I've been privy to a lot of conversations with brides about the planning of weddings lately, more so than grooms because this topic is an area almost exclusively occupied by women, and the conversations I am hearing from them and reading about on social media have got me thinking.
What I have noticed is that once the wedding planning kicks in something happens to a bride that seems to switch the focus of the upcoming marriage away from the meaning behind it, onto the frivolous details of how to have the most perfect and impressive wedding. It seems to become all important to colour match everything, create perfect table centrepieces, have save the dates that knock peoples socks off, then requiring an even more impressive official invitation to follow. They need the biggest bridal party and better favours than the the last wedding and its super important for them to dictate what their partner, the entire wedding party, the MOTB and even their guests should wear. It must be the latest designer cake, the flashiest ring and the most stunning dress and if it costs the earth and everyone knows it so much the better. Because believe me, there will be people who ask how much it cost!
Now don't get me wrong, I love pretty flowers and fairy lights and of course every bride wants to look her best, but when did marrying your love become all about the minuteai of the event that last's but a single day, instead of the significance of your marriage which hopefully will last a lifetime, or at least longer than a day?
And when did favours and save the dates become important enough to create such stress, financial pressure and even conflict in the process of planning your wedding? Why do brides feel such pressure to have everything that everyone else has had, and more, or feel like it's not good enough? Many of these frivolous unneccesary details have only appeared in recent years in New Zealand thanks (or not) to social media making it possible to buy into the mania of America's over the top "bigger is better" trends.
Brides in planning mode are asking questions like "how much do I need to spend on favours not to look cheap?" or "will it be wrong if we use an ipod for music because we can't afford a DJ?" or "my dress only cost $500 and I am worried people will judge me - should I lie?" or "I am worried I will get the father daughter dance and the first dance with my husband in the wrong order - please help?" It makes me sad to think of all this anxiety based around non existent rules. News flash ladies, the only rules are around the legalities involved and these are minimal. There are no rules about anything else!
I've read posts on social media wedding sites where couples are going into massive debt, fighting with each other about where the bridesmaids should stand or asking guests to foot the bill for weddings they can't afford because of this misconception that they must have a big flashy wedding or it doesn't count, and they must have it right now!
How good would it be if people planning weddings could step away from this impression that they need to do things a certain way to impress people? How nice to be able to manage the budget you can afford and not feel disappointed because of it. How nice to have a small intimate wedding and really enjoy it instead of feeling stressed, worn out and broke afterwards?
Weddings are meant to be a celebration of your love, not a stressful way to empty your bank account and incite family feuds and conflict. When did it become so important for people to feel as though they have to conform to unrealistic ideas of what is good enough? When did it become ok for families & friends to pressure a couple to try and influence such a private occasion to their own desires? Why do couples feel like there are "must dos" that will dictate how they can celebrate their love? It's no surprise then that elopements have grown in popularity lately with many couples feeling they have no choice.
Womens magazines and social media have a lot to answer for in this arena by portraying images and stories about fairytale weddings in exotic locations as the ideal, even the norm, and subliminally indicating that anything less is not good enough.
The reality is that 90% of the population are not able to put something like this together within their means so feel stuck between the awful choices of asking family to pay, going into massive debt or making do with something they are not happy with. But why are they not happy with it? Simply because society has dictated an unattainable norm and people think they are in the minority and the only ones who cannot afford the "real" wedding, when the reverse is actually true.
The fact is that just under the pretty surface of most expensive weddings is the ugly truth of difficulty, stress, family conflict and long term sacrifice.
I'd love to see more people doing themselves a favour and skipping the fluff for a meaningful and intimate ceremony with the people they love, not the people they feel obligated to invite. One that they remember fondly and that doesn't send them broke or crazy in the planning.
The wedding industry is a multi million dollar one and the reason for this is fear. The misplaced fear inflicted upon couples that are planning to marry by the lie that if their wedding isn't big, good, fancy or unique enough everyone will think there is something wrong with them.
It's not a show or an event, it's your wedding day!
The urge to marry is nearly always driven by love and the desire to be together, so choose to honour love instead of fear and do it your way!
Choose a location because of it's meaning and not it's style or menu, choose your guests and attendants by how important to you not because they are related to you or invited you to their wedding, choose your clothing because it flatters and makes you feel good, choose your celebrant and ceremony because they fit your personality and create meaning for you and pretty much all of the rest is just window dressing. What I am saying is choose every aspect of your wedding the same way you chose the person you are about to marry. For the right reasons!
Your wedding will still be the most beautiful one you have ever been to, I promise.
The best weddings I have ever been to have been the ones with much less finery and much more Love <3