Much Ado About “I Do”

“The best thing about being a guy is wedding plans just seem to take care of themselves,” a Neanderthal friend once boasted to me at his wedding.

Rallying to his frazzled, overworked bride’s defense, I said, “Really? What a coincidence. Because Amanda was just telling me the best thing about being a woman is the mortgage just seems to pay itself.”

You’d think with such enlightened views, I’d be a model groom, an equal partner in wedding planning. It hasn’t turned out that way. When it comes to wedding planning, my fiancée is better than I am at two very important tasks: knowing what to say and knowing what to do.

Diana is a whirling dervish of computerized wedding planning—Photoshopping “save the date” cards while burning music CDs as wedding favors. She even created a custom wedding checklist for us at It’s amazing! It’s stupendous! It’s seventeen feet long! I’m pretty sure a Space Shuttle launch involves fewer steps.

Diana’s momentum may stem from our four year engagement. I haven’t been procrastinating. I simply have a propensity for get-rich-quick schemes that always seem to be on the verge of changing our fortunes. “Why get married on an economy budget, when entrepreneurial venture #146 is on the verge of paying off? Then we can get married in style.” Last month, after being asked “when’s the date” for the thousandth time, we snapped and the planning went into full swing.

Diana has an uncanny ability to connect anything in our vicinity to the wedding. I’ll say, “Look at that full moon.” And she’ll say, “Full moon, paper moon. Moon is round. Paper lanterns are round. We should hang paper lanterns at the reception.” Apparently, I am marrying Rain Man.

She charges through the 185 item checklist. I try to help, but it’s like we speak different languages. She said she wanted to look at some “tulle options” for the wedding so I drove her to Sears.

To help me get a clue, she dragged me to a Bridal Expo. There really is no better way to get information on lots of vendors in a short amount of time. All in a carnival barking atmosphere. “Ice sculptures, get your sculptures here! No wedding is complete without an ice sculpture!” After six hours and sampling thirty wedding cakes, I’m lugging around a fifty pound literature bag in a sugar-induced coma and ready to go home. That’s when Diana chirps, “It’s time to visit the main floor.” I didn’t realize we’d only been circling the periphery.

That night, armed with resources, Diana cuddles my bedraggled carcass and announces it’s Decision Time. Our color, she declares, will be fuchsia. Now, manly instincts tell me to react as if I just drank milk a month past its expiration. The fuchsia revulsion gene is located on the Y-chromosome, right next to the gene for remote control hogging. Yet fuchsia has me spellbound. It really is a spectacular color. Sensing my struggle, Diana renames it “magenta” and I am 100 percent man again.

To ease my budget woes, my bride-to-be makes a major sacrifice: she shaved off an eyebrow to win a stunning designer gown on an Oxygen network game show called The Girl Game. It could have been worse. One contestant had to tattoo “Hoochie” on her forehead. Unfortunately, the gown’s $9,000 retail value gets reported to the IRS, increasing our tax bill by $2,250. That’s more money than we planned to spend on a dress in the first place. So it’s a good news, bad news kind of thing.

By far the biggest crazy-maker is hunting for a reception site. Trying to find a reasonably priced reception venue in Los Angeles County is like trying to find a soul mate in a bus station. The catering manager of one run-of-the-mill restaurant casually informs us they have a $32,000 food minimum for weddings. At those prices you’d expect filet mignon and lobster, right? Nope. Squash soup and ziti is what you get. And you have to rent your own china.

The only affordable site we can find has a one hundred guest minimum. With twenty family members and thirty friends, we have fifty spots to fill with such wedding VIPs as the college roommate I haven’t spoken to in fifteen years, Diana’s father’s boyhood landlord, and my mother’s neighbor’s nephew.

Diana and I pick the reception menu together. Or, to be more precise, I was in the room when she instructed the restaurant manager what we would have. I did speak up once. To ask what crudité is. Somehow, I have gone my whole life without ever encountering that word. Apparently, it’s French for “crud.”

Because I seemed so ravenous at the expo, Diana decides I am best-qualified to choose our cake. Confidently, I pick a daring, whimsical creation—a gravity-defying, multi-tiered, multi-colored riot so beautiful that cutting it may be considered art desecration. Basically, it looks like it escaped from a Dr. Seuss book. Diana’s response: “It looks like a clown barfed on it.”

Alcohol is a contentious issue. Experience has taught me that people treat an open bar as an opportunity to get a fresh drink every two sips. So I suggest a cash bar. Diana points out that this will make me look like a cheap, tacky bastard. As a compromise, I propose a $1 a drink bar to discourage such profligacy, sort of like an HMO with a $20 co-pay. Diana vetoes this with an arch of her one remaining eyebrow.

Photography presents two options. Diana’s vote: professional photographer. My vote: give disposable cameras to the guests and see what we get. My vote changes when Diana tells me exactly what we’ll get: blurry off-centered photos from the elderly and a collection of penis shots from my idiot friends.

At least we both agree on having a videographer. Diana says precious memories must be preserved. I’m concerned that something will go horribly awry at the ceremony (cake tips over, ring bearer peeks under the bride’s gown) and nobody will get it on tape. America’s Funniest Home Videos pays top dollar for that kind of footage. It could underwrite the entire affair.

I call it get-rich-quick scheme #147.


This essay originally appeared in somewhat different form in The Funny Times.

About Steve Altes

Steve Altes is the author of several humor books, dozens of humorous adventure essays, and the comedic graphic novel Geeks & Greeks, set at MIT and inspired by MIT's culture of hacking and Steve's own experiences with hazing.
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