'All About Me' Weddings

Betsy Hart

5/24/2007 2:29:08 PM - Betsy Hart

The arrival of June means wedding season and that means flowers and elaborate dresses and ... choreographers?

Well yes, Jennifer Saranow writes in The Wall Street Journal.

In "The First Dance Spins Out of Control," Saranow recently wrote that ever more young couples, constantly seeking to one-up each other when it comes to what I call "all about me" weddings, are hiring choreographers to stage "over the top" first dances. Michael Jackson's "Thriller" is a current favorite.

One couple at their recent wedding took places on opposite sides of the dance floor while the DJ got the lights and fog machine ready. Then they went into "the theatrical routine they'd been honing for weeks, performing lifts and turns and pantomiming the sometimes-vulgar lyrics ..."

"We were trying to make it our own little Vegas show," the groom told Saranow.

Ick--eee.

Not to be outdone, another bride required the wedding party's "five groomsmen and bridesmaids to attend four three-hour practices" for their part in the big show. When one of the groomsmen got sick and had to miss a rehearsal, Bridezilla would have none of it. She pulled in one of the understudies she had arranged for from her wedding guests to perform on the big day.

Double Ick-- eee. (Isn't it enough torture to make the bridesmaids wear those ghastly gowns?)

Another wedding featured a surprise performance from the groom and groomsmen serenading the bride with a choreographed song from "The Little Mermaid" in frog and lobster costumes.

No comment.

Saranow writes that business is booming for wedding choreographers, largely because marrying couples "seem less hesitant to draw attention to themselves by staging dramatic cake entrances, hiring photographers to trail them like paparazzi or posting videos of their elaborate dance routines on YouTube."

Saranow doesn't discuss another "all about me" trend in weddings, in which it is estimated some 30 percent of couples now stage dramatic destination weddings asking friends and family to travel on their own dime to expensive and exotic locales to witness their nuptials. Maybe they can get a discount for choreography at a destination wedding.

Letitia Baldrige, a manners maven and woman after my own heart, told Saranow that "brides and grooms who make spectacles of themselves on the dance floors show 'a total lack of judgment. ... We're in a culture of show-offs,' " she lamented.

Now I suppose that many folks would argue a couple should be able to show off at their own wedding. But that's the problem -- we really do consider weddings and marriages to be all about and only about the two people involved. The growing popularity of "Vegas shows" at these nuptials may only be a symptom of a larger problem: "All about me" marriages.

Rather, a wedding should really honor the couple and their commitment to the larger community and to God. When a marriage is "all about me" or even "us," that's a recipe for disaster. Marriage is about connecting to something much bigger than any two people; it's about connecting to the very fabric of a civilized society and understanding it's not "all about me" and what a relief that can be! It's about giving our spouse the freedom to fail, and loving him anyway and growing in character in the process and being loved in turn when we fail.

Theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer once beautifully wrote that marriage is ultimately not about making us happy in the moment, it's about making us holy over time. (And how often the latter leads to the former.)

OK, maybe I'm reading way too much into tacky young people staging elaborate dance productions and other "look at me" trends in weddings. But just in case, I've told my best friends that if I if get married again and in a moment of weakness start talking about choreographers or any other such nonsense for the wedding, they are to stage an immediate "intervention" on my behalf.

I think some young couples like the ones Saranow describes need better friends.