Better dead than wed? Possibly, to judge from some of the refreshingly unsentimental essays in Altared: Bridezillas, Bewilderment, Big Love, Breakups, and What Women Really Think About Contemporary Weddings
(Vintage), edited by Colleen Curran. Among the addled romantics: bride-to-be Lara Vapnyar on taking a leap of faith ("It didn't occur to me to imagine what happened if a leap resulted in a fall"). Among the converted skeptics: Lori Leibovich on founding a no-frills-wedding blog called indiebride.com
, then ending up in a dress "made of such supple silk I still have fantasies about tasting it." As wedding maven Amy Bloom points out, marriage requires perseverance, but weddings "offer just a day's happiness, and require only a willingness to dance—even if badly—and to embrace the world, and big love, for a short time."