Our society really does have "Wedding Fever". Everyone is obsessed with the latest celebrity wedding and weddings are the subject of endless movies (The Wedding Planner, The Wedding Singer, The Wedding Date, American Wedding, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, My Best Friend's Wedding, Monsoon Wedding, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Betsy's Wedding, Muriel's Wedding, Father of the Bride, Runaway Bride, In & Out, Wedding Crashers, of course Bachelor Party and most recently 27 Dresses) and TV shows (Bridezillas, A Wedding Story, For Better or For Worse, Whose Wedding is it Anyway?, Wedding Bells, Platinum Weddings, My Big Fat Fabulous Wedding, My Big Redneck Wedding, and Rich Bride, Poor Bride etc.) I feel compelled to tell you all that the reason I know half of these titles is because the WE channel is also having "Wedding Week". Only their wedding week is an actual week long! Crazy!
From what I've seen about weddings the most common wedding theme is Bigger, Better, More! I've seen some perfectly sane women get so caught up in tiny details that they almost lose sight of the reason they're really there - to marry the person you love. Oh no, wait, that's not always the main reason is it? It's probably also about being a princess for a day. "It's my day!" "It's my special day!" "It's the greatest day of my life!" All for what is basically just one big expensive party. It gets to the point where you wonder what's more important, the wedding or the marriage!? Honestly, the first day of your marriage is minor. It's every day after that that should be significant. I understand wanting everything to be perfect, but really nothing is ever perfect and after the night is over, what really matters is who you go home with. (In my case, one of the hot groomsmen).
A while back I was the maid-of-honor in a relative's wedding and wow, let's just say it was not a good experience. I never realized how accurate the term "bridezilla" could really be. When she told me that it was spiritually important to her that I wear my elbow length gloves in the middle of May, I knew she'd lost it. I actually had to sit her down and remind her that the most important thing is that she's marrying the man she loves, not the color of the tablecloths or the height of the bridesmaids' shoes.
It got me thinking about what my dream wedding would be... or that is, what it wouldn't be. Of course, that statement implies that I'd ever want to have a wedding, period. My actual "dream wedding" would be no wedding at all most likely. But since it's ESC Wedding "Week", I'll let you glimpse a little bit of what my wedding would look like if I was forced to have one. I guess you could say I have a "different" point of view on some of the traditional wedding stuff. In all honestly, I don't think my view is that different. I'm sure plenty of people out there agree with me on most of this stuff (especially if you're an Evil Slutopia reader), but it's definitely what you'd call "non-traditional". Obviously, I haven't thought of every detail (we don't have enough bandwidth for me to criticize everything I find odd or annoying about weddings), but there are a lot of wedding traditions that bother me on a much deeper level.
The Wedding Itself
Like I said, if I was ever compelled to marry I'd want the marriage to be more important than the wedding. So that means that I wouldn't want to waste a ton of money on a huge wedding, when I could be saving that money to spend on my life together with my love. (That is, buying a house, sending any potential kids to college, investing in an awesome porn collection - priorities!) For me, the wedding would be a simple event with the sole purpose being celebrating the fact that I've (hopefully) found the love of my life.
Even though I'm not "into" weddings (or even marriage really), I do understand wanting to stand up and openly love and cherish the one you love and celebrate that love with your closest friends and family. What I don't understand is why someone would want to pay an exorbitant amount of money to do it with your third cousins, your parents' friends, your coworker's spouses, and a bunch of other people you barely know who you felt obligated to invite and who felt obligated to attend and buy you a kitchen appliance.
I'd be just as happy surrounded by a few close friends and family members, in a small room or backyard somewhere with pizza and beer instead of steak and champagne.
Diamond Rings and Wedding Bands
This is just another example of what getting married can cost! You already know how the ESC feels about the diamond industry. The idea of spending three months salary (although I'm sure it's often more) on a piece of jewelry is foreign to me. I just can't comprehend it. I still buy the bulk of my "jewelry" at stores like Claires or The Icing. (I secretly believe that I'm still a twelve year old girl). And the fact that a piece of jewelry is somehow meant to be the ultimate gift of love and symbol of committment is also hard for me to understand.
I suppose the symbolism of the wedding bands makes sense (the circle has been said to represent both timelessness and wholeness, therefore representing the undying love and complete unity of the marriage). I also acknowledge the significance to some people of having that visible sign that you're "attached" or "taken". However, the engagement ring especially seems just like "bragging" to me. It's seen as a symbol of the sacrifice your fiance is willing to make for you, but how can you justify putting all that money into something you'll wear on your finger?
It has to be the biggest, the most beautiful, the most expensive diamond. A woman needs to show that ring off, both to show the world that she is worthy of being proposed to and to prove that her man is worthy of marrying (that is, he's willing to spend a ton of money on her by buying her a big diamond that she likely picked out herself). God forbid it's not special enough, not big enough, not expensive enough, or... not a diamond at all. What will people think? That's the part that turns me off a little. Especially since the diamond engagement ring didn't become the standard it is today until an extensive marketing campaign by De Beers in the late 1930s. A diamond may be "forever" but it doesn't have any bearing on the length of time the marriage will last or the quality thereof.
