Congratulations on your upcoming nuptials! You’ve likely arrived here because after years of attending Great Gatsby-inspired weddings, you want something fresh and different but with the same caliber of literary gravitas. You have impeccable taste. Prepare to be transported to the fantasy wedding day of your dreams!
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Venue: The beauty of a Grapes of Wrath wedding is that the venue is entirely flexible. Do you want a church ceremony? That fits right in with the Christ-imagery woven throughout the book. If you’re looking for something more secular, you may choose a vineyard at sunset. If a destination wedding is your dream, you can go low-frills in Oklahoma all the way to a five-star California experience. Route 66 is your prairie oyster! Some brides have opted to hold their reception and ceremony in a railyard, and others at a junkyard filled with abandoned cars. Make sure your guests are up-to-date on tetanus vaccines!
Ceremony: Appoint one of your friends to get ordained online and perform the ceremony. Sure, his message of non-denominational brotherly love may rub some of the elders in your family the wrong way, but how Jim Casy is that? So on-brand! And the novel has some lovely passages that are (forgive the pun) ripe for the picking:
“The quality of owning freezes you forever in ‘I’, and cuts you off forever from the ‘we’.”
“Up ahead they's a thousan' lives we might live, but when it comes it'll on'y be one.”
“There ain’t no sin and there ain’t no virtue. There’s just stuff people do.”
These all make lovely central themes to your vows. Don’t be afraid to freestyle – the gift of rambling speech was essential to the Joads. Embrace it!
Wedding Party: Do you have lots of friends who are pregnant? Don’t worry about them ruining the aesthetic – their ethereal beauty and physical discomfort will only enhance the setting. Your photos will be the talk of Instagram for months. If you have a large wedding party, consider having them all arrive at the venue together in a battered truck. Older, sickly family members are an asset at your wedding. Make sure they express often how tired and/or despairing they are. Do you have a dog? Great! Rescue, mixed-breeds are a great add to the wedding party, but don’t worry – if your bichon or doodle is dirty and hungry enough, you won’t need to get a new dog just for the occasion.
Attire: If you want your guests in gingham and overalls, say the word! Shabby chic, country elegant, upscale festive thrift shop or even ex-urban casual – you can’t go wrong. Many “Wrath Brides” opt for ecru lace, or a simple poplin shift, but others choose formal, modern attire to contrast and highlight the difference in living conditions from the dust bowl era to current times. And because, frankly, even in a fantasy dust bowl, what bride doesn’t want to be a princess on her wedding day?
Décor: Flowers can range from locally foraged flora gathered from the side of the road, to a bouquet made from up-cycled beer cans, to roses (of Sharon, naturally). An especially popular and extremely literal choice is using champagne grapes as everything from boutonnieres to favors. Whether you let the natural beauty of your venue speak for itself or decide to rent goats and stray dogs to wander amongst the guests, there are options for every budget and preference.
Food and Beverage: Brides and grooms with limited resources can realize some savings here. If you choose to interpret the masterpiece faithfully, serve a modest amount of food – order for about one third of the guests who have RSVPed. Fights may break out, but think of your soon-to-be-viral wedding video! If you want a more civilized reception, you could pay homage to Oklahoma by serving barbeque, or make a nod to California with a sushi station. Good wine is a must. Napa’s finest makes for a festive event. Perhaps a Malbec for Steinbeck? Let your creativity run wild. One recent GoW wedding featured a signature cocktail for their happy hour – a glorious milk punch which they called “Human Kindness” – the well-read guests went wild for it!
Marriage, like the Joad’s journey is a long, sometimes bumpy, road full of surprises! We hope you’ll enjoy planning your wedding to pay tribute to one of the finest works of the twentieth century. If you are still deciding on your theme, check out some of our other planning guides for A Clockwork Orange Wedding, Beowulf Brides, and A Separate Peace Civil Ceremony.
(in case you were wondering, add another log to the McSweeney's Rejects fire)
I do wonder about the need for good wine, though. One of my favorite details of Cannery Row is that the bartender Eddie pours all the half-finished drinks into a gallon jug to make the "punch". That would be a fitting beverage, but I can understand if even the most serious Wrath Bride wouldn't want to go that authentic.