For a very private person, weddings feel like a lavish exercise in voyeurism. When else in your relationship will its terms be laid so bare?
He's come a long way from almost falling into Nan's open grave, I thought as I watched my cousin and his new wife, both Ph.D. students in their mid-30s, do the Twist out on the dance floor. I had never met the woman in question before, but as soon as I saw her sensible shoes, vintage dress, and mane of flyaway hair, I couldn't imagine my cousin with anyone else. This made me smile. But it wasn't their wedding I was attending. They were merely guests (or hostages, I came to think, uncharitably, as the night wore on) at this one, just as I was. Neither of them, though, were swaddled in brown bridesmaid taffeta or resplendent with a feather headpiece that was less Kate Middleton and more vaguely depressed saloon girl.
I've always assumed I would get married, but I have never fantasized about my wedding day. Never played "Here comes the bride" with my Barbies. Never thought about flowers, dresses, who I'd have as bridesmaids -- none of it. My mother has steadfastly believed that I will come around on the wedding front. I tell her she won't see me in a wedding gown; she suggests a nice skirt or perhaps a pantsuit. I tell her that I can't bear the idea of standing in front of dozens of people; she proposes limiting the event to immediate family only. I tell her I will never, ever walk down any aisle -- ever. She sighs and begs me to at least spare her the shock of showing up one Christmas with a hitherto unmentioned husband and two small children in tow, and, if I must elope to Vegas, at least opt for one of the classier drive-thru chapels.