This weekend, David and I went to a bookstore and somehow ended up sitting on the floor in the wedding section going through piles and piles of wedding books. I’m not totally sure how it happened, but I think it was a little bit like how we sometimes watch Say Yes To The Dress and yell one-liners at the screen and laugh and laugh and laugh. Anyway, laughing at the wedding industry has it’s own punishment. Namely, it’s really really funny until suddenly it’s horrifying.
So there we were, sitting in the bookstore, reading wedding advice back and forth, and suddenly I started feeling really ill. Not, “Oh, this is making me nauseous, ha, ha, ha!” but more, “Oh dear God I’m going to lose it.” I think it was right after I had read a tip to David about how “It is critical to think of your wedding as a enormous theatrical event,” and while he was reading me a tip about how “Many brides waste literally thousands of their gift dollars by failing to register for the most lucrative items, forcing them to buy these items after the fact.”
This bridal book hilarity (or lack there of) haunted me all weekend. Over and over what kept running through my head was “Garbage in, garbage out.” We went through almost every bridal book on the shelf, and almost every single one was explicit instructions on how to be a needy, self absorbed, demanding, obsessive bride. In fact, it was worse. Most of the books gently implied that if you didn’t start acting and thinking this way, you were a bad bride. (Seriously. It was that bad. It was much much worse that I had ever imagined.)
And this is the way women get trapped between a rock and a hard place. Almost everything in our culture screams, “This is how to be a BRIDE!” and then the minute women start following instructions, they get slapped with the label Bridezilla. No good.
I wish that making feminist decisions about weddings was a total non-issue, I really do. But … being a bride is a performative role that is scrutinized by a shocking number of people who it is true, really shouldn’t give a sh*t. But the wedding world is even more conservative and conformist that the regular world (which isn’t exactly a friendly place for feminists in itself).
But when you assume that anyone enthusiastically planning a wedding is automatically a victim of outside forces, you’re asserting that women can’t think for themselves and are powerless against the lures of taffeta and tiaras. That once we see something sparkly, it’s all white blindness GIVE ME MATCHING GARTER bridezilla bullsh*t. That if you’re planning a wedding, on a certain level … you’ve already lost your mind. Some people like big parties and are drawn toward extravagant weddings, offbeat or not. Some people hate big parties, and therefore plan a beautiful simple wedding. As long as it’s an honest reflection of the couple getting married (and that includes an honest reflection of their budget!) I’m all for both ends of the simple/extravagant spectrum.
Yes. Yes. Yes.
I think the internet is doing and excellent job of starting to allow women (and men) to grab on to the reins of wedding planning, and say, “This. This is mine. And you can eff right off with your double edged swords of crazy gendered rhetoric.” I think the internet is allowing women to claim items that, as a traditionally female province are trashed as not important – wedding dresses, cakes, flowers, dancing, whatever, and claim them as real and vibrant and ours. All of this is excellent news. But, I guess I just want to see this philosophy start extending a bit more beyond our computer screens. I want more books like Offbeat Bride or DIY Wedding that can be read and passed from daughter to mother to grandmother to auntie. I want to see a whole lot less garbage in, because I already see that when freed from the bonds of crazy, a whole lot of beautiful celebrations can come out.
So lets do this thing. Lets take back our weddings. Lets take back the way weddings are viewed by our culture at large. When someone asks us about our bridesmaids dresses, maybe we should sweetly say, “Oh dear, no. I’m having a bridal brigade.” When people ask us about our cake tastings, it’s time to start saying, “Oh, I went with a local bakery. No need to taste.” Or when people ask about our beautiful white wedding dress, it’s time to nicely say, “It’s so pretty and blue, you’ll adore it.”
Because this wedding stuff? This is ours.