The Anti-Wedding

Jaqi Ross and Chris Rossi let The Washington Post Magazine's two intrepid reporters plan their nuptials. The result? An unusual affair featuring a scavenger hunt, a protest and very few of the trappings of a traditional wedding.Video by Gaby Bruna/
By Caitlin Gibson and Rachel Manteuffel
Sunday, September 7, 2008

It starts with a couple of young women talking about weddings.

Only we aren't fawning over centerpieces or debating roses versus lilies or scrutinizing every hemline of the perfect pastel bridesmaid dress. In fact, we are talking about how centerpieces and pastel bridesmaid dresses make us want to puke all over those dyed-to-match satin shoes.

It's personal. We want revenge. We have done multiple tours of bridesmaid duty, and we have witnessed the collateral damage: a relative who sobbed when she dropped lipstick on her wedding gown; the friend who insisted on a last-minute trimming of her bridal bouquet stems; countless women swallowed by the cyberworld of The Knot, a typical bride's No. 1 online source for Everything Wedding.

We are convinced that there is no justification for wedding insanity. We feel qualified to make this judgment as single women who have never been married or engaged, and have never planned an event more complicated than happy hour. But we have seen what happens to some intelligent, strong women when confronted by the multibillion-dollar Wedding Industrial Complex: Those few unattractive tendencies, weaknesses generally kept under control -- bossiness, melodramatic romanticism, obsession with looks, agony over superficial details -- coalesce into a toxic distillate. What chance does anyone have against an industry that seduces the rampaging feminine id? The masses need to be liberated.

What if . . . we become Anti-Wedding Planners? What if we find a couple who shares our opinion and lets us plan their unorthodox, fabulously cheap anti-wedding, located -- we dream -- in a bus depot or a Laundromat? We envision the glorious reversal of typical wedding cliches: the symbolic release of dirty city pigeons in lieu of doves, bouquets of dead leaves, a buffet of peanut butter or grilled-cheese sandwiches. The wedding itself would be a statement, a metaphorical loogie aimed right at the wispy veil of wedding-obsessed America. It must be anti-industry, but pro-romance, because real love means knowing, This is my soul mate, even if (s)he's wearing a garbage bag.

So, we run an ad in Express, the Post-owned commuter freebie, looking for couples. It begins like this:

We hate weddings. Let us plan yours (free).

And couples respond, more than 40 in just five days. We weed out some inquiries simply by clarifying that, yes, an anti-wedding is cheap, but also rebellious, daring, snarky. Then we schedule interviews with couples who seem most promising. The top wedding-haters include 20-somethings as well as 50-somethings; they are Caucasian, African American, Indian, Asian and Hispanic. The winnowing is merciless.

One couple wants motorized toilet-bowl-scooter racing as reception entertainment. Our hearts race, too. But they also want to spend $20,000. They get flushed.

One bride-to-be is proud she has scored a $200 wedding gown. Great! But it's still . . . a gown. Next!

One couple catches our attention with a quirky coincidence: Her name is Jaqi Ross. His name is Chris Rossi. Ross and Rossi live together in . . . Rosslyn. These two, both 34, are open to just about anything, such as getting married in a morgue, Jaqi suggests, or on their living room couch. There will be no lace anywhere near this wedding. Also, she hates flowers.

We are convinced that this is our couple. And then we are rewarded with a glorious bonus: It turns out that Chris is a pathologist, and Jaqi works for the IRS. This will be the union of life's only two certainties . . . death and taxes. A themed anti-wedding.

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