Wednesday, May 23, 2012

You think negotiating arms limitation treaties is tough? Try choosing bridesmaids....

No wedding since Adam and Eve's has been without some drama.

Just yesterday, in fact, I read online that Balding Billy, Prince of England and Duke of Cambridge, just revealed how he complained to his grandmother about the invite list for his wedding. He'd been given a list of some 777 people, apparently, including "not one person I knew or Catherine knew." The Queen advised him to rip it up and start over, he said. Start with your own friends, the Queen told Billy, and we'll add to your list as we require. (Queens love that royal "we" stuff.)

Not revealed, at least in the article I saw, was any hint of the royal negotiations over bridesmaids.

As near as I can tell (and maybe there's research out there to support this hypothesis, who knows?) the likelihood that a marriage will be of long duration increases in inverse proportion to the number of bridesmaids.

In other words, a marriage celebrated with only three bridesmaids in attendance has a far better chance of lasting than one in which six or seven participate. Maybe you've never been to one, but you've probably heard about near-Broadway extravaganzas with 10 or more bridesmaids. These marriages often don't last past the honeymoon.

But the problem is that no red-blooded American girl arrives at the threshold of matrimony without promising (on average) 36 girls that they will be in her wedding. (OK, yes, I totally made that number up -- but, based on what I've seen in my life, it seems just about right.)

It starts in kindergarten. At that tender age, boys may not yet think that girls have cooties; sometimes a boy will even tell his parents that he plans to marry Cindy Lou from the playground. Usually, though, as soon as the boy sees a neat-looking bug or a puppy, Cindy Lou is forgotten like a politician's pre-election promise. Meanwhile, Cindy Lou has asked three of her bestest friends to be bridesmaids. Twenty or twenty-five years later, when Cindy Lou has made real marriage plans, one or two of these girls will surface.

As near as I can tell, bridesmaid solicitation drops off after pre-school and kindergarten and does not pick up again until junior high. Now, although crushes come and go, Cindy Lou and her friends plan weddings in the abstract -- the identity of the groom is really unimportant (see, Kardashian, Kim) -- and mutual promises are given and exchanged among Cindy Lou and her besties that each will stand up at the others' nuptials. A dozen or 15 years later, some of these may still be in Cindy Lou's life, if only on the periphery. But when that Facebook status changes, they will demand to know: What color are the dresses?

The planning continues in high school and college. New girlfriends come into Cindy Lou's life, old ones are shed like a snake molting, but the invitations -- mutual, sincere and (thankfully!) wholly unenforceable -- continue to be exchanged.

All of them -- even ones who two weeks before the engagement claimed to now hate, loathe and despise Cindy Lou -- will confidently expect to be asked once Cindy Lou decides to take the plunge. (The ones who say they hate Cindy Lou say they want to be asked just so they can turn her down flat -- but even most of these will admit that they'd consider accepting... if Cindy Lou asks nicely.)

Meanwhile, there are others who must be accommodated for the sake of family harmony: The bride's sisters, for example, and any sisters-in-law. And what about the groom's sisters? Sometimes these alone can fill up all reasonably available bridesmaid slots -- leaving dozens of one-time BFF's feeling absolutely betrayed.

Younger Daughter, you may recall, is getting married soon -- three Saturdays from now, in fact. And, if you've been keeping up, you know why we've proceeded with some haste. One clear and definite advantage of throwing the wedding together quickly, at least from Younger Daughter's point of view, is that a dozen or more girls who were supposed to be her bridesmaids will (if our luck holds) not find out about the wedding until after it's over. As it is, Younger Daughter has five bridesmaids -- Older Daughter, Abby, a girl she's known since pre-school (you younger readers may have thought I was exaggerating for comic effect, didn't you?), a friend since grammar school, and a college classmate.

Of course, the banns were published in last Sunday's Bulletin. Anyone paying attention would now know when Younger Daughter will be wed. But only if they've gone to church.

So don't tell any of them, OK?


katherine. said...

you still haven't told us what color the dresses are.

The Curmudgeon said...

Some species of blue, I'm told. I realize that is a wholly insufficient response....