I love weddings. I love the anticipation of waiting for the ceremony to start, right through the the tearful speeches and on to the drunken and emotional final dance (although I do try to leave before they put the lights back on, because no one needs that). I don’t care whether you’re my best friend or an almost stranger, I love your wedding and I am totally psyched to be there.
So when I got engaged, I thought I would be excited to plan my own wedding. I expected months of sipping champagne, getting lost in a Pinterest black-hole (so. much. bunting.) and getting to try lots of different cheeses in the quest for the perfect ‘cheese cake’. It’s tough work, but someone’s got to do it.
Imagine my surprise when I actually spent a lot of time following my engagement feeling kind of uncomfortable. Not giddy. Not squeal-y. Just a bit uncomfortable. Because it turns out that for me, weddings are the worst. Which is probably something I should have thought about before I picked out the ring, but hindsight is a wonderful thing.
You can try to avoid the worst of the traditions, if you want to – the giving away, the honouring and obeying, the men being the only ones to give speeches, even the white dress – but the patriarchal legacy still skulks around reminding you that you’re choosing a big party and a sparkly ring over the principles you usually live by.
That’s not even the worst of it. There’s so much other stuff to navigate. I thought I could resist the so-called ‘Wedding Industrial Complex’. I would subvert those anti-feminist traditions, have a bad-ass wedding and I definitely wouldn’t spend all my money on just one day. I wouldn’t care how much my dress costs and I wasn’t going to let wedding planning take over my whole life. Until I actually started to plan it, that is.
With the best will in the world, it’s hard to resist the pressure and to really, truly say that you don’t want a big, expensive dress and actually mean it. Even harder still is getting your friends and family to believe you when you do. Not when we’ve all grown up with weddings always being the happy ending (rather than the happy start? Or celebratory middle?) and brides always getting their way. That Wedding Industrial Complex is a wily little minx – she tempts you with pretty things and the promise that you will be beautiful.
Standing true to your principles is no fun. You know what is fun? Trying on dresses and choosing canapes. You can recognise how ridiculous weddings can be, and also how horrid the traditions are, and still be compelled to do it all and spend it all anyway. It’s easy to want to ignore all the hard, complicated stuff and submit to the tulle and bubbly. For now, I’m trapped somewhere in between.
So weddings are the worst, but I’m having one anyway. Wish me luck…
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