I realize that there are probably weddings in Oregon that look and feel like southern weddings. I’m guessing that they’re for rich people whose families have ties to the East Coast - but I don't know a lot of those people. I’ve been to probably a dozen weddings since I turned 18. I've attended everything from a quick wedding for two 18-year-olds (graduating the next day) who rented the local Moose Hall and had their aunts hang some paper streamers to a $30K+ affair with late night dancing, gorgeous flowers, fancy cocktail dresses and passed finger food.
I’ve only been to one southern wedding.
However, I first suspected that some things about weddings would be different when, shortly after arriving in South Carolina, my boyfriend’s stepmother, I guess in an effort to gauge the seriousness of our relationship, asked if we’d picked out a china pattern.
“Um, no,” I stammered. “Do people … still do that? People my age?”
She laughed and said that maybe she was just old-fashioned.
But the southern bride whose wedding I just attended, she’s not old-fashioned. Modern girl, this one. And she picked out formal china, informal china, Christmas china and FORMAL Christmas china.
Also, the southern wedding I recently attended took place in a church. I have not been to a church wedding since I was a kid – I know they still happen, but I do believe they’re more rare than the ballroom, or outdoor park, or wedding venue style-affairs that are de rigueur out west.
Unfortunately, my date and I arrived only 10 minutes early for the wedding, something I hadn’t intended (my beau’s wardrobe malfunction [read: lack of planning when it came to ironing] was to blame), but I still thought would be OK. But no. The chapel was full so we were put in the overflow room with the other derelict guests. There was a big screen TV with a live video feed from the chapel. This is another thing I’ve never seen before.
But when the video feed went out, the other guests looked around and agreed it was time to hit the bar, I realized that there is at least one important nuptial factor that is universal from coast to coast: booze.
Thank baby Jesus.
The level of formality is another factor that is different from Oregon. This is something I anticipated. See, in the entire state of Oregon, there are probably two restaurants where you can’t wear jeans. And if you’re the governor of the state, you can wear jeans anywhere you damn well please. Not the case here. Example: A Southern girlfriend of mine believes that male guests at a wedding that is held at 6 p.m. or later should wear tuxedos.
So, my beau and I had some trouble figuring out what to wear – mostly because we’re poor, but also because he spent the last decade working in the outdoors, so he doesn’t own a tie. Me, I pretty much only own dress-up clothes that could be seen as too loud/quirky for southern affairs (I had to be talked out of wearing a short black dress and hot pink tights to the wedding and I’m still kind of miffed about it). Also, my fancy clothes just aren't fancy by southern standards. I do not own a single sequin. I don't really do sparkles. Or bows.
We figured it out, but we ended up looking dowdier than most of the other guests. No big deal, as far as I'm concerned.
But this is all leading up to my proclamation. In my view, the 2 best things about southern weddings:
1. *Seersucker suits with bowties. There were dozens of them, on everyone from little boys (!) to grown men. I will admit that, unfortunately, I didn't see any of the older gents wearing them, so suspect they could be trend that I just hadn't been exposed to before.
*I do know some folks just see the seersucker thing as an affectation. Some sort of old-money, stodgy ... really, I don't know. I haven't been here long enough to understand the intricacies of Southern affectations. Regardless, I find boys in seersucker and bowties adorable and charming. If I still worked at a newspaper this post would be headlined "A sucker for seersucker." Or some such thing.
2. The electric slide.
Now, I don’t do the electric slide. I learned it at some point, but I’m terrible at remembering dances that require specific moves at specific times. But southern ladies like their electric slide. And we're all the better for it.