Monday, April 12, 2010

Wedding Nightmares

I don't understand what's happened to weddings. I'm sure that there are historians and sociologists who have some kind of handle on how weddings went from being solemn occasions where people decided to spend their lives together and had their friends and family witness this exchange, right up to the point where they became pageants and stage productions that required supporting casts of dozens and budgets in the thousands.

Back in the day, people used to get married in their living rooms and have a simple afternoon ceremony. It didn't take long for people to make up their minds and then exchange the vows. Nobody waited an entire year between the proposal and the actual ceremony, mostly because people just didn't have time to waste in terms of getting their married life started and because there wasn't the need to organize or plan for much. The ceremony was always simple and receptions were not the norm; in fact, receptions were really gravy, if the couple or their parents had enough to supply it. The bride would generally wear a simple dress or her mother's dress as the case may be, and there would be a fresh bouquet of flowers chosen that very day. Maybe there would be coffee and little cakes served by the family and the gifts were optional too.

It's nothing like that now. Every woman needs a minimum of one year to plan a wedding nowadays and to save up for it. They need the big venue, the dinner, the reception hall, flowers, decorations, lots of alcohol, the big dress, the snazzy transportation, the favours, the cake, the photographer, the videographer, the DJ or band, and all the little details and extras that people love to have, such as candy bars or entertainers like dancers.

In some ways, it's incredible to see these big weddings unfold and it's even better to be a guest at them. The doors of the imagination have been flung wide open and now, anything goes with weddings, from crazy fantastic themed weddings to outrageous adventure style weddings that include everything from skydiving to exchanging vows on skis. People can show up in ferraris, helicopters, elephants, you name it. It's a once in a lifetime occasion for people to live out their fantasies of being a rock star, a princess, a thrill-seeker.

While all this is truly amazing, there is a very, very ugly side that comes out of all this fancy and extravagance. This world of choice turns easily into a world of hurt when people discover that their ideas may be infinite, but their cash flow is not.

I think that every little girl (with some exceptions, of course) dream about their fantasy wedding with all the beautiful details and hold on to this image for several years to come. Unfortunately, I think that these same ideas are formed before girls even have a concept of what money is or what it does or how hard it is to earn. This is back in the glorious days of the mythical money tree that we think still exists somewhere in the backyard where mom and dad disappear off to when bills appear.

But once it becomes our turn to get married for real, I'm surprised by the amount of women who are not willing to compromise their fantasy images for the reality of actual budgets and numbers. What surprises me even more than this is the way that some of these women behave. Their attitude, their sense of entitlement, their need to have everything exactly the way that it should be, the way that they put down or verbally attack their spouses to be in order to get what they want, regardless of the cost...all of this makes me sick.

I can't believe that anyone wants to marry these women when I see them chewing out their fiances over the cost of wedding cakes or bonbons. I hate it when they make a big show of getting their way with such statements as "this is my day, I am the bride, I am the queen, I will get what I want when I want it and exactly the way that I want it and there's nothing that you can say or do about it that's going to change my mind."

Who wants to spend the rest of their lives with that? Who wants to make a vow borne out of love, fidelity, good faith and hope to someone who sounds like a spoiled 4 year old planning a birthday party?

And who wants to spend thousands of dollars on a single day which turns out to be a stage production, full of fanfare and silliness? Does anyone honestly believe that they're a princess for a day and that it's worth spending a down payment on a home to feel that way? And does anyone think that their guests will keep talking about the wedding for years to come, telling grand tales to all their friends and families about your over the top mythical occasion?

I think that before women allow themselves to get carried away, they should remember the following few things:

1- Don't confuse want with need. All you really 'need' for a wedding to happen is two consensual adults, an officiant or priest, a marriage license and a pair of witnesses. That's all you 'need' and everything else is a 'want'.

2- It's not your day. A lot of women feel pushed to go big with their wedding because it's supposed to be their big day, their one and only chance to shine like a princess, but really, it's not. Everyone else likes to get involved and share their opinions, especially other female members of the family and the male members of the family just want everything to be cheaper. So don't get caught up in this illusion that it's all about you and that everyone wants what you want. And don't forget the infighting. You think that your parents are cool, but that's up until the day that they fight you over centrepieces. Not cool.

3- It's an honour to be asked. Before you get on your high horse and start demanding roses in crimson that fold at a 35 degree angle, you should remember that the point of the wedding is to celebrate the fact that you are about to be bound for life in love with another human being. This means that someone else on the planet actually considers you to be worthwhile for a lifetime of togetherness and monogamy. This is a beautiful, wonderful thing and it doesn't happen to everyone, no matter what Hollywood dictates or what your parents say about only weird people not getting married. If someone ever considers you for this honour and you think enough of them to want to say yes to it, don't get mired in stupid details. Just be happy that you're not alone on this journey called life and celebrate it in a simple, dignified manner which is appropriate to this type of occasion.

A lot of women have dreams and nightmares about their weddings. But the sad thing is that it's weddings themselves that are becoming the nightmare.

1 comment:

  1. I'm hardly what one would call a traditionalist but I think there's a huge problem with how people get married these days.

    I find more and more, entitled marrying couples demand ridiculous amounts from their guests, friends and families.

    Beach Vacation weddings requiring airfare, vacation and lodging; guests being asked to pay cover to participate in the reception (hint: if you can't afford a lavish wedding, don't expect your guests to pay for it); Bridezillas demanding bridesmaids buy ugly, expensive dresses that they will wear... once.

    It troubles me that people are so self-centered as to not consider the impact their actions will have on their loved ones, who are likely to pay for things they can't afford out of social obligation.