My mom sent me a pin on Pinterest. It was an infographic called Make Your Diamond Match Your Personality, and presented a list of diamonds and corresponding personality traits. It’s exactly the kind of image that perpetuates the uncomfortable message of engagement ring equals self-worth. My knee-jerk reaction was to close out of the screen and pretend it hadn’t happened. Was she serious? I deleted the notification and ignored the pin.
It then occurred to me that if my mom is sending me pins, she probably has a few Pinterest boards. Indeed, a closer investigation revealed that she has ten of them. There, among “Books Worth Reading” and “Art” was a board labeled “Wedding ideas.” The most recent pin was How to Make a Face Mask to Remove Blackheads. I gaped at the close-up images of an anonymous nose, before and after its owner sat around for twenty minutes wearing a mixture of egg white and lemon peel. I mean, yeah, the after nose looked way better, but who knows what kind of fancy camera work was involved?
Her pins leapt off the screen in an onslaught of expectations. Mason jars wearing sweaters made of lace doilies. A heart-shaped bouquet. A chalkboard requesting that guests “Instagram our wedding.” I started to panic a little. I’m not even on Instagram! There were some pins taken from my own boards: a vintage lace dress from Etsy, a mint green color scheme that I’d liked the look of but had no intentions of carrying out. Seeing my pins on her board felt strangely invasive, like she was climbing into my brain and lifting out my thoughts without context, then trying to create new ones and silently insert them without me noticing.
I think about the last time she attempted to approach me outright with a question over email, mere days after we set a date: “Do you have a timeline or checklist of the wedding that I can have? I saw an illustrated list on Lauren Conrad’s website. Have you seen it?” My reaction was one of exasperation. “Mom, I don’t have a timeline. And no, I haven’t seen Lauren Conrad’s website.”
I’m resistant to playing the game, to getting sucked into the belief that I’m doing it wrong. I fear that if I give an inch, I’ll be caught in the gears of the wedding machine and churned through until nothing’s left of me but a one-dimensional paper doll in a white dress, holding a heart-shaped bouquet in one hand and Lauren Conrad’s checklist in the other. (Forty-eight hours before: Get Tan!)
The result is a bride-to-be who feigns a lack of interest in all things wedding. A bride who insists that her dress doesn’t have to be made of fairy wings and unicorn sparkles, that it can just be a dress. A bride who is happy to forgo flowers, a band, a bridal shower, and even a bachelorette party because I don’t need any of those things. And in my rage against the machine, I have become a bride who forgot that this wedding is not just about Jared and me.
As the oldest of three girls, the first to get married, and the one who moved to Australia, I’m making it hard for my parents to get their bearings on how to help their daughter plan a wedding. Instead of extending a hand to guide them, I am lifting it to brush away suggestions, insisting that I want to do things my own way. It’s clear to me that my mom is taking great pains not to overstep any boundaries or crowd me into a corner, but at the same time she’s dying to be involved.
To compensate, she’s scouring my Pinterest boards for an opening into my mind, access to my guarded wedding thoughts. What I need to tell my mom is that this is all new to me, too. I need some space to figure it out. I don’t have a meticulously curated wedding book like Monica in Friends. There is no vision—just a landslide of options that lead to confusion and soul-searching. It feels like our wedding tapped me lightly on the shoulder only to slug me across the jaw when I turned around. You thought this was going to be easy? You thought this was just about throwing a party? Suckaaaaa.
Because the wedding, I’m learning, is so much more than what you see, eat, wear, and say. It’s about navigating budgets, expectations, respect, personal truths, and family dynamics—times two. Sometimes I want to chuck it all in and elope. Screw the wedding! We don’t need this shit. But then I think of the joy of having all our people in the same place at the same time, and it makes my heart hurt with longing.
I’m pretty sure my mom and I want the same thing; we just have slightly different ideas about how to get there. I think it’s my turn to reach out and let her in, though I’ll forgo Pinterest and skip straight to a video call on Skype. Which I plan to do as soon as I sort out these blackheads on my nose.