I’ll be attending my first actual wedding at the end of November. It’s my first close friend to be married out of any of us. I think it’s funny how nearly all the girls I went to school with are still single, but I think a lot of it has to do with their strong personalities and involved careers down in Washington. I guess we were more alike than I realized at the time when all they could fantasize about was their future lives (pre-Pinterest wedding board days) and all I could fantasize about was how badly I wished I went to Hogwarts. And now, the older I get, the more I’m confused why so many women protest to submitting to roles, yet they’re quick to assume them in the light of a wedding. Everything’s got to be a certain way and they’ve planned it since they were old enough to watch Disney princesses.
I really don’t know much about how weddings are “supposed” to work, but I think the reality is there are so many different kinds. I have many Indian friends with gorgeously decorated ceremonies, henna, veils – a truly traditional (and often arranged) event. Jewish weddings, too, hold close to customs like the bride and the groom standing under the chuppah which symbolizes their future home together and then the groom’s smashing of a glass. Several of my pipe-bandmates have worn ghillie brogues, kilts or cummerbunds, their brides in tartan boynes pinned with a celtic knot and heather, feasting of course on haggis, shortbread, and – my favorites specialty – empire biscuits. But when I think of a “wedding”, I think “traditional” as in western, white gowned, and, sadly, way too elaborate.
In America, I think it’s safe to say that the most widespread idea of a wedding involves a bride in a white dress, a groom in a black suit, bridesmaids and groomsmen, cutting some really large catered cake, eating catered food at decorated tables with a lot of people, drinking and dancing a lot after with even more people, then taking off on a honeymoon. Oh, and of course there’s a huge engagement ring before with a proposal and a lot of giddy girls dancing around throwing bachelorette parties while the guys go off on a bachelor party… Yeah, I didn’t even know these parties were a thing until my coworker started going to one every weekend. (And I just thought it was the weirdest, most expensive concept ever.) And the gift registry. Of course.
They say Millennials are excessive spenders who stray from the traditions laid by the previous generations. (I found these facts about “modern” weddings somewhat disturbing.) The truth is, a lot of wedding traditions we observe today didn’t come about until the Victorian era (courtesy of Queen Victoria’s elaborate white gown and the subsequent generations aspiring to look as pure and important and elegant as the royal court). On the contrary (and as I’ve written before), engagement rings have been around for a long time and had most commonly been used as a sign of ownership. I mean, hello? Only the girl wears an engagement ring. There’s a reason for that, and it’s not as romantic as you think. In fact, weddings have historically been political arrangements to maintain family status, wealth, etc. without need for approval by the couple to be wed.
Yet I look at these girls getting married today and I think, it’s all about the glam. They spend insane amounts of money on a dress they’ll only wear once in a color that probably means nothing to them. As mentioned in the linked article, “millennials care about engagement rings more than older people do: 43% of millennials say they care about having an expensive ring, but only 21% of people over 68 think the engagement ring needs to be expensive. (Probably because older people know that a fancy ring isn’t the main ingredient of a long, successful marriage.)” Oh, and, as my friend Michelle pointed out one day, do you know how many diamonds are just grown in petri dishes? Or are blood diamonds? … Some women book overpriced venues 5 years in advanced, before they even have a boyfriend. More invitations are sent out than probably people they know. The “fun parties” are mostly centered around alcohol. The food served is meant to impress the guests. A professional photographer…or twenty. And now brides are disagreeing that their families should pay for weddings? What’s the point in trying to maintain any traditions at all if you don’t follow suit? I just think the whole thing has become a montage of what a marriage shouldn’t be: me me me me me – and spending all your money before you even have a life together.
I remember when I sat with a bartender in Talkeetna, Alaska in November 2012. I had never seen Bridezilla before…and neither had she. We were howling until we realized Omg I think these people are serious. This just makes me feel sick.
I just think the whole thing has become stupid. I don’t have fantasies about a Madison Square wedding with 3,000 guests and a honeymoon in Aruba. Actually, I would really dislike that. I wouldn’t enjoy catered food and perfect décor and spending thousands of dollars for things of no personal value. Maybe I’m a cynic, – err, I mean I know I am – but I think there is so much more meaning in a couple that want to be teammates for life and who would be willing to commit without the fancy jewelry, the dress, the large quantities of alcohol, the meals that look more like tiny pieces of art than substantial sustenance, and the dream getaway afterwards. Why should one night be the focus of a lifetime? In my opinion, it’s a symbolic ceremony so there should be symbolic traditions. They should be personal, like my bandmate’s kilt to represent his heritage or the blessings said under the chuppah to continue an important religious ceremony in Judaism. It’s supposed to be about two families coming together, so shouldn’t the focus be on the families and not the guests? Why catered food? Why not a small guest list with traditional (if not home-cooked) meals. Not only are these things CHEAPER and more about FAMILY UNITY, but they’re proof that “wedding stress” from planning excessively shouldn’t be a thing. And I don’t understand gift registries considering I live on my own and have ample necessities and non-necessities. My dream honeymoon is not Aruba or Bora Bora or Tahiti (although those sound beautiful) – I say scratch the gifts, pitch in for gas, and ROAD TRIP in a camper! Screw your luxuries. The real luxury is being able to see FULLNESS where others see LACK, to see beauty when others see peasantry.
Blaaaaaaaaaah I haaate wedding seasonnn…. :ALKJ:SDFHUSHDSEF:LKJSDCD…….Rant over.