It’s a chapter in Caitlin Flanagan’s new book, “To Hell With All That” Loving and Loathing Our Inner Housewife,” and when you read it, you’ll laugh out loud at sour-grapes reviews like this one. Here’s an excerpt from Caitlin’s “Virgin Brides”:
“Today a wedding unites a couple who may or may not spend the rest of their lives together and who may or may not have nullified the spirit of their every promise with an ironclad prenuptial agreement. Usually the sexual union has already occurred, and oftentimes cohabitation, with its disappointments and indignities, is in full swing. A bride’s beautiful white gown and her flock of flower-bearing attendants may constitute nothing more than an enduring female attraction to the sort of thing that would make Betty Friedan lean her old gray head against the keyboard and weep. Or they may be part of a frantic and terribly expensive effort to infuse a wedding with some small measure of the meaning it once had.
“Nearly forty years ago, Joan Didion reported, in Slouching Towards Bethlehem, on the Las Vegas wedding industry-which, she found, was not based solely on ‘the premise that marriage, like craps, is a game to be played when the table seems hot.’ She found instead that the Vegas wedding chapels, ‘with their wishing wells and stained-glass paper windows and their artificial bouvardia,’ were in fact selling ‘”niceness,” the facsimile of proper ritual, to children who do not know how else to find it.’
“Today’s children do know where to find ‘proper ritual.’ They find it in a thousand showrooms and expos and trunk sales; they skip out on student loans to pay for it; and when they need more cash for the limos, they transform their bridal registries into complicated money-laundering operations (a place setting of Lenox is, after all, a liquid asset). One can’t help thinking that they would trade every bit of it for one simple, elusive assurance: only death will part us.”