cousin who did just this. He and his wife went to Vegas to get married and told the family, we won't be upset about anyone who can't make it, but anyone who can is welcome. Then, a few months later, they had a larger party at home to celebrate with those who couldn't make it to the real deal.
We have a large family, so had they gotten married at home, it would have been really hard to have a small wedding without some feelings getting hurt, this solved the problem.
Some friends of ours chose to have a destination wedding specifically to make it so that certain people couldn't come without having to actually not invite them. I thought it was a brilliant idea - a small group of friends and close family took a vacation together and the asshole family members regretfully declined.

To Number 22, what about providing a bus from a central location? Also helps avoid drinking an driving.
Re: Fuck first, I've never married but I've been party to many and theday-of is generally more hectic than the ceremony or reception. I'd recommend taking a cue from the Jews and scheduling some alone-time while the guests enjoy cocktail hour. (Yes, this is a euphemism, and yes, this is when the marriage is traditionally consummated.)

Immediately following the ceremony, the bride and groom, now husband and wife, are escorted to a private room where they have an opportunity to spend a few moments in each other’s company (Yichud means alone-together). During this private time in the Yichud Room, they may not be disturbed. Seculsion in the Yichud room immediately following the Chupah is only practiced by Ashkenazim. Those Sephardic couples whose custom it is to be secluded in a Yichud room, generally do so after the reception.


To say nothing about the kind of drama that results from having the bad drunks at your wedding!
Having a destination wedding as a way to trim the guest list isn't brilliant. It's cowardly.
I'm another vote for keep the guest list low enough that you can afford to have an open bar. But @32 makes a good point to consider.

Think of the wedding as a big party, and plan accordingly. It's not the only party you'll give, and it's probably not the most important party in your friends' lives that year. If you don't have a receiving line, table hop to make sure you connect briefly with everyone who came.

Leave yourselves time the next morning to sleep in (aka fuck) before you head over to the brunch for the out-of-town guests leaving that day. If you end up missing the brunch, everyone will understand.
Confidential to @19: you can still wear the tiara the next day, at least until 2pm. Really!
@33, I think it depends on your reason for doing so. If it's because there are people you don't want to invite, but feel like you have to, then, yes, it's cowardly.

For reference, my parents' wedding had about 400 guests. Not all of those are still alive, but most likely, there have been 2 births for each family member that has passed away. What if I would like all 400 of those people to be at my wedding (honestly, I don't know if I ever even WANT to get married, but that's besides the point), but would like to have a smaller wedding at the same time?
If people count themselves out, you can invite all the people you'd like, knowing that many will decline, leaving it up to them.
There are plenty of people in my family that wouldn't be invited just because I wouldn't want them there. And if they were offended, oh well.
First off, I think the point of many destination weddings is to prune the guest list while still being able to say "Hey, I sent you an invite to my wedding!"

Also, the fuck first thing is OMG best advice ever. Which I unfortunately did not take, so we had to settle for the day after.
All Best Men and Maids/ Matrons of Honor should follow Chicago Fan @23's advice and keep their toats SHORT. Also, don't try to be funny - humilating the bride or groom on their wedding day isn't going to amuse anyone but you.

The best wedding toast I have ever heard was "May the best days in your past be the worst days in your future. I love you both." That was the entire speech! Everyone remembered it, not the long rambling 'funny' speech given by the best man.
I had a destination wedding and wouldn't have done it any other way. I didn't EXPECT people to come, nor did I expect gifts from the people who came. It was just a great way for a few of our closest friends to have an excuse for a vacation and relax together. What's unreasonable, is being expected to invite everyone and their dog to a local wedding. THAT, I could not afford.
Regarding the last point, as a straight unmarried woman I'm finding the lesbians' embracing of the word 'wife' to be very liberating. It's a word I've had Issues with due to it's alternate meaning of. 'person in the relationship who can be beheaded for suspected misuse of their own sex organs' but seeing my cousin and her wife make it their own and in doing so expanding the meaning of the word has taken some of the sting out of it for me.
I love destination weddings. Makes it really easy to decline the invitation!
Regarding destination weddings...what if there really is no central location for your guests? What if your friends and family are spread out all over the place? It's almost guaranteed in that case that your wedding will be a destination wedding for most guests. Sometimes people can't avoid having destination weddings.

So basically, I don't think destination weddings are a no-no. BUT I do think it's unfair to expect gifts if you have a destination wedding, especially if it's in a pricier location. Their presence is your present.
"As same-sex couples, you get to make up the rules. You get to write your own sexual and social contract, and your ceremony can reflect that."

