Saturday, July 31, 2010

Wretched Excess

Maybe you won't agree with what I'm about to say, but I think the way people get married (or handfasted) says a great deal about their values.

You'll hear some women say, "This is my day, and I want it to be like a fairy tale -- perfect from start to finish." Yes, honey. Any one day can be like that. Now go live the rest of your life, wondering if you spent too much time planning a wedding and not enough time getting to know your groom.

You'll see men, bleary-eyed and wasted from bachelor parties featuring strippers and excessive drinking. If I'm a self-respecting woman, do I want to tie myself to someone who does this kind of thing?

But the worst offenders, in my eyes, are the people who turn weddings into playbooks for wretched excess. If you've got it, flaunt it. Right?

I'll bet you can guess where I'm going with this.

There's little clear fact clinging to Chelsea Clinton's nuptials. An anonymous spokesman for the family said the wedding cost "in the six figures." But other estimates, based on the people the Clintons have hired for planning, the venue, the designer creating the dress, the catering, etc., have placed the price tag at $3 million.

Either way, six figures or seven, this is the height of hypocrisy. It is vindicating my choice of Obama in the primary race (although we have yet to see how being president will mold Obama and his family).

You cannot run for president among blue collar workers, touting your own blue collar background, and then turn around and approve a million-dollar wedding at the summer playground of John Jacob Astor. This wretched excess sends a clear message to the American people that, while the price tag is chump change to you, at least you have the change. The people who voted for you don't.

I personally got up in the wee hours to watch Princess Diana's lavish wedding ... and enjoyed every minute of the ceremony. What's the difference between Diana and Chelsea Clinton? Diana was about to be a princess. With no genuine ties to the governance of England. This nation, although founded by wealthy white men, at least should give lip service to the "created equal" philosophy. If Chelsea Clinton has two sons who are not called "The Heir" and "The Spare" by the press, why should she cavort like a princess? Isn't she a ... democrat?

This is only my opinion, but the daughter of our Secretary of State should not be getting married in the style of royalty, surrounded by doting television celebrities and movie directors. It's bad form. It sends a message about our collective national values.

Last night I was reading in bed. I came upon the following paragraph, describing a diplomatic mission Benjamin Franklin undertook in March of 1776 to try to win Canadian support for American independence. Franklin was 70. It was March. The destination was Montreal.

"They rowed in a small boat up the Hudson, had to fight their way through ice on Lake George, landing frequently on shore to light fires and drink tea. They slept in the forest at night, two in the woods, Franklin on the boat. They had forgotten to bring camp cots with them. To get to Lake Champlain, they had to go through the woods by portage. It was agony for the gout-ridden septuagenarian. They had set out in March and arrived in Montreal at the end of April."

-- Triumph in Paris: The Exploits of Benjamin Franklin, by David Schoenbrun.

Later in that same year, 1776, Franklin sailed for Paris. That Atlantic sea voyage -- into the teeth of November gales -- almost killed him.

Franklin wouldn't have turned down an invitation to Chelsea Clinton's wedding. He liked his creature comforts. But would there be anyone at the wedding with whom he cared to converse? Any scientists, any economists, any philosophers? Oh well, I would imagine Bill Gates and Warren Buffet are both going to be there. So maybe our founding father would have amiable companions, even though he might find himself seated next to Barbra Streisand for the wedding toast.

My point is that Benjamin Franklin struggled for this country, putting his body and fortune equally at the mercy of a long-odds cause. Would our Clinton family do this? Or are they rather behaving like the final residents of Versailles, oblivious in a protective cocoon of privilege?

Bad form. A shameless spectacle behind closed doors. Where cake will be served.


Debra She Who Seeks said...

Now don't get all pissy, Anne, just because your invitation got "lost in the mail." Hee hee! I heard the estimate as $5 million. Not that it will cheer you up any!

Dalesings said...

President Obama has said they did not get invited.

