October 08, 1984 12:00 PM

by Barbara Tober

From internationally televised royal festivals to courthouse ceremonies in which all the joy is concentrated in a simple sweet kiss, there is nothing so full of optimism and blissful human naiveté as a marriage. It’s that quality that Tober, editor of Bride’s magazine since 1966, tries to capture in this book. The 220 illustrations are, for the most part, charming, including everything from an ancient Egyptian gold engraving to the “fantasy bride” of the ’80s, as well as such celebrity shots as newlyweds Shirley Temple and Sgt. John Agar in 1945. And while she makes no pretense to a systematic study, Tober has ferreted out arresting tidbits about marriage. She estimates, for instance, that a modern wedding, with a reception for 200, would cost $6,009 ($55 for the groom’s attire and $530 for the bride). She also cites a Guinness world record for the largest dish ever served: a Bedouin wedding featured a camel stuffed with a lamb stuffed with chickens stuffed with fish stuffed with eggs. Tober’s text sometimes tends to the simple-minded (“Brides also may honor family members by…smoothing any tentative feelings of discomfort that might arise at interfaith or interracial marriages”). Her captions often read like bad brochure material: “A honeymoon toast in their own heart-shaped tub is a romantic prelude to a new life.” It also would have been a little nicer if more of the pictures were of average folks rather than of celebrities, movie stars and upper-class doings. But then again weddings are probably no time to quibble. Let’s bask in this excerpt from a letter Anne Morrow Lindbergh wrote in 1929, just after she married Charles (“Con” to her): “Oh, Mother—It was so lovely. I wouldn’t change one thing: the walk around the old garden (and the new garden this morning with Con); lunch (although I was too excited to eat my favorite asparagus); every single person there…all that lovely warm group. It was so lovely walking down the steps with Daddy into that group. I wouldn’t change the dress, the veil, the flowers (that Elisabeth did so beautifully-columbine and larkspur), or any of it. Cutting the cake, kissing everyone! Wasn’t Dr. Brown dear. It was all perfect. But you want to know what C. thinks: just the same thing.” (Abrams, $25)

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