The same actually holds true for opposite-sex couples as well. You can use the script society hands you, or you can use your own.
"Fuck first" made me laugh. Maybe if you already live together and don't have family/friends coming from out of town who want to spend as much time with you as possible, and you don't have any preparations left to do the morning of the wedding. Otherwise, what are you going to manage except (at most) a hurried screw before the next person comes looking for you or the next thing has to be done? That doesn't sound like much fun. "Quick, Aunt Bertha's going to look in this closet next, I can hear her coming!" (OK, I recognize there are those for whom that's the perfect set-up...)

But I don't think it matters either. There's no reason any couple should have major angst about Oh God We Didn't Make Love On Our Wedding Night We Are Horrible People And Our Marriage Is Doomed - Doomed, I Tell You! My feet were so sore when we finally got to bed, I sat there for ten minutes before I could make myself walk five steps to the bathroom even though my bladder was about to burst. We had some very joyful cuddling, fell asleep in each other's arms, then made up for lost time in the morning. And our marriage has - somehow - survived that awful trauma for almost eight years.

Go into your wedding day with the attitude that you are going to have a wonderful day, no matter what. You're there to make a commitment to the person you love in front of other people you love. Anything else is unimportant. If you're going to either forget about it or laugh about it in ten years (or five or one) anyway, why not forget it or laugh about it now?
I can say that I happily followed rule #5 (fuck first) on our wedding day. As someone who rarely has the energy for sex at the end of a regular day, I knew I wouldn't have it at the end of our wedding day. So we switched it to the first thing.

Folks, it was amazing. We had some of the most intense and connected sex that we have ever had. It wasn't about consummating the relationship, but rather about knowing that this was, finally, our day where we were committing ourselves to each other. It changed everything.

Seriously, folks, even if you can't bring yourself to forgo post-wedding sex, at least let me beg you to add pre-wedding sex. It was awesome.
My best advice is to plan the marriage not the wedding. The wedding is a single day, a ceremony, a show of a commitment. But the marriage is the part that matters. I didn't have a wedding. We couldn't afford it and our families couldn't agree on what would be acceptable(we come from different faiths but are both atheists). So we said screw it and had a friend who was a wedding celebrant sign the papers and we called it a day. I think we might have gone out to dinner, but I don't even remember that part.
11 years later, we've outlasted a lot of marriages that started after ours. We've been through highs and lows and a lot of utter garbage that was thrown at us. I don't mind not having had a wedding one single bit. So what I never got to be princess for a day.
It's really weird how many people are claiming that their family and friends exactly divide into:
a) People who can and will pay thousands of dollars to travel to destination while using up their limited vacation time and money on a trip someone else chose and set the price point for AND are the only people they would want to invite
b) People who cannot afford the destination or will not give up all their vacation time and budget on a place they would never have chosen to vacation AND are the people they wouldn't want at the wedding.

Have a small wedding with the first group in attendance. If you want to take a vacation with your parents, or your four closest friends, just do that! Rather than relying on a perfect convergence of acceptances and refusals. Of course, the other vacationers then get some say in it, rather than feeling obligated to go along with everything the people providing the "excuse" want to do, no matter how extravagant.

My husband and I didn't get to fuck at all on our wedding day. Way too much stress. In the end it didn't matter. We had plenty of time on the honeymoon and ended up bringing back a souvenir of all that fucking. Our first child is due exactly 9 months after our wedding.

Everything you said was perfect.
@34 makes a good point: Your wedding is probably not the highlight of your friends' year.

@43: Get married in one spot, then over the first year you're married do visits to the other spots at which you have a party. This party could be anything from you or your parents throwing a big sit down dinner to setting up a potluck in the park or night at a bar. This worked for friends of mine with bride's family from England, groom's family from California, and most of their current friends on the East Coast.

If they had announced "We always wanted to spend two weeks in Thailand, and now we have an excuse!" and then invited everyone they knew, hoping the icky people would realize they didn't really mean them and the true friends would not get some sort of uncaring "but I don't have $4000" hang-up, it would have been quite different.
My two favorite weddings were my eldest sister's and mine.

When my sister got married she was living in CA and pretty much everyone else in the family was in NY. She got married in a quick, civil ceremony, but a few months later they came out to NY and at pretty much the last minute decided to have a wedding that the whole family could attend.

My mother arranged everything in three weeks. It was around Christmas and they were able to get a banquet room in a local lodge, just pay for the buffet, and hired a college kid who was just starting out as a DJ on the cheap. The whole place was already decorated for Christmas with lights and poinsettias all over the place so flowers weren't an issue.

My sister wore my mother's wedding dress, the wedding was at my mother's church.

It was cheap, low key, and lots of fun. One of the best weddings ever, and it didn't cost a lot and took only 3 weeks to arrange.

My own was even more low key. We decided to marry during that window of time when it was legal in CA, where I now live. Most of the family are still in NY so I arranged it when a few aunts and uncles and my mother were all going to be in town for a conference anyway.

