Three Months before the Wedding
This is the time for the formal announcement of your engagement to appear in your local newspaper. Your local newspaper should have a name like The Morning, Afternoon & Evening Chronic Spokesperson-Fabricator, and the wording of the announcement should be as follows:
“(Your parents’ names) are extremely relieved to announce the engagement of (your name) to (your fiance’s name), who is not really good enough, son of (your fiance’s parents’ names), who are quite frankly dreadful, but (your parents’ names) will settle for just about anything at this point because suitors are not exactly knocking down (your name)’s door despite all the money (your parents’ names) spent on her teeth. An elaborate wedding is planned.”
This is also when you send out your invitations. You are naturally going to want to invite me and a number of my friends, because we are a lot of fun at any kind of affair where there is free liquor, plus if the band is really lame, which it will be (see page 50), we are not afraid to express our displeasure by hurling segments of the prime rib entree, which by the way may be served buffet-style for informal afternoon weddings. Others you might consider inviting include your family and any member of the groom’s family who can produce a receipt proving he or she has purchased at least one full place setting.
The invitation should be on a little card, which you mail to your invitees along with a little matching R.S.V.P. card and a return envelope that says POSTAL SERVICE WILL NOT DELIVER WITHOUT STAMP.Two Months before the Wedding
This is when the mother of the groom should go out and buy a dress to wear to the wedding that is fancy enough so that the mother of the bride will be convinced that the groom’s mother is trying to upstage the bride, and consequently the bride’s mother will think about virtually nothing else for the rest of her life.
This is also when you should hire a band. It makes no difference which one. All wedding bands are the same. They’re all cloned from living cells that were taken from the original wedding band, “Victor Esplanade and his Sounds of Compunction,” and preserved in a saline solution in Secaucus, New jersey (which, incidentally, is also the home of the first native American Formica trees). They’ll show up in stained tuxedos, and no matter what kind of music you ask them to play, they’ll play it in such a way that it sounds like “New York, New York.” Really. If you feel like dancing to some rock ‘n’ roll, and you ask them if they maybe know “Honky Tonk Woman,” they’ll say, “Oh sure, we know that one,” and they’ll play “New York, New York.” They can’t help it. We’re talking genetics.One Month before the Wedding
Now is the time for you and the groom to get your blood tests. If your groom’s blood fails, get another groom. If your blood fails, get some new blood. We are much too far into the planning process to turn back now.
By now you should also have lined up a photographer. You’ll want to have lots of photographs of your wedding to show to your family and friends, who will have been unable to see the actual ceremony because the photographer was always in the way.
Often you can save money by having your pictures taken by a friend or relative who is familiar with photography in the sense of owning a camera and knowing where a Fotomat is. I have some good friends named Rob and Helene who took this approach, and the pictures came out really swell except that for some technical reason there is no light in any of them. just these vaguely humanoid shapes. We all love to get these pictures out and look at them. “Look!” we say. “There’s Helene! Or Rob! Or the cake!Two Weeks before the Wedding
By now your advance wedding gifts should have started to arrive, including at least 14 attractive and functional fondue sets. Also by this time the bride should start to notice a scratchy feeling at the back of her throat, indicating that she is just starting to come down with a case of Mongolian Death Flu.One Week before the Wedding
This is where the groom starts to get actively involved in the wedding preparations, by having a “bachelor’s party” where he gets together with his “chums” for one last “fling” and wakes up several days later in an unexplored region of New Zealand. Meanwhile you, the bride, are bustling about, looking after the hundreds of last-minute details, having the time of your life despite the intermittent paralysis in your right leg.
The highlight of this week, of course, is the Rehearsal Dinner, when the wedding principals, especially the immediate families, take time out from the hectic pace of preparations to share in an evening of warmth and conviviality, culminating when the mother of the bride and the mother of the groom go after each other with dessert forks.The Wedding Day
This is it! The biggest day of your life, and there’s no way that any dumb old 108-degree fever is going to put a damper on it!
A good idea is to put your wedding gown on early, so the sweat stains can expand from your armpit areas and cover the entire gown, and thus be less noticeable. And now it’s on to the wedding site!
As the guests arrive, the ushers (What do you mean, you forgot the ushers?! Get some!!) should ask the guests whether they want smoking or non-smoking, and seat them accordingly (except the mother of the bride and the mother of the groom, who should be seated in separate states). Then, at the appointed time, the organist should start playing a traditional song, such as “Here Comes the Bride” or “Happy Birthday to You,” and the wedding procession should come down the aisle, in the following order:
1. A cute little nephew, who will carry the ring and announce, at the most dramatic part of the ceremony, that he has to make poopy. If you have no cute little nephew, rent one.
2. The groom (if available).
3. The bridesmaids, walking sideways to minimize the risk that they will injure a member of the audience in the eye with their puffed shoulders.
4. You, the bride, the Center of Everything, smiling radiantly, your eyes sparkling like the most beautiful stars in the sky until, as you reach the altar, they swell shut in reaction to the antibiotics.
From that point on, it Will all be a happy blur to you—the ceremony, the reception, dancing with your new husband to your Special Song (“New York, New York”). Enjoy it all, for you’ll never have a wedding like this again, even if you do recover fully.
