Tag Archives: bride

The Weirdness of Weddings

wedding paper flowersLast year, just after I got married, I was lonely, depressed, and trying to come to terms with what had happened in the wedding planning: two of my three bridesmaids dropped out of the wedding and stopped talking to me. I wrote up a piece about it, framing it not as a explanation (because I’m honestly not completely sure), but as a “how to” craft piece. The step-by-step craft process gave me a little emotional distance, and I thought it was kinda poetic.

I submitted it to APracticalWedding.com, a site upon which I’d relied heavily during wedding planning. This summer, they decided to publish it, which was pretty cool. Then it was republished by Refinery29—bonus cool!
But I’ve noticed something. Women, online and in person, respond a few typical ways:
  • “Well, at least you know who your friends are now?” or “Well, they just weren’t very good friends, were they?”
    I’ve gotten this from several commenters, as well as my mom and the therapist I briefly visited. You know how helpful this response is? Not at all. Because they were my closest friends, and their absence meant the utter dissolution of my friend circle. So, sure, I knew who my friends were: older friends, from college, who I rarely get to see. I had no “Let’s go see a movie” friends left.
  • “You shouldn’t have wanted such a hard craft project! Some people aren’t crafty!”
    Mostly received online, from people I think who didn’t understand that the craft was just a way to talk about it. For the record, they didn’t leave just over the craft. They ignored me about the craft, then were dismissive about it, didn’t offer ideas on dresses or like any of the ones I picked, and didn’t bother to RSVP to any shower invitations, didn’t come to my birthday party, weren’t available to meet for dinner, and then were upset when I asked for more support. I even said that if I was asking too much of them, I’d understand if they didn’t want to do the bridesmaid thing and they could just come to the wedding if that was easier. They, apparently, didn’t think so.
  • “I think we’re only getting one side of the story here.”
    Another from the commenters, and—well yeah, of course you are. That’s how a narrative works. This comment has a little added zing of implying I’m lying or manipulating the story. But, if it helps, I don’t know any more, really. They never said why, exactly, they were dropping out. They never said anything at all, except one half-hearted “I’m sorry things turned out this way” a week later, before dropping off my Facebook friends list and not talking to me again. One changed her username so I can’t search for her.
And that would be it, except a few men I know read my article, too, because I forgot who can see things I post to my personal Facebook page. And this is what they said:
  • “Wow, did that really happen? I’m sorry. That’s really shitty.”
    And that was amazing. Because the majority of the women who responded hadn’t given me that kind of empathy. These men validated my experience and just let me say, yes, that was a thing that happened. It was shitty. They didn’t blame me or accuse me of being a “bridezilla” (more than one woman has made that suggestion—including the therapist). They didn’t tell me they weren’t crafty. They didn’t try to play it off as no big deal.
I think it says a lot about women and weddings. The women are afraid to admit that something like this could happen to them, that weddings aren’t always the Hollywood ideal of being so popular you have to be in 27 weddings. So they look for “if only’s”—”if only I don’t do that, it won’t happen to me.”
I didn’t have a Hollywood wedding experience. Parts of wedding planning were really, really shitty. I don’t think I “deserved” what happened, and it’s taken me a long while to stop feeling as hurt about it; it was hard to mourn those friendships. But I did have a lovely event, in the end, with lots of dancing and happy people. I married a really amazing man, and we’re building a solid life together.
Plus I have this kickass wreath, so that’s cool.
paper flower wreath

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The Bride Price: Pedestals and Critics

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.

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