Wedding Bans: Skip the Chicken Dance

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© 2017, David Chartrand



Unlike some Americans, I am not worried about gay marriage. The only marriages that offend me are those that start with overdone weddings.

I am all in favor of a law, or even a constitution amendment, that makes it illegal to turn a standard wedding into an all-day affair —the ones where the bride and groom exchange vows they've written themselves while a five-piece orchestra plays most of the Bach repertoire.

The U.S. Supreme Court has legalized same-sex marriage yet no state has taken corrective action to deal with:

• Wedding ceremonies that last more than 60 minutes, start to finish. This is a ritual of commitment, not endurance. Jail terms are handed down in less time.

• Wedding services where someone sings Noel Paul Stookey's "The Wedding Song" or anything by Kenny Rogers.

• Ministers who insist that every wedding ceremony include that venerable passage from 1 Corinthians ("Love is patient, love is kind, love is this, love is that . . ."). More than 30,000 verses in the Bible and we have to hear the same shopworn scripture reading at every wedding?

• Guests who bring a baby to the ceremony, and then try to calm said screaming infant by whispering, "Shh, shh," during the exchange of vows.

• Receptions where the guest must stand around starving for hours until the bride and groom have gone through the buffet line — which, according to the bride's mother — cannot possibly happen until all 1,550 guests have been personally greeted.

• Wedding photographers who go out of their away to avoid candid moments of human beings behaving normally, preferring snapshots of people who agree to stop what they are doing and stare directly at the camera. The result? A wedding album with all the spontaneity of a real estate closing.

• Wedding-reception disc jockeys who deliver a play-by-play of the newlyweds opening their gifts: "Ladies and gentleman, Tiffany and Nathan have a pair of wicker bar stool covers from Aunt Vera!"

• Invitations that suggest "cash-only gifts." (Usually followed several years later by the cash-dividing divorce.)

• Wedding toasts where pals of the groom make wisecracks about how the good times are history and "the ball and chain" are now in place.

• Wedding parties — gay or straight — that drag us to some remote lakeside botanical garden or chapel in the woods, where we sit in the blistering heat while the bride and groom revel in vows that last more than an hour.  We can't feel peace and love in a local, air-conditioned church?

• Any performance, reproduction or other use of Pachelbel's Canon in D without the written consent of the author, who is dead.

• Any wedding reception in which guests are required — sometimes by gunpoint — to do the chicken dance.

The American wedding has become too much like American politics: Lots of rules, interminable speeches and people asking us for money. The debate over gay marriage should be tabled until America first addresses an overhaul of the nuptial process. If the states refuse to act then Congress should intervene and establish a U.S. Office of Weddings.  Like all federal agencies, it would hold hearings, publish regulations, hire enforcement personnel and, in general, do everything in its power to drive up the costs of goods and services. As if corsages weren’t expensive enough.


PS — The author, a professional guitarist, wishes to sincerely apologize to the late Elvis Presley for performing “I Can’t Help Falling In Love” at countless Catholic wedding Masses during the 1980s.