Here Comes The Bride
by Jack Canfield, Mark Victor Hansen, and Susan M Heim; spirituality (2012)
CSS Publishing, $14.95, ISBN 978-1-935096-84-9

I was given this book by a well-meaning soul to read during my recent stay at the local neighborhood medical establishment, and it just had to happen that I forgot to pack other books for that first night. It had to be destiny, this book and me, just like how it was destiny that the French got a love letter from the Germans at the Maginot Line back in 1940.

Now, I suspect that I have some rather unorthodox views on marriage for someone of my generation. When my hubby and I got hitched, it wasn't a grand romantic affair with a vomit of doves and violins all over the place. Rather, we were tired after long hours of work and decided, out of the blue, that we might as well get married before the next semester buried us in more work.

Yes, we married shortly after getting our papers, but I told my daughter when she left for college that she shouldn't make boys the focus of her life. She could date all she wanted, as long as she spared me the gory details and didn't get knocked up, but she should think about settling down only after she had settled other aspects of her life first. After all, the hubby wouldn't be around forever, and, a few decades down the road, she'd most likely regret putting her entire life on hold just because, in one moment of weakness, she believed that marrying some guy is enough to make her happy for the rest of her life.

I know, and I read romance novels and cry while watching sappy movies! But that's me. I'm a sap when it comes to fictitious romantic balderdash, but I am very cynical when it comes to real life.

Here Comes The Bride, subtitled 101 Stories Of Love, Laughter, and Family, is the Maginot Line. Cumbersome, immobile, and well fortified with cringe-inducing mawkishness, with its gaping rear end wide open to attack because it is just so obvious in its agenda to propagate a romantic ideal that I find pretty hideous actually.

For example, while there is a special section for senior citizens finding love again, a large number of anecdotes in this story are all about wide-eyed innocent - and heavily implied to be virginal in most cases - college-aged girls basically attending those places just to seek out that special someone that they will get married to. Education? What's that? It's all about daydreaming of that special proposal from that perfect guy that is somewhere out there, as if marriage is the start and end of a woman's existence once she leaves her house for college. It's always love at first sight, with these women knowing who the right guy is in a monotonous pattern of star-struck love blessed by the unicorns. I often find myself cringing at how these couples tend to rush into marriage so soon after they started dating.

The section on wedding preparations, the ceremony itself, and the aftermath emphasize that Perfect Diamond Ring thing so much that, again, makes cynical old me cringe. Yes, when I got married, we didn't get a ring, we just walked into the relevant department and signed the relevant documents. I personally don't believe that a perfect marriage requires the most perfect (read: expensive) things, although if I were in retail supplying these expensive things, you bet I'd change my tune and ask everyone to buy, buy, buy. Therefore, reading about how one woman was touched by an elderly companion passing her some expensive-looking earrings before that woman died, and how this woman decided to have the diamonds taken out to be made into wedding rings for her sons, only to put the plan aside when the diamonds turned out to be fake - what is this story telling me? People really in love need real diamonds - the bigger the karat, the better - to have a happily ever after?

Some stories actually make me sigh and feel warm inside, but I can count these stories with one hand. Those stories focused mostly on the lighter side of courtship and wedding preparations or how it's how you feel that matters, not how perfect the wedding ceremony is, but the rest of the stories are either tired retreads of wedding scenarios I've read many times before (locked out of the hotel room during the honeymoon - no, never read anything like that before!) or wedding registry propaganda emphasizing big diamonds, grandiose marriage proposals, and other show of pointless excesses. Some stories actually make me feel sorry for the protagonist, such as one where the woman hesitated when the man proposed to her right after his father died, correctly feeling that he might be proposing for the wrong reasons, only to go ahead and say yes anyway because he looked so sad and mopey in the weeks following his loss. I hope she gets a happily ever after - given how most of these anecdotes end after the triumphant waltz into the honeymoon sunset, I can't really tell.

So no, I don't particularly like this book as it often clashes badly with my personal philosophy about love and life in general. Even if I do, a large majority of the anecdotes here are either dull and forgettable or cover events and scenarios that make up a significant number of entries in the encyclopedia of clichés associated with mawkish romantic stories, so I'd probably still be bored by this book anyway.

Rating: 52

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