LIZ: Here’s my advice to those about to marry: Don’t. Take the money. Take the money and buy yourself a fabulous apartment and don’t spend the money on the wedding. It is the biggest throwaway and means nothing later. It’s the biggest waste of money and effort that I’ve ever heard of. It’s like a big party where you just blow everything out; you have nothing left. It’s got to cost $30,000.

MARY: That’s what I told my oldest daughter, who is the genius in the family, when she got married. And I went into that in spades, and said exactly what you just said.

JUDITH: And what’d she do?

Click here to read Judith Martin’s note on white weddings.

MARY: She wanted the biggest wedding that New York ever saw.

LIZ: My, God, Mary, that’s amazing. I thought she was smart.

MARY: She is. She has propelled herself through her job and up, up, up, up, by just being so wise. But when it came time to actually get married, something from all those little fairy-tale books that she read when she was little came through. I think you carry that stuff in a backpack in your head. And she just wanted the glamour and the huge … the romance of the whole vision. And we did. She had the biggest dress with the longest train and the most people. We actually had a church wedding; and this is the daughter who probably went to church twice in her life.

But people spend a year putting on something that’s a cross between the Academy Awards and a reality show …

JANE: Did she stay married?

MARY: Yes. Judith, you’re planning a wedding for your daughter, are you not?

JUDITH: I am. And it’s going to be a dignified, small wedding taking up one afternoon, not a week out of people’s lives, much less a year out of her and my lives. I think Liz is right. It’s become meaningless and, not to say vulgar, and ostentatious. There’s a huge industry promoting that. What drives me crazy is that they’re always promoting expensive things under the name of, “It’s proper to do this,” or “People expect it.” And they’re the very things that are condemned by etiquette, which is not in the business of telling people to go into debt. But the ritual itself, if it could be hacked back to what it’s supposed to be, can be very lovely. And I’m hoping my daughter’s wedding will be; my son’s wedding was.

But people spend a year putting on something that’s a cross between the Academy Awards and a reality show; a romance movie about themselves. And the notions that have been perpetrated such as, “It’s going to be a perfect day.” Well, that’s one way to set you up for a fall. And saying that it’s whatever the bride wants or whatever the couple wants. Rather, it’s a social ritual which can also be religious as well as civic, in which you enter into one of the forms of the society and people value this very much.

JANE: It’s something to remember. You’re creating a memory.

JUDITH: Well …

MARY: Also, I think fantasy is a healthy thing. I don’t think fantasy is such a bad thing. I mean, we’re all hard workers and today people work harder than they ever did, really. And you could see that they respond to fantasy. You see all these crazy fantasy shows on television. Everybody needs some dreams, some beauty. And it’s a feeling that they’re in a kind of a fairy-tale world …

JUDITH: But a lot of their dreams turn out to be nightmares, not only for themselves but for everybody else concerned, because there are things that are dropped from this – such as consideration for one’s guests or living within one’s means. And the brides are overstressed. The guests are often mistreated in various ways …