I don’t know what happened. I was in a pretty good groove. Writing, exercising, budgeting, things were going pretty well. Then, I went and got engaged and literally the entire situation that is my life changed.
All of a sudden, each and every of my thoughts have changed to the singsong of fairytales and hummingbirds, blissfully cheering “Weddddding, wooooo!!!” The books went from Lean In and Awakening Your Inner Giant to Bridal Bargains and The Big Book on Weddings. My budgeting goals have shifted from, “budget to get rid of student loan debt fast,” to “budget to have a beautiful wedding and fantastic honeymoon in Italy.”
What is wrong with me?! I’m progressive! I don’t like princess fantasies! I’m an independent woman whose education, attitude and work experience prove that she is self-determined, goal oriented, and committed feminist.
So what IS it about weddings that is the great equalizer, bringing women to the same altar of veils and flowing dresses, sparkling rings, promising that she will be the most beautiful bride that there ever was? I’m no damn princess, and I wasn’t the kid who always dreamed of her wedding. I had soccer practice to go to.
…Although I do know I’m going to look dashing in a casual beach wedding dress and a flower crown….
Anyway, back to my question. What is it about weddings that is so enchanting? I’ve been having a lot of fun with it, but in all honesty, there has been a lot about this experience that is very annoying. All of a sudden, people assume that I will follow the marching orders of brides before me. I am asked if my Dad will “give me away.” Really? Am I held captive somewhere and unaware of it?
Or how about the naming of the female attendants on the bride’s side, “bridesmaids,” or “Maid of Honor.” Am I the only one who hears how ridiculous those names are? Are they going to go milk a cow after the ceremony? Or perhaps hide back in the maiden’s quarters hoping and praying that their time too will come when they are rescued by His Highness?
My point is I have been sucked willingly into the world of white, which includes being assaulted with some troubling truths. While the whole institution of the wedding is steeped in tradition, most of the tradition in this world is steeped in patriarchy. And for some crazy reason…women LOVE it. This is their “one chance” to be a princess. Come on ladies, have you never really paid attention to those Disney films? Those princesses were often slaves of some kind or even locked in dungeons.
DUNGEONS! I myself have never seen a dungeon and I hope to God I never will. But even if they weren’t in the dungeon, they were slaves to their parent’s, often father’s, wishes for their lives, with little to no self-determination. They had zero rights or means to get themselves freed from their bondage and were dependent on Prince Charming to get his shit together and save her. Wouldn’t you rather have the opportunity to save yourself?
I digress. But I think a lot of women fall victim to the dangerous thinking that, YES, I finally found some guy who is going to take care of me and financially sponsor me for the rest of my life. While I know few of us would really say this out loud, that’s very much a huge female fantasy these days.
Don’t believe me? I have some examples.
I was watching a Modern Family re-run yesterday, one of my favorite shows. In this particular episode, Gloria was one of the main characters. Born in Colombia and from a life of poverty, beautiful Gloria met and married her American husband, a man twice her age with a bank account that could make Wall Street bankers blush. Her life is depicted as a dream. She is spirited and free, has a no nonsense attitude and speaks her mind at will.
In this episode, Gloria and her husband Jay just had a baby, and Gloria’s Colombian family came to visit the new infant. Gloria’s sister, also beautiful, never found her prince and is still living in Colombia. When said sister visits, she behaves like a slave – doing laundry, cooking, cleaning, and is clearly oppressed. However it is explained that these chores makes her feel good and normal in this rich country. Gloria feels bad for her sister, and offers to give her some of her clothes. The two walk into what looks like a small designer boutique, which in reality is Gloria’s expansive closet. The sister is overwhelmed with awe, and clearly jealous that her life isn’t as wonderful as Gloria’s.
Later in the episode, Jay gives a speech at their son’s christening, and decides to talk about when he met Gloria. He mentions at the end of the story that the beautiful woman he first saw and desired from behind wasn’t in fact Gloria, but he later learned was her sister! This was news to everyone, and the sister filled with rage and jumped from her pew to strangle Gloria, shouting, “You stole my life!!”
Poor Gloria’s sister. She wasn’t picked up by a dude who thought she had a nice ass to spend all his money on her. What a dream to sit around married to an old guy and his money. Do you see what I mean?
What I am finding is that the wedding seems to be a symbol of many things, but a very strong idea is that men are the moneymakers, women are the fair helpless maidens. One other show I’ve gotten into lately is called, Rich Bride, Poor Bride. I like it because it is all about the budget for the wedding, and I like to see how couples choose to spend their funds.
But sometimes I am ready to slap those brides. So many of these women fall into the role of, “this is MY wedding,” and “I’ll talk him into paying for it,” and “he always gives me what I want.” I even heard one bride say, “I have no respect for a budget or saving. That’s for him to worry about.”
I realize that television is an exaggeration intended to shock audiences. The words and behaviors of these women are appalling and that’s why they made the cut to be aired. But these attitudes are not locked in our televisions. They are deeply ingrained in our society and they are, in my opinion and experience in planning thus far, most prominent around a ceremony like a wedding.
My point is, when planning a wedding it is important to not get wrapped up in the hoopla. Everyone tells you what you “have” to do. May I remind you, there is almost nothing in this world that you HAVE to do!
Sure I am excited and a bit wrapped up in planning this big beautiful day, but that’s because I like planning parties, being a host and can afford it myself. I refuse to get an attitude over it or demand that someone else foot the bill. If I didn’t have the money, Vegas isn’t that far and I could run up there and get ‘er done around $100 with a sweet Elvis pic to boot.
I’m a woman who is going to take advantage of this opportunity to throw a bigger-than-your-average-Saturday fiesta for my friends and family to celebrate Scott’s and my love. Yes, I’m going to look damn good in whatever dress I choose. And while it will probably be white, long and somewhat traditional, that does not symbolize submission. Wearing it and participating in the cultural tradition of a wedding does not mean that I buy into everything it could be perceived to represent. Tradition can often be a very bad thing, and in the case of weddings, the bad thing is the tradition of the helpless bride – which has now morphed into the bratty, selfish, spoiled bride. She was traditionally a piece of property, the currency transferred from father to husband in the wedding ceremony. Yeah, I don’t celebrate that.
By wearing my white dress, I am wearing it because I like it. I have olive skin and it will be August so I’ll have a great tan. Besides that and a few other items I’ll borrow from the weddings of yore, Scott’s and my wedding will only represent one thing. Love….as celebrated by the best party you’ve ever been to.