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The book will be equally popular as a gift and curiosity for the nearly wed or as a resource for those hard-to-find facts that provide the background on much of the traditional wedding lore. A complete index provides access by topic.
A-line: Close-fitting bodice and waist with A-shaped skirt to the floor. A classic, flattering to most body types.
Ball gown: Full bodice and gathered waist, with very full skirt. A fairy tale look good for all shapes.
Empire: Full, nicely fitted bodice and high waist, with a flowing but narrow A-shaped skirt beneath. Flattering for all shapes.
Mermaid: Form-fitting gown that flairs out below the knee to the floor. Flattering for a curvy figure.
Princess: See A-Line.
Sheath: Form-fitting full-length dress for slender, tall, or petite brides.
MELLOW BELLS Hear the mellow wedding bells, Golden bells! What a world of happiness their harmony foretells! Through the balmy air of night How they ring out their delight! From the molten-golden notes, And all in tune, What a liquid ditty floats To the turtle-dove that listens, while she gloats On the moon! Oh, from out the sounding cells, What a gush of euphony voluminously wells! How it swells! How it dwells On the Future! how it tells Of the rapture that impels To the swinging and the ringing Of the bells, bells, bells, Of the bells, bells, bells, bells, Bells, bells, bells To the rhyming and the chiming of the bells! -"The Bells" (1849), Edgar Allan Poe
DINNER MENU FOR A SPANISH ROYAL WEDDING "points." (A 50-point diamond, for example, could also be said to weigh half a carat.) While carat weight determines a stone's price to some degree, it cannot be judged without reference to the other three C's, since a small, beautifully cut, colorless, flawless stone could be worth far more than a larger stone of less brilliance or purity.
Presence. An addition to the judging process by Tiffany & Co., this takes into account such other qualities as the diamond's precision of cut, its symmetry, and its polish, all of which contribute to the overall visual impact of the stone.
AUSPICIOUS HINDU WEDDING GIFTS Whole numbers ending in "1" are considered to bring good fortune in the Hindu faith. Guests at traditional Indian weddings therefore present gifts in monetary support of the new couple, always making sure that their check or cash, whether rupees, dollars, pounds, or other currency, totals a number such as 11, 51, 101, and so on.
JAPANESE SYMBOLIC WEDDING FOODS At the banquet following a traditional Japanese wedding ceremony, certain foods are served for their propitious symbolic meaning. (The number of items served should never total a multiple of the number four, shi, which sounds similar to the first syllable of a word for death.)
Adzuki beans and rice: The color of the bright red beans represents good fortune.
Clams: Presented to guests complete with both shell halves, the bivalves symbolize togetherness.
Fish: Served whole, fish are cooked with their heads touching their tails to form circles that represent eternity.
Konbu: Dried kelp is served because its name is similar to the last two syllables of the word for "joy," yorokobu.
Lobster: When cooked, the crustacean's shell turns deep red, a lucky color.
Salted herring roe: The preserved fish eggs symbolize fertility.
Sea bream: This particular fish is served because its Japanese name, tai, is the last syllable of the word for happiness, medetai.
NO BETTER LOT IN LIFE I was once congratulating a friend, who had around him a blooming family, knit together in the strongest affection. "I can wish you no better lot," said he, with enthusiasm, "than to have a wife and children. If you are prosperous, there they are to share your prosperity; if otherwise, there they are to comfort you." And, indeed, I have observed that a married man falling into misfortune, is more apt to retrieve his situation in the world than a single one; partly, because he is more stimulated to exertion by the necessities of the helpless and beloved beings who depend upon him for subsistence, but chiefly because his spirits are soothed and relieved by domestic endearments, and his self-respect kept alive by finding, that, though all abroad is darkness and humiliation, yet there is still a little world of love at home, of which he is the monarch. Whereas, a single man is apt to run to waste and self-neglect; to fancy himself lonely and abandoned, and his heart to fall to ruin, like some deserted mansion, for want of an inhabitant. -"The Wife" from The Sketchbook of Geoffrey Crayon (1819-1820), Washington Irving
BRIDAL OUTFIT COLORS Married in white, you have chosen all right. Married in gray, you will go far away. Married in black, you will wish yourself back. Married in red, you will wish yourself dead. Married in green, ashamed to be seen. Married in blue, love ever true. Married in pearl, you will live in a whirl. Married in yellow, ashamed of your fellow. Married in brown, you will live out of town. Married in tan, he will be a good man. Married in pink, your spirits will sink. [Alternatively, Married in pink, of you he will think.] -19th century English folk rhyme
RANDOM STATS, PART I 3 to 4 months: Average time ahead of wedding American bridesmaids' dresses are bought.
180: Average number of guests at an American wedding.
33 percent: Couples who hire a wedding consultant.
67 percent: Brides who continue to wear their wedding-day scent.
WEIRD LAWS: SINGLE LIFE A random compendium of archaic or just plain strange wedding-related laws still on the books. (See also "Weird Laws: Courtship," page 82; "Weird Laws: Weddings," page 125; and "Weird Laws: Married Life," page 166.)
Marry or don't jump! In the state of Florida, unmarried women may not go parachuting on a Sunday.
Marry or pay! The state of Missouri requires that single men aged 21 to 50 years pay an annual $1 tax.
Marry or don't fish! Unmarried women may not fish alone in the state of Montana.
THE MARRIED WOMEN'S PROPERTY ACT, 1849 An act for the more effectual protection of the property of married women:
1. The real property of any female who may hereafter marry, and which she shall own at the time of marriage, and the rents, issues, and profits thereof, shall not be subject to the sole disposal of her husband, nor be liable for his debts, and shall continue her sole and separate property, as if she were a single female.