But the best part of all will come later, on your Wedding Night, just the two of you, alone at last—you in your filmy, lacy, highly provocative peignoir, and your groom on his back in the shower snoring and dribbling saliva on his rental tuxedo. My advice to you is: relax, have a glass of wine, and check his pulse every 15 minutes. Don’t be alarmed if he has none. This is normal, for grooms.Pranks
It is the responsibility of the best man and the ushers to play fun and comical pranks on the Happy Couple, such as—this is a good one!—just before they come rushing out of the reception, ready to leave on their honeymoon, you take their car and—get this, guys!—you sell it and keep the money. Ha ha! The Happy Couple will sure talk about that for a number of years!The Honeymoon
Most couples prefer to take their honeymoons away from the familiar and the ordinary, to go to an exotic, different, and foreign place, such as Epcot Center. I am not kidding here. A lot of couples really do honeymoon at Disney World. Of course they don’t admit this. They say they’re “honeymooning in Florida,” because they don’t want people to know that the highlight of the whole wild lustful romantic adventure was shaking hands with Goofy.
Of course there are plenty of other possibilities for your honeymoon. Your friendly travel agent will give you mounds of brochures from all kinds of resorts desperate to obtain your honeymoon dollar.Thank-You Notes
Thank-you notes are your last major responsibility as a bride, and the rules of etiquette require that you try to get them all done before the marriage legally dissolves.
The proper wording depends on whether or not you remember what the people gave you. If you do remember, your note should say specific nice things about the gift:
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Sternum:
Thank you ever so much for the very thoughtful fondue set. Mark and I feel that, of all the fondue sets we received, the one you gave us is definitely one of the nicer ones, in that particular color.
Sincerely, Elaine and Mark
If you don’t remember what gift they gave you, you’ll have to compensate by sounding very grateful for it:
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Sternum:
We just don’t know how we can ever thank you for the extremely wonderful gift you gave us. It has become the focal point of our entire lives! We think about it all the time. We are seriously thinking about quitting our jobs and forming a religious cult that just sits around all day worshipping this gift.
With Extreme Sincerity, Elaine and MarkChapter 7. Newlywed Finances
Household Money Management
It Is sad but true that money causes a great many unnecessarily fatal squabbles among newlyweds. Very often this is because of a difference in priorities. For example, you want to buy food, while your spouse wants to buy a thoroughbred racehorse. It’s important, in these situations, for both of you to be willing to sit down together and try to achieve a work able compromise. In this case, you could buy a thoroughbred racehorse and eat it.
Often, however, the solutions are not that simple. This is why it’s so important that right now, while you’re just starting out, you draw up a realistic household budget. I can help you here. I have lived in a realistic household for many years, and I would say, based on experience, that your typical weekly expenses should run pretty close to the following:
REALISTIC WEEKLY HOUSEHOLD BUDGET FOR TWO PEOPLE
Food that you buy and eventually eat $30.00
Food that you buy and store in the back of the refrigerator until you have to throw it out because it looks like the thing that burst out of that unfortunate man’s chest and started eating the spaceship crew in the movie Alien 55.00
Pennies that you get as change and put in a jar, intending to someday put them in those wrappers and take them to the bank, when in fact you will die well before you ever get around to this 117.48
Rent, clothing, car payments, insurance, gas, electricity, telephone, magazines 829.12
As you can see, there are a lot of expenses associated with running a household, and to meet them, you will need Financial Discipline. Each week, when you get your paychecks, you must set aside $3,779.21 right off the bat, to cover your weekly household budget. If your combined weekly paychecks total less than this amount, perhaps you should go back and marry a rich person (see Chapter 1). Your other option is ...Credit Cards
Credit cards are an excellent source of money. The way they work is, people you don’t even know mail them to you, and then stores, for some reason, let you use them to actually buy things. (No, I can’t figure it out either!)
The thing is, you have to be responsible about how you use your credit cards. You can’t just rush out and charge every single item in the store. Think ahead! How would you fit it all into your car?
So I strongly recommend that you be cautious with credit, following the wise Borrowing Rule of Thumb employed by the federal government, which is: “Never borrow any amount of money larger than you can comfortably pronounce.”Your Checking Account
This is another potential source of money, although it’s usually impossible to tell how much money is in it. The important thing is to try to keep your checkbook “balanced.” Here’s how.
1. Each month the bank will send you an envelope containing a bunch of used checks, which, for tax purposes, you should place in a two-ply grocery bag and eventually misplace. Also in the envelope will be:
* A little note entitled “TO OUR CUSTOMERS!” that will feature a cheerful and totally unintelligible message like this: “Good News! First Fiduciary Commonwealth National Savings & Loan & Bank & Trust is now offering 3.439087654970 Growth Bonds of Maturity yielding 2.694968382857%
Compound Annualized Rate of Secretion!” You should try to save this note, for tax purposes.
* A piece of paper covered with numbers (your “statement”).
2. Okay. Now open up your checkbook and take a look at the kind of checks you have. If you have the kind with little nature scenes printed on them, or, God help us, little “Ziggy” cartoons, you’re much too stupid to balance your own checking account, and you should definitely go back and marry a rich person (see Chapter 1).
3. Now examine your check register (the part of your checkbook that you sometimes write on).
4. Now compare and see if any recognizable numbers on the “register” are the same as any numbers the bank has printed on the “statement.” If you find any, you should put a little happy face next to them.
5. If your total number of happy faces is five or more, then your account is what professional accountants call “in balance,” and you can go on ahead and watch TV. If you score lower than five, you should get on the phone immediately and explain to your bank that they have made some kind of error.Your Home: Buying vs. Renting
Aside from Madonna and Sean Penn, most newlyweds rent their first home. This can actually be a pleasant experience, as you discover the Fun Side of apartment life: getting to know your new neighbors; listening to what kind of music your new neighbors like to play very early in the morning on their 150,000-watt sound system; having your new neighbors’ legs come through your ceiling when water from their leaking toilet rots their floor, etc.
But sooner or later, despite this recurring joy of these communal experiences, you’re going to want to have a place of your very own. Step one is to figure out how expensive a house you can afford. This depends on your combined annual incomes, as is shown by the following chart: