Love Party: Skip the Marriage, Have the Wedding

Let’s put it out there – if you haven’t figured it out yet, I am not a big fan of romantic love, marriage, or any of the ancillaries. So you can imagine my cynicism when celebrity couples who have been together a short time or very young celebs announce an engagement and impending nuptials. I always assume it is either the narcissism of bored celebrities or an aggressive publicist who has run out of tricks and knows an engagement and fabulous wedding will push her client to the head of the food chain.

But it’s not just the famous – in a bar the other night, I observed as a 20-something woman flashed her new engagement ring and then launched into a tedious description of wedding planning, gowns, venues, caterers, dates, destinations etc. In the hour I rudely eavesdropped on her conversation there was little discussion of the relationship, nor discussion about the ramifications of embarking on such an ambitious venture as lifelong monogamy and legal partnership. But the wedding was being planned with far greater focus and attention to detail than the BP clean-up efforts.

So if it really is about the wedding, and less about the relationship – then let me put a suggestion out there. This could save THOUSANDS in legal fees down the line and give the same bang for the buck.

A love party.

Let’s face it – in the beginning (4-18 months into a relationship depending on the couple) – it’s all good, it’s all dopamine. Every time you see this person it’s like doing a line of coke or eating fudge – same brain areas light up. You are bright, shiny, beautiful – and it is wonderful. So you want to celebrate it with your friends. Either because you are happy or because you want to stick it to your loser friends who can’t seem to get someone return their texts.

What is a wedding? A costumed pageant , a Broadway show with free booze and dessert, a sort of birthday party with great gifts and assigned seating. A day when the couple is the star. It is supposed to be a public acknowledgment of two people making a commitment – but I often think the commitment part gets lost in the shuffle of ice sculptures and calla lilies.

My proposal on the love party is quite simple – it looks a lot like a wedding. You invite your friends and family, the woman can buy a fabulous new dress , the guy can wear a decent suit. You serve food and cake, and lots and lots of booze. People dance, and you talk about how much you love each other. People bring you gifts – after all you just spent thousands to feed and liquor them up. But here’s the rub: You don’t go legal with it. You don’t sign papers. You don’t get married.

The problem with weddings is that they are something we are socialized to dream about – a cultural archetype. I think celebrating falling in love is fabulous –it is that most human and lush of experiences. Marriage however is legal – it places a regulatory and sometimes religious imprimatur on a relationship – it sets up tax benefits, a way to share assets, and simplifies probate. It’s like establishing an LLC or some other corporate structure – it provides protection. It also maintains social order – the government likes it – and they have incentivized it.

People cannot make that commitment after a month – but they can be in love after a month. And love deserves a party . The nice thing is that after the love party – the “rush” to commit may dissipate, because most folks are into it for the wedding anyhow. With the “love party” out of the way – the hard work of really mulling over the ramifications of such a decision can take place with reason, advisement and focus. People should consult experts before getting married. But in the rush to have a party – all that irritating stuff gets swept aside. I argue – party first, then make the decision.

But let’s be honest. Wedding guests show up for one of 3 reasons: (a) for the singles – it is either self pity (why not me?) or mean spirited –laughing at 2 more folks who just gave up their freedom – suckers….; (b) for the marrieds – it validates a choice; (c) for the fearful – it maintains the social order. However, if there is no legal commitment as the punch line – people will castigate the principals for being narcissistic and self-absorbed, it appears that a love party (e.g. wedding) requires you to make a commitment that assuages the guests – otherwise it is just farcial.

Marriage is one piece of paper in, about 50 pieces out. $75 for the license in, several thousand for the fees to get out. It’s like a cult or really good whiskey – seductive and smooth on the way in, but not so pleasant on the way back out.

So to all of you folks in “love” and frantically planning the wedding of your “dreams”. Enjoy your day – but think long and hard about what you embark upon. Don’t let buttercream and Cristal cloud your judgment. Meet with lawyers, psychologists, accountants, people who are newly married, people who have been married for 50 years, people who never elected to get married and people who are divorced. Gather the data. Do your due diligence just as you would if purchasing a house or television. And if it’s all about the party – then throw one – love is love – and it is beautiful and special – just don’t create a legal morass because you want to be the center of a big party.

You can always get out later if it doesn’t work out. And then you can throw a Disenchantment Party. Food’s not as good, and there’s no gifts, but plan on having loads of tequila.



This entry was posted on Saturday, June 26th, 2010 at 1:41 pm and is filed under Media and Mental Health, Relationships and Sex. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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