It was them, and a few close friends. Ceremony conducted at city hall in the afternoon during a weekday. I actually went to work in the morning, changed into my tux in the bathroom and snuck out without too many people noticing and asking why I was dressed up (and as a part time musician I already have a tux so no rental fee).

Got married in San Francisco City hall in the rotunda under the dome at the top of the main stairs. I had some family, close friends, and a bunch of total strangers watch and cheer. The Judge performing the ceremony was the nicest woman. Although she had probably read the ceremony hundreds of times when she did it for us it wasn't rote. She was very attentive to everything she said and was not just reciting but speaking to us and the people with us. She was clearly genuinely happy for us.

Later on I took everyone out to our favorite fancy restaurant for dinner.

We had a great day, got married without any drama, and the cost was in the hundreds rather than the thousands.

The moral of the story is that you don't have to go into debt, inconvenience everyone else, or act like a diva to have a great wedding. Low key and laid back makes for a much better time for everyone involved.
So what are you supposed to do if you live on opposite ends of the country? We live near his parents and family, my family lives over 2,000 miles away. Isn't it kind of a destination wedding either way? Either my family has to travel here, or his family has to travel there, not a win-win in either case.
Jesus did this comment thread have to become everyone sharing their wedding stories? News flash, if I don't know you, I don't give a shit about your wedding. Isn't that essentially what Dan was saying in #1?
When I got married the second time, I wanted a big party without the wedding crap. I highly recommend it. I had the stuff that is important to me - food, drink, music, family and friends - and no hassles.

I also totally agree with Chicago Fan #23 to control the toasts. I wonder if Chicago Fan was at my first wedding in 1988. Totally random people got hold of the mic and proceeded to bore and confuse everyone. It was a disaster. Don't do it. If you can't be sure, skip toasts altogether.
I heartily disagree with #5. The act of commitment that is so integral to a wedding brings a heady intimacy that's unlike anything else; bringing that into the bedroom right after is a special experience not to be missed.

And when you see your about-to-be-spouse coming down aisle (or however your big reveal is set up) you want lust to be right up in your face along with fear, exposure, love, trust, and that feeling you get before jumping off the high dive. But satiation is no fun in that spot.

Besides, ain't there a little room in your big day for the antici...pation!
@53, bitter much?

And no, that's not what Dan was saying. He was saying he had no interest in attending the wedding of someone he didn't know. He didn't say he never wanted to hear about other peoples' weddings.

It would be odd if he did, since he wrote an entire (very entertaining) book about his own (1st) wedding. Clearly he has no issue talking about weddings with people. He just doesn't want to actually go to them if he doesn't know you.

If you don't like the discussion skip the thread.
We're planning a destination wedding, and it never dawned on me to think that expecting our immediate family be willing to travel to our wedding was rude. Don't a lot of parents still pay for some or all of the wedding for their kids? We are paying for everything ourselves except travel expenses for the family, and if my parents couldn't be bothered to go someplace outside the town in which they live to attend my wedding, I'd be pretty offended. Like what @43 mentioned, none of our family lives where we live. None of them live in the same place as each other. Regardless of where we had it, it'd be a destination for all or nearly all of our immediate family. It actually seemed more fair to have it at a neutral location where everyone has to travel as opposed to bringing the entire wedding to one family member and making all the others travel. We're not going to do a traveling road show and have weddings all over the country so that no one has to be inconvenienced. If we had a big wedding where we live and invited friends, our entire family would have to travel (as well as friends). If we only invite family and have it at a "destination," our entire family has to travel. Given that the entire family is traveling regardless, what is wrong with having it someplace fun? (We're going one state over, not to Tahiti.) This is immediate family only - about 6 people. We do not want gifts from anyone, attending or not. I would imagine situations like this are increasingly common as families continue to spread out. To us, a destination wedding is essentially an elopement where we're inviting those who would be upset about not being allowed to come the opportunity to join us. It was the most practical option for us and it never even crossed my mind that it could be seen negatively!
Destination weddings can be fine; it's the attitudes and expectations of the people getting married that make it blah for the invitees or not.

In my case, I didn't want to have to deal with the stress of planning a wedding and finishing off my work term for the end of my degree. My now-husband was a willing and equal partner in deciding on the wedding stuff, but I didn't want to foist the planning all on him, which is what would have happened without a destination wedding. And we both wanted something fancier than a local justice of the peace. Choosing a hotel and a wedding package in a location so agreeable was much easier for us, and it was nice to get away.

