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The INDYs Alternative Wedding Guide: Please Yourself, Not Martha Stewart

Photo illustration by Steve Oliva, Caitlin Penna and Christopher Williams What can you say about weddings that hasn't been said a million times before, in a million glossy magazines with size-0 models in $8,000 gowns on the cover? There's a whole wedding-mag industry dedicated to servicing the wedding industry: Brides, The Knot, Martha Stewart Weddings, Town & Country Weddings, etc. And if you actually read these things, you'll see that they're pretty much all the same: wedding-day tips, etiquette lessons, lots and lots of dresses. In this high-gloss, model-glamorous version of getting hitched, rich, beautiful people drop tens of thousands of dollars on ornately detailed ceremonies before jetting to Italy or the French Riviera on a two-week honeymoon. Over here in the real world, weddings are more often than not a source of aggravation, full of headaches and family hassles and looming bills and thoughts like "Why the hell didn't we just elope?" (There's a reason my second wedding cost nothing, involved no planning, and took place in a bar.) There is, of course, something to be said for going the traditional route, if that's your thing—the church, the white dress, the tuxedo, the beef Wellington, the champagne, the reception where your aunt dances awkwardly to "Celebration." Nothing wrong with the formality, the ritual, the spectacle, the showcase. But there's also something to be said for junking all of that and going your own way. Weddings, after all, are the commemoration of a commitment between two people. Everything else is a matter of taste. And so it doesn't really matter if you get hitched in a church with stained-glass windows or a bar with barely washed glasses.

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