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Isn’t there a saying that laughter is the best medicine? In a very unscientific way, I declare it the truth.

Sometimes we take ourselves entirely too seriously. My husband and I laugh often. We can already laugh about the wedding. Like how long it took us to plan the drinks list. We carefully named some drinks after friends in the wedding party. We discovered – after the wedding – that we’d misspelled the last name of the Chief Wonderful Woman (laughing, but still sorry!) We can laugh at the venue’s bad jokes about putting the “boys” in the bank vault before the wedding. We can laugh that the venue put a waitress in charge of me when the ceremony started. She actually said to me, “I’m in charge of making sure you actually walk down the aisle and don’t run away.” Earlier, we laughed about how our first date was on April Fool’s Day three and a half years ago.

We are even allowed to giggle at the seriousness of this union. Why not? Why not laugh at what is expected of us and what we decide to actually do?  Someone recently told me that when she first moved in with her husband, she couldn’t stand how messy he was. He left his dirty socks all over the apartment. After endless conversations and some fights, she decided to laugh about it. She took out her camera and photographed all the funny places the socks ended up – from the bathroom to the kitchen counter. She and her husband had a hearty laugh about it and then compromised about how to keep their home. 

Gregory Corso’s poem Marriage, which I briefly discuss in yesterday’s post  makes me laugh. You can read the poem here. His second stanza made me giggle in the library chair:

When she introduces me to her parents 
back straightened, hair finally combed, strangled by a tie, 
should I sit knees together on their 3rd degree sofa 
and not ask Where’s the bathroom? 
How else to feel other than I am, 
often thinking Flash Gordon soap– 
O how terrible it must be for a young man 
seated before a family and the family thinking 
We never saw him before! He wants our Mary Lou! 
After tea and homemade cookies they ask What do you do for a living? 
Should I tell them? Would they like me then? 
Say All right get married, we’re losing a daughter 
but we’re gaining a son– 
And should I then ask Where’s the bathroom?

We take ourselves so damn seriously, from the courtship to the wedding vows. I think we all know, deep down, that we are in love when we find someone who can make us laugh.

In our vows, my husband and I named things that the other represents for us. It turns out I am his scotch and he is my zucchini flower. We smiled when we said it and some of the guests laughed with surprise. 

In all humor there is some seriousness. Scotch is my husband’s favorite drink and he takes it seriously. I have never turned down a fried zucchini flower, either made by distant relatives in Italy or my mother in New Jersey. We meant what we said.

A writer friend asked me recently why I haven’t written a blog post about what it means to be married. What it feels like on the other side. I think I don’t entirely know yet. We are happy to be married, relieved to no longer be wedding planning and generally just enjoying ourselves. 

This is the life!

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Please choose the end of this sentence: Wedding planning is…

 

A.    a blissful time to share great ideas with your beloved and family.

B.     a time to sit in a Brookstone mall massage chair trying to get the knots out of your neck without spending part of your wedding budget on a massage.

 

Of course, it is a bit of both.

 

My parents came to Michigan this weekend to help with wedding planning. We had sunny (although cold) weather while the northeast was hit by a huge snow storm. Luck was on our side. We managed to have fun while plodding through lists, budgets and dresses that had enough ribbing they could get married without me. Here are some tricks to make your wedding planning experience be halfway between the two options.

 

Trick one:

Find stores with free champagne

 

Mom and I drove the hour to the Somerset mall to look at dresses for her and to check out a Crate and Barrel wedding eventThere was a spread that included champagne, mini-quiches and pastries. Before picking up our free gift (a heart shaped candy bowl that now sits by our front door filled with mints) we wandered through the store and admired the various wares.

 

At this point, I had already decided on a dress and it was time for Mom to find a dress. We went into a few boutiques (one of which offered free champagne) and then went to some department stores with large dress selections. She tried on dresses and finally chose one. She also tried on some ridiculous options with feathers and extra parts, mostly for the camera. Sometimes the photographer needs to be photographed.

 

Trick two:

Have a free makeover

 

We stopped by the Aveda counter and I asked about makeup. Robert, the effervescent specialist, sat me right down and started to apply various foundations and eye makeup. It was great fun. We aren’t sure if he was joking about previously working as a wholesale reptile salesman or about his second ex-wife, but we all had a good laugh. Mom even tried a new eye makeup before taking this picture.

 

Aveda counter

 

Trick three:

See goofy movies

 

Two friends and I went to see Bride Wars recently with just the right mindset. This goofy, over the top movie will make you laugh and remind you how lucky you are to live a “regular” life. Unlike the characters, you don’t need to develop a “couple’s style” or get a tan before the big day. In fact, it’s safer if you don’t.

 

 

Trick four:

Go dress shopping with someone unexpected

 

My Dad didn’t think he would go dress shopping with us. When I shared the dress store appointments with my parents, he asked if he’d be able to nap at those times.

 

The morning of the first appointment, I asked my Dad to join us. I thought it was “the” place and I wanted him to see the dress. He agreed. (After all, he’d flown into Michigan from New Jersey.) In the end, it wasn’t “the” place, but being the hopeful girl that I am, I thought each successive place might be too and I didn’t want him to miss anything.

 

So, there was my dad sitting in a bit chair built for a king at the foot of the wooden stage in every store. He helped to take pictures, wandered around looking for other dress ideas, and offered very plain advice about what was flattering and what was simply absurd. He made jokes that helped to break the serious tone of the dress stores. Who else would have taken the picture of my mom and me in the same dress in different colors?

 

Towards the end, I was mostly thinking about the dresses and there was less to do. My Dad leaned back in the plush chair and tried to take a nap. Another girl and her mother were chattering away and kept him awake. As they left, we heard one say, “did you see that poor man?” He picked his head up and looked at the saleslady. She said, “I knew you weren’t sleeping!” and we all laughed. Poor man? We couldn’t have had more fun.

 

 

 

 

It is easy to lose a job because you’re spending so much time scouring the web for discounts, proper etiquette, etc.. Resist the urge. Step by step, everything will get done. Embrace your inner engaged self and take advantage of what our commercial culture has available to you for laughs and free drinks. And don’t forget to bring someone along.

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