I’ve been in my fair share of weddings. For awhile there, I could truly identify with the lead character in the movie 27 Dresses and though I don’t have a separate closet full of horrible gowns, I’ve done my time in unflattering colors, shapes, lengths and get ups.
My parents had two weddings—one early in their partnership and one later, with the same family and friends. It’s a testament to how you choose your support system that many of the same guests return more than 20 years later to continue to be a part of your experience.
It’s the experience that’s been capitalized on in our culture. The wealth of television programs showcasing weddings is unreal (and often, I’d like to believe the behavior of the brides on some of these shows is truly unreal, too). From surveying brides about one another’s wedding, to the planning, to the venue’s behind-the-scenes work to the dress shopping—an American wedding has been pulled apart and dissected to its parts in more ways than one.
Far better than reality television, however, is the reality in the Pfister Hotel. Last weekend showcased a bridal show and event and nearly every weekend, you can catch guests at some stage of the wedding process. In my people-watching tenure at the hotel, I’ve seen rehearsal dinners, pre-planning events and even bridal teas. From the toes-in-the-water nature of a first bridal show to the end of the wedding event itself, all pieces of the puzzle are housed in the Pfister.
Talking in the hallway with a Pfister staffer, I heard a squeal from across the lobby. I turned in surprise, but my colleague didn’t. Without turning he said, “Oh, a bride. That must be her sister or friend…” I smiled at his savvy and sense of the hotel guests. When I peered around him, it was indeed a bride and a horde of compatriots gathering in the lobby. Her dress hung, trapped in plastic sheathing, on the luggage cart and women flocked to her. My colleague continued, “Oh, I’m so happy to see you! Oh, I can’t believe you’re getting married!” He wasn’t mocking, he was truly lip synching—having seen this ritual performance more than once, the hotel is well-versed in what comes down their aisles.
“Traditional” is one way many of the brides on television measure themselves—they are or they aren’t. But I think what escapes all of them, and what is very present in the revelers I see at the Pfister, is that weddings themselves are rituals that are traditional to us. It doesn’t matter whether your dress is white or blue, your reception is themed or not and whether or not you host a bridal tea or post-wedding gift brunch. The way all hotel guests recognize wedding parties, the way hotel staff knows immediately to stick to their service vows with families and wedding groups and the way the grandeur of the hotel is clearly open arms to whatever “modern” notion you have of this age-old tradition is evidence that weddings and their process are a part of our culture and history that are here to stay.
What’s more, I know the entire process works like my parents’ dedicated family and friends. What I’ve had equal testimony of is those celebrating anniversaries at the Pfister—whether they were married or not. Clearly, the hotel is a committed support system for the tradition and creates every day acts of vow renewal with its guests.