Click here to read more from Slate's wedding issue.
Fortunately, modern couples can put friends of moderate means on a payment plan. Couples now ask for wedding "gifts," via PayPal, for their honeymoon, house down payment, and student-loan funds. One letter writer said the couple specified they were looking for $30,000, preferably paid in increments of $50 or more. Perhaps for guests who are short on cash, they can offer services for, say, installing drywall in the new house or scrubbing the toilets for a month.
Unfortunately, a bride's acquired situational narcissism doesn't necessarily recede after "my day." One bewildered husband of two years says, "Some of our friends did not give us wedding presents. My wife believes it has affected her relationships with them, and also thinks that maybe they are feeling guilty about it, as well. I suggested she e-mail them and say she is finishing up her 'thank you' notes and wasn't sure if we got a present from them. Or perhaps something more direct is in order? Or maybe she can just forget the whole thing?"
Oh, how this man is struggling. He wants to be sensitive and supportive. He hasn't read the bridal magazines, so he's thinking maybe, just maybe, it's acceptable to send dunning letters, like a debt-collection agency, to your friends asking where their gifts are. But he also suspects the right answer is "forget the whole thing." To him I say that being a good husband (or a good wife) means telling your spouse when she (or he) starts sounding like a nut job. That becomes harder to do when you realize you are married to someone who resembles Miss Havisham, condemned to forever be psychologically trapped reliving "my day."
There is something positive in this wedding mania: It provides a warning system, like one seen on the African savannah. When approached by lions, certain gazelles engage in a strange practice called "stotting." Instead of running away, they jump stiffly in place. Animal behaviorists interpret this as a signal from the gazelle to the lion that means, "I am so fast that if you chase me, you won't catch me, so chasing me will be a waste of your time." I'd contend that the most egregious brides engage in a sort of prenuptial stotting, signaling to the groom: "You can go ahead and marry me, but observe my behavior now and don't ever say I didn't warn you that I'm a lunatic."