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Big Ten Preseason Power Poll: Weddings

That’s right, it’s a fall wedding, boys. Get excited!

Unification Church Holds Mass Wedding In South Korea
When you’ve got ten thousand brides, and all you need is a groom... #isntitironic
Photo by Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

Earlier this week, a woman in Canada, who apparently had royal wedding tastes, but more of a Target budget, decided to charge her guests $1,500 a pop to attend her dream wedding and had an instantly-viral meltdown on Facebook when it turned out that, well, no one is willing to pay that much to go to a wedding unless it is this wedding.

She seems... balanced.

Thankfully, unless you’re friends with certifiably crazy people whose stated goal is “to be a Kardashian for a day,” it’s unlikely you’ve been to a wedding with that much drama (although if you have, please share in the comments, because I am HERE for insane wedding stories). Instead, most weddings we attend range from the nice enough to the boring and share a number of features we love, loathe, enjoy, or mock. In this way, they are pretty much exactly like college football: lots of great games, but certainly the fair share of duds (often involving Iowa, unsurprisingly); the love of the pageantry, the loathing of Lil’ Red; the enjoyment of your rival losing, the mocking of Rutgers.

So mazel tov, Big Ten fans. Your big day is coming up on Saturday (unless someone you know actually scheduled a fall wedding), so get out your fancy clothes and dancing shoes, prepare to make merry with a $4 Bud Light, and get your chicken dance on with 2018’s first Big Ten Power Poll.

(Thanks, as always, to Nate Petersen for making our awesome graphs!)

Ohio State (#1): Cake

High: 1 Low: 3 First Place Votes: 14

Expectation vs. Reality

At a certain point of relationship removal from the bride and groom, weddings just aren’t that fun. For example, your own wedding is (hopefully) a grand time, and your best friend’s wedding is usually a good party with lots of friends you know. But your co-worker’s wedding? Or your second cousin’s wedding? Well, you’re probably just looking for a few bright spots to get you through it.

Fortunately, one of those bright spots is cake. It’s at pretty much every wedding ever, and cake, as we all know, is delicious. Maybe not quite enough to offset blowing an afternoon and evening on people you care minimally about but are socially required to see married… but, it helps.

OSU, you’re the cake. Ol’ reliable. Always a top performer. This year should be no different. Unfortunately, while we expected great, delicious things from you, recent off-field disclosures have made you more unpalatable than we expected—and no amount of fondant flowers or well-executed lemon curd is going to get rid of the bad taste you’ve left in our mouths.

Penn State (#2): The Best Man Who Thinks He Could Totally Do Standup

High: 2 Low: 4 FPV: 0

There is a surprising amount of cringing that happens in the course of a typical wedding. People always talk about the crying or the dancing, but no one talks about the cringing. But it happens—especially when it’s time for the speeches. And no one causes more of it than the best man who thinks he’s funny.

We don’t know what makes him do this. Often, it’s a protracted period of alcohol consumption between the end of the ceremony and the start of his speech. Maybe he’s just annoyed he’s not getting all of the attention. Sometimes, it’s just good old fashioned lack of self-awareness and the limitations of one’s own skill set. Whatever it is, when the jokes about the bride’s high school nickname start burbling out of his mouth, no one is going to have a good time.

This is you, Penn Staters. Maybe there really is some solidity and skill to what you’ve got going on with that football team, but certainly nothing near the level you’d need to justify your own belief in the greatness of what you’re peddling.

Wisconsin (#3): The Chocolate Fountain

High: 1 Low: 14 FPV: 2 LPV: 1

Me at weddings = same

You know, it’s been awhile since I’ve seen a chocolate fountain at a wedding, so maybe these are passé. But Wisconsin has never been the most cutting-edge of fanbases or football teams (yes I know, Nebraska fan, glass houses, thank you), so perhaps this makes it even more perfect for them.

