GENTLE READERS: What will the post-pandemic wedding be like?
For couples who postponed getting married because of restrictions on crowds, it will presumably be that same pre-pandemic extravaganza:
Three days of parties, invitations to everyone in their personal and business contact files, four-figure (as in money) dresses, bevies of attendants, stylists for hair and makeup, luxurious venues, acres of flowers, separate photographers for still shots and video, party favors, dinners complete with fancy desserts in addition to the sculptured wedding cake, disc jockeys, orchestras, dancing all night, and whatever else an imaginative and avaricious wedding industry can decree necessary.
Miss Manners is not unsympathetic to a yearning for glamour. She only wishes that ordinary life had not become so relentlessly casual as to prompt people who have never experienced any stylistic variety to go wild -- first at proms and then at weddings. Too often, the result has been anxiety, petty quarrels, debt and a tendency, on the part of guests with minimal attachment to the families involved, to treat weddings as free date nights that do not always meet their entertainment expectations.
Other couples may have learned something from the weddings that have taken place during the pandemic. Of necessity, a new pattern has evolved among those who considered the fact of getting married to be more important than the party; these couples have gone ahead and had small, safe ceremonies for their intimates and those who cared enough to tune in virtually.
Typically, these are home weddings (which used to be the most stylish choice for weddings not held in houses of worship), often in backyards, at least in good weather. Wedding dresses are still mostly white and dressy, but not in the previously prevailing style of nearly bare top and balloon bottom. Flowers and food are not overwhelming. Warmth shines from the eyes of the masked guests because their motivation for attending is to witness the marriage, not only to enjoy an outing.
And these couples seem to have achieved what the vast wedding industry promises but does not deliver: the personalized and memorable wedding.
The professionals’ idea of “memorable” is questionable, as so many couples were following the same industry-dictated instructions. And personalization is not accomplished by monogramming napkins and declaring a signature cocktail. Nor, surprisingly, is treating everyone else to a version of the couple’s courtship, to show how much more in love they are than anyone else has ever been.
Rather, it is to be found in making the occasion a gala version of their real lives -- a setting familiar to the couple and probably to many of their guests; a way of entertaining that they enjoy -- rather than an unfamiliar fantasy, especially one that happens to be the same as everyone else’s fantasy.
Bridal couples and guests alike are reporting how personal and memorable they have found these necessarily scaled-down weddings. Perhaps those who postponed their own, or who married but postponed their receptions, will be influenced by them.