Today I got a text from a friend to let me know that another girl in Jill's class (they are 21) is engaged. That brings our grand total to four (that I know about anyway). I'm not even counting the one who got married last December or the girl who also graduated in 2008 from another school who got married this past weekend. Yikes.
I got married in 1985. I was 22 years old, had just graduated from Troy State University and had been in my new job at the bank for a month. The women on my mother's side of the family tended to marry at 27 or 28, but since Big Dave was 27...I thought that was close enough. After all, I had not a clue as to what I was going to do with myself after graduation anyway. Frankly, I'm still not sure.
Our wedding was nice, but it was not over the top by any stretch of the imagination. First of all, it was held on a Sunday afternoon at 2:00 because I wanted the anniversary date of July 7th (7-7) and because all of my family was coming in from out of town for the wedding. I wanted to spend time with them and not be off honeymooning or something. Most of them arrived on Friday, and we had a couple of days together...which would have been impossible had we married on Saturday afternoon as we would have spent the whole of Friday night with the rehearsal dinner and most of Saturday stressing about the actual ceremony. This way, once the wedding was over...they just left to go home. Perfect, yes?
At that time, most people got married at the local church with a reception immediately following in the Social Hall. There were items like finger sandwiches, cheese straws, fruit, cheese platter, nuts and mints on the table. Everyone primarily showed up for the cake. We left the church for our honeymoon after that was served. Time from start to finish? Approximately an hour and a half. They threw birdseed at us as we drove off in Big Dave's parents' car...because neither of our vehicles were entirely dependable.
Boy have times changed.
I suppose that in the North, weddings have always been bigger productions. I attended the wedding of my friends, Jacqueline and John, several years ago and there was a nice sit-down dinner with dancing afterward. The funny thing was that this friend is also the only person that I know who was actually late for her own wedding. Apparently the woman doing everyone's hair took considerably longer than projected...and we ended up waiting for awhile until she and some of the bridesmaids arrived. Then once the ceremony started there was a wedding Mass. I'm not Catholic, but I did enjoy the fact that the whole ceremony took nearly an hour so they had adequate time to be in the moment. In contrast, our ceremony lasted approximately twelve minutes, we were told to kneel (although I had clearly indicated that I wasn't using a prayer bench), and I was headed back down the aisle so fast that I was shocked. I think Big Dave paid extra for a shorter ceremony.
At the reception my friends had, there was an open bar and toasts and a box for donating money to the couple. The reception was very much like those that you see in the movies. It was very different from what I was used to, but way cool.
Maybe I just wasn't getting invited to many weddings from 1985-2005...but it honestly seemed that somewhere during the Bush years...weddings started getting out of control. It was no longer enough to just witness the vows and have refreshments. No. A thousand times no.
Today's productions involve wedding planners, caterers for the appetizers/buffet dinner/over the top cakes, designer wedding gowns, party favors, flowers-to-die-for, engagement photos in addition to the bridal portrait, photos during the wedding and reception and the video, band, specialty drinks, special touches, fifteen attendants and groomsmen, engagement parties, and bubbles/fireworks/sparklers while the couple drives off in an antique vehicle/Bentley or Rolls Royce/trolley/horse drawn carriage. All of this costs upwards of $20,000...if you're careful with your money.
This wouldn't bother me so much except for the fact that Jill is 21. Yes. And the last time I checked...21 comes right before 22.
After our tail end of the "Baby Boomers" bunch married between 22 and 25...primarily because it was just the "next step" on the road to adulthood and we never questioned it...the generation behind us (Gen X) had a completely different gameplan.
Their thoughts were..."Hey, I need to get out there and see the world, build a career, figure myself out, and get settled before I even think about getting married." This group cohabitated more and was less in a hurry to get from engagement ring to birdseed. In fact, birdseed got "outlawed" sometime during this period...I'm guessing that someone's MeeMaw slipped on it in a place with excellent liability insurance and a lawsuit brought its common use to a screeching halt.
Many of the Gen X'ers (and the Gen Y'ers that just followed suit) married after age 30...if at all. Two of my sisters (one Gen X and one Gen Y) married at 34. The third sister just turned 30 and is looking...but is not married yet.
This late marriage/procreation (relative to me anyway) explains why my sister is six years younger, but my oldest child is sixteen years older than her oldest child. And between us...I don't know how she does it. When I was her age, I was worrying about dating and driving. She, by contrast, is worried about teaching hers (ages 5 and 4) to read now that potty training is completely out of the way.
Of course, while I was raising kids in my 20s, she was off working in every country known to man and living in three major cities (Atlanta, Washington D.C. and Boston), showing up in Town and Country magazine, skiing a lot, being invited to the guitarist for Hootie and the Blowfish's wedding (she roomed with his sister and his now wife when she lived in Columbia, S.C.), and driving a Miata.
On the positive side...because of her relatively later foray into motherhood, I get all of the benefits of having what amounts to grandchildren (even if they are my niece and nephew). In fact, due to all of this late marrying and reproducing, I am now related to eleven people that I wasn't related to six years ago. On the bright side...we have had new babies or little ones pretty continuously since 2005.
Over the past couple of years, I've started to notice a shift back to people marrying younger again. I don't know if its the economy, or just the cyclical nature of everything. (You know what I mean...from service to sales and then to service again. Which explains why you are now being greeted at the door in your local retail establishment (service) after years of trying to get decent service but couldn't because they were all about sales incentives...and finally giving up on it. So they'd lose a customer? Big whoop! There'd be another along any moment... And then the economy tanked...so we are being "served" again with door greeters.)
In this next generation, I can see it in my own family. My two nephews are married (both at 24) and so is my niece (25). I now have a great nephew...and his cousin is due in November. (Making me related to five additional people by marriage or birth that I wasn't related to four years ago).
And now it seems that everyone Jill attended high school with will be getting married within the next couple of years. I'll be going to more bridal showers. More weddings. And then...more baby showers.
I suppose it won't be long before some young man walks in my door looking to have a conversation with her Daddy. I'm so not ready for that. I'm fairly sure that this will occur the year that I turn 50. I want a party to celebrate this milestone...so she will probably do a totally Jill-ish thing and decide to get married the week of my birthday. After all...turnabout is fair play since I did that to MY mother. (Except that it was her 39th birthday, right Mom?)
Unless, of course, the young man has it all figured out and is so awesome that I'll be falling all over myself trying to come up with the modern form of a dowry...which translated means...I'm willing to pay for a wedding. Frankly, I think it would be easier to just purchase two tickets to Vegas, give them a couple thousand dollars and get them to tell the Elvis performing the ceremony hello for me.
While I don't doubt that he will be wonderful...I really do sincerely hope that he is on the ball because once he takes her as his wife...he takes any related coupon books associated with her too. Hey, he's still getting a bargain. Trust me on this.
The payment books will definitely have to go with her as I'll need some cash flow to pay off that dowry. I'm fairly certain that I'll be paying off wedding related bills for ten years after that...or more.