Someone Has to Say This:
You know, in a lot of ways brides today have far more options than their mother's and grandmother's did. My future mother-in-law remembers there being really only one wedding hall, one department store to get the bridesmaids dresses, and far less choice about dj vs. wedding band. It seems to me it was just like a set of dominoes, and I'm inferring from this that the real fun was registering and the bridal shower where friends and family helped prepare a woman for starting a life with her husband.
My mother married my father in his living room and then went out to a restaurant for the celebration, and I'm fairly certain that would've been quite edgy for 1983. Now there are thousands of websites selling, advising, and inspiring brides on a 24/7 basis. You'd think this is fantastic. But searching through all of them, at times, makes me a little nauseous. In fact, at times, they all remind me why I used to never want to get married in the first place.
Don't worry, I very much want to marry Dan. I'm very excited about that fact. The problem is, I'm a little too sensible to stomach all the hype. I've read about weddings that took place in European castles; California vineyards; NYC public library; military forts; quaint b&bs; yacht clubs; country clubs and barns in upstate NY. They all read the same:
"We knew we wanted a wedding that was uniquely 'us' and so we set out to incorporate meaning into every detail so nothing was included unless it spoke to our lives, our families and our love." Quoted directly from a "real" wedding on Ruffled. I can't tell you how many times I've read that phrase.
Let's be honest and completely unromantic here: Weddings nowadays are planned as though brides are desperately hoping to get their photos in a magazine or on a blog. I don't get it.
Ladies and Future Brides of the World:
I propose a revolution.
I'm getting more than a little fed up with this pressure to become frazzled with wedding planning, and with the pressure to spend what is the equivalent of a 20% down payment for a house. Don't get me wrong; I want a pretty wedding, I just don't understand why I have to pay through the nose for it and go crazy in the process.
I've heard other women talk about weddings as though it was one of the most stressful experiences of their life. I've heard others talk about how they were exhausted and starving by the time they went to bed at the end of the reception. I've heard women pay thousands of dollars for a dress they're going to wear once, and I've seen pieces of tulle stitched together with a comb and some rhinestones sell for $600.00.
This has to stop.
I know we're all trying for the Perfect Day, but it's going to be perfect no matter what, and it's going to be imperfect no matter what. This is because we live in the real world and we're human beings. Remember, it is your day, which doesn't mean you get to be a tyrant during the whole ordeal, but you do get to enjoy yourself, and eat the food and the cake, and drink your signature cocktail and get down with your bad self on the dance floor. I'm anticipating at least 30 guests that I've never met before in my life; will I thank them for coming? sure! Am I going to have a 15 minute conversation with them during my reception? Honestly? I doubt it (sorry).
Last night Dan and I were commiserating with each other how, 10 months into this strange tribal custom, we're spending most of our energy (read: most of my energy and Dan's time listening to me rant) convincing other people that there is nothing more to do for another 3 months (around which time my two best ladies get to meet for the first time and decide on their dress, and Dan has to start seriously thinking about getting a suit). I expressed that I was feeling a little irked that the effort had been divided about %75 me, %25 him. But let's face facts here: this is entirely determined by our genders. If he were far more into wedding planning, I should be far more worried about his honesty. Yet, for all that, I really haven't enjoyed planning this wedding. After 6 months and feeling like a poor church mouse I've finally managed to find a florist. The first one said they would e-mail me with details in July. I finally heard from them last week. Another told me that the minimum she works with is $2,000.00. Who, besides the Queen of Holland, spends a minimum of $2,000.00 on flowers?
We're spending $15,000.00 in total for one day, and I don't understand why people find this to be acceptable. It would probably be more than that, but I'm tremendously lucky in that a friend offered to do the photography for us, and another friend offered to make a cake.
It could, honestly, be less than that. But it would mean axing 40 people from our guest list.
I have no problem whatsoever with this. Isn't that ironic? My husband-to-be has to remind his bride weekly why 110 people is as small as we're going to get, and it's the bride that wants something smaller. It's as though my wedding dreams are shutting up like a telescope.
But, to be fair, I never had any wedding dreams to begin with. I confessed to my best lady, two summers ago, that I really really wanted Dan to propose to me. Not because I wanted a wedding, but because I wanted to know that he felt the same way I did about our relationship. I wanted to hear that he loves me so much that he could forego all others and spend his life with me. Because when I spent time with Dan I felt (and I still feel) perfect.
Even at a young age, I believed that weddings are a celebration of that feeling, whereas most brides I see in Martha Stewart Weddings are celebrating themselves.
Take a look at this picture:
This picture is entirely about the bride. The groom is only complimentary, not necessary to her. You could photoshop him out of there and it would still be a complete picture of her. You could not leave the groom standing there alone because it'll look idiotic.
For goodness' sake, she's not even looking at him!
This is not to say engagement photos are that much better. The only men I have ever met who want to participate in a photo shoot that seems mostly inspired by Danielle Steele novels... well, let me just say I believe their weddings will be less than traditional.
If you made it through that sunny photo montage, I'd like to congratulate you. Let me now point out that probably the only person into that whole experience was the bride. Even her dog doesn't quite look certain what he's doing there.
No doubt I sound quite harsh to you. In that case, let me remind you, Dear Reader, that this little excursion probably cost about $1,000.00 And then there will most likely be another $2,000.00 on the actual wedding photography. Not that I grudge the photographer that amount of money. A person has to eat, and maintain expensive equipment, not to mention spending an hour editing each photo to look as perfect as it does.
On the other hand, let's reflect on what else we could do with $1,000.00. We could spend a few more days on the honeymoon, or upgrade the hotel room. We could throw an after-wedding-thankyou-fancy-pants dinner party for our family and friends. Or, on the more practical side of things, we could pay off some credit card debt, or put it into a retirement account, or into an IRA for when we retire, or into home furnishings or repairs. I can think of plenty of things to spend $1,000.00 and none of them include pneumatic photo shoots that even I won't enjoy.
"But this is your perfect day! It's going to be the happiest day of your life! Don't you want all that you're entitled to have as bride?"
There's a scene in Sex and the City that perfectly sums up my attitude towards weddings (especially my own). Charlotte is in the throes of planning her first wedding to Trey McDougal. If you're unfamiliar with this show, all you need to understand is that Charlotte is very much a girly girl, and veering towards being a perfectionist. She wants to be preppy traditional, think Ralph Lauren polo ads, yet sometime bumps her head on the confines of such a lifestyle. So, needless to say, she is completely in her element. And as one does for such an occasion, she's asked her three bffs to be bridesmaids (with Carrie as the maid of honour, of course). They are slightly less enthused, being far less traditional than Charlotte, and mostly marriage-cynics.
Carrie also complicates matters by having an affair with a married man, and 'fesses up during that most dreaded of women's rituals: dress fittings.
Charlotte urges Carrie to come clean with her boyfriend, "but not this week!" She adds. "It's my week!"
Miranda, the no-nonsense lawyer stops dead, looks her square in the face and says, "it's a day. You get a day."
Let's try and keep it in perspective, ladies.