Dealing With My First Friend's Wedding
As a 21-year-old college senior, dealing with the first wedding for a friend wasn't easy! Although the average age of first marriages is steadily rising, there are still some who defy the statistics, and friends have to cope with their weddings.
It was my first time. I walked into the store, distracted by colored vases and wicker hampers. The clerk printed out three sheets of paper and handed them to me. I looked down. Gravy boat with saucer? Butter dish? Antique beaded waste basket?
I looked at the list again. What 22-year-old needs a Cuisinart?
Half-way through my last semester of college, one of my childhood friends is getting married. We’ve been through junior high, high school, and as we’re finishing college, Michelle has jumped the gun. Before we even graduate, she’s getting married and planning to move in with her husband across the country.
I was on the hunt for the perfect wedding gift, but I had never even been in a china department. I walked to the shelf of registered dishes and saucers and silverware. I stared at these beautiful porcelain plates and compared them to the chipped, plastic ones that had been sitting in my sink for over a week. My glasses are mismatched and mostly say Yankees, Knicks or Budweiser on them instead of Waterford.
With the average age of first-time marriages rising every year, Michelle is defying the statistics. Between 1970 and 2003, the median age of first marriages for women increased by 4.5 years to 25.3 years and for men by 3.9 years to 27.1 years. Michelle and her fiancé, both 22, are well below the average, according to the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
So now I’m shopping for a bridal shower gift, and it’s certainly foreign territory. Luckily, Michelle was thoughtful of our poor student bank accounts and registered for some relatively inexpensive items.
For $39.99, I bought a Cuisinart Mini Prep, a food processor for smaller jobs, like chopping coffee beans, nuts, garlic or onions.
Sitting at the bridal shower, Michelle unwrapped her mountain of color-coordinated presents: blue towels, white towels, blue hand cloths, white washcloths, blue rugs, white throws. Again, I thought about my ragged and ripped towels that somehow survive the washing machines in my dorm room. I have the towels that are too old and worn out for my mom to keep in her house.
My high school friends and I exchanged glances. They were as clueless as I was about the use of a Cuisinart. Finally, Michelle got to my present. When she opened the Crate & Barrel box, she was so excited that her paper-plate-and-ribbon bonnet almost fell off her head. I was relieved and so confused at the same time.
But Karen, the maid of honor for the wedding, was having issues of her own.
“I didn’t think it was going to be a big deal,” Karen said.
But she soon learned that it was a very big deal. As a senior at Fordham University, Karen has to plan bridal events alongside school, work and interning. She has her last midterm on the Thursday before the Saturday wedding.
Being a maid of honor is also expensive. With $200 for the dress and $100 for alterations, $50 for a bridal shower gift, $100 for a wedding gift, money for the bridal shower balloons, decorations, food and invitations and the cost of the bachelorette party, Karen will spend a grand total of almost $1,000. That’s what most college students spend on food for the entire semester.
As we sat at the bridal shower, Michelle opened one of her gifts from all the bridesmaids. They had compiled a bunch of family recipes into a book, and she handed it to us to pass around. Karen had contributed one recipe: a Mexican chicken bake.
“Everyone was making fun of mine, but that’s all I know how to make!” she said.
With the wedding almost a week away, Karen is nervous about giving her toast.
“You want to say something meaningful,” she said. “What am I going to say? I remember driving around with you in high school?”
Michelle did keep us in mind when planning her wedding, scheduling it for the middle of March during most of our spring breaks. I’m going to the wedding on Saturday night and then leaving for the Dominican Republic with seven of my friends at 4:30 the next morning. Another friend is coming home a day early from Cabo San Lucas to make it to the wedding. We may be jet lagged and hung-over, but at least Michelle planned around our schedules.
We traded glances of confusion watching Michelle in her bridal throne and Karen catering to her needs.
“Hell no, do I want to get married!” Karen said, exhausted by the affair.
We ate chocolate and cake and sipped punch. Finally, Michelle finished opening all of her presents. “So now the party really gets started, right?” we thought. But it didn’t. Everyone just left. That’s all that a bridal shower is: watching the bride open presents, playing a few games that are no fun for anyone except the bride, eating cake and then going home. This wasn’t our idea of a party.
Seeing one of our friend’s mothers at the grocery store in our town, she asked why we were all home. “I hope you don’t have to go to another one of those for a while,” she said.