My husband's immediate family who live halfway across Canada from us all wanted to be there for the ceremony, were willing to travel anyway, and all love Las Vegas. My immediate family was in our province and really liked the idea of going to Las Vegas. It was a great, fun, and relaxing time for everyone. Quite a few of our guests actually made a larger trip out of this by also visiting the Grand Canyon or California.

We certainly didn't expect our family and friends to go if they didn't want to or couldn't go, and we didn't expect gifts. We were gratified that so many people wanted to and were able to go. We weren't put out at some of our friends not being able to or wanting to go, but we enjoyed nice dinners with them after the wedding.
We fucked first on our wedding day, and it's the advice I've given all my soon to be married friends, and we gave up on sweating any details because it was in NYC the day after hurricane Sandy cleared. (All the details were totally screwed, but we still got married, and some of the people invited still got to come, so it all worked out in our book.)
@52: It's not a "destination" wedding if any one of the guests would have to fly to attend. It's a destination wedding if everyone does. The former sort, where you get married near where the two of you live now and family and old friends fly in from all over, is more flexible for them: they can just take the weekend, they can choose where to stay. The latter is where you decide everyone needs to be able to get substantial time off--hey, it's got to be worth it for flying eight time zones away, right?--and will stay at the designated romantic resort, taking part in designated once-in-a-lifetime recreational fun or be labeled a cheapskate party pooper, etc.

The solution to family on two coasts is not to make everyone fly to a castle in Spain on their own dime.
Dan's missing the point on destination weddings. You don't have one to force guests to attend: You have one as a filter to keep out all the guests you have to invite but don't want to attend. ;)
Do not have a destination wedding.

I disagree. If you and your friends are all young and broke, a destination wedding is probably a bad call.

Otherwise, destination weddings rule!

I went to a fabulous gay wedding in Palm Springs almost exactly a year ago. It was the first vacation my wife and I ever took without the kids, and it was a blast. Most of the guests were middle-aged and gainfully employed. Those strapped for funds used frequent flyer miles and shared hotel rooms to keep costs down. We were all in a resort together, so different groups got to hang out and get to know each other. The number of guests was around 50, which felt both festive and intimate. Best wedding ever!

@62: Yes!
Dan is now giving advice on weddings. Gag.
I'm never reading this column again. :-)
Totally love @16's idea of a not-hidden elopement followed by a nice reception at home.

Also, agree with @21 one hundred percent. Pre-marital counseling is so important. Doesn't matter what your sexual orientation or religion or anything is, or how long you've lived together, or anything else. People have different expectations about what it means to be married and how that changes the relationship. Which is fine, as long as you're both on the same page -- which is the whole purpose of pre-marital counseling in the first place. It's not about telling the couple "Person X" believes/wants/assumes this and "Person Y" believes/wants/assumes this other thing, and then figuring out in advance how to come together on any differences.
We didn't have an open bar. We didn't have a bar at all. About 1/4 of the guests were underage, 1/4 were in recovery (or just didn't drink), and 1/4 should have been in recovery, but weren't. When we figured out how much it would cost to set up an open bar just to take care of the remainder, we decided to serve tea and ice water instead.

We were in a second floor ball room. The hotel had a bar on the first floor. We figured that the people who felt like they had to have a drink for the night to be complete would just go downstairs. They did. Nobody complained (to our faces, anyway), and I'd do it the same way all over again.

One excuse for the destination wedding: a compromise location when the families of each prospective spouse live on different continents. Then it's fair to ask them both to travel. My (east coast American) cousin married an Aussie in Hawaii. I think that was as reasonable a compromise as could be had. Course, it didn't much get my nose out of joint since I was living in CA at the time. But not all family members on both sides were willing/able to make it.
"As same-sex couples, you get to make up the rules. You get to write your own sexual and social contract, and your ceremony can reflect that."

And so can heterosexuals, as my husband and I did.
I was also not "given away" as I didn't and don't "belong" to anyone. We were together the whole day before and after the ceremony, as I was not a mail order bride fearful of him running away when he saw me.
No fluffy white dress either, but I see that as more a personal preference thing.
@16 & @17: Spot on!!
@56: I LOVE your Bugs Bunny icon!!
@19: Hold onto the dress and tiara, you'll want them for role playing "wedding night" in the future.
Just one comment on destination weddings as a gay couple. Living in the South, my husband and I had no choice but to choose one of the open-minded states that allows us to marry, forcing us into a destination wedding. We chose NY, where we met and lived for many years, but it meant that several important people in our lives had to travel to NYC with us. The airlines and NYC hotels made out, but we and our party paid much more than we would have liked. And of course, our backward state of North Carolina didn't benefit a penny from our wedding. Huh.
I loved what the Very Rev. Gary Hall told NPR about his decision to open Washington National Cathedral to same-sex weddings: "One of the things I think that same-sex marriage has to teach straight people is about the possibility of a totally equal and mutual relationship," Reverend Hall said. "Handing the bride over to the groom: The vows in the prayer book, up until 1928, were love, honor, and obey for the woman. As much as we've tried to revise our marriage service to make everything equal and mutual, it still has with it some connotations and vestiges of premodern ways of understanding male-female relationships. I think one of the ways in which gay and lesbian couples really can teach something to straight couples is the way in which they hold up the possibility of an absolute equality and mutuality in marriage."

