Before it happened to me, I did not realize it, but being a bride–a female person intending to get married in a ceremony in front of a group of people–comes at a price.
Being a bride, just a few weeks out from the wedding, means you are suddenly completely open to judgement, direct and indirect, on EVERYTHING.
(This is said in no way to diminish the realities of those people who still, in 2014, have to face a LITERAL bride-price: those women and, frequently, girls who are bought and sold for “marriage” because women are not worth much in their society. I realize I am privileged in that my problems are very first world. My heart hurts for those women, and I wish I had an answer to banish the practice forever. )
Growing up in the American South, I expected some of this. I more or less knew the protocols for attending a shower and had a vague sense of what was required of me. But I had no idea it would be this long and tiring a stressful slog that it has been.
First, there’s the pressure from the “WIC” (the Wedding Industrial Complex). These are the folks whose only aim is to make you feel shitty so you’ll spend more money on their products in an effort to reach an unattainable ideal (looking at you, The Knot!). This came out from the bridal shop who was dismayed that I’m not a size 6…and then was dismayed when I did lose weight before the fitting (told ya so, lady!). It’s the patronizing way the vendors call me “sweetie” or “darling.” It’s cloying, but I can write it off (most of the time) as someone just trying to wring cash out of my little fists.
But there is also family pressure. People who, despite my directly asking “is there anything in particular you care about a lot that I should know?” coming up at game time (or when it is too late to change the choice!) and expressing their shock that I’m not doing something “traditionally.” (I’m marrying a man, while wearing a white dress, in a church, followed by dinner. What isn’t traditional about that?!) This was/is more painful and there just isn’t anything I can do, as far as I can tell.
There was the expectation by some of my bridesmaids that weddings follow one script all the time, and that if I was not going out of my way to accommodate them and their vision of what that meant, that I was a “bridezilla.” (And then, when I tried to ask them for support, decided to quit instead. Both those things hurt a great deal).
But even when I win, I lose. After a bridal shower, I wrote my thank you notes. I was super-proud of myself for finishing the 20+ notes in a weeks’ time. But by Sunday, I was informed that I had “caused a kerfuffle.” Apparently my heroic thank-you-note feat had made some other girls look bad, and feathers were ruffled. (I “joked” with the worried parties that, don’t worry, I don’t be able to keep up that pace for long.)
Can’t win for losing.
It’s exhausting to try to be “perfect” all the time. I don’t even really WANT to be perfect–I’d so much rather just be myself.
I apologize, wedding-reality-show girls and real-life brides, for any judgmental thoughts I had about you. That’s not what you need. That’s not helpful. It’s okay to relax; remember, it’s about the marriage, not the wedding.
Until then, let me know if you want to share a margarita. I use as heck could use one.