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S 3 E 6 The Wedding Industrial Complex

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One version of wedding sociology

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From "The Simple Life" by Charles Wagner, written in 1901!


T the home of the Blanchards, everything is topsy-turvy, and with reason. Think of it! Mlle. Yvonne is to be married Tuesday, and to-day is Friday!


Callers loaded with gifts, and tradesmen bending under packages, come and go in endless procession. The servants are at the end of their endurance. As for the family and the betrothed, they no longer have a life or a fixed abode. Their mornings are spent with dressmakers, milliners, upholsterers, jewelers, decorators, and caterers. After that, comes a rush through offices, where one waits in line, gazing vaguely at busy clerks engulfed in papers. A fortunate thing, if there be time when this is over, to run home and dress for the series of ceremonial dinners—betrothal dinners, dinners of presentation, the settlement dinner, receptions, balls. About midnight, home again, harassed and weary, to find the latest accumulation of parcels, and a deluge of letters—congratulations, felicitations, acceptances and regrets from bridesmaids and ushers, excuses of tardy tradesmen. And the contretemps of the last minute—a sudden death that disarranges the bridal party; a wretched cold that prevents a favorite cantatrice from singing, and so forth, and so forth. Those poor Blanchards! They will never be ready, and they thought they had foreseen everything!


Such has been their existence for a month. No longer possible to breathe, to rest a half-hour, to tranquillize one's thoughts. No, this is not living!


Mercifully, there is Grandmother's room. Grandmother is verging on eighty. Through many toils and much suffering, she has come to meet things with the calm assurance which life brings to men and women of high thinking and large hearts. She sits there in her arm-chair, enjoying the silence of long meditative hours. So the flood of affairs surging through the house, ebbs at her door. At the threshold of this retreat, voices are hushed and footfalls softened; and when the young fiancés want to hide away for a moment, they flee to Grandmother.


"Poor children!" is her greeting. "You are worn out! Rest a little and belong to each other. All these things count for nothing. Don't let them absorb you, it isn't worth while."