I think this is what scares the shit out of religious fundamentalists.

The fundies continually insist that gay marriage will somehow ruin straight marriages. This makes no sense-- it's not like straight people will stop getting married if gay people can wed, or that straight couples will suddenly divorce. And when pressed about it, they give evasive and duplicitous responses on how same-sex marriage could possibly be damaging.

If approached socially, fundies will ask same-sex couples strange questions, like "who's the wife" or "which one wears the pants." That's because fundamentalists treat women as second-class citizens who are supposed to submit to the leadership of their husbands. To them, marriage inherently has two roles: the dominant "husband" role and the submissive "wife" role, and those roles are "naturally" to be filled by men and women, respectively.

That's why same-sex marriage terrifies them: because it provides a model without gender roles and thus permits equality between the spouses. That's why same-sex marriage is a "threat" to their version of straight marriage-- because for them, marriage is an inherently unequal institution as created by God Himself. And heaven forbid women learn that they don't need to put up with that shit.
On a similar note to the destination wedding... Don't have your wedding on a three day weekend, thinking you are doing your guests a favor somehow. Weddings, no matter who is getting married, are in part an obligation. You have to wear stockings and/or a tie. Most people have fun and casual traditions for Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Labor Day and will feel bitter that they need to hand their day off over to celebrate you instead. I am missing an annual Mexican camping trip with a group of friends on Memorial Day to be at my best friend's daughter's wedding... so thrilled for the bride but bummed I had to choose.
I am an ignorant, illiterate foreinger and I'd be really interested if someone could explain to me the concept of getting ordained online and being able to marry others. Yes, I know it exists (I've seen Homer do it, at least) but I'd like some clarificationes. Maybe a link. Ordained as WHAT??? and in which religion? And is it legal? No civil ceremony, no one checking if the groom has a weapon to his kidneys or the bride is a trigamist? Just wondering
1. OK to marry young.

In other columns Dan has said don't partner/marry in your early 20s.

Disagree. Still going strong after 2 decades and partnered young, if you meet "the one" early don't give up.

2. Live together 2 years before making partnering/marrying type commitments -- enough for the surge of passion to wear off, and to realize if this is someone you want to spend lots of years with.

3. Don't immediately unpartner/divorce when one or both of you change, cheats, disappoints, etc.

It's OK to end a marriage/civil union, that's not failure, but people can and do grow over significant obstacles. Even if you have what appears to relationship ending issues, wait a bit and see if it works out in a year.

4. Do wait 5 to 10 years before having/adopting kids.

You'll still be able to have them, and 10 years in a relationship feels a lot more mature & different than at 2 yrs or even 5 years.

Some young same-sex couples and most other-sex couples really seem to rush into the kid thing way too soon. All the parents I know who waited till they were 30ish or 40ish before becoming parents are just fine, a bit less physical energy than 20-ish parents -- but way more money and emotional maturity for their kids. And you might find you never want them and are just fine joining the ranks of couples who are happily child free.
I would like to point out early ceremonies as an advantage to having sex on your wedding night, I think ours was around 2 or 3 pm and the party was done by 7 or 8. We were sleeping at the venue, so we got to chill in their hot tub, watch a movie, have a snack and have sex all at our own pace. Very low stress imho.
To add to my @76, number 5: Consider a $0 zero cost wedding / civil union / etc. Just you, your beloved, and whatever govt. official is needed to sign the paper. Then a party with friends & family, or multiple mini-celebrations with family. Back when I was poor and young this was the only option and it worked out OK.
@75: Ordained as a clergyperson of a made-up religion that exists to ordain friends of a couple. Often done when the couple have no religious affiliation and would prefer a ceremony led by someone who actually knows and likes them, just like a eulogy from someone who actually knew and liked the deceased is often a lot nicer than one by a chaplain who never met him or her and is going off notes.

It is legal, though I've never heard of any legal privileges (like clergy confidentiality? hospital visits?) attending to online ordination other than performing a marriage. Ensuring that the groom doesn't have a gun to the kidney and such is done by the person issuing marriage certificates.
Some major complaints about the survey Dan suggests we take -- hard to believe "serious researchers" have made these mistakes. Hope the researchers are reading and anyone else who does a survey, so I'm going to post gripes here.

