Now that big wedding season is upon us, like a bony old hag with sharp fingernails clawing at our eyeballs . . .

No, wait.

Now that Big Wedding season has begun, like a symphony performed with kazoos and dental drills . . .

No, wait.

Now that Big Wedding season has arrived, like a dyspeptic mother-in-law on your doorstep with a yapping Pomeranian and a very large suitcase . . .

Okay, I admit that I have a certain problem with Big Wedding Season. Don't get me wrong -- I am as romantic as the next guy (Bruno), but the fact is, my own wedding was not "big." Nor was it, strictly speaking, a "wedding." My bride and I walked over to city hall on our lunch hour. I remember distinctly that she looked lovely in a dress of some sort, and that I wore pants. The ceremony was performed by a clerk, and, in lieu of a ring, I presented a medical report certifying that neither of us had cooties of the private parts. Thus were we joined in holy matrimony.

It is now 25 years and two kids later, and our marriage is still strong, except for the occasional difference of opinion over the nature and length of my punishment for various insensitivity-related infractions.

Now I am not saying that all of you aspiring brides and grooms should do it the way my wife and I did it. (Actually, I do believe that, but I am not saying it, because at least half the American population -- you know who you are -- will get offended. That is because you consider big weddings to be a wonderful, glorious celebration of love and devotion and loyalty, until the statistically likely divorce.)

My problem with big weddings is that they tend to be ostentatious, wasteful, unseemly celebrations of self in which previously sane human beings wind up developing lifelong personal enmities over ridiculously petty things. The entire advice-column profession, after all, is based almost entirely upon questions such as whether it is right for a former bridesmaid to refuse to speak ever, ever again to her former friend, the bride, who compelled her to pay for a stupid wrist corsage that clashed with her gown, which she also had to pay for even though it appeared to have been sewn from pastel tablecloths and clearly was designed only to make the bride look good by comparison, which was necessary because of her gi-normous butt, which . . .

Given my prejudice against big weddings, however, I confess to a certain ignorance about them. That is why, to be journalistically responsible, I have spent the last few hours consulting the greatest authority on this subject, America's bridal magazines. In June, America's bridal magazines are the size of steamer trunks. They are filled with photos of impossibly beautiful female models posing as brides and impossibly handsome male models posing as heterosexuals.

One thing I learned from these magazines is that the latest trend is a "sponsored" wedding, in which the bride and groom get free stuff (gowns, food, limos, etc.) in exchange for saying great things about their corporate sponsors in their invitations or wedding announcements. One happy couple who own a literary magazine proudly revealed how they got $60,000 in free stuff by promising to compliment their sponsors in a special issue of their literary magazine, which would be devoted to their wedding. The article did not say if, afterwards, the bride and groom were going to pursue a promising career as prostitutes.

But perhaps I'm being too harsh. The fact is, the bridal magazines are also full of sweet stuff, such as recent brides giving helpful advice to brides-to-be who write in with important questions (They read like this: "Can I demand a refund on my bridesmaids' wrist corsages, if they turn out to be puce instead of magenta and quarrel with the centerpieces decoupaged from persimmon-dyed pigeon beaks . . .") and, of course, page after page of Cute Wedding Ideas. One Cute Wedding Idea I saw involves hiring a bartender to create a special cocktail in your wedding's color scheme. Another idea (I swear) is sending out invitations in the form of miniature cable-knit sweaters.

Today's column resulted from an inquiry I received from the editor of one of these bridal magazines, offering to be interviewed by me for wedding season. The magazine rescinded the offer after learning that I was a humor writer. Weddings are far too serious and unfrivolous to make fun of, apparently.

Her magazine, by the way, recommends putting a berry in the middle of each ice cube. The berry should be chosen to match the color scheme of the wedding.

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