Unpleasant Wedding Humor

cake topper

I love injecting humor into weddings. The occasion can sometimes be taken too seriously, either made especially solemn or fraught with the nerves of invested parties that want everything to be perfect. So I’m all about taking things a little more lightly; my imagined and actual wedding invitations are proof of that.

What I can’t get behind, however, is a certain brand of humor I often see or hear about at weddings or in the course of wedding planning. I hesitate to call it chauvinist or sexist but that’s ultimately what it is, or at least it springs from the same source as that whole “the old ball and chain” crack. It’s making jokes at the idea that all the bride really wants is to get married, but the groom isn’t so sure he wants to be there. I’m sure that part of the humor is that it’s not true, but it just rubs me the wrong way.

When searching for wedding toppers I came across it a lot; when Googling “nontraditional or humorous wedding toppers” I found an overwhelming, depressing number of the bride forcing her groom to marry her. In them she’s literally dragging him to the altar. Sometimes that humor spills into the wedding pictures as well. A friend of mine tells of how, when they asked their wedding photographer to snap some silly shots, the photographer instructed him to pose as if he was running away from his bride, looking over his shoulder with a terrified expression on his face. My friend wouldn’t do it. He thought it was awful.

And it is. I’m willing to admit that I might be experiencing a generation gap with humor, but I really just don’t get it. What is funny about a groom not wanting to marry his bride? It implies that women are just desperate for the status a ring gives them and are willing to get it under any circumstances, or are hoodwinked by lukewarm men, and that men equate marriage with captivity. Why would you want to look back on your wedding day and remember it with images of having to chase down the groom and force him, kicking and screaming, to the altar?

Saying that it’s funny because it isn’t true doesn’t help, because in order for the humor to make any sense, there must still be some idea present in our culture that perpetuates the above stereotypes. If they didn’t exist, wedding toppers like the ones mentioned above would be entirely nonsensical.

Fortunately the idea seems to be on its way out. Aside from the behind-the-scenes story my one friend told about his wedding, none of the myriad I’ve been to in the past four years have employed anything like this sense of humor. There is plenty of room for fun and silliness at weddings, but let’s think about what type we choose, and what stereotypes we might be maintaining for future generations, even when they’re in jest.

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*(This image by merfam is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 License.)