But I am reminded, having spent my entire career as a church musician, of the countless conferences with to-be-wedded couples as they were selecting music. When setting up the appointment, I always asked if the bride and groom could come together to the meeting, since it was to be "their" event. Unfortunately (the gods are snickering), it was, more often than not, the bride and her mother who showed up. And guess who made all the decisions....

Sadly (the gods are grimacing), when it was the bride and groom who came, I easily discerned how long the marriage would last based on how the two made decisions together.


here here..! brava...right on..
every time I see or read more about this excessive wedding I gag.

Celestite said...

"It sends a message about our collective national values."
Yes it does. So does the nonstop press coverage of drunken 20 year old Hollywood darlings falling off curbs. It is apparently what people are interested in. Nobody I know or converse with, but I sometimes feel we are on a shrinking island.

Janis Bland said...

We (as a country) have made this spectacle. We have made the Kardashians, LiLo, that Snooki thing, and all that trash, including this latest example of excess.

We have become a joke by our own designs.

kimc said...

it's the modern, dominant, religion called Consumer Hedonism, whose saints are the celebrities. It has captured the hearts of Americans.

kimc said...

On the other hand, it's their personal money they are spending on this thing, not our tax dollars. And I'd much rather see money spent on this than on wars, killing, and impoverishing people.

Pom said...

One might also wonder how, having been servants to the public, they have funds to throw such a lavish wedding. $400K per year as president and I'm unsure how much SofS makes. The numbers don't quite add up considering their already lavish lifestyles - mansions, travels, clothing, toys etc. (yeah yeah - book deals - Obama claimed $4M for his income with book sales included in that amount and I'm relatively certain that his book was at least as read as Clinton's)

I've often advocated that the wedding should reflect what the life should be once married. Of course I watch young men present their expectant girlfriends with $12K engagement rings when the young men are making barely double that in a year. Hardly reality based beginnings for the "happy couple". Setting up for failure truly because the expectation has become so excessive.

My own weddding cost $2,000 from start to finish. It wasn't beautiful but it served its purpose and, after 17 years, we're still together. For those spending 6 or 7 figures on their weddings - the outcome remains to be seen.

Pitch313 said...

If Chelsea and Mark were...Pagans, would you feel differently about this wedding?

I mean, just imagine the spectacle we Pagans could come up with on a multi-million dollar to-Hell-with-a-budget!

Bride-zombies and groom-ghosts! Occultural guest list from the far stars and dank lairs! Cthulhu's tentacled blessins! And the Witchy bitchy DRAMA!!!

Teacats said...

If celebrity Pagans came up with wedding themes -- what about a fairy tale one? Or how about a Viking one? Celtic? Norse? Various themes from across the world of Pagan current-day and/or historical beliefs and ideas? And would our wide-ranging community be complaining about the costs -- way too much (gasp!) or way too little (gasp!)? Food choices? colors? guests? music? presents?

Just wondering! A Vulture-themed wedding for Heir? or the Spare?

Bill said...

And let's not forget, Chelsea's wedding was the union of two crime families. The father of one participant was a corrupt mass murdering rapist, the other a recently released felon.

Anne Johnson said...

My wedding cost about $300 from start to finish, but thanks, Teacats, for a great blog idea!

Intense Guy said...

No wedding should cost over (the low end of) 4 figures. This isn't wrentched excess - this is just plain obscene.

Kathy said...

I eloped and it was the best thing I could have done. Although weddings are fine as far as they go if you don't bankrupt your parents or rob them of their pensions.

I don't get these young couples that have to have it all right away. Large, lavish weddings, huge houses (and not fixer-uppers either)and new expensive cars. All it takes is one serious financial crisis to throw their lives into the tanker.

All so they can be Princess for a Day.

kimc said...

This "wretched excess" supports a whole industry. An industry that cannot be off-shored. It supports artistic types: cake decorators, dress designers, flower arrangers, etc. It spends the money of people who have too much money to spend -- who have to come up with creative ways to get rid of it, to get it back into circulation.
The problem is when people who can't afford these lavish events try to keep up with the ridiculously rich people who can afford it.