You’re probably expecting me to go the obvious route on this, drawing a connection between a stereotypically rotund fanbase and the Augustus Gloopian fantasy of a chocolate fountain. But I’m not going to do that. Instead, Wisconsin earned this comparison because like a chocolate fountain, they really do grab your attention for a minute. It seems like they could really be the perfect thing, a solid contender for the Big Ten/dessert table. There’s only one problem… and that’s that before long, they turn into a massive, smeary mess. Whether the melty disaster occurs down the front of the flower girl’s dress or on the field at the CCG, you’re ultimately going to regret bringing this one to the party.

Michigan State (#4): The Bossy Photographer

High: 2 Low: 6

“That’s it. Don’t move. Just 372 more. Thanks.”
alphaspirit -

There are times when a bossy photographer is a good thing—if you’ve got yourself a disorganized or disinterested in details bride and groom, a photographer with the know-how to herd a wedding party and get the needed shots can be a godsend.

If, however, you’ve got a photographer who is a little confused about who the day is really about and thinks it might actually be about him and his power trip fantasies… in that case, you’ve got yourself a whole lotta drama.

And Michigan State, I hate to say it, but you’ve been serving up the drama lately. Sometimes it’s in kinda fun ways, like telling off the Mother of the Bride. Other times, your insistence that you’re being disrespected simply comes off as a bit screechy and sad.

Michigan (#5): The Mother of the Bride

High: 3 Low: 5

Too harsh, ma’am. Too. Harsh.

Probably the most fraught character on this list, some MoBs are supportive, happy witnesses to the nuptials. Others are bundles of neuroses, weird power dynamics, and Dramatic Scenes™.

It’s this latter style of MoB that fits the bill for everyone’s favorite Whackadoo Wolverines, thanks to their fearless leader, one James Harbaugh. If Harbaugh was a MoB, he’d spice that wedding right up by making the day about him: reminding you that his dress is from Rome and his hat is from Paris, intrepidly ordering a glass of milk from the bar, and shrieking at the caterer that his chicken is too damn nervous!!!

Northwestern (#6): Wedding Slideshow

High: 7 Low: 10

Too few weddings these days gracefully incorporate the phrase “I will find you, and I will kill you.” Props to these guys for getting it done.

On a day that is gleefully and unapologetically self-involved, the wedding slideshow still manages to stand above the rest in pure egomania. After all, it is something to assume that the perfect accompaniment to your guest’s lukewarm grilled chicken is staring at your 7th grade, braces-adorned face and your groom doing a keg stand in college on PowerPoint repeat.

However, it does offer the savvy wedding guest the perfect opportunity to score a number of hits on their Wedding Bingo card. Baby pics of the bride and groom? Check. Frank Sinatra song? Check. A facet of the wedding going on juuuuuust a bit longer than anyone is comfortable with or interested in? Check.

Likewise, Northwestern football brings with it a certain amount of inevitability to the veteran Big Ten fan. Partially with the help of one of the conference’s longest-tenured coaches, unwavering in his predictability, you can play Northwestern Football Bingo. Mentions of the academic hurdles to finding good players? Check. Failing to field a respectable crowd at their home stadium? Check. Losing an inexplicable game? Check. You’re not ever all that interested in what’s going on with Northwestern, but hey, they’re here, and you may as well entertain yourself how you can.

Iowa (#7): The Bouquet Toss

High: 6 Low: 8

The correct response to encountering bouquet tosses AND Iowans.

If there’s one tradition that stands firm, nay, even revels in its antiquated, outmoded, and non-progressive roots, it is the bouquet toss. Herding all the single ladies (usually to the jazzy strains of Beyonce’s “Single Ladies,” lest anyone forget who is being publicly shamed) out onto the dance floor to fight each other for a flung bouquet/chance at imminent matrimony, because that’s definitely how that works. It is 2018, and somehow, people are still doing this at weddings.

