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Looseleaf laureate: Put down that cake and let’s dance

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Weddings have become anything-goes affairs these days. I guess that’s as it should be.

I attended a fine outdoor ceremony at the Chattanooga Nature Center recently. Guests wore everything from dresses and coats and ties to blue jeans, hiking sandals and untucked shirts.

And bug spray. Our hosts were thoughtful enough to provide plenty of DEET-infused repellants.

Thunder rumbled throughout the ceremony — appropriate, perhaps, because of the stormy start to the couple’s relationship — but the rain held off until they said their “I do’s.”

The bride wore a beautiful ivory gown with a short train. I cringed as it dragged along the rose petal-strewn dirt path to the meadow where the guests were seated, but it remained relatively unsullied.

The bridesmaids wore tasteful sheath dresses – the kind they could wear again for any occasion, short of, say, duck hunting. (Speaking of duck hunting, I learned a few years ago that there are whole catalogs of camouflage formalwear: tuxedos and top hats to prom and wedding dresses. Who am I to judge?)

I’m glad some weddings have relaxed from rigid formality.

While some rules of etiquette are nice, I’ve seen people struggle trying to create an event that does not reflect themselves or their guests.

And some weddings, at least in the planning stages, seem like a sort of self-hazing running of the gauntlet for the betrothed, a word that rhymes with frothed, which is how I’m guessing they might feel by the big day.
Who among us hasn’t heard the term bridezilla?

Many years ago, I was the maid of honor in the June wedding of one of my best friends in the world.

Although beautiful and expensive, my long dress was the classic ice-blue variety that could never be worn again outside of a wedding.

One of my duties, as it was explained to me by the frazzled bride-to-be, was to run interference between her and anyone who might add more stress.

A few select people were named specifically, but the rest she left up to my good judgment.

At one point before the wedding, my normally laid-back friend nearly had a meltdown when she learned her soon-to-be mother-in-law wanted to add a separate chocolate cake to the elegant classic wedding cake the bride had selected. I had to explain to her the Southern wedding tradition of a groom’s cake.

The trials of putting together a wedding may be a test of a couple’s resolve to be together, but they’ll have trials enough down the road.

I believe weddings should be more about celebrating than straining to fit a mold.

Now put down that chocolate cake, and let’s dance.