On Weddings And How They Differ From Marriage (wishing you twin elephants)

Whoa. This from via the ever-smart Lauren, from the book Altared. Seriously. Read it all:

Weddings are not marriages, and I wish they were. Weddings are to marriage as a single bamboo shoot is to a jungle, as a seashell is to the ocean floor: nice enough, not unrepresentative, and almost totally irrelevant. Marriage is all about the long road, about terror and disappointment, about recovery and contentment, about passions of all kinds. Weddings are about a party– which is why I think marriage should be approached with blinking yellow lights, orange safety cones, and all other signs of great caution, and weddings should be encouraged as things apart. Why should we expect that looking pretty in white (or the flattering color of your choice) and doing a credible fox-trot has anything to do with staying calm in the face of resentful indifference, selective deafness, Oedipal disorders, or horrible stepchildren? It should be enough, it seems to me, to look as good as one can and enjoy the party. Brides who cannot enjoy their own weddings are either possessed of too much knowledge (this marriage is a mistake) or too much something else (like women who scream when the bouquet has one too many sprigs of baby’s breath). I wish that crazy, over-the-top weddings (doves dyed pink, twin elephants, wedding favors from Gucci, and Handel’s “Water Music” played by Yo-Yo Ma) led to marriages that were extravagant celebrations of love, that the excess foretold a lifetime of generosity, sensuality, and matching elephants of kindness and loyalty. I wish that simple little weddings, barefoot in a cranberry bog, with ten friends as witnesses, would lead to a life in which less is really more and stays that way. Marriage requires common sense, self-awareness, compatible senses of humor (Jackie Mason will not be happy with Oscar Wilde, although Bernie Mac might be), compatible sex drives, and enough, but not too much, perseverance. Weddings, on the other hand, offer just a day’s happiness, and require only a willingness to dance– even badly– and embrace the world and big love for a short time.

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  • Makes good sense. :)

  • You mean I don't get to be the center of attention for the rest of my life? Aw crap. But do I get to keep the elephants?

  • Meg

    YES. You keep the elephants. That's the good news AND the bad news.

  • Loved that book ;)

    But I think we've had more than a few conversations on APW that take issue with the statement "Brides who cannot enjoy their own weddings are either possessed of too much knowledge (this marriage is a mistake) or too much something else (like women who scream when the bouquet has one too many sprigs of baby's breath)."

    The dichotomy of unhappy bride as either not really in love OR bridezilla seems a bit simplistic. Sure, the wedding is just a day's party that kicks off this complicated relationship/state–theoretically a simple enough thing to enjoy. But it's also a party fraught with tradition and expectation, etc.

    I guess it's like telling a second grader that you think their homework is totally easy in comparison to your high school homework. Doesn't matter. Even if you both can agree. When you're in it, that challenge seems momentous–and it is. Even if it's just second-grade stuff ;)

  • Friggin incredible. I want elephants too, but I want someone else to clean up the poo. I'll clean everything else. I promise.

  • i've been forwarding your posts to my future husband and a few friends who are engaged or soon will be. you've really helped to open up the minds of a lot of people both directly and indirectly.

  • Cate Subrosa


    And, sold.

    (My shelves are filling with fascinating wedding books, after the event. I will be an excellent friend when my besties get engaged.)

  • Bahahahaha. Awesome. Then again, I'm saying this as someone who is on the other side and is realizing these things, and embracing them.

  • Rachel

    Is it wrong that I want to include this in the program somewhere as a slap in the face to all the people who have been telling me my wedding must be this, that, and the other thing but go blank when I ask them what my marriage should entail? (evil chuckle)

  • great, great perspective…its so easy to get caught up in things related to decor instead of things related to the relationship. awesome post!

  • Lovely.

    I, too, took slight issue with the "Brides who cannot enjoy their wedding," but the overall gist is so important and appropriate, I'm ignoring it.
    Those brides she's referring to wouldn't be reading APW, anyway. It wasn't a question on the survey, but I think I can safely say that us APW readers love the hell out of our boys/girls and we don't care enough about baby's breath to scream about it. :-)

  • Beautiful entry. Thank you.

  • Hannah


    I took issue with that as well. I am seriously concerned that I might not enjoy my wedding, not because I don't think that marrying David is absolutely the right thing and exactly what I want but because the wedding is more expensive than I can afford and full of stressful players and stressful choices. I would probably have enjoyed a wedding of ten in a cranberry bog much more. So perhaps the bride she's talking about is a bride who would not enjoy any wedding? If the point is that weddings have nothing to do with marriage then lets not assume that because some of us are bad at weddings and don't enjoy our own that our marriages are a bad idea.

    (or I am two months our and just feeling a smidge defensive)

  • Leslie

    This post is beautiful.

  • oh. god. yes.

  • Thank you! This is so sweet and so beautiful. Thank you!

  • Laura

    I didn’t enjoy my own “wedding.” It was just most of our immediate family and my best friend – nine people in total in addition to ourselves. If I’m totally honest, I didn’t want one at all. I wanted to sign the paperwork and get on with the marriage – and skip all of the attention. I’m uncomfortable with the attention involved, and I don’t think that has anything to do with me being a bridezilla (I mean, we got married at the courthouse and I wore jeans – not a whole lot to get fussy over) or knowing that my marriage is doomed to failure.

    Otherwise, I think this is a great sentiment, and it is wholeheartedly true. A wedding is not a marriage, and the two are totally different animals when you get down to brass tacks.

  • I’m a Filipino and i have to give up my dream of an intimate wedding because my family wants a lot to join in as per tradition.

    I wish i could skip the wedding and get on with the marriage but anyways, that could never be.

    so, instead of a dreamy theme… We’re now going with a Fiesta theme instead and pray that it wouldn’t be a fiasco instead.

    PS: i repsted this on my blog. I hope you don’t mind.