Monday, April 29, 2013

The Cost of a Wedding

In 1994, my wedding cost about $7,500. (Economics people: you can translate that to today’s relative cost.)  As an older bride and groom, we could have paid for it; however, my parents insisted on shelling out the bulk of the funds for the ceremony and Darling Husband’s parents paid for a rehearsal dinner. The number of guests was about 130; the wedding party small—very. I had a matron of honor; DH had a best man. We had a flower girl, a ring bearer, a reader, a singer, a pianist, a couple ushers, and a couple hostesses.

To be honest, the wedding was not for me. Never in my life did I visualize myself in a wedding dress until I actually had to—when it was decided that we’d have a wedding after getting engaged. The plans started as a small, immediate family gathering, then changed to a small church ceremony, then escalated to a large gathering—because of course, we couldn’t leave anyone out. I was fine with plan A; however, my mother and husband-to-be were not. Soon, I realized that I could not cheat Mom out of a (mostly) traditional wedding for her only daughter; it was her one chance to have the experience. DH likes getting together with family and friends, so he was all for it, too.

Anyway, we got married at the Sheraton Hotel. With its huge atrium, it was an attractive place for our guests to walk into before entering the revamped large meeting room that was set up with a church-like seating arrangement. A few large plants and a candelabra thrown in, and “Voila,” we were good to go.  The ushers rolled down the aisle runner and Dad and I stepped onto it and took our walk. A half hour later, I was hitched.

After photos and the traditional dances, I spent much of the reception in the adjacent banquet room being proudly introduced to DH’s many friends. At some point, my friends grabbed me away to spend a few moments with them. DH and I never sat at the “head table,” and never ate beyond a morsel or two. From what I was told, the large variety of our buffet’s heavy hors d’oeuvres, accompanied by an enormous ice sculpture, was delicious. Late in the festivities, I danced a little; I remember doing the Electric Slide.

It was fun.

My existing joy, though, stems from giving Mom the gift of having a wedding, where she paced around nervously, trying to assure that all was going well so that her daughter and new son-in-law could have a joyful and memorable experience. She would lose hours of sleep over the next week as she went through the post-wedding planner withdrawal… you know… when you question everything that should or should not have been done.

I’ve been to many weddings over the years; three of them as a bridesmaid. The first weddings, those of college friends who married very young, were held at churches and the receptions in banquet halls and chain hotels, as mine was. In my eyes, everything was lovely; though in hindsight, I see that they were not on the economic scale of some of the more recent weddings I’ve attended.  Just starting their careers and also being the children of average income parents, the bride and groom married within reasonable standards.

Nowadays, DH and I are invited to the weddings of the children of our friends, whose budgets seem beyond that of my college friends. During the planning of a few, I’ve been told of the goings-on and how much things cost. Let’s just say, “I am amazed.” When a friend told me that a florist gave her a $4000 estimate for the flower arrangements that her daughter likes, I gasped. Talkin’ about a boost to the economy!

An article in the Huffington Post on 3/7/13, said the average wedding in 2012 costs $28,427, excluding the honeymoon, according to and, who surveyed 17,500 brides who hired a professional vendor. On the upper end are weddings in Manhattan, averaging $76,678 and on the lower end, Alaska (they didn’t even bother to specify a city), averaging “$15,504. Couples say they want lots of fun and/or elegance and are focusing on pleasing their guests.
When I told my friend and another friend with us, that I hope to keep a wedding for my daughter under $20,000, or whatever is comparable when she gets married, they laughed. They said they should record me saying it and play it back when the time comes.
To which I responded: “Poor people have weddings; don’t they?”
I was trying to make a point when I said, “poor people.” Actually, I meant people who don’t want to spend $30,000 on a wedding; like people who have a reception at a clubhouse or in the large back yard of someone’s home where the food is prepared by an eager small business caterer. It can be done. I’ve seen my girls watching that show called Four Weddings where not everyone appears to be spending mega bucks.
I may end up eating my words and forking out my retirement dollars for grand weddings for my daughters—I doubt it, but… who knows? Maybe DH and I will be wealthy by then and it won’t matter; but right now, I’m not feelin' it.
In case you’re thinking that I’m anti-wedding, I’m not. A wedding is a (1-day) celebration of marriage, a life changing event that shapes our lives into being more loving and trusting, gaining wisdom as time goes on—hopefully.  It is not the marriage. After exchanging the vows, it’s a party; one that is going to be critiqued, complimented, or judged regardless of how much money is spent and of how much effort goes into “pleasing the guests.” Bottom line--$100,000, $50,000, or $3000—it should be one that you can afford.
‘Tis the Season for upcoming weddings! Do you have any emotions or opinions you’d like to share?

