Not long ago, when a friend got married it meant you went to a bridal shower, maybe had a wild night on the town and ultimately attended a lovely party. Today, however, the joining together of two loved ones has become, well, a whole thing. Think: multiple showers, bachelorette trips costing thousands of dollars and days off work and flights to far-flung places to fulfill your bestie’s dream of getting married on a remote island four time zones away. This over-the-top-ness, and the wedding industrial complex in general, is satirized in So Happy for You, a darkly funny new novel by Celia Laskey (Under the Rainbow).
The book begins with Robin, a queer woman in her early 30s living in Brooklyn and working on her Ph.D. dissertation on society’s obsession with marriage. Openly critical of attitudes toward matrimony, she’s surprised when Ellie, her somewhat estranged childhood best friend, asks her to be the maid of honor at her wedding. Robin reluctantly agrees, thinking that at the very least she’ll have first-hand experience to use in her studies.
But this isn’t your average wedding, as this isn’t your average society. Laskey’s novel is set in a present day, slightly dystopian version of America, a world where the government incentivizes marriage and where social media has decided that single women are “leftovers” at 27 and “rotten” at 35. Because there’s so much marriage, though, there’s a ton of divorce, leading brides to adopt a strange set of wedding rituals meant to ensure the success of their unions. Some are harmless old wives’ tale-type things like including garlic in your bouquet for good luck, while others are a bit more sinister (blood sacrifice, anyone?).
As Robin and Ellie fall deeper down the rabbit hole of planning and ensuring the wedding goes off without a hitch, things get darker, as is foreshadowed by the book’s very first lines: “If you want to know the story of how my best friend and I ended up trying to kill each other, I should probably start with the night she asked me to be her maid of honor.”