I spent Halloween weekend with my parents in Washington, DC to attend the Rally to Restore Sanity/Fear. As we talked over dinner one night, I asked them, "What did you think about your wedding day? Would you ever go back and change anything?"
My parents looked at each other and smiled. My mother said something like, "I hated my wedding. We were so poor back then. For all the people in the world who say that their wedding was the best day of their life, I really pity them. My wedding doesn't even come close to all the great things I've done in my life; it all just went uphill from then. I wouldn't change a thing."
I have given a lot of thought to the concept of weddings lately as I see more and more of my friends getting married. To clarify, I'm talking about weddings, not marriage; in no way am I going to suggest that marriage is stupid or that people are stupid for getting married, it is the rituals surrounding a traditional American wedding that I fail to understand.
To me, these are some of the reasons that people choose to get married:
1. "I love my fiance/fiancee very, very much."
2. "My fiance/fiancee is a solid companion and I want to build a family with him/her."
3. "Our relationship is not perfect, (no one's is) but we work together as a couple and there are no factors that would limit us in doing so."
These are some of the reasons that people choose to have a wedding:
1. "We want to share and celebrate our love with the people most important to us."
2. "Well, getting married means you have a wedding, right?"
3. "It's a day that's all about ME, and I want to invite everyone I know so we can have a huge and elaborate party for ME, because it is the very most important day of MY life!"
Note the differences in attitude between a marriage and a wedding. More often than not, people tend to exercise caution in choosing whom they marry and it is a serious, significant, and happy moment when they agree to get married. But what about the wedding? Is planning and holding a wedding the same meaningful and joyous process as planning and participating in a marriage? No, it is an obnoxious fiasco.
To clarify even further, I am not suggesting that if you have ever held a wedding that you are a perverted sociopath, I am suggesting that we are all victims of a ridiculous social custom that is missing the point of celebrating love in the first place. People expect you to have a wedding; as soon as someone announces they are engaged, the questions about theme colors and dresses and flowers emerge immediately. I'm sure I will encounter those types of questions if and when I ever feel so inclined to consider marriage. But I digress...let me list some of the elements of modern weddings and analyze them (props to www.thehistoryof.net for all the background info):
- Dress: White resembles joy, purity, and youth. That part makes sense. This originated with the Greeks, but I couldn't find any historical information about why wedding dresses have to be so enormous, elaborate, expensive, and gaudy. This leads me to believe that it is an Americanized capitalist obsession with money and status--BIG SURPRISE.
- Aisle Procession: Why is a flower girl or ringbearer necessary? There are enough flowers at these things, you don't need to rip them up and distribute them upon the ground. And I don't understand why people can't carry their own rings, what does the groom's tux have pockets for? If you want people to ogle your small children, put them in pageants.
- Marriage Vows/Ceremony: I have no objections. I think vows are nice, whether they are written by the couple themselves or recited by the priest or whoever the state has designated to marry the couple. I do appreciate tradition and believe that this ritual of spoken words is important. THIS IS THE POINT OF HAVING A WEDDING AND SHOULD BE THE ONLY POINT.
- Wedding Party: The bride and the groom each have people that love them in their lives. But being a bridesmaid or a groomsman for a day doesn't really make sense. These people should not buy dresses or rent tuxes to show that they are loyal and supportive of the bride and groom, they should show their support and loyalty every day throughout the marriage. And if you agree that the aisle procession is stupid, it's kind of an obsolete position anyway.
- Guests: I don't think I am going out on a limb by saying that people are generally full of it when they say they enjoy going to weddings. It is not really fun for anyone, unless the hosts have invested massive amounts of money into providing excellent entertainment, food, and probably booze to make it less awkward. At every wedding that I have been to, I have legitimately loved the person getting married and was happy for them but I did not enjoy watching them suck face or listening to how blissfully happy they were going to be with their soon-to-be spouse. I have always felt out-of-place...and awkward. (Anyone heading to the bar?) You know you feel the same way too. In ancient Rome, most weddings only had ten witnesses in attendance legally required to legitimize the wedding. I think they had it right.
- Rings: What is with the colossal diamonds? Why so BIG? Why always a diamond? Be original, people. There is no reason at all to have such extravagant rings, except for durability purposes; so get a sterling silver band that won't rust with a big ol' cubic zirconia. OH WAIT. I forgot, our society is obsessed with money and status. You really think your husband loves you more because you have a bigger ring than the next woman? Shame, shame, shame.
- Wedding Cake: Everybody likes cake. You don't needta shove it in each other's faces, though. That means there is less for me to eat.
But what about TRADITION? Isn't that the whole reason why people do all of this in the first place? Like I have said already, yes, tradition is nice and it is important. However, I don't think that we should do things just because "my granddaddy did it too." If that were the case, we would still enslave humans, pour raw sewage into drinking water, and worship cats like our retarded ancestors.
In case you were wondering, here's my idea of a perfect wedding. In Young Women's they would have us make shoebox time capsules about what we wanted our husband and wedding to be like. Here's mine:
- Dress: something I bought at Nordstrom that week (probably purple)
- Guests in Attendance: my mother, my father, my brothers, and my grandparents and the groom's parents, siblings, and grandparents
- Ceremony Lenth: ~5 minutes
- Reception: all of the guests in attendance at the nearest In-N-Out