Mrs. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Wedding Industry
Let’s start here: Just because you’re good at something, that doesn’t mean you should do it. Coming into this whole wedding planning business I had (SCOFF) convinced myself that because my day job entails combining creative vision with logistical management that I would be a natural at planning my own wedding. It’s just like planning a video with a 15k budget! Right? Well maybe, although typically I’m not casting 100+ extras and staring in the production. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
After roughly 16 months of planning I am convinced that the Wedding industry is set up to break the bride. How is it that throwing an elaborate celebration to announce to your friends and family that you’re having intercourse is enough to unravel even the most leveled headed individual? Let me go ahead and lay it out for you.
FAMILY – Ok, first off I’d like to say that I am very fortunate in this regard. Ben and I are both children of long enduring parental marriages. I’m sure that arbitrating the relationships of 50+ year-olds with emotional grudges is it’s own unique and horrifying challenge. However, no family is perfect and managing expectations, sensitivities, and schedules is hard enough with total strangers.
MONEY – It is 2019 and for a millennial I am doing quite well. I don’t live with my parents. I don’t have to work more than one job. I have enough financial stability to leave my expired student ID at home and pay for a full price movie ticket. But planning a $15,000 wedding has required me to completely disengage from all common sense money management principles. For example, in the past few months I have spent over $600 on flowers and leaves. Flowers. And. Leaves. If you’re not familiar with wedding flowers, I am, believe it or not, being quite frugal.
WOMANHOOD – I have the luxury of not thinking about my gender very much. Despite not regularly shaving my legs I feel comfortable with presenting feminine and I embrace my womanhood. But being a BRIDE is a whole other thing. Strangers expectations for how your life will change, ie: taking your husband’s name, having children, taking care of the household, get expanded to 1950s levels of gender role regression. I respect that it is the intention for many women, but calling someone their fiance’s name over the phone is akin to touching a pregnant woman’s belly. If you don’t know them, and they didn’t ask you to, don’t do it.
FAVORS – I don’t like asking people for things. Before I ask a favor of even my closest friends it is important that I feel that said favor is well earned by my own giving. Wedding planning is a non-stop favor train. It is asking your closest friends to spend hundreds of dollars of their own money to buy a dress, pay for travel, gifts, etc. Part of planning an event that is “personal” is asking friends and family to give their time and talent. I wish I could pay all of my friendors (combination of friend and vendor, not my invention) $10,000. It is really the only money that I have no anxiety about giving up, because asking a friend to work at my wedding causes my stomach to churn a dozen times over.
ATTENTION – Here is a paradox for you: I love being the center of attention, but if anyone acknowledges it I become very uncomfortable. Here are my instructions for how to deal with this at my wedding: Look at me, but don’t tell me you’re looking at me. Please wait until we’ve made one second of eye contact and then look away. Please tell me about how you were just talking about me to someone else but never compliment me directly. If you do compliment me to my face I will enter a humility spiral that will leave me feeling afraid that I am drawing too much attention to myself. Please deliver all your compliments for me to Ben so that he can evenly spread them out over the next year.
Weddings are a disaster. Mine will be modern, elegant, and likely very well planned, but in their own way, every wedding is some kind of a disaster. A few months ago I had a lot of funny opinions on the numerous tacky wedding tropes I’ve encountered (burlap, mason jars, signs that say “pick a seat, not a side, we’re all family here”), but now, at 27 days before my own jubilant celebration I have nothing but empathy for anyone attempting this madness.
So, why do it? I truely, actually, fully, and deeply love the guy that is going to be standing up at that alter with me. But we probably should have pocketed the cash and flew to Hawaii 16 months ago.
PS: If we’re going to keep putting women through this whole wedding thing, can we all agree to retire the word “Bridezilla”?