Sophie's Choice: It’s a marriage, not a ‘grab-fest’

Since when did weddings become akin to highway robbery? Seriously, it’s like instead of a dashing, dangerous rogue in pantaloons and a pistol demanding your ducats, it’s a bride with a serious case of the furies and a fondness for taffeta “lovingly” guilt tripping you into the forking over of material excess. See that guy nervously keeping watch behind her in the coat and tails with the slightly dopey grin on his face? That’s the groom. Don’t make any sudden moves around the poor fellow, several months of wedding planning, booking venues and arguing over flowers and bow tie colors have made him skittish. Now, before the Fist of a Thousand Bridal Bouquets slams into my face avenger style, allow me to explain: I like weddings. I have been privileged to attend a few and they were lovely events where good times were had and wonderful memories made among friends and family. Alas, instances of soon-to-be newlyweds using the wedding day as a free-for-all shopping experience provided via loved ones, is becoming more the norm. More and more I see well-meaning folks writing in to Miss Manners requesting her advice on this delicate issue. I felt compelled to drop a line to the Empress of Etiquette myself after I recently received a wedding invitation for June nuptials telling me where the bride and groom were registered for their engagement party, the bridal showers (yep, plural) and the actual wedding. Perhaps this is egocentric of me, but I am of the mind that if I am going to practically pay my own dowry to the respective couple (not to mention expenses for airfare, lodgings, etc.), shouldn’t I have a small claim in the marriage as well? Like if I am hungry and working late the wife would bring a sandwich over to the office? I know they say you should give gifts willingly and without thought of return, but darn it, if I’m going to buy you a set of Fiesta dining ware, a blender and a 46-inch flat screen, then the least the husband can do is come over and fix that leaky faucet. Maybe I go too far in my assessment, but when nuptials today are being used for a grab-fest to garner items the couple doesn’t want to spend their combined tax return on, I have a problem with that. Traditions do have the tendency to change over time, but hopefully for more convincing reasons than cupidity. I’m all for marriages and the swearing of vows before your family, friends and respective deity. Weddings remind us how we should strive to love every day of our lives; with affection, respect, hope and the ability to smile and shrug when the chocolate fountain breaks down and the four-year-old ring bearer gets a crying case of aisle fright right before he’s supposed to go on (not cases that routinely apply to every day life in a relationship, but you get the drift). Let your wedding be remembered by those who care at such a time, not when you tried to squelch their pocket books.