Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Why your “Special Day” is Nonsense: A Brief Rant about Weddings

by Emily Kubley

I hate the phrase “special day”. Even reading it makes my skin crawl. I don’t like it in ANY context, but I absolutely HATE it with regards to someone’s wedding.

It’s that time of year, wedding season. Let me start what will, no doubt, become a rant by first saying: To all of you getting married this year, I hope you have a lovely time at your wedding. In fact, I hope that regardless of when you have a wedding (if you choose to have one). This post is not at all related to any specific person or couple (so to the many friends and family engaged or recently married, please don’t feel bad and please don’t do anything unspeakable to my piece of cake).

I have a love/hate relationship with weddings. I love to see people I care about happy. I love the celebrations of love and joy and happiness. I love candles, pretty dresses, dancing, flowers and, of course, cake.  I think all the decorating things can be really fun, especially when it really captures the personalities of the people getting married.

My friends are the Muppets in the television cut out.
For example, one of the best weddings I ever went to had a subtle Muppet theme. It was glorious and I adored it because my friend is what can only be described as a Muppet Superfan. Her now husband even proposed via Muppet at Jim Henson’s Fantastic World at the Chicago Museum of Science andIndustry – in what is still the best “how we got engaged story” I have ever heard… that is, aside from when John and I got engaged. So the wedding was distinctly Muppet-y, because she loves the Muppets and he loves her… and now I love them both. Aaaand I have now probably succeeded in making said Muppet Superfan friend, who is now pregnant, cry… which, for some odd reason, I find hilarious. (I don’t do anything mean, don’t write comments about how terrible I am.)

So, that’s the love part. Yeah, weddings are pretty. They’re fun. They’re generally lovely. (‘Cept mine. My wedding sucked for a variety of reasons. Luckily, none of them had to do with the person I chose to marry… and that’s a point I’ll make later.)

The hate part comes about because I am not the only one who thinks weddings are lovely… weddings have become their own industry. They have their own section on Pinterest, and there is no shortage of subject matter. They have magazines, television shows, and their own section of any bookstore. Honestly, I don’t really even have a problem with all of that.

My real problem is, actually, two problems. I like to multitask sometimes.

The first problem I have with weddings is the idea that weddings are someone’s “special day”. As in, singular. You get ONE special day in your whole life, and this is it baby! THIS is the MOST IMPORTANT DAY OF YOUR ENTIRE LIFE! EVERYTHING YOU HAVE EVER DONE IN LIFE CULMINATES IN THIS EVENT! I hope you planned it perfectly and you look perfect and the food is perfect and the venue is perfect and the first dance is perfect and your hair is perfect and everyone acts perfectly… perfect, Perfect, PERFECT IN EVERY SINGLE WAY!!!

This is it, young lady, THIS is what you have striven for your entire life.  This is it, little girls in attendance, THIS is your goal.

That is what I hate. This continued idea that a woman’s wedding day is the most important day of her life. The idea that GETTING married is the number one goal for a woman. The idea that there will only be ONE special day. Not only does that make me wonder what happened to the last sixty or so years of women’s history, it makes me think about all of the other goals we diminish for young ladies – academic goals, professional goals, goals related to being a good and interesting person. None of those are considered “special days”, or, when they are, it is NOTHING like a wedding.

And let’s not forget the implication that, since the only “special day” you’ll really have is your wedding day, your life is pretty much downhill from here.

That is bullshit.

If you want a special day, I say you should give yourself a special day. Get your hair done, wear a tiara, wear a ball gown... call yourself Princess Pretty Bottom, if that is what makes you happy. Seriously. If you want to basically throw yourself an UN-Wedding, then I will support you. And I may even buy you a toaster. Better that than getting married for, really, the sake of getting to have a Special Day.

And that brings me to the second reason I hate [some] weddings – people get married to the wrong people for the wrong reasons.

How many times have you seen a couple who are getting married even though you’re pretty sure that they may not even LIKE each other? How many times have you seen people decide to get married because it seems like the logical next step in their relationship? How many times have you seen a couple where one or both people have decided to get married because they think it will help their relationship gain credibility in the eyes of others – usually family members? How many times have you seen someone getting married because they think that it will give them some sort of status or street cred? (Stop for a second to imagine a street where being married gives you street cred… and then make it absurd somehow so you get a laugh. Now is a good point in the rant to laugh.)

Have you ever met someone with an entire wedding planned out with everything BUT the person they are going to marry? WTF is that?

Look, weddings are pretty and fun and generally a great opportunity to have a party with some real flair – but if you have every part of your wedding planned out without actually considering what your partner might want, then you are WAY off track.

The main point (and I do have one), is this: People make the mistake of thinking that planning a wedding is hard work. They are partially correct. I, for one, started having really serious panic attacks during the planning stages of my wedding – and it wasn’t just because there were people actively trying to stop it from happening. Planning weddings IS hard work – but it is not where you should be placing the bulk of your planning energy. If you’re planning a wedding, you need to back up and, instead, plan a marriage. And for that you need full participation from your partner.

Weddings are easy, marriage takes work. The world would be a better place if there were even more planning guides for marriage than there are for weddings… and each of those guides should start with ways to really evaluate if you’re getting married for the right reasons and, even more importantly, to the right person.

I pledge here and now to write at least one future post on how to plan for marriage. (Though I make no promises about the quality of the advice I will provide.)

Pro Wedding Tip: All kinds of people will try to convince you of THEIR preferences (and sometimes demands) for YOUR wedding. This will slowly start to drive you insane and can rob you of your happy feelings. The very best thing you can do is to go Suess-y. When planning your wedding, remember that your wedding should reflect the people getting married and make them happy because, “the people who matter don’t mind and the people who mind don’t matter”. (This quote is generally attributed to Dr. Suess. There is a bit of a mystery about whether that is accurate or not, but the point remains good and the phrase "Go Suess-y" works better for my purposes.)

To recap:
  1. The phrase “special day” should be stricken from the lexicon, or at least NEVER, EVER used around me.
  2. Getting married is NOT the number one goal (though I would say that having a SUCCESSFUL and HAPPY marriage should always be a top goal and priority of anyone who does choose to marry).
  3.  If you want a big, beautiful party then you should go ahead and have one – but don’t enter into one of life’s most major commitments to do it.
  4. I will, as my funds allow, provide gifts to people who hold Un-Weddings, provided that they register for a bridal registry with their name and a truly epic made-up name for their partner.
  5. Weddings are easy, marriage takes work (but it’s totally worth it if you marry the right person).
  6. Planning your marriage, and executing those plans, is WAY more important than planning the wedding.
  7. Go Suess-y

Thank you to everyone who made it through my wedding rant. Thank you, also, to my friend from college, Beth, who just this past weekend provided beautiful pictures of what a wedding SHOULD be – one where two smart people decide to formally join their lives together with the understanding that there will be work involved, but that they love each other enough that they look forward to it. (Yes, I could tell that from the pictures. J ) It’s weddings like that that make me love weddings.

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