Survey asks if mother / father is aware of sexual orientation. What about people who had same-sex parents, uncles / aunties, single parent, dead parent(s)? Survey uses the more appropriate "parental role" in Part III but not up front in Part I.

* Survey asks if respondent lives in rural or urban area -- um, how is that defined? And what about those of us who (pro-taxation apologies to the 99%) have a city residence and a country place?

* Survey asks if respondent disagrees with "It’s not difficult for me to get close to others". Survey design 101 -- avoid negatives in questions, creates a double-negative when respondent evaluates "disagree" with "is not" and a triple negative when the modifier to "is not" is itself a negative (difficult).

Respondent head explodes.

Could be rewritten as "It's difficult for me to get close to others" and if you need to check reliability, ask the opposite for the repeat: "It's easy for me to get close to others" then reverse-score the answer.

Lastly, I spent 30 min. of my life, the least you could do is make it easy for me to get a copy of the results when they come out by optionally letting respondents put in email address just for results without having to write & ask or get bombarded with more surveys. Dan: please have one of your science experts take a look at a survey for design feedback before you put the link out for the entire world in your syndicated column.
Re 76: "All the parents I know who waited till they were 30ish or 40ish before becoming parents are just fine."

I did wait almost five years to have my first child, but I married when I was 22. Having gotten pregnant effortlessly in my mid-20s and only with extreme difficulty and years of trying thereafter, I would not wave any "you know, people close to 40 get pregnant just fine" over people in their early 30s who just married.

Biology is unfair this way. But it's not like you can negotiate with it to get with a modern program of delayed marriage and financial stability.
Without reading through the previous comments, here is my advice for the engaged couples:

1. Remember you are not just choosing your wedding date, but also your anniversary dates. Do you really want to be stuck "having to" celebrate your anniversary on a holiday, or make your loved ones choose between your celebration and many other possible events?

2. If you can't or won't fuck first, fuck in the morning. (Seriously, we were so tired, we fell asleep right in the middle trying to do it that night!) It can wait, really. If you are traveling very far to your honeymoon destination, sex may have to wait anyway.

Hope someone finds this helpful.

"Fuck first" means "Fuck first"

As in: before you do your hair.

I actually rock the bedhead myself for this very reason - no one can tell when I have sex hair :)

Um, hi, this is my friend google, I don't think you two have met…
A friend of mine doing a post doc in social science and public health decided to get pregnant at 29 because of that very graph. (It took 2 months; the second pregnancy in her 30s took a couple of years and fertility drugs.)
In my wedding celebration, there was a room with a mattress on the floor, candles around, and a TV running porn DVDs. I didn't go that night to that room, but I was later told several people had sex there that night. We organized it in an abandoned factory that belonged to a friend's family, so there were a lot of different spaces. Most of it was outside in the huge garden. There were several fires, and a stage with live music (a friend's jazz band), and a bar with a topless, sexy barwoman, and a lot of other stuff going on.

This took place in my country, in South America. Two days later, I took a plane to the US. Actually, that was the reason why we got married. Let me explain.

I met this guy (my future husband) one December night (summer in my country) and we fucked that night (a threesome with the female common friend who introduced us). We liked each other a lot, so we spent the following weekend together, in the beach. Three days later, I was in a bus to the Amazon region - I had bought my ticket before meeting him and, despite I was crazy about him already, my feminist thoughts prevailed and I didn't allow myself to cancel or postpone a trip because of a guy I had just met. A week later, I wrote to him from a small town in Colombia. The email said I was thinking about him all the time and that he was welcome to join me in my trip. He arrived 2 days later and we traveled together for a month.

Back at my office, my boss told me I was being transferred to Washington DC. I called my new boyfriend: "we need to talk." He thought I was pregnant and came immediately in his Vespa. "I am being transfered and have to leave as soon as possible," I said; "that's wonderful news, congratulations," he reacted enthusiastically, "do you want to come with me?" I asked, "sure," he answered. We went in his Vespa to the US Embassy to ask about his visa. "No visas for fiancés or boyfriends, only husbands." Back on the Vespa, driving, we talked loudly, over the traffic noise: "So what do we do?" "I don't know, maybe get married, right?" "What do we need to do to get married?" "I don't know, let's go to the Civil Registry and find out" He drove the Vespa to the Registry: "You need your Government IDs and two witnesses to register to get married." Each of us called a friend, the friends came, and we registered. They gave us an appointment for the following month.