Image found at

Monday, April 15, 2013

Witness to a Teen Rendezvous

The Actors

ANITA, stay at home mom of 3 girls in middle and high school

JAN, self-employed mom of 2 in elementary and middle school

CARLA, employed mom of 2 in middle and high school

JASON, junior in high school

“LAUREN,” unknown teen girl (Lauren’s a nice name to give her)

PAM, longtime friend of Anita’s and a stay at home mom of 3 in middle and high school

SCENE: Neighborhood where the women and Jason live

Act I

SCENE 1   The pool parking lot. (The pool hasn’t opened yet for the season.) Anita, Carla, and Jan are standing and talking. It’s about 10:10 a.m.

Enter Jason in his car.

Enter Lauren in her car. She parks and gets into Jason’s car.

Exit Jason and Lauren.

JAN   Hmmm… That’s interesting.

CARLA   Looks like they planned to meet here and go somewhere.

ANITA   Yep.

JAN   He’s a senior, I think. Don’t a lot of them get out of school early?

ANITA   No, not this early.

JAN   I see his mother biking around the neighborhood a lot; you know, the one who’s attractive with the reddish hair.

CARLA   Oh, yeah! I’ve seen her, too.

ANITA   Ohhh… her name is Crystal, and that’s Jason! I’m almost sure he’s a junior.

Anita, Jan, and Carla give each other “the look” that says they are thinking the same thing and chat a few more minutes.

Exit Anita, Jan, and Carla

Act II

SCENE 1   Anita’s home

Enter Anita

Anita’s soliloquy

I wonder if Crystal knows that Jason is not in school. She seems strict to me, based on the time I saw her fussing at her son when he was younger. She was so composed though; not too loud and animated.  Would she be really angry to find out that her son has skipped school to be with a girl? I’ll bet they went somewhere to have sex. I don’t know that for a fact. Why do I think that’s what they’re doing? But why did the girl park the car in the empty parking lot? Why couldn’t he have picked her up at her home; or she could have left her car at the school parking lot. When their parents get the automated message that says their child has missed at least one block, what excuse will the children give them? Anita, you are so suspicious.”

Anita laughs.

SCENE 2   Anita is eating lunch and having a “flashback” to a conversation with Pam two weeks ago.

Enter Pam

PAM   Oh gosh! Some of things I know and have heard about what the kids are doing!

ANITA   I can imagine. I hope mine isn’t one of them. But if you ever see or hear of one of mine doing something they shouldn’t be doing, please tell me.

PAM   You know… most parents don’t want to know what their kids are doing. They say they do, but if you try to tell them, they get mad at you or they don’t believe you.

ANITA   Really? I guess it can be awkward, but I’d really want you to tell me about mine.

PAM   Trust me. The parents really don’t want to know.

Exit Anita and Pam


Enter Anita, driving a car

Scene 1   Anita is driving past the pool parking lot on her way to donate blood at a nearby church.

ANITA   It’s 2:15. Her car is still there. They must be having big fun.

Exit Anita

SCENE 2   Anita is driving past the pool parking lot on her way home from the bloodmobile.

Enter Anita, driving a car. A stretchy, red bandage is wrapped around her arm at the elbow.

