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The high price of weddings these days

One of the perils of sorority membership is (no, not paddling) that you befriend something like upwards of 80 women during your tenure in college. You will not get along with all of them, and you will not be close to every single girl. You will, however, have a disproportionately large group of girlfriends. This is not a bad thing until they all start getting married.

This is not to say that I begrudge them their nuptial happiness.

Every year it seems that through either the girl, herself, or our well maintained gossip grapevine, that at least two girls get engaged. This means I have attended an average of two weddings a year since about 1997.

This year I have been invited to five weddings. This does not count weddings I will attend as someone���s date. This has multiple implications for me.

As we all know, we are expected to dress nicely when attending a wedding (except the first one, where we were greeted by the bride and groom, fresh in their Hawaiian shirts and khakis). Since I was raised with an outmoded (but deeply ingrained) sensitivity to dressing according to the time of day and the kind of church, etc., I take special note of the time the wedding is held.

At first, I thought this would help me sort of spread out my outfits, because the same people will be attending most of the weddings (���Didn���t she wear that lavender dress at Melissa���s wedding? I know that girl owns more clothes than that!����). I thought I could switch back and forth between evening and afternoon wear; no such luck. They are all in the afternoon.

This is good and bad. Good, because I will not have the Herculean task of getting my boyfriend to put on a suit and tie (what men should wear to any wedding after five p.m. that is not black tie optional). However, my black dress is too hot and too formal to wear in the afternoons. This means I need to find at least one or two other dresses. I hate dresses. I hate shopping for dresses. I am too poor for this.

The next thing a polite person does when attending a wedding is to bring a gift. Now, five weddings is going to put a dent in my already skinny pocketbook, but I have come up with a solution. They are all getting Christmas ornaments. I am too poor to be purchasing 320 thread count Ralph Lauren sheets at Nordstrom for five couples.

While we are on the subject of gifts, I have noticed something disturbing. Two of the wedding invitations had tiny cards flutter out of them when I opened the expensive, 20 pound bond paper envelopes. These cards not only matched the invitations, but they also told me where the bride and groom were registered.

I am horribly offended by this. To me it seems a hideous breach of manners. It is an unspoken understanding that people will bring gifts. One either asks the bride where she is registered or inquires discretely amongst people who���d be in the know. The little cards almost seemed an expectation of some material item. I���m halfway inclined not to give those folks anything.

The most tasteful way I���ve seen this done was by placing an indication of the registry location on photocopied directions for out of town guests. This makes sense as out-of-towners have a more difficult time finding out such a piece of information.

Of course, in Portland, it is safe to assume that you can go to Meier & Frank and/or Target and punch the newlyweds-to-be names in their bridal registries and come up with a list of overpriced crystal and electronic goods. Usually I can afford a washcloth, or if it���s a really good friend, I will go with the least expensive piece of crystal.

I can not wait until I get married so I can ask a group of people composed of both my friends and virtual strangers to buy me things I would never ask for otherwise. I have it all planned out. If someone asks me to marry him, I am going to set my wedding date so that I don���t have to compete with 15 of my other girlfriends. That way, I will get the things I asked for instead of some crappy Christmas ornaments.