Also, it's so cliche. It's the equivalent of getting roses - a romantic gesture, but really didn't take much thought or imagination. I prefer gifts that show that a person really knows me and listens to me. Some of my favorite presents over the years have been not the expensive ones, but the meaningful ones. A diamond ring to me isn't meaningful. I'm not trying to lessen the meaning that it has for anyone else, but a symbol of someone's love for me? I wanted something less boring, less cliche, and less... less expensive. Some people opt for alternative engagement jewelry, but it's still... jewelry. (And society will never never accept it the way they do an engagement ring anyway).
If I'm ever asked to marry I think we should skip rings all together and give each other some other gift to represent our eternal love... something meaningful to us like a matching set of engagement handcuffs. Or engagement i-pods. Or a pair of pet birds (love birds are adorable and appropriately named). Or how about planting an engagement tree? In many countries the maple tree is a symbol of love and what can could encourage a long, sweet life more than a tree that has deep roots and is known for its sweet syrup. Or in that case, maybe we'll just have a big plate of engagement pancakes. Mmmmm. Yummy yummy love.
I once joked with a guy friend that if he ever got married, that I wanted to be an usher-ette in his wedding instead of a bridesmaid. (I figured it'd be a lot more fun: trade the bridal shower and ugly dresses for a strip club bachelor party!) When I mentioned that idea to another friend, she basically called me dumb because she said that any male friends of the bride would be ushers and any female friends of the ground would be bridesmaids. Part of her defense of this stance was the boy-girl pairing for when they walk down the processional.
That really bugged me because the whole ridiculous division of boy-girl-boy-girl nonsense implies that women only have female friends and men only have male friends and any "freak exceptions" have to crossover. I have had many significant friendships with men over the years and I don't mean "friends with benefits" (or at least not every time). I resent the way we're trained from childhood to "stick to our own". (Except of course when it comes to relationships, at which point our homophobic society pushes us not to stick to our own).
I don't particularly think that you need to have your best friends standing up next to you when you get married but if I am going to do that then don't I want my friends standing up next to... you know... me? Not on the other side of the room, next to the groom, just because they happen to have a penis. I think if I ever got married, I probably wouldn't even have bridesmaids at all (it's kind of like the myspace top 8, "these are my favorite friends... on display for you all to see!") but if I did, it would probably be a mixed group of bridemaids and "brides-men".
The Father-of-the-Bride Giving the Bride Away
This tradition has always bugged me. The bride's father (or some other "fatherly" male figure in her life) walks the bride down the aisle and "gives her away" like something out of our patriarchial past. Her father gives her to the groom like she's just another piece of property. Ick. Yes, I realize there's symbolism of leaving her family to start a new one, but it still just reeks of a past when women were powerless. They couldn't vote or own property and have few rights... they literally went from being daughters to wives to mothers. The young bride goes from the rule of her father to the rule of her husband.
Also, not everyone has a father - or just one father for that matter. I've seen brides walked down the aisle by two parents or none at all. I mean the phrase is "here comes the bride", not "here comes the bride and her whole family". Does she really need to be given away? And really, why does there need to be a huge production of the bride coming down the aisle anyway? It's not a debutante ball; she doesn't need to make a huge entrance. I think I would probably just stroll in and get it done, with little to-do.
I never really went for the whole white dress idea. I think the whole concept of the white dress symbolizing purity is lame and archaic. (Even though techinically white wedding dresses didn't even symbolize purity until the Christian church decided that they did; in reality they originated as a symbol of status and wealth). Being both a symbol of purity and social status, I have no desire to wear white.
And if you want to think of it from another point of view, white is hardly flattering on most people. If you really do believe that your wedding day is supposed to be the best day of your life and want all eyes on you... don't you want to wear something that will make you look and feel as beautiful as possible. As beautiful as possible in a way that is totally and completely you. I've seen so many brides get so dolled up that they no longer look like themselves; they are literally wearing a "bride costume". All the hair and makeup and ruffles and taffeta and lace and diamonds... instead looking like the radiant, happy, amazing women that their fiances fell in love with in the first place, they come out like some kinda of poufy marshmallow drag queen Barbie princesses.
I would also skip the veil - why? There are several theories as to the origin and symbolism of the wedding veil and frankly I don't care for any of them of feel they have a place in today's society. Some feel that the veil symbolizes a wife's submission to husband (going back to the days when she would stand beneath a canopy to signify that she was under the protection of her groom). Lifting the veil symbolized the grooms dominance over the bride.
Others consider it to be a symbol of modesty, while some consider it a symbol of purity and innocence (or more specifically, virginity as many see the lifting of the veil to be symbolic of the breaking of the hymen upon consummation). In some cultures it served to protect the bride from evil spirits, while in others the bride's face was to be hidden from the groom until after the marriage was completed - at which point he would see his bride for the first time and not be able to back out until it was too late. (How romantic).
I save the best (or worst, depending on how you look at it) for last. Obviously I have problems with the traditional wedding vows that include things like "honor and obey" but luckily it's become much more acceptable to omit that line.
And it's become much more common to write your own vows. I know not everyone is a creative person or is able to put their love into words poignantly. However, using the standard, boring, old vows seems too easy. Really everything I've been saying about all the wedding traditions is that your wedding should be about your own individuality, not trying to fit into the mold of what tradition says a wedding is. The white dress, the diamond ring, the "in sickness and in health" are all just cliche expressions of something that shouldn't be cliche. It should be about you and your spouse... it should be about your love.
I don't know if I would be able to write the most poetic wedding vows, but if I ever vow to spend my life with someone else I want to speak from my heart.