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Ben Gran’s Guide to Des Moines Wedding Planning

“Mike, never get married. And if you screw that up, never have kids. And if you screw that up, don’t go blaming me.” – My Grandpa Don, giving advice to my Uncle Mike on his wedding day.

“I always cry at weddings. Because I’m sad that my Saturday is being ruined.”Rob Delaney

Wedding_ringsIt’s still winter, but apparently wedding season is right around the corner. Does wedding season ever really end? I’ve been invited to weddings in almost every month of the year, ranging from January to December, to the ever-popular June and October.

So as a long-time married person who is also one of the most happily married people I know (I’m definitely more happily married than my wife), I’d like to impart some wisdom to help young couples in Des Moines to plan their special day:

Are you REALLY sure you want to get married?

Seriously. You’re sure about this? How old are you? You’re 22 years old? Both of you? Good Lord.

What’s the rush? Why are so many young people in Iowa in such a damn hurry to get married? This is 2013; we’re not living in Little House on the Prairie days, where you had to get married as soon as you hit puberty so you could crank out a few children before dying of dysentery.

Maybe instead of rushing to the altar, you should just…you know, LIVE LIFE a little. Work hard. Save money. Have fun. Meet people. Try new things. Travel. Take salsa dancing lessons. Learn a foreign language. Become a more interesting person with a happy, fulfilling life. You don’t need to sign your life away at age 22!

And even if you are really into the person you’re dating, instead of getting married, maybe you should just live together for several years without getting married – do it European style! Or wait until you’re 35 years old to get married, like people do in New York City. So sophisticated! (That’s because people in New York can’t afford to get married, because the cost of living is so high and it takes so long to get established in a career. People in New York live with roommates until they’re 30, get married at age 35, and have their first child at age 40 or later. You see all these silver-haired people pushing strollers around the city, and it’s like “Oh, it’s so nice to see grandparents spending time with their grandchildren! Oh wait, those are PARENTS.”)

You know what happens if you get married too soon or get married to the wrong person? You get DIVORCED. And divorce is AWFUL. The person you once loved most in the world turns into your legal adversary. You lose half of your life savings. It’s even worse if you get divorced after having kids. Then you have to spend years scrimping to pay bills and manage the care of your children, while your ex-spouse harasses you with frivolous legal proceedings and slowly bankrupts you with delayed child support payments, and you have to be reminded every day of every single thing you absolutely DESPISE about this petty, vindictive, incompetent, irresponsible, willfully ignorant, pig-headed person who you once thought you loved more than anyone in the world. (Not that this has ever happened to anyone I know.)

Or even if you don’t get divorced, you still run the risk of falling into one of those depressing sexless companionate marriages, where you go from being “lovers” to being “friends with occasional benefits” to being “co-workers at a small struggling not-for-profit organization dedicated to the care and feeding of angry wild badgers.” (Not that this has ever happened to anyone I know.)

Whoa, wait! Where are you going? Come back!

Look, I’m not trying to be depressing. I just want to knock the Sacred Institution of Marriage off its pedestal a bit. You see, Americans speak too reverentially about marriage. Too many people (ahem, “women,” cough, cough) grow up with visions of fantasy Disney Princess weddings in their heads. And the reality is, for a lot of people, getting married turns out to be the worst mistake they ever make.

Marriage is like Capitalism: it doesn’t really work for most people, but we don’t have any alternatives, so we have to keep trying.

What’s that you say? You were hoping that this article would provide some actual, useful advice on how to plan a Des Moines wedding?

OK, fine. *does quick Google search*

How to plan a great Des Moines wedding:

Apparently there’s a Des Moines Bridal Show coming up on April 13. So, yeah. Go to that.

But more importantly:

How to manage your personal stress levels while planning a wedding

Panning a wedding can be intensely stressful, but the stress serves a purpose: it’s preparing you for the stress of raising kids, maintaining a home, managing relationships with in-laws, paying bills, and all the other stressful things you’ll have to deal with during your long, long life together as a married couple.

  • Go to a bar! Check out our list of the best Des Moines bars for fathers – many of these bars are also good drinking spots for the not-yet-married.
  • Pamper yourself! Ladies – have a spa day! Get a massage. Men can do this too! Go to some place like Signature Male. Massage therapy provides relief of tension and many other health benefits. Pro Tip: Fellas, getting a massage is also a great way to talk with women and be touched by women, to prepare you for the absence of those experiences after you’re married.
  • Let go. Not every single thing is going to go perfectly according to plan with your wedding, or in your marriage, so you might as well get used to it. Don’t fret over unimportant details like place settings and tablecloths, or whatever. Choose a few things that are really important to you, whether it’s hiring a live band or getting dinner catered from your favorite restaurant, and forget about the rest.
  • Trim down the guest list. Every single person you invite to your wedding is adding complexity and cost. You won’t have time to talk with everyone. Remember that the size of the audience for your wedding is not a predictor of marital happiness. I’ve seen weddings that were thrown together at the last minute with 20 people in the audience where the married couples are still happily together and very much in love years later, and I’ve seen massive weddings where the marriage ended in bitterness and recriminations.

Remember: Your wedding is supposed to be a celebration of love between two people who are making promises to each other to care for each other and support each other through life’s hardships, and witness each other’s triumphs, and build a loving life together that is bigger than themselves.

And ultimately, none of that has anything to do with what color of bridesmaid’s dresses you chose or how much you spent on cake. It’s about the two of you.

Because once the wedding is over and the applause dies down and all of your friends and family go home, YOU’RE ON YOUR OWN.

Ben Gran is a Des Moines writer and comedian who has been happily married to the love of his life for almost 7 years. Follow Ben on Twitter and get free jokes everyday on Facebook