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A recent newspaper article peaked my interest and left me with my jaw hanging open. It seems that modern brides, with their extravagant weddings, expect gifts (no, make that DEMAND gifts) that will at least cover the cost of the guest’s meal. Anything less than that is considered chintzy.

Your friends are homeless, unemployed,  awash in student debt? No excuses. If they’re coming to this coronation, oops, I mean wedding, they have to bring a gift. And it better pass the Standards and Best Practices Committee of the Wedding Party. If it doesn’t, they’ll either be shown the door when they arrive or be escorted apace to the conveniently located ATM machine acquired for the wedding. You know, for those dim-witted folks who  have made a terrible misstep in wedding etiquette. They cheaped out. No problem…just prance on over to the cash machine and  top up the gift. Oh, your debit card has been declined? No problem…just try a credit card. Keep trying until you find one that works. The bride will wait. Right behind you. Humming Donna Summer’s classic: “She Works Hard for the Money”.

Really? I thought weddings were to celebrate the joy of the union of two people so madly in love (okay, they’re just in lust) they can’t bear to be without each other. Or perhaps I’m thinking of something else. Since when has the wedding march been replaced by Madonna’s “Material Girl”?

I fully expected Gill to agree with me in my outrage. But to my horror she didn’t. Instead, she latched onto the ATM idea and ran with it — made it her own, as it were.

“Ma, that does it! That’s the last straw and I’m the camel. I’m likely never getting married and I’ve always felt left out. I’m tired of being discriminated against. It isn’t fair that we singles are excluded from that important rite of passage. After all, I could use free loot as much as the next person. I think I should hold a faux-wedding shindig just so I can join in the largesse. You know, it could be a ‘I’m Single and I Love It but I Need a Toaster’ party. Or a ‘You Too Can Meet a Famous Author’  party when my first book gets published…that’s just as big a deal as a wedding. Or even a ‘Help Me Buy a New Colon’ party. But an ATM in the lobby? It’s a genius idea. I wish I’d thought of it  first.”

“But that’s so crass! One gives a gift to wish the person well. You’re supposed to be happy for them, not funding their retirement.”

“Too true, Ma. But my faux-wedding party would definitely not be crass. It would be simple. I mean, what’s the big deal? You need a cake, your favourite food, some booze. I’m all set for a costume since I still have that fancy purple cape I purloined from a friend’s theatre production years ago. Maybe we could have a few photos. Perhaps one of me in the cape hugging the ATM…in the same vein as the bride and groom sharing the first kiss. How much can that cost?”

“Funny you should ask. Wedding cakes can cost $5000. Dinners, $100 a head, even a photographer can cost from $3000 to $8000. If you want a fancy venue, thousands more…and the booze bill! I can’t imagine how many boxes of wine (with deluxe spigotts) we’d have to order. Apparently, in this area, it’s not uncommon to spend $50,000 on a wedding. And that doesn’t include the hospital bill for the heart attack when the tally comes.”

“What? Are you kidding me? I’d have the party in your back yard…of course, we’d have to put up an awning to prevent the ducks from landing on the guests as they flew off the roof to get seed. And the chippies would somehow have to be corralled for the day (maybe your neighbour’s hound could be requisitioned for hunting duty. And the Coonhound to watch the riff-raff. Just think, a Vizsla hound at one end; a Coonhound at the other…both wearing bow ties so they’d fit in.) The cake is easy…Plan the event for a day when the local grocery store  is celebrating something. They always hand out free cake. Herd all our guests into a van, drive them to the store parking lot, and send them in to get a piece of cake. I’m sure the store would appreciate the well-dressed clientele. As for dinner, if it’s my favourite food, that’s quick and cheap: Rice. Rice done ten ways. What’s not to love?”

“Okay, smartypants. How about a photographer? That IS expensive.”

“Ma, not to worry. Crazy D and L’il Sis are great at taking pictures. Mostly close-ups of dog noses or shaming pics designed to embarrass us all on Facebook, but, as you say, the price is right. And it’s not as if we’re gonna send the pics to the ‘society column’ of the local newspaper. We’d have as much chance of that as the fine folks of ‘Duck Dynasty’. Well, I’ve gotta go, Ma. I’ve got a call in to a guy about an ATM machine…”

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