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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Surviving Wedding Season

Every spring is wedding season.  You either love it or you hate it, I've decided.  Your Facebook newsfeed becomes inundated with sappy status' about how much people are in love, etc., followed by thousands of ceremony and reception pictures.  While these photos have provided endless hours of entertainment during boring work days, they've let me to several realizations.

One is that weddings are a lot of work.  I risk angering every bride or married person out there when I say, is it worth it? Not marriage, because I think marriage at the right time to the right person is an amazing thing, but the whole wedding shindig. I mean, there is an entire industry thriving on brides trying to one-up each other or fulfill their childhood fantasy.  The obsession has even trickled down into reality television with shows like Say Yes to the Dress, Bridezillas, and Four Weddings.

Speaking of childhood fantasies, some guys are freaked out to find out that their girlfriend probably has her wedding planned in her head.  Guys, don't be.  While some girls will try to rush you down the aisle, it's probably not about you.  It's probably more about having the idea of getting married pounded into her poor little head since birth, finally being the center of attention, wearing the most expensive dress she will probably ever own, or finally having found "Prince Charming," than you.  This is a problem altogether, since more time gets focused on getting married than asking important questions like, "Do we want the same things?" "Are our beliefs compatible?" "Are there any red flags that are being looked passed for the sake of infatuation?".  I thought of this while watching the first SATC movie this past week.  Now, you may be rolling your eyes, but there are some very profound ideas laced through the fashion and the romance.  Carrie and Big finally decide to get married after dating for ten years and are, at first, planning a simple City Hall ceremony until Carrie is gifted a magnificent wedding gown by Vivienne Westwood.  The dress rockets the wedding plans past the ozone and straight out of the universe.  Everything becomes about the dress: the guest list triples, the venue is opulent, and the couple becomes lost in the wedding.  Carrie later reminisces while reading her interview in Vogue that, "I didn't say 'we' once, not once.  It was 'I' this, and 'I' that."  The wedding didn't happen because Carrie let the dress and the wedding become more important than her and Big.  I personally believe that a simple wedding can be just as beautiful as a 100K debacle, if the bride and groom's relationship is really at the center.

Another thought stemming from the "childhood fantasies" file is this: it's been done before.  Once upon a time, I thought I had a unique idea for a wedding color combination.  Thanks to Facebook, I see that this year's wedding season has discovered "my" idea.  How is a color scheme even related to two people's relationship anyway?  Most parts of a wedding ceremony stem from traditions that people aren't even aware of anymore.  For example, bridesmaids and groomsmen's original roles were created to protect the couple from physical harm and evil spirits (1).  Now it seems to have turned into competition to see who the bride's best friends really are, resulting in drama and hurt feelings.  I don't deny that it is meaningful to have the people who have been important to your lives and relationship involved in the celebration of commitment, don't get me wrong, but when friends start getting ranked and starting catfights, I think the mark gets missed.

Another main glitch in Carrie and Big's wedding plans is the ballooning guest list.  I know from friends who have recently planned their own weddings that receptions are expensive and guest lists often have to be cut for the sake of budget.  There are the people you have to invite, like family, even though you may not even be close to them, then you must rank the rest of your friends and acquaintances to see who makes the cut and who doesn't.  Again, people get put into categories and invited in order of perceived importance. Result: more hurt feelings and another aspect of getting married that isn't really about the couple and their relationship with each other.

As I grow up, my own idea of my dream wedding changes.  Each wedding season serves to further convince me that "traditional" may not suit me best. Even then, it won't just be about me, should I ever get married.  At any rate, the wedding wouldn't be the end goal.  Marriage is more than a wedding, and I'd rather put off the frills and flounce to be sure that my significant other and I were in a place where marriage made sense and was beneficial to us both.  I can't say that the allure of a big wedding has never appealed to me, but thankfully I came to my senses and had the self-realization to walk away before I committed to a life that wouldn't have been a true reflection of me or my potential.

So many times I see people getting married in college or right after and wonder if they're really ready. Do they know who they are at 20 years old? If they do, I applaud them.  I surely didn't.  I may have thought I did, which scares me for these young brides, because I've totally changed since I've started, and even finished, college.  Something is contributing to the 40-60% divorce rates, highest among those who marry between the ages of 20 and 24 (2).  I definitely don't want to be a statistic and if that means being single for longer than some people find to be "normal", so be it.

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