So far, I’ve only been writing about the big things you need to have a wedding: a venue, a caterer, a band, a groom, etc.
From what goes in the bathroom baskets, to what goes into the goody bags you leave at the hotel for out-of-town guests, everything must be considered, and everything is an opportunity for an altercation between the bride and her mother.
Take, for example, the thank you cards. Sending these is one of the very first laborious tasks a couple has in married life, and, like most of the laborious tasks to come, it’s usually the wife that ends up doing it. Oh, you’ll start out sharing responsibilities, but it will soon become clear that, either by defect or design, the husband is simply not capable of accomplishing life’s most mundane chores to the wife’s satisfaction. He may, for instance, volunteer to fold the laundry and, indeed, feel great satisfaction in a job well done, only to have her wonder aloud about the bedful of abstract origami. After she refolds everything, she will try to instruct her mate in the intricacies of folding, only to see his eyes glaze over in that “This chore just became yours” expression.
Likewise, it’s not that the groom doesn’t want to help compose hundreds of personal notes of gratitude, and hand-address a similar number of envelopes, and lick and affix postage stamps; it’s just that he lacks the composition, handwriting and saliva skills necessary to do it right.
Also, women seem to be inherently better at completing a mindless endeavor while watching TV than men are. For him, the programming will be in full control of his attention by the third envelope, whereas she can finish off the notes while watching a Friends marathon and not even realize she’s had the TV on the SAP setting and Rachel has been speaking Spanish the whole time.
So you sit down together to write the thank you’s armed with the gift spreadsheet you made of who gave you what and the invitation spreadsheet with the addresses, and you soon discover that, as heartfelt as your thoughts may be, it is simply not possible to maintain a certain level of personal messaging throughout the process. If you compare all the thank you notes sent by a typical couple, you will easily be able to discern the early ones from the later ones on a spectrum from:
Dear Aunt Trish and Uncle Bobby,
We were so happy you could attend our wedding, and the tri-sectional chafing dish is just lovely. I’m sure we’ll use it often at our elaborate buffet dinner parties. Love, Sally
Dear Trish and
Thanks for sharing our joy and the chafing dish. Love, Sally.
Hey, it was great to see you. Thanks for the gift. Sally.
You begin with good intentions. After all, some of these people traveled great distances to attend your wedding and took care in selecting just the right gift from your registry that fell within their budget (even if it was a single wine glass), so the least you can do is write a nice note of appreciation.
Also, you’ll feel guilty if each note is identical except for the “[name of guest]” and “[gift]” fill-ins, even though it’s doubtful that your college friend from California is going to compare notes (literally) with your long-lost cousin from Florida.
But after doing 10 or so extremely personalized messages, you throw in the towel, which you then have to thank your parents’ friends Renatta and Harry for, even though the towel set they gave you wasn’t the exact color you registered for.
However, before you can do any of that, you first have to order thank you cards. My Rhode Island School of Design graduate daughter decided, of course, to design her own, thus completely justifying the cost of tuition. Casey drew cartoon-like illustrations of her and her financé Alex, with the words “Thank You” in a word balloon, and emailed it to my wife Barbara with the subject line “What about this for a thank you card?” This prompted the following exchange:
- Barb: Love this idea. Tweak your face a bit. I think it could be more flattering to you. Trim your nose and fill out your face a tad?
- Casey: I like my face in that…it’s cartoony.
- Barb: I know it’s cartoony. It would still be cartoony thinning your nose a tad. But you may be right that then it wouldn’t look like an exaggeration. Just asking you to try it.
- Casey: I dunno…I like it as is. I think it’s cute.
In the end, Casey tweaked it, and Barbara issued a “hrumph” of victory. As usual, I managed to avoid this ridiculous discussion, and I am so thankful.
I just don’t know who to send the card to.
See you soon.
- Barb (posting this post on Facebook): Thank you for making me a better portrait artist than my daughter.
- Casey (upon seeing Barb’s post on Facbook): ARE NOT. Just different styles. I still like my original, I just wanted you to shut up about it.