Column: An unemployed wedding planner waits

10/21/2017 5:59 AM |

Birds do it. Bees do it. If I’m lucky, my sons will do it.

In the meantime, I’m an unemployed wedding planner.

September and October have now beat out May and June as the most popular months for a wedding, and there is no finer time on the North Fork, where the mixture of far and near, civilization and nature is perfectly calibrated for celebrating love.

Thirty years ago, everyone I knew was getting hitched, with a ceremony of some kind followed by a raucous party. Now, like cicadas emerging from 17 years of eating and growing, the offspring produced in the aftermath of that flurry of weddings are starting to mate and, judging from some recent nuptials I’ve attended, I like their style.

For one thing, we are now in the age of the paperless wedding. From the “save the date” notice to the thank-you note, no trees must be felled or rags recycled in service of the modern wedding. The couple designs and launches a website, so when those inevitable questions arise — like, What will the paleo and gluten-free options be? — the website will have all the answers, and you won’t need to pester the bride and groom about where you should park.

Save the date notices have been around for a while, but Brides magazine conducted a survey and found that compared to 27 percent 10 years ago, 67 percent of couples this year sent save the dates, often many months before the event, effectively hijacking the lives of friends and family.

I wish I had thought of it. By the time I told one of my sisters that we had decided to get married, she had already decided to study abroad, and was in Russia on our big day.

Another excellent innovation is the practice of taking the wedding photographs against a preprinted backdrop with the bridal couple’s name and wedding date in a repeating pattern, a practice no doubt picked up from red carpet protocol at the Academy Awards.

Since the backdrops are custom-made, media-savvy brides and grooms can even include their wedding logo (yes, it is a thing) and their sponsors (aka parents).

Gone is the barbaric practice of keeping beloved pets shut up at home while the rest of the family eats and socializes. You are now more likely to see a dog in the wedding party than a man of the cloth.

In the decades between the weddings of my generation and my children’s, I struggled to stay relevant. A friend from work got hitched in the grassy field of an upstate winery in broad daylight. I wore a light blue suit, mindful of the dress code of weddings — a code I got wrong. I looked like an ice cream vendor at a little black dress convention.

I think I love weddings because I love the stories. The ones about the chance meeting on the subway, or the guy who wanted to learn to sail and fell in love with his sailing instructor, or the woman who thought he was a jerk until she decided what she took for haughtiness was nerves. I’m told that speed-dating can do that to you.

I love the way weddings force two families to attend the same party and try to be civil to each other for a few hours. At my wedding reception, I saw my father and my husband’s Uncle Herbert in intense conversation, their heads nodding, each listening carefully to the other.

They had never met before this day, and had almost nothing in common. I was horrified to think what they could possibly be discussing with such concentration. The dowry? The Yankees middle-relief pitching prospects? We never found out, and they never met again.

When I look at pictures from my nuptials 32 years ago, I see an unidentified person in the corner of some pictures, vaguely familiar, probably someone my in-laws knew, dressed in dowdy, safe wedding-guest attire. I’m reminded of that mystery guest because last weekend it was me.

For this elegant black-tie wedding, I wore a long black dress and under it a miracle of modern engineering — a bra that was not only padded, push-up, strapless and shape-molding, but probably paleo and gluten-free as well.

Getting ready was an ordeal. The dress took two seconds to slip on, but the underwear took a half-hour.

Strapped in, we embarked on a journey to the ceremony that involved two trains and a brisk walk in flowing gown and high heels to get to a greensward with white folding chairs under a tree, reminiscent of the lawn at the Ram’s Head on Shelter Island.

And there I heard another great love story, and got to witness the moment when all parties agreed. There is love, and no greater power on Earth.

Charity Robey is a feature writer for the Shelter Island Reporter.

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