Weddings are always an occasion for reflection. The best man reflects on his history with the groom and the change the bride has made in his life. The father of the bride reflects on how recently his little girl was in pigtails, which must be slightly creepy for the groom.
Whoever pays for the wedding will surely be pondering the staggering expense of it all and whether this will be the last good meal for a long time. In 2012, the average cost of an American wedding was $28,000. That's more than I put down on my mortgage, which will outlast many marriages.
Given the size and power of the matrimony-industrial complex, it's not surprising that Travelers now offers wedding insurance. You can get a policy against fly-by-night caterers, gift theft, severe weather -- but not the most devastating threat of all, hypothermia of the feet.
I went to New England to watch my cousin Mark get married last weekend. When you've been to enough weddings, they give you flashbacks. To other weddings, movie weddings -- every wedding hyperlinks to every other wedding. Click on the roses or the bridesmaid's updo to hear "The Princess Bride's" Impressive Clergyman droning "Mawage, that bwessed awangement ... " or the nervous newbie vicar in "Four Weddings and a Funeral" invoking the holy spigot.
At the reception, nobody dances, then everybody dances, then the old people and the children get tired and disappear and the young people finally get to dance to the good rocking stuff now that the old people have gone, taking their crooners and line dances with them.
A guy I was dating in my 20s once said, "I love to go to weddings and watch the middle-aged people try to dance." Yes, how comical. How droll are their antiquated movements and clumsy attempts to be sexy. How laughable their cries of joy at hearing the opening bars of hopelessly dated old songs, the musical equivalent of flocked wallpaper. And then they start flinging each other around until somebody falls over.
We young and cool must bide our time; sometime after the cake, we will own the parquet floor. Moves will be busted. We will get jiggy. My cousins and I, all older than 40, got out there last weekend in the hotel ballroom and showed the kids how it's done. The open-bar happy hour right after the ceremony gave us confidence. Some of the teenage offspring looked as if they were watching Regis Philbin deliver a lecture on birth control, but hey, they don't know how to have fun without texting yet.
About 8:30, I began getting threatening messages from my lower back. I slipped my shoes back on and sat down at the wreckage of my table, strewn with rose petals and handbags and half-empty glasses smeared with frosting.
In the half-light I saw my cousins, wrapped in shawls, rubbing the backs of slumped teens, gathering up their things to leave. The DJ had started playing some godawful "dance" music, some song about crashing a car and another about starships. Monotonous twaddle.
No one was left on the floor but some twentysomethings, grinning and cavorting and ...
... and oh my God: owning the parquet. Rocking out. Outlasting the oldsters. Us. Me.
I slipped my shoes off and got up from my chair. I reflected that with age comes wisdom. The wisdom to know how receptions work, and that with one more chocolate-covered strawberry, you can make it to the last dance. Donna Summer is coming.
Samantha Bennett, freelance writer: email@example.com.