2. The real and personal property, and the rents, issues, and profits thereof, of any female now married, shall not be subject to the disposal of her husband; but shall be her sole and separate property, as if she were a single female, except so far as the same may be liable for the debts of her husband heretofore contracted.
3. Any married female may take by inheritance, or by gift, grant, devise, or bequest, from any person other than her husband, and hold to her sole and separate use, and convey and devise real and personal property, and any interest or estate therein, and the rents, issues, and profits thereof, in the same manner and with like effect as if she were unmarried, and the same shall not be subject to the disposal of her husband nor be liable for his debts.
Note: While other laws had previously been passed giving married women some control of their property, this statute of New York State, enacted in 1848 and printed here as amended the following year, was the first to give them more comprehensive control.
UNIVERSAL TRUTH It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.
However little known the feelings or views of such a man may be on his first entering a neighbourhood, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of the surrounding families that he is considered as the rightful property of some one or other of their daughters. -Opening lines of Pride and Prejudice (1813), Jane Austen
SOME ROMANTIC MOVIES To pass the time or get in the mood while planning or waiting for the wedding, here's an arbitrary selection of some perennial favorites available on video or DVD. (See also "Some Wedding Movies," page 112-115.)
Gone with the Wind (1939): Vivien Leigh plays Scarlett O'Hara and Clark Gable is Rhett Butler, amid the tragic pageantry of the Civil War.
"I can't go all my life waiting to catch you between husbands." -From the screenplay by Sidney Howard and others, based on the novel by Margaret Mitchell
The Shop Around the Corner (1940): Coworkers in a small Budapest shop, Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullavan fall in love as anonymous pen pals while disliking each other in person.
Casablanca (1942): Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman love passionately and nobly in Paris and Morocco during World War II.
Adam's Rib (1949): Real-life lovers Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy play husband-and-wife lawyers battling it out in the courtroom.
"Lawyers should never marry other lawyers. This is called in-breeding; from this comes idiot children-and other lawyers." -From the screenplay by Ruth Gordon and Garson Kanin
Roman Holiday (1953): Incognito princess Audrey Hepburn and incognito reporter Gregory Peck fall for each other in the Eternal City.
Sabrina (1954): Wealthy brothers Humphrey Bogart and William Holden vie for the love of a chauffeur's daughter, played by Audrey Hepburn.
An Affair to Remember (1957): Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr star as strangers who fall in love on an ocean liner, agree to meet six months later, and are almost kept tragically apart.
"There must be something between us, even if it's only an ocean." -From the screenplay by Leo McCarey and Delmer Daves
Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961): Party girl Audrey Hepburn and struggling writer George Peppard find unlikely love in Manhattan.
Doctor Zhivago (1965): Omar Sharif plays the title role and Julie Christie his true love, Lara, in this epic set against the Russian Revolution.
"Good marriages are made in heaven ... or some such place." -From the screenplay by Robert Bolt
Romeo and Juliet (1968): Young English actors Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey play Shakespeare's star-crossed lovers in this opulent film.
Somewhere in Time (1980): Playwright Christopher Reeve hypnotically time-travels back seven decades to connect with true love Jane Seymour.
An Officer and a Gentleman (1982): Navy flyer and officer candidate Richard Gere does bad and good by factory worker Deborah Winger.
Dirty Dancing (1987): Patrick Swayze teaches naïve teen Jennifer Grey how to dance and love at a Catskills family camp.
The Princess Bride (1987): Wacky comedy combines with romance as stable boy/pirate Cary Elwes rescues true love/princess Robin Wright.
When Harry Met Sally (1989): Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan meet, hate each other, and then learn to love each other.
"I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible." -From the screenplay by Nora Ephron
Pretty Woman (1990): L.A. "working girl" Julia Roberts undergoes a Cinderella transformation in a romance with tycoon Richard Gere.
Sleepless in Seattle (1993): Widower Tom Hanks and single gal Meg Ryan fall in love long-distance after she hears him on late-night radio.
"Marriage is hard enough without bringing such low expectations into it." -From the screenplay by Nora Ephron
The American President (1995): Lobbyist Annette Bening and widower U.S. President Michael Douglas are hesitantly drawn to each other against a backdrop of political scheming.
While You Were Sleeping (1995): Sandra Bullock pretends to be the fiancée of a man in a coma, Peter Gallagher, then finds herself attracted to his brother, Bill Pullman.
Titanic (1997): Steerage passenger Leonardo DiCaprio and first-class voyager Kate Winslet find true love just before the great ocean liner sinks into the Atlantic.
Shakespeare in Love (1998): Young noblewoman Gwyneth Paltrow masquerades as a male actor while winning the heart of young Will, Joseph Fiennes, amidst the delightful maelstrom of theatrical life in late 16th century London.
"Love knows nothing of rank or riverbank." -From the screenplay by Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard
Notting Hill (1999): Shy British bookstore owner Hugh Grant and top American movie star Julia Roberts fall in love in one of London's most charming neighborhoods.
"I'm also just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her." -From the screenplay by Richard Curtis
Moulin Rouge (2001): Courtesan Nicole Kidman and aspiring writer Ewan McGregor sing modern pop songs as they woo and break each other's heart in 1890s Paris.
Love Actually (2003): A kaleidoscope of romances merrily intertwine in modern London, starring Hugh Grant, Liam Neeson, Laura Linney, Emma Thompson, Colin Firth, Keira Knightly, and many others.
Excerpted from PRACTICALLY USELESS INFORMATION Weddings by Norman Kolpas Katie Kolpas Copyright © 2007 by Norman Kolpas Katie Kolpas. Excerpted by permission.
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