We got married 11 years and a half ago. We are still in love, and still fuck like crazy.
I guess the kind of wedding you are having dictates whether or not you are in a position to fuck first. In my case, I was 23, and the wedding was the kind with the poofy white dress. There were close to 200 guests, many of whom had flown in from out of town, so the days before were full of parties. My fiance and I lived in a different town several hundred miles from where the wedding took place, which was in my home town. Both of us were staying at our respective parents' houses the night before the wedding. Though the ceremony was called for 5:00, the earlier part of the day was spent in getting last minute details ready, visiting with great aunts and uncles who had come for the wedding, then getting into the poofy white dress, putting on makeup and doing special bridal hair (which involved a curling iron and bobby pins), and taking photographs before the ceremony so the reception wouldn't be held up while we took photos. We actually did have a yichud, which we spent expressing warm, tender sentiments and giggling--but at only 15 minutes long, with all eyes on us as we exited the room, and the knowledge that we were expected at a party looking much the way we'd left the ceremony, having sex, though something we joked about, was not a possibility for us. There was literally no way to have had sex on our wedding day before the ceremony.

The party went on until quite late, and by the time we collapsed in our room and I had showered off the sweat and makeup I didn't usually wear, and pulled out the hairpins, we were too tired to have good sex. We knew that and didn't try, but we made up for it in the morning. Looking back now, I'm glad to think that we were focused on celebrating with all those people we loved, some of whom were dead within the year. I'd much rather know that we shared a joyous occasion with them than that we made sure to have some great sex. I understand the romantic idea of a wedding being about only the couple, and if that's what it is for someone else, great, but for us it was a celebration that included a lot of family.

If I was getting married at this stage of life, no doubt the circumstances would be different and fucking first might be an option. But a wedding isn't a marriage--it's the gateway to a lifetime together in which to fuck. Lack of mind-blowing wedding day or night sex doesn't mean a blighted marriage.
I had the same situation--my husband and his family live in L.A, which is where I was living when we met, and my family is all on the East coast.
We had a small ceremony and a big reception in L.A., and then had another big reception a week later back East. It was lovely. A few family members chose to come to L.A., but those that did not didn't miss out on anything or feel like they'd missed my wedding.
@32: There's a downside to everything. But I stand behind the open bar rule. The best wedding I ever attended was at a hotel, 15-minute ceremony, delicious appetizers and cocktails all night. Was there some sloppiness towards the end? Absolutely. It was part of the grand good time everyone had, being well-fed and well- lubricated and well-loved. Those who expect absolute perfection on their special days invite disappointment. Not to mention boredom.
Ms Cute - As for your earlier post about "making the largest number of people happy", may I add a caveat about not subjecting oneself to the Tyranny of the Middle?

This was brilliantly exemplified by the DP letter a couple of months back from half of a same-sex couple on the brink of committing matrimony with an uncle who, as a state legislator, had voted against marriage equality and (if memory serves) made some of the standard NOMish public statements about the vote. LW didn't want to invite Uncle to the wedding, but was on the receiving end of much Family Pressure to Invite Him Anyway.

One could practically hear the Prudecutorial orgasm as she advised the LW to turn the other cheek, be the bigger person, and give him a good reason to change his mind, in addition to pointing out that he might not have been thrilled with feeling the necessity to take a political stand which might not have reflected his personal views. Of course 90% of the commentariat, if not more, was entirely on the same side. There is nothing that people who pretend to have no prejudice against an oppressed group like half so well as telling a member of that group to Be the Bigger Person.

That is so often the way, that a huge block will keep pushing people who can't stand each other's positions to Make Nice and Get Along just to let the Tyrannous Middle indulge their fantasies of One Big Happy Family while the Violently Opposed get ulcers. And the things they expect people to overlook reveal that their own soundness is much less than one would have hoped.

Mr. Ven, I confess to be rather surprised to think that you would mistake me to mean back @15, when I suggested that the wedding party do what would make the most number of people happy that that would include turning a blind eye and deaf ear to bigotry or intolerance. I was referring specifically to the post @13 in which the suggestion was made that the bridal couple do whatever makes them happy.

I think a wedding is a community celebration, and was agreeing with Dan about the imposition of the destination wedding. I didn't mean that the attitudes of the guests should dictate the order of the day, which is what I tried to indicate when I added the qualifier "while not making the bridal party especially unhappy" (and thank you for allowing me to correct the previous misspelling). I would not invite anyone to my wedding or any other event that I was genuinely distressed by, and I certainly wouldn't allow someone's offensive views to hijack my event.
To all the people who say "invite who you want, its YOUR day, blah blah blah" what about the strained or possibly ruined relationships with friends or family that you don't invite? Its one day out of your life, shouldn't you put a little consideration into the feelings of others? I mean, you may not like Aunt Betty too much, but what if she thinks the world of you and you don't invite her? If you can't afford a big wedding and a destination wedding is a way of cutting your guest list without hurting anyone thats not cowardly. Its a very decent thing to do.
Okay, I know I'm a little off topic again with my Atkins diet, but for those interested, here's an update: I'm down to 178 lbs. from 195 lbs. for me,
that's good. I'm a big-boned gal, so I'm thinking that 165-168 lbs. is a good weight to shoot for. The really good news (for me, anyway) is that my Buddha belly has really flattened down!

