Marriage is one of the great institutions of civilization. In fact, many would say it’s a cornerstone of our civilized world. And yet despite its unquestioned importance as an integral ritual, there remain myriad ways for the event itself to go astray, with results ranging from the sort of hilarious stories that can only be accomplished with the aid of booze and merriment to the sorts of utter disaster that can only be accomplished with more booze and merriment.
If one is planning their nuptials, what could he or she possibly do to ensure that such a momentous event will stay on the wonderful side of “memorable”? Thankfully, there are literary guideposts to show the way. And as it is our modest creed to help you make well-read sense of the world, we offer this humble literary guide to averting wedding disaster.
First up: If you must marry, it is best to avoid marrying amid a blood feud between your family and the family of your intended. For all the lessons imparted through the Bard’s words in Romeo and Juliet, it is this message that often seems to get lost in the shuffle of “don’t slay people in the street” or “use a reputable message service when letting someone know that his/her fiancé is merely faking their death.” As much as we like to believe that love conquers all, when your families are waging literal battles in the street, the hurdle may prove impossible. Also, perhaps wait until you’re a few years past the age of thirteen to wed the love of your life. Patience is a virtue after all.
In this same vein, it is best to avoid staging one’s wedding in the home of an avowed enemy you have recently slighted. This piece of advice is best illustrated by George R. R. Martin and the infamous Red Wedding. (See A Storm of Swords for the more literary-minded and “Game of Thrones” for the adaptation fans.) For starters, it is rarely a good sign if a wedding is referred to as “Red”; the hue itself may clash with your color scheme and blood is quite a tricky stain to remove from the linens. But if you’ve allowed your guests – many of whom in this situation are not fans of your family name – to attend with all manner of pointy weaponry, the nomenclature takes on a decidedly literal and unwanted tone. And in the event that this is unclear, perhaps one should consider refusing entry to guests carrying weapons of any sort.
In terms of the wedding itself, prepare yourself: The cost of these spectacles tends to be both hostile and aggressive. Fathers of the bride have long and forlornly lamented the need for both fish and chicken at the reception, or all of those flowers, or the doves, or the geese. What’s really key is how one manages this financial stress. Nosing through the cabinets of soon-to-be in-laws is not a helpful tact. Rampaging through a grocery store and removing hot dog buns from their package of twelve so as to assure the amount bought does not exceed the eight hot dogs per accompanying package is also not advised. (Although most sane people will concede that this discrepancy in bun versus hot dog packaging is sheer madness.) In fact, for a handy illustration of how not to manage the financial stresses of impending nuptials look no further than 1991’s “The Father of The Bride” – a remake of the 1950 movie of the same name. If your preference is the written word, pick up the 1949 novel by Edward Streeter.
And now that the day itself has arrived, what shall you do to manage? In choosing the officiant, take speaking voice into account lest you encounter a Princess Bride type: “Mawwage. Mawwage is what bwings us togever today.” Also, by way of Mister Goldman’s abridged classic, it is always best to be certain that the bride a) actually wants to wed, and b) does not have any suitors of the dread pirate sort. In terms of additional competing suitors, it is preferable to avoid those altogether. Nothing brings a ceremony to a halt faster than someone banging on a large window and screaming the name of your bethrothed in the style of The Graduate. While the adaptation of the same name features that moment in an iconic scene, a similar sight will quickly put a damper on your day’s festivities. And should the worst come to pass and you find yourself left at the altar, just as Ms. Havisham was in Dickens’s Great Expectations, you will always have your dress (or tux) and hopefully both shoes to hold onto forever as a keepsake of the day that almost was.