And if there’s one coach that stands firm, nay, even revels in his antiquated, outmoded, and non-progressive style of play, it is Kirk Ferentz. It is 2018, and somehow, Iowa is still playing football the same way they have been for millennia. However, unlike the bouquet, Kirk is never going to get thrown—rather, I have a feeling they may one day dry him out and put him in a decorative vase on a bookcase somewhere on campus.

Purdue (#8): The Wedding Registry

High: 5 Low: 10

You def need a gingham egg cup, or your marriage is a sham.

The wedding registry used to be a simple staple of many a wedding. The bride and groom would go to the local department store of choice, pick out some china, and people would buy it for them. It couldn’t be easier. Enter, the internet: now, couples register at a variety of places, for items ranging from board games to salt shakers to power tools, for honeymoon money or even specific parts of the honeymoon, like meals or car rentals. Picking the perfect gift has become surprisingly fraught with options and weird implications—what if my friend is offended I only value her enough for a honeymoon meal, and not an entire hotel room?

This is kind of where we are with Purdue too. We used to know what to do with them—[redacted], 404-File Not Found, automatically #12 or lower. And now… we are confused, and it’s causing a lot of anxiety. Purdue might be pretty ok, and we’re not really sure what to do with that. It’s a whole new world.

Nebraska (#9): Decorations by Pinterest

High: 7 Low: 10

BYOB! (Bring Your Own Burlap!)

The vibe in Nebraska right now really does feel something like a wedding countdown—collectively, as a state, we’re kind of at the level of that annoying Facebook friend who posts every single day about how excited she is “to marry the BEST GUY IN THE WHOLE WORLD HE IS MY LIFE AND I LOVE YOU BABY AND I AM SO EXCITED TO SPEND FOREVER WITH YOU!!!!!1!!!1!!!!” with lots of emoticons and pictures of her making kissy faces and him looking kinda bored. You know?

Anyway, this same gal is determined to have the perfect wedding and her Pinterest wedding vision board has been in place since about 2006. Obviously, she’s making all the decorations herself to give her wedding that coveted DIY and also super unique vibe. But you know what? Everyone else has already pinned the same pins and bought lots of mason jars and painted Mr. and Mrs. on unfinished wood surfaces, and it’s really nothing that every guest hasn’t already seen at a dozen different weddings over the past few years.

Sorry to say, this is Nebraska football right now too. The vision is impressive, and the hopes are high, but at the end of this season, you’re probably just going to be another Basic also-ran.

Indiana (#10): Your Auntie with the Merlot

High: 8 Low: 12

She’s feeling the rhythm, alright.

It is a well-known fact in your family that Aunt Marsha cannot hold her alcohol. A tipple here, a tipple there, and inevitably, a big ol’ mess ensues. Various strategies have ensued over the years at family functions: containment, no alcohol served, telling her the wrong time to show up... but all of these prove ineffective at a wedding. The result? Aunt Marsha plus way too much merlot.

The results, of course, are unpredictable and chaotic. Is she trying to boogie with your college friends? Yes. Did she challenge the flower girl to a punch chugging contest? Yes. Is she being weirdly physical with the pastor even though his wife is sitting right there? Regrettably, also yes. All you know is that anything can happen, except anything good.

And that last sentence? Indiana football in a nutshell.

Minnesota (#11): The Wedding DJ

High: 7 Low: 14 LPV: 1

Pavel Jan is down with the sounds of the youths. You will dance now.

Wedding DJs are a real wild card. They’re stupidly expensive, it’s hard to tell what you’re getting, and a bad one can really derail the entire affair. Unfortunately, there are a lot of bad ones out there. It’s more than just picking good songs, of course—their personalities have to be that magical blend of exuberant and engaging without crossing over into annoying and off-putting. It’s a really hard balance to get right, and many fail.