Okay, back to the weddings!!
I always thought a destination wedding only referred to places like Tahiti, Hawaii, or the Bahamas i.e. far off places that people would have to pay a lot to get to hence making them difficult for others. Just because one has to fly to get to a wedding doesn't make it a destination wedding and I think Dan was also thinking about weddings in far off places like Madrid when he said no destination weddings.
@60: Thank you, mister danton (brother danton? Hah!), for breaking my mind! Great fun.
I wonder what people think is the cut-off, distance-wise and expense-wise, for what counts as a destination wedding?

Last year the guy and I went to a friend's wedding at the beach in another state. It was a 4-hour drive, so we had to get a hotel room (also: open bar). Our friend lives near us, but I think the bride's family lives in the other state.

To me, that didn't really feel like a "destination" wedding, or at least not in the bad way, because it was within driving distance and the hotel wasn't too expensive.
@85 @86, I was saying it's fine to wait till your 40-ish to *become a parent*. I did not say to get pregnant!

Lots of my friends became parents without ever getting knocked up, as in gay men, friends of any sexual orientation who adopted, those who used surrogates, foster parents who adopted older special needs kids...

But yeah, if having a mini-you is vital and you are a bio female, then it's really a game changer in terms of when you can easily become pregnant. Friends who've had IVF in 30s and 40s and other similar RTs -- very expensive, quite painful, time consuming, a roller coaster emotionally due to hormones and the nature of the process psychologically, and no guarantee of pregnancy. Higher rates of miscarriage. Has worked OK for some, not for others.

Even for males who want mini-mes, some research shows higher rates of autism as the male ages due to sperm cells having more genetic anomalies
Wrote our own vows (no fidelity involved)my husband and I only invited close family and friends who are artists and inspire us. We had a minor "reception" *Before* the wedding, so the people we loved and admired, could meet each other. We paid for 80% of the $2000 wedding and our only problems were that I forgot to put on bug spray, and that the drag queen who was to do my make-up, arrived late and wasn't in drag. (Not her fault being late however). It was a great wedding (bias included)and we had sex after - because the reception was the next day. I highly recommend that... We are part of the 50% divorcing - but we are still close enough friends that I've kept him on my insurance for 6 years after we separated. In fact - we chatted for 2 hours yesterday. Glowing bout our latest loves. heh.
The only reason I'd get married again, is to provide insurance - I like living alone. No offense to my Sweetie.
@99 Inquiring minds want to know:
A) Why did you care if your makeup person was in drag? Was it part of a performance?
B) Has it occurred to you that her not being in drag may have been related to whatever made her late?
On destination weddings, something I've struggled with. So, yes, if you (as a couple) live in a place, and most of your guests live near that place, it's a dick move to ask everyone to travel really far and spend a lot of money instead of just doing it near home. But what if those potential guests are already scattered across the Western hemisphere? My husband's Belgian, I'm American, and we've lived in Switzerland for the last 3 yrs. We actually got married, just a courthouse thing in Belgium with his parents, 2 years ago, and are now planning the extraordinarily delayed wedding reception. We both make decent money, and we'll pay for the event itself, but there's no way we could pay for everyone's travel. We could have done it in the US, but then all his guests, and about a third of my Euro-guests, would have had to fly over the ocean, plus (assuming we did it East-Coast), some of my West Coast relatives would still have to fly like 6 hours. We could have done it in Belgium, but then all the Americans would have had to fly a long way, and a lot of the Euro's still would have had to fly, because my besties are in Poland, Sweden, Germany, Norway, France, etc. Plus the weather in Belgium always sucks. So we decided on Greece, because it's warm and the food is awesome, and for the Euro's the flights aren't too expensive. And now we're at the invitation-sending stage, and on the one hand I'm psyched to be hosting what I hope will be an awesome party / vacation opportunity for a lot of people, and on the other I feel like an asshole sending invites to American relatives who I know don't get a lot of vacation time and/or run their own businesses and/or don't have much income. Ugh. But it was going to be a clusterfuck any way we did it. So, I don't know, I guess I'm pleading pity for the plight of the expat in destination-wedding-party planning...?
I purchased tickets for my partner and I to attend the live podcast on Valentine's Day as soon as I saw the facebook announcement for the event, and I invited friends (more couples). I didn't see anything about no couples written anywhere at the time. Now I feel like an ass...
Ms Cute - Ah, good. I didn't think you meant that, but I did want to strike a blow against the Tyranny of the Middle as explicitly as possible.

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