Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Singles Versus the World

There is an ongoing, pervasive war being waged between the women in this country: It's the singletons versus the fiancées, and it's getting bloody people.

What I'm speaking of is the showers, the parties, the destination weddings, the hideous bridesmaids' dresses, the endless shelling out of dough that it now costs to "celebrate" your friends' happiness. In the good ol' days, at least according to my mom, there was simply. . . an engagement party thrown by the parents, preferably at the yacht club;a wedding and reception; and a honeymoon. Period. The end. There was minimal "cost" involved for the celebrants and atendees. You wore a pretty outfit, you showed up, you toasted, you sent the couple on their merry way and that was that. Hurrah.

Oh, but for the good ol' days. It was quite a bit more civilized then, no? Sure, there were registries, but mainly for bone china and place settings, not for, say, cappuccino makers, bread makers, ice-cream makers, nic-nacs, picture frames and things that have nothing whatsoever to do with weddings, per se. And there was simply Tiffany, Bloomingdale's, Bergdorf's, Neiman's, Jacobson's. There was, thankfully, no Bed, Bath & Beyond. And then, I am almost positive, the registrants did not return your gifts for store credit.

But now, there simply must be a party for everything. And let me tell you, for us singletons, esp. those of us who will never marry, this gets to be a huge pain in the ass and causes a major dent in the wallet. It's even worse if you are the maid of honor.

So let's do a case study of a destination wedding in which I am the maid of honor.

First, the phone call.
"You know, of course, that I want you to be my maid of honor," says the best friend, gushing.

"Oh, um, thanks?" I reply, knowing that this was coming, but also thinkingfabulous. I'm unemployed, the wedding is in Napa Valley, not an easy or inexpensive place to get to, and we also live in different cities.

So here's what is on the table over the next six months celebrating her engagement/wedding:
1. Engagement gift: Jay Strongwater decorative box: $135

2. Engagement Party, thrown by my parents and me, at my childhood house in our hometown:

  • Invitations: $125
  • Food: $200
  • Alcohol: $200
  • Plane ticket home for Wally and me: $350
  • Shirt to wear to party: $200

Total Cost, Engagement Party: $1,075

3. Bachelorette Party:

  • Transportation to Miami for Wally and me: $350
  • Hotel Room: $100-200 (I don't remember)
  • Food/Alcohol: $100

Total Cost, Bachelorette Party: $600


  • Thrown by other bridesmaids; I didn't attend. Enough was enough.

4. Wardrobe:

  • Bridesmaid Dress. Not something I would ordinarily buy: psychedelic print, strapless, shiny silk, multicolored, ruched and knotted, asymmetrical hem.

Let's lowball it at $150.

  • Handbag for Ceremony: Prada black nylon, mini shoulder bag with silver chain, about $300.
  • Dress for Rehearsal Dinner: Classic, black Max Mara dress, $500 or so.
  • Jewelry: Borrowed from mom, free.
  • We won't go into mom's dress for the wedding, or her shoes, but suffice it to say that the dress was Luca Luca (retail) and the shoes were crystallized Manolos from the evening collection. My target audience knows what kind of digits we are talking about here.

Total cost, my wardrobe: $950

5. The Actual Wedding:

  • Plane fare, NYC to Sacramento, CA $450
  • Rental car, Sacramento to Sonoma: $340
  • Hotel: $900 for three nights
  • Add to the above the fact that my mom, dad and brother also went, so triple the cost. But this is about ME.

Total Cost: Wedding: $1,690

6. Wedding Gift: Jay Strongwater candlestick, shared by another family, don't know the cost.

Grand Total, Best Friend's Wedding, Cost to Maid of Honor and her family: (exclusive of the rest of the family's plane fare and the actual wedding gift): $4,600.

Why, I could buy my very own Monique Luhllier gown for that cost. Or perhaps my own Jay Strongwater piece. Or maybe even a Chloe Silverado Satchel and a Fendi Spy. Or a Chopard Happy Sport watch that I've been coveting for years. Or a few days in Italy. Or actually, that would've covered two months' rent in my Manhattan apartment.

Oh, but it's the right thing to do, right? Cause (and this is what people always say) "She would do it for you in a heartbeat." And she would, except here's the rub: I'm not getting married. And most likely never will. I'm not getting the parties, the gifts, etc. etc. etc. The singles, my friends, get shafted. Big time. Remember that episode of Sex and the City where Carrie registered at Manolo Blahnik because of all of the above reasons? Well, it's not so far fetched, after all.

But here's the worst part about being a maid of honor--you don't actually get to enjoy the wedding or the party like you should because you have to worry about bustling the dress, making the toast, making sure the bride is taken care of even though there is a wedding planner. Oh, the endless joys of being single in a married world.

And before you comment, yes, I'm bitter. I'm bitter that single people aren't recognized as whole individuals. We may as well be mutants--we are pitied, poo-poohed, fixed up, fussed over, worried about. Hey, we're not the ones asking our friends to shell out thousands of dollars to make us happy, so tell me, who, really are the screw-ups? Singles or Marrieds?