It’s not hard to imagine why Minnesota has found themselves with this particular matchup on this list. Why, if the head coaching thing doesn’t work out for good ol’ PJ, I think he’s got a real future in wedding DJing. Think about it: he’s got that manic personality perfectly built for getting HYPED about the YMCA, a desperate need for young folks to think he’s cool, and you know that that man can either do the worm or will die trying.

We will see if he’s got any coaching magic this season, but if not, prospective brides and grooms in the greater Twin Cities area may want to start making reservations with DJ PJ’s Sick Groovin’ Tunes, because he’s going to be ELITE.

Maryland (#12): A Bridesmaid Dress

High: 8 Low: 14 LPV: 3

David’s Bridal bridesmaid dress

Shoutout to the 70s and 80s for just going there.

Given our “love” for Maryland’s uniforms, it seems fitting that on this list they’d be a garment that is often ugly and unflattering. I’ll go further and say that if anyone ever tries to force you to dress in the Maryland flag, you should run away and cease that friendship immediately.

However, Maryland’s similarity to a bridesmaid dress runs even deeper than mere sartorial suckage. Instead, the correlation here is one of expectation vs. reality. While there are undoubtedly some brides out there who revel in the thought of putting their friends in puffy puce confections or making them all wear pewter, a color that flatters .3% of the human population, so that they themselves may shine all the brighter; most brides have a vision of their friends looking cute and stylish as they joyfully surround her on her wedding day.

The reality can be very different, of course. Maybe those cowboy boots that looked so cute on your vision board actually look very stupid at your wedding in Naperville. Maybe you forgot that your friends are a range of sizes and shapes, and not all size 2 David’s Bridal models, and that some of them rightly feel that strapless dresses ought to burn in hell. Whatever the intent, at the end of the day, bridesmaid dresses can leave many feeling unhappy, uncomfortable, and a little disgusted, and Maryland, that’s where we are with you right now too.

Rutgers (#13): Cash Bar

High: 11 Low: 14 LPV: 3

Cute sign but everyone still hates you!

There are some good reasons for having a cash bar at your wedding—saving some serious money and trying to stop the thing from turning into a drunken shitshow leap to mind—but none of that will matter to your guests, because The People HATE cash bars. Some etiquette experts agree—you wouldn’t invite people to your home for a party and make them pay for drinks, so why do it at a wedding? the argument goes.

Nevertheless, as a guest, it’s always a bummer to find out you have to cough up $4 for a Bud Light or your firstborn for a watery G&T. You came to this reception hoping for fun, and instead, it’s simply costing you a lot of money to have even a little bit.

This, by and large, has been the experience of having Rutgers in the Big Ten. The promise of booze is as illusory as the promise of New York TV sets and a semblance of athletic prowess, and instead, we just keep paying for the weak return with our dignity.

Illinois (#14): Cha Cha Slide

High: 12 Low: 14 LPV: 7

Illinois football in one photograph.

There is only one thing worse at a wedding than the bouquet toss/garter toss or a cash bar... and that is the infernal Cha Cha Slide. Where did it come from? Why does it exist? Why is it played at every wedding? (You know DJ PJ is all in on it, I’m sorry Gophers.) My personal theory is that it is a particularly pernicious form of Russian soft power, sent to destroy our very democracy and our souls, the ultimate evil tool, deployed by the ultimate Evil Tool. We are doomed.

Also doomed is Illinois football, trapped in a seemingly endless cycle of futility. While I’d love to blame the Russians for this as well, I think this comes down to good old fashioned failures on every front, from recruiting to coaching to playing to luck. Illinois is in a bad place, friends, and I don’t just mean Chambana. I mean Cha Cha Slide-place bad.


What’s the worst part of any wedding?

This poll is closed

  • 38%
    Cash bar
    (163 votes)
  • 7%
    Bouquet toss/garter toss
    (30 votes)
  • 3%
    Wearing nice clothes
    (16 votes)
  • 10%
    Cha Cha Slide
    (45 votes)
  • 39%
    (169 votes)
423 votes total Vote Now