October 27, 2005
Wedding Bell Oops!
Last time I saw Barry, he was dressed as an egg at a Purim party, so I was excited to run into him last month at a birthday party.
This time, for better or worse, he was wearing pants.
"Barry, what's up? I haven't seen you in forever. How's life? How's work? Ohmygosh, how was your wedding?"
"The wedding? Yeah, um, that whole wedding thing didn't happen exactly the way I thought it would. Mostly because it didn't happen at all. She called it off three weeks before the ceremony."
Doctors at Cedars-Sinai are still trying to remove my high heel from my mouth.
I should have known better than to ask. I should have learned from Greg. Or Shannon. Or the nine -- yes nine -- other people I know who have called off their weddings. I should get them together to start a support group or form a minyan. Canceling a wedding has become that common these days. Just because a couple gets engaged, doesn't mean that they'll get married. It just means they've registered at Macy's.
It no longer surprises me when couples don't make it to the chuppah on time. Or at all. Which is why I keep the tags on my new cocktail dress and write "save the date" in pencil. I don't run to reserve a hotel room in the "Rosen-Levy" block or pound the pavement for a "plus guest." It would be rude for me to bring a date to the big event when the groom no longer has one. And yes, it always seems to be the groom who stands alone and the woman who says, "I don't." I mentioned this runaway-bride phenomenon to my current guy, Scott, over dinner at Denny's last week.
"That's because guys think about marriage a lot more than women do -- we're the ones who have to ask," he explained. "And we don't ask 'til we're absolutely sure. Do you know how hard it is for a guy to pop the question? Do you know how long it takes for us to think we might possibly be ready to even start thinking about it?"
I'm beginning to get some idea.
Scott's right, though. We're talking about men -- they spend a month choosing who to draft onto their fantasy football team. So they're going to do a lot of soul searching and thinking -- and drinking -- before they decide whom they want to marry. Then they have to get up the courage to do a little thing called propose. All the girl has to do is say yes.
And we always do.
'Cuz every girl wants to be a bride. Maybe that's the problem. Girls fantasize about their wedding, not their marriage. I doubt my friends know if they're wearing their hair up or down for their first week as a Mrs., but they know where every tress will be on the big day. They're not cruising the newsstand for InStyle Marriage, but they wait by the mailbox for Modern Bride.
That's why when some girls realize there's life after honeymoon, that wedding gets canceled faster than a new fall sitcom dud.
Dating, proposal, shiny ring, big dress, bigger hair, saying "I do." That's the order. That's how it's supposed to happen. That's the flow chart. So girls go with the flow. But you can't go with the flow when a relationship gets this serious, ladies. Preseason dating is over.
Perhaps it's just too easy for a woman to change her mind after she's said yes. Maybe we should be required to back up our answer with a contract or a guarantee. Maybe a pinky swear. Or the bride should put her money where her heart is. Reception halls ask for a nonrefundable deposit -- why shouldn't the groom?
I've never been engaged, so I can't pretend to know what it's like to walk in a bride's Vera Wang shoes. I don't know how people who aren't right for each other continue dating to the point of engagement. I don't know if they failed to recognize their doubts or just chose to ignore them. I don't know how much it hurts to call off a wedding. I don't know when saying "I do" became so last season.
I do know it's a troubling pattern, though, especially because it's affecting my love life.
Canceled weddings are not good for us ladies-in-waiting. The worst thing about this broken engagement trend, besides the $50 I waste on each engagement gift, is the single-man snowball effect.
When a guy gets dumped by his fiance, his friends start to doubt their own relationships. The more guys entertain these doubts, the longer they wait to propose. The longer guys wait, the fewer girls who are getting engaged. What I'm saying is: It's my friend Barry's ex-fiance's fault that I'm still single.
Actually, that's not what I'm saying -- it's not entirely about me. A woman should not wed a man she doesn't want to marry. That would be wrong. But a woman should only get engaged to a man she does want to marry.
Let's start with the very word: engagement. It means commitment. It implies true love. There should be no take-backs. He didn't give you his letterman's jacket, his fraternity pin or a mix tape. He gave you a diamond engagement ring. He gave you his heart.
Call me a hopeless romantic, but I truly believe an accepted proposal should lead to a puffy white veil, Shevah Brachot, a broken glass and a lifetime together.
So when that special someone -- the right someone, not the maybe someone -- proposes, I'll say yes, and I'll mean it.
Because I know that when a guy does get down on one knee, he's not asking "Will you wedding me?"
Carin Davis is a freelance writer and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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