Monday, August 29, 2005

Paradoxes of Thrift

by Tom Bozzo

First in a series?

That last post might have been the reverse of Tonya's new "Imagining the Blog Post" series, had I posed the matter to the commenting pixiesphere of filling in the rest of the post about what the heck was it that set ol' Tom off. (*) Like it or not, here goes.

I attended a milestone wedding reception (**) over the weekend: the first reception for a second marriage. (Suzanne had, in fact, attended the bride's first wedding, too.) The reception, with about 100 guests in attendance, was held at the clubhouse of an upscale ($75 greens fees) public golf course in the Minneapolis exurbs, and the bill was footed by the couple, as far as I was aware. (***) The couple did not spring for an open bar, instead providing the aforementioned Michelob and a non-alcoholic punch gratis and a cash bar for everything else.

As it happens, I consider the imperative from the wedding-industrial complex for couples to spend tens of thousands of dollars of their own and/or their parents' money on one big party — as opposed to house downpayments, college fund contributions for actual or hypothetical children, etc. — to be something almost nobody would be worse-off resisting on some margins. So I am not fundamentally unsympathetic to the couple's choice. Yet I was at least a little cheesed off, (****) and not because I'm an especially expensive date.

Rather, it was more of a microcosm of what's wrong with "trickle-down" economics. It probably didn't help to have ended up seated with a couple of real estate guys who apparently own some commercial property in partnership with the groom.

Next in the series: whither the love affair with the SUV?


(*) While I'm basically happy that there are now comments on nearly every post, the commenting corps here is not deep enough that I'd want to take Tonya's leap.

(**) But not the wedding itself, which was a small affair somewhere way up in the north woods of Minnesota.

(***) I knew the basic deal in advance, as Suzanne had been consulted by the bride on the free beverage selection.

(****) Additionally over a lack of glassware for drinks other than wine (mainly a failure of the venue). Some drinks are just not worth drinking out of plastic cups.
If they would have served the Champagne of Beers, everybody would have been happy, but the wedding couple would have looked cheap.

I usually buy Bud Light for parties. Most people like it or don't mind drinking it, and it isn't very expensive and looks a lot better than serving say, Old Mil' Best Light.
They didn't even offer a Champagne of Champagne (or any of a number of reasonably-priced domestic facsimiles) for a toast.
I had an "Apropos of what?!" moment with the Michelob post but didn't have time to write in...
Sadly, the only movie I've been to this year was the "Wedding Crashers". The part where the two main characters bet on what's coming next ("$XX that it's I Corinthians"), however, is what rubs me wrong in general about all the weddings I've been to in recent years. Not only do I think it's a waste of money but there's also a miserable sameness to it all.
We actually went to see "The Smartest Guys In The Room" (the Enron documentary) when it was at the budget theater... it was really good, and made me feel pretty high-minded, since otherwise Revenge of the Sith and Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy were the only other things I'd seen.

I totally agree on the sameness thing. In the case of ours (Catholic nuptial mass), we had only so many combinations of prayers/readings to choose from.

We'd also found out that the people who bought our old house (we run into them once in a while) got married in the backyard, which we'd wanted to do, but Fr. The Man said was impermissible. Instead, we had a free-wheeling little ceremony out there for our Madison post-wedding shindig.
I hope you're copyrighting the word "pixiesphere" so that you can make some money when it catches on!
PS: As long as you're not suing me for infringement, I'll just say that I only crib from the best!
I can see limiting the free drink choices, but inexpensive domestic beer and punch seems kind of low rent for a wedding reception -- unless it's a really informal wedding reception.

Another thing to consider when cutting costs on wedding receptions is that some guests have traveled far and incurred considerable expense to attend the event. If someone spends a few hundred bucks on airfare, hotel and gift, then they usually expect to be well fed at the reception. Punch and Michelob just ain't gonna cut it.
Tonya: it wasn't that informal. Since we did travel (with the kids) and considering some non-bloggable details of the couple's relationship (doomed), I'm unusually receptive to the quid pro quo argument, too.
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