A wedding shouldn't be an excuse for a woman to get her narcissism on. Weddings are ceremonies by which a community witnesses the formation of another stable family unit and, having witnessed it, ideally will exert some help or pressure to keep it in functioning order. A wedding was not for the bride or for the groom, it was for the community and an exercise in reaffirming community customs and beliefs.
At least that's what they once were.
Now they are expensive parties, hugely overpriced blowouts organized and choreographed around the main event, the bride. Everyone else fades into the background - it's Bridezilla's day. It's been a winding road to this point, of course. The day was always important for brides because marriage holds more protections and perks for women than it does for men. That's why historically women have wanted - have dreamed - about getting married and men generally have had to be pressured - gently or with the pressure of a metal barrel - into it. It's normal for a young woman to look forward to her wedding day and anticipate saying her vows and celebrating with her loved ones, surrounded by the beauty of the occasion. I had a wedding. It was a lovely wedding in the gorgeous Polish Catholic church I attended, and other than being hot, tired, and somewhat nervous, I had a great time. It's a bit of a blur, actually. What I remember most is wishing that I had more time to spend with all of the people who had traveled so far to see me get married.
The problems I have with weddings as they currently are celebrated are:
- They rarely longer serve any cultural purpose in that they aren't there to transmit culture or values forward. How can they when all the participants know going in that there is a 50% chance this will end in divorce? With the meaning behind the wedding gone, what we're left with is a fancy party that requires an extensive consultation of etiquette no one knows anymore. And
- They are so overpriced. On average an American couple spends $19,581 to celebrate that magical day. Let me write that out: nineteen thousand, five hundred and eighty-one dollars. Just shy of $20K for a one-day party. Wow. Again, there's a one in two shot this won't even last.
I don't want to be a hypocrite; after all, I've admitted I had a nice wedding. But for me it was a celebration of my religious beliefs, and I did not bear the expense. It was important for my parents and my husband's parents to be there and for it to be an occasion of note and in a church. These are things that have to be factored in. If I'd have had to pay for it, it would have been much humbler and with fewer stressful details. I certainly would not have gone into debt or more debt to pull off a big production. My grandparents married in their minister's front room and they were married over 50 years. I think that is a valid way to celebrate.
We have a secular, highly consumer-oriented society. Keep that in mind when you plan your wedding and ask yourself who benefits from the decisions you are making about how to celebrate it. And if you do get married, count yourself lucky. Not so many women will because it's a very risky venture for men these days with even fewer benefits than there were traditionally, so if you accomplish it keep the vows you are planning to take. Be grateful. Oh, and treat him right. With any luck, if you picked a good one, he will do the same.