SO IT GOES Father of the Bride by raymond atkins One of my daughters just got married, and all I can say is, weddings are bigger deals than they used to be. Or at least, they are bigger deals for me . They are expensive and complicated, and they weren’t either of those back in the good old days when my wife and I had ours. That ceremony cost $168.42, including my necktie and the honeymoon, which consisted of a tank of gas, one night in a motel in Chattanooga, and a pancake breakfast the next morning. We were poor kids and couldn’t afford much. The best man was only a better man, and we had to rent a maid of honor because we didn’t have the money for a real one. Our wedding photographer was my wife’s aunt; the cake was made by my new sister-in-law; and the invitations went out by word of mouth. Thirty-two years later, we are still hitched. That works out to about $5.25 per year, and I think it was money well spent. They say you can’t put a price on love, but I have it on good authority that the average wedding nowadays costs $24,000. I can believe it, and so much for the “you can’t put a price on love” theory. From the moment my son-in-law popped the question until the “I do’s” were said, every time I turned around, someone was wanting to share in my joy by relieving me of some cash. If you are the father of the bride, there are many unfamiliar territories out in the world of weddings. If you are as unprepared as I was, you may stumble. Luckily, I kept good notes — cancelled checks, mostly — as I wound my way through the matrimony maze. I now share those with you. Wedding Gown. If you have a daughter of marrying age, then you have already bought your share of frilly, lacy, expensive clothing. I am talking about party dresses, prom dresses, cotillion dresses, bridesmaid dresses, and all manner of other frockery. Thus, you may have built up enough immunity over time so that the purchase of a wedding gown that costs more than a good used car may not kill you outright, although you’ll probably feel pretty sick. Cash in two savings bonds and take a hot bath. Tuxedos. If you own your own tux, you can skip this section. But if you are renting, there is really just one thing to keep in mind: Your wife and daughter will not let you keep the “zoot tux” you rented, no matter how “fly” you look in it. Invitations. If you were thinking you could just pick up the phone and call a few friends like you do for the Super Bowl party, you may now think again. There is an entire industry devoted to inviting folks to weddings. As a slightly less expensive alternative to the more traditional cards, I suggest sitting down with a laundry marker and addressing a stack of $5 bills with the date, location, and time of the wedding, and then mailing one to everyone you know. Photography. When I take pictures, I have a tendency to cut off portions of the intended subjects while at the same time including one or two total strangers in each shot, so I was willing to consider hiring a photographer. It is getting kind of tough to find film for my Kodak Brownie, anyway. We hired an unscripted photographer, and I guess I don’t understand what that means, because I sure handed over a big pile of script while consummating the arrangement. Music. You will want music at the wedding, and no, I am not talking about that eight-track tape of the live version of “Muskrat Love” by The Captain and Tennille that you like to trot out on special occasions. During the audition, if the band you’re thinking about hiring asks if there will be an open bar at the reception, take that as a sign to keep looking. Flowers. My neighbor who owns the nice flower garden was out of town, so I got a pretty good deal on flowers. Ironically, she was at a wedding. Hors d’oeuvres. Folks get hungry when you make them dress up in their church clothes during the week, so feeding them is the decent thing to do. I advise leaving this area entirely to your spouse if you don’t want to get your feelings hurt. I thought we should put out a couple of washtubs full of Little Debbies, but my wife just gave me “the look,” and that was that. Cake. Wedding cakes are pretty, and they are tasty, but what you really need to know about them is that they sell by the slice. No, I’m not kidding. Still, they are sort of traditional, and I don’t see much chance of you getting out of buying one, although I do have two washtubs full of Little Debbies for sale, if that would help. 30 MEMPHIS DOWNTOWNER JUNE 2011 memphisdowntowner.com Greg Cravens
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