Until Death Do Us Part, or I Fall Off This Float

As if the wedding industry isn’t hard enough on marriage. As if Four Weddings, Say Yes to the Dress, and The Wedding Party don’t foster impossibly destructive fantasies of happily ever after. As if The Bachelor and The Bachelorette have not bitch slapped marriage in the face for too many years already. Now we have a float.

I was doing dishes when the Rose Parade’s wedding float paused on the big screen in my living room. All I could think of was, awww… “Quick, kids, change the channel.”It used to be enough to watch young musicians and dancers demonstrate the result of years of practice. It used to be enough to marvel at the effort and intricacy of every poppy seed and Cymbidium orchid trained into the shape of a beloved fairy tale character. It used to be enough to enjoy the wholesome precursor to the granddaddy of all football games while getting lippy on Mimosas.

Not anymore. We have become accustomed to more. The Greatest Parade of All Time EVER has responded, adding heartwarming moments to America’s New Year’s tradition. Nicole Angelillo and Gerald Sapienza recited their vows during the 124th Tournament of Roses aboard the “The Love Float,” sponsored by Farmer’s Insurance.

Entertainment gold, right there.

Here is the conversation I imagine occurred in thousands of apartments and rent houses across America after Farmer’s Insurance announced the open invitation for couples to enter for a chance to win Rose Parade nuptials:

HER: Wouldn’t that be fun? Let’s do it! Let’s enter and get married on a float in front of millions of people!!!

HIM: No.

HER: Come on! It will be soooooo fun and think of the pictures. We’ll be on TV!

HIM: You are not serious.

HER: Why can’t you ever just be supportive? Why can’t you just this once do something for ME? Maybe we shouldn’t even get married at ALL!

HIM: [sigh]

HER: Oh, look—it comes with tickets to the Rose Bowl.

HIM: Where do we sign up?

In pre-event promotion you could have learned that Nicole’s secret high school crush on Gerald was years later transformed into relationship reality by fate. Fate, kismet, fortune, luck, destiny, and the online dating site where they were reunited and where “sparks flew.”

Sparks are important. The fire of marriage can be a slow burner, sometimes nearly extinguished by the suffocations of incorrectly loaded dishwashers and questionable taste in Valentine’s gifts. I’m all for sparks, along with any other means of marital ignition. Still, wedding as entertainment is just wrong.

But, damn, was it ever heartwarming! Not to mention cost effective.

With the price tag of the average American wedding hovering just below $27,000, the Rose Parade deal had to be a financial boon for the young couple. A friend of mine likes to argue that no sane adult would invest that kind of money with a paltry 50% success rate. Silly woman. Everyone knows you lose the wedding money anyway, because a wedding is not an investment; it’s a party.

So, sure, throw a party, buy an experience, live it up. Just know that the wedding has nothing to do with the marriage because it is not the size or grandeur of the wedding that is important. It is not the number of people in the pews reciting the marriage prayer, or tuning in live on ABC, that determine whether a marriage makes it past that frost-bitten first anniversary cake—or the seven-year itch, or the fifteen-year I-want-to-bludgeon-you-with-a-ski-boot malaise. Marriages last in the long term through effort, optimism, and float loads of luck.

I hope the Sapienzas enjoyed their day as much as Farmer’s Insurance and the Rose Parade promoters did. I hope the couple gets a seven-figure offer for a reality show about their first year of marriage so we can watch them eat that stale cake. And then I hope they disappear into the mess of wedded bliss. Most of all, I hope my children understand that the Rose Parade wedding, like most weddings, has everything to do with entertainment and nothing to do with marriage.

Image: wtl photography, Flickr

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