Claire:

As of this week, I've found myself plunging, inexorably it would seem, into a surprisingly dark and terrifying world: the world of The Engaged. The community of Brides-and-Bridezillas-To-Be. The land of Offbeat Brides and Classic Brides and Vintage Brides. The world of Show-Me-Your-Left-Hand!

Yes, last weekend my boyfriend, Corey, proposed to me. And I'm a little petrified.

Don't get me wrong: I've been dating the guy for six years, so this wasn't such a shock, and I more than gladly said yes. I absolutely want to marry Corey, there's no question about that. I want the marriage.

It's the wedding I'm not sure about.

Again, please don't misunderstand me. I want a wedding just as much as any girl who's dreamed about the big day for years. I want to share that special moment with our respective families, have the huge celebration, and go on the honeymoon. I want all of those things. But apparently there is a whole host of other things I'm supposed to want – things I didn't even know existed.

Take the proposal, for example. Corey proposed at home, during my birthday, after we'd shared a lovely day and made a meal together. It was perfect. He knew I would've killed him had he chosen to get down on one knee in a crowded restaurant, or proposed on the scoreboard at a ballgame (if we ever went to ballgames, that is), or really, anywhere even remotely public. I blush easily, and that's just not my style.

But now that I'm immersed in the World According to Bride, I see that this was not the way to go. Despite the fact that I would have despised it, Corey obviously should have gone with the trendy flash mob proposal that's been popping up in different forms all over the Internet – just because it's been done a thousand times now doesn't mean it isn't special and personal. Or, if he truly loved me, he would have faked his own death in an elaborate ruse so that I could experience firsthand how much I would miss him if he were gone, and then proposed to me, like Alexey Bykov of Russia (here's a source if you don't believe me: http://newsfeed.time.com/2012/09/06/man-fakes-death-in-order-to-propose-...).

Of course, if he was having trouble coming up with more unique ideas, he could have always hired a $3,500 proposal service to do all the planning for him, down to picking out the ring. If he'd rather have gone the thrifty route, he could have popped the question for free via Facebook (again, I swear that also happened).

But what's done is done. I'll have to be satisfied with my incredibly sweet, very intimate proposal – even if I can't post a video of it on Youtube. That is a huge drawback, but oh well.

Luckily there's the actual wedding to consider. And not only that, but also the bachelorette party – should we fly to Vegas for gambling or Switzerland for spa treatments? – the bridal shower, and the engagement party. Who says you should only have one big day when, if you try hard enough, you can make an entire year solely about you?

But before I impose relentless days of stress on all my friends, I must get into wedding shape. Naturally, this means hiring a personal trainer and going on a dangerous crash diet. If I want to look the part of the svelte, heroine-chic bride (that look is all the rage these days), I need to start now. But if I do eat one too many creampuffs before my Fairy Princess Dream Day, I can always do the feeding tube diet as little as a week before the wedding and still drop twenty pounds! If you're wondering, the feeding tube diet is exactly what it sounds like.

Then there's the wedding day itself. I don't want my wedding to be like everyone else's – good gracious, how could I stand the humiliation? – so I need a one of a kind venue. The Ohio Mansfield Reformatory is hosting haunted weddings – bingo! Now we just need to figure out how to get Gram down those crumbling old stairs. I'm also not sure how well my feeding tube apparatus travels…

But never mind that. I have to plan for after the wedding, too. "Morning after" or "boudoir" photos are an indispensable part of the process now, so I need to book a very friendly photographer. As for the honeymoon, I think that after such an impressive wedding, only the actual MOON will do. I'll have to call NASA about that.

Jim:

Now I know how George Banks, the Father of the Bride felt. Someone pass me the valium.