ANITA   Hmmm… 3:15. The car is still there. School gets out at 3:30. Maybe they’re waiting for then to come back to her car to go home.
Exit Anita
SCENE 3   Anita is driving past the pool parking lot on her way to pick up her daughter.
Enter Anita
ANITA   It’s 3:50. The car is gone.  I was right.
Exit Anita
Act IV
SCENE 1   Anita is home, summing up her thoughts and typing this story for a post on her blog.
Enter Anita
ANITA’s “Conclusion” Soliloquy
I really don’t know what those kids were doing. They could have met there to ride to a school field trip together; however, it looked like a little Afternoon Delight. What do they say, “Perception is reality?” I don’t know Jason’s parents well enough to tell them, but if I did, would I? I’d have to be really close friends with them.
I wonder what I should do with this information. It’ll probably be a “planned” teachable moment for my teen girls.
I’ll talk to three good friends, too. Two of them have told me to let them know if I see their kids doing anything that might be, uh, a little sinful… or a lot sinful. I’ve told them the same; even with Pam’s warning. Gotta make sure they still feel that way; don’t want to lose good friends.
Exit Anita
Is Pam right—that parents really “don’t” want to know?

This is a true story. The names and the description of “Crystal” have been changed to respect the privacy of all involved.
Image found on

Friday, April 5, 2013


The extra bedroom in our home of 10+ years is designated as “the den,” though realistically, it’s “my office." It was outfitted with a 1980s Cargo living room set and office furniture--do you remember—the furniture that was designed with wooden crates as the inspiration? Well last month, I said good-bye to it in preparation for my “brand new office/den!”

Still in the beginning stages, much of the design has been decided and the floor has been changed. The walls have also been painted.
Is it just me, or are you particular about having the perfect color on your walls, too? I’ll try to make this color selection story short. Here goes:
A friend loans me her color fan so that I can choose a green color for the walls of my highly anticipated “nature” themed room. Anyway, after looking at 50 shades of green in sunlight, cloudiness, home lighting at night, and even comparing the color chips to leaves from outdoors, I select a color. Let’s call it Color A.
Because of a bout with the flu (and life), I was way behind in getting the paint, which turned out to be the day before my painter friend was scheduled to come over. No problem though—Color A was sure to be “it.”
So I come home with my Home Depot sample that was color matched, paint a big square on the wall and it is not “it.”  Dropping a dab on the paint chip that I gave them verifies that the so-called color matching didn’t work; that there is a pinch more yellow in the paint than there should be. However, because it’s still nature-ish, I don’t rule it out, but feel that another test is needed.
Off to another store—a paint store. The dreaded “too much yellow” steers me to a different hue of green. After all, a few weeks ago, a designer in a furniture store had warned me about choosing green paint with “too much yellow” in it.
Frustrated, but determined, I choose another color (Color B) that has more blue (I guess) in it. Back home, a sample of it goes on the wall. Nice color, but not “it.”
“Just lighten it,” I say to myself.
To the store, get a sample (Color C), get it on the wall, not “it.” Too minty. My daughter says it would be good for a baby’s nursery.
It’s night now and Alfred comes tomorrow morning. A thought occurs to me: Go to the store that sells the color fan brand of paint and try my original selection again.
At 7:15 a.m., I’m at the store buying Color D. No time for a sample;  gotta get a gallon and trust my instinct.
Back home, I slap some on the wall before Alfred gets here. My gut says, “That’s IT!”
As Alfred is painting, I get a little apprehensive, but then excited, as I watch my contractor white walls change to a beautiful and earthy green—the green that was supposedly Color A.
I'm back at the store for the second gallon (less than 2 miles from home). While the paint is mixing, I tell the store guy what I’ve been through in the last 20 hours. He says that I should have come here first and saved time and $15. My paint would have been mixed right and that would have been it.
Would it have been?
Yes. I was confident that I’d chosen the right color in the beginning. It’s amazing, though, how unexpected factors and circumstances can break confidence.  I got off track in the process by a simple little pinch of yellow, but the main lessons I’ve learned (again) is to do things before “the last minute” and that I should continue to trust my instincts.
My “paint” story is simplistic. Major issues have to be decided upon based on facts, conjecture, supposition, or instincts. My mother and I made a difficult decision to miss the funeral of a beloved relative. Instincts told us that flying 3 planes (2 connections) to get there, in addition to other traveling uncertainties during this busy “Spring Break” week might not be the best thing to do.
Today, a neighbor told me that he and his wife made a decision about her cancer treatment. They also had to trust their instincts after hearing options that have no guarantees.
We don’t always get it right, but it’s nice when we do.
Do you trust your inner voice and